Moving a gear setup (internationally, etc)

As there are some folks on this forum who play shows internationally, I figured they might have some insight:

I’m looking at a move from Chicago to Finland in the fall. I want to bring my gear with me, but there’s no way it’s going to fit in the kind of “luggage” situation that commercial air travel would allow. I’m looking at moving:
-7u eurorack case
-Sub 37
-A bunch of effects: probably what would fill a medium sized pedalboard, plus a vintage space echo and two knas moisturizers
-A few midi controllers like the Push and Maschine, plus an electribe or two
-Two guitars (no amps)
-Ideally I would also like to bring my turntable coffin with two turntables and mixer
-Ideally I would bring my studio monitors

I know that there are various options that involve hiring an international moving company. Those folks all want to come out and give me a quote (and, honestly, we all know that involves ending up on the receiving end of sales calls and emails—not the end of the world but a real annoyance that I’m taking into consideration). I know that people also go a bit more off the beaten track and check out the options for renting space in a shipping container. That sounds like a possibility, but before I get into something like that which will involve a considerable amount of time outlay, I figured I would ask other musicians, as the gear I’m thinking of moving is, arguably, not a whole lot more than what a reasonably equipped electronic touring band would use.

Has anyone done an international tour where they brought that much gear over to Europe from the US (or vice versa)?

1 Like

I haven’t been on an international tour, but I have moved from California to Berlin. It’s late here, so I’ll try to keep it brief for now, but I have some thoughts:

  • Call the airline. They may be totally fine with you paying to check an extra 3 or 5 large “suitcases”, depending on how full the flight is when you book.

  • Things shipped with freight services usually take around 3 months to arrive

  • Thankfully, gear has evolved to be moderately decent with the wonky international power standards. Just make sure you check the voltage settings on IEC gear

  • Don’t forget about customs. Touring acts won’t have the same experiences with this, because presumably they’re returning home at some point with all of their gear. See if you can double check with an immigration office or embassy in Finland to make sure you won’t be surprised by import taxes on arrival.

  • I would be inclined to sell the monitors and re-buy when you land. Cones damage too easily, and they’re not (usually) difficult to replace.

2 Likes

I’m considering a move to Japan in the next 18-24 months, and will face a similar problem (albeit with ~150 vinyls or so to move as well…), so it’s been on my mind.

Regarding the turntables/mixer, depending on the brand, you might be able to just sell them and buy the same ones for a very similar price when you arrive. Some makes (e.g. Technics, Rane, A&H, etc.) keep their value really well, even internationally. For instance, I’m pretty sure that selling my Technics MK2 in the US and then buying used ones in Japan would leave me ahead financially - they’re cheaper there.

My current thinking is that I’ll sell as much of my gear as possible, keeping only the essentials (12U eurorack flight case, a few small things like the OP1 that I can fit in a large backpack) and take it all with me by plane. Even with insurance, I’m not sure I’d trust a cargo company. Bringing all your stuff with you also circumvents the customs problem @rknLA brought up.

Interested in reading what others will have to write about this.

Very helpful tips. Thank you! I hadn’t fully considered voltage issues. I’m not anticipating too much drama there, as makers have indeed gotten pretty cool about including euro tips for PSUs and the like. IEC stuff might involve some tech support emails, yeah.

I’m looking forward to other folks’ thoughts on shipping. As gear isn’t the only thing I’m taking (my Chicago/Helsinki winter clothes, for instance, would be quite expensive to replace in Europe), I think that I’m definitely going to need some sort of shipping service.

Yeah the vinyl is a whole other issue! I’ve been selling quite a bit on discogs, but I’ll have a similar amount that I’m not willing to part with. Vinyl is heavy is hell. I’m guessing I might store my collection with close friends for a while and hit snooze on crossing that particular bridge. I DJ almost entirely with serato and, truth be told, use Spotify for the lion’s share of my personal listening. But the records! I don’t wanna part with the records!

done an international tour where they brought that much gear over to Europe from the US

yes, i’d even say it’s not an uncommon amount of stuff. but easier if you are travelling with others and can pool your baggage allowances. (are you?)

of course you need good flight cases packed correctly, and will probably have to just bite the bullet and pay some oversize fees. factor in baggage policies when pricing flights.

I moved from Sydney to London a few years ago and, along with the people I was moving with, brought three SKB keyboard cases (packed with various smaller bits of gear velcro-ed to a pedal board-type thing), a guitar and a couple of bigger Pelican-style cases with computer things, microphones and other smaller pieces in it. We shipped it with World Baggage, but unfortunately they only ship to/from Australia. Having said that, I would recommend taking that route. It was really good to not have to work gear into stingy baggage allowance, especially when you’re going for a long period of time and to a cold place where your clothing takes up more space/weight in your bag(s). If I remember correctly, our gear took something like four or five weeks to arrive, so we sent it off a few weeks before we left and it arrived around a week after we got to the UK, absolutely safe and sound, delivered to where we were staying. We paid for 165kg but in hindsight I think we probably could’ve got away with a bit less. It’s more expensive than other options, but worth it for the peace of mind and less stress during the actual packing process, especially if you pad some of the cases with clothing.

1 Like

Sure, but you can send your winter clothes in August and receive them in November without having a dry-spell of not making music :wink:

Ha! Although this is Helsinki, so I’d better send them in July :slight_smile:

This isn’t true of all companies - we freight our equipment all the time within tight timetables for festivals and fly-in tour start points. We currently use EFM, and they’ve only damaged a flight case once, which I consider a small miracle. Not cheap, but not insane either.

That said, I’d side with @zebra and suggest you put everything in flight cases and pay overage fees on your flight over, especially if you can spread it out over a few companions. You don’t really have that much gear and could ship the vinyl separately. Again, not cheap, but it’d make the whole thing so easy.

2 Likes

I’m interested to hear what kind of cases people are using for moving gear around. I’m moving some stuff interstate shortly and just checked out some of the big pelican cases, they are so heavy and bulky. However I’m not stoked about the idea of things rattling around in their original boxes. What else are people putting their gear in for transit?

I’ve just had to go through a similar process so thought it could be helpful to share.

Ended up getting a Pelican 1605 Aircase. Kinda bulky, but if you get the right size it’s not thaaat much bigger than gear you need to carry. The air case range is actually pretty light too, considering. Fits my 6U snuggly plus had half of a foam tier underneath to make compartments for cables, power and other smaller bits. Works a treat.

2 Likes

Just moved interstate and loved having a couple of pelican cases to just throw things in and keep it all protected and togeher

Sorry to bump an old conversation but i was wondering whether anyone could advise me - i’m moving from Germany to the UK soon and have my modular which I’m loathe to put in a transporter’s van. My case is 55.5cm wide which comes in just under the 56cm limit for hand luggage. I was thinking of carrying it onto the plane under my arm but sadly my case has no lid so perhaps it’s a bit of a risky move - if more reassuring than placing it in someone else’s hands… Even with a lot of bubblewrap around the face of the case, does this seem like a terrible idea? Does anyone have any experience travelling with a eurorack without a lid?! I’m afraid I don’t have enough time to buy a suitable case and sell my current one.

I’ve travelled with a bubble wrapped 6U skiff on one occasion. If it’s with the dimensions allowed, shouldn’t cause any problems. Usual advice of turning up early, paying for priority boarding applies.

1 Like

(Side note: My move has been shelved for the time being, but I’m glad this thread is still useful. Someday, HKI, someday…)

Hi there,

I recently accepted a new job thats has my family moving out of the United States at the end of the year to the mid east (during a pandemic, hurray!). Does anyone have experience or advice about shipping equipment or moving gear internationally?

I’ve read some horror stories about equipment being confiscated. Obviously i’m worried about synth gear because of its appearance. I assume no airport employee has a clue of what this stuff is or what its for.

any input would be super. thanks!

I flew with a small Eurorack system between the US and Ireland a couple times, US security opened the case once and just asked what it was (I said “musical instrument/synthesizer” some people have suggested “DJ equipment” is more readily understood). Either Canada or UK (can’t remember which layover it was) opened it up and did one of those swabs for explosive materials but nothing worrisome. Some people have also suggested, if you have modular or something, to have it in a ready-to-make-sound state, so that you can easily demonstrate what it does. It’s hard for me to imagine TSA letting you plug something in and power it up, but apparently people have done that?

Assuming your gear is all similarly material you’re allowed to take on airplanes I wouldn’t be too worried about confiscation—the concern for me at least was the prospect that, in an overfilled flight or something, they might not let me carry it on. So you might want to make sure your gear is well packed to withstand a bit of moisture outside and some bumping, in case that happens. Technically any musical instrument you’re allowed to take in the airplane cabin, but in certain cases I’ve even heard of them making people put guitars below in the hold, and definitely would expect electronic gear to go before guitars :stuck_out_tongue: My case is only 6U, 70hp, so fairly small. I would definitely be worried about going over the overhead restrictions because then you have to really get into the nitty gritty of the rules about instruments vs carry-on and that’s a discussion you probably will not always get your way on.

Don’t have experience shipping gear, but from experience shipping other high dollar value things for work I would suggest shortest possible time in transit is usually safest. For peace of mind I would avoid it entirely, if you have to do it I would suggest looking into DHL, for international shipping their pricing tends to be better and they seem somewhat more reliable—depends on a lot of factors though, I would assume. Also if you have to deal with import duties in a country that you’re new to that could be a major headache.

Congrats on the new job and good luck with the move!

2 Likes

I moved from the US to Germany a few years ago. Depending on how much stuff you’re moving with, I’d recommend a professional shipping company. In many cases here, I’ve heard of companies paying for this kind of shipping as a part of a relocation package. Usually it takes a few months (sent in a container on a ship), but the company I worked with did a pretty great job of packing everything up - not synths in particular, but I think everything arrived undamaged.

Germany at least has an import tax exemption for personal affects shipped into the country when you move here from abroad. Your experience may vary in a different country.

1 Like

@Angela moved from the US to the UK (and later UK->ES, and then ES->PT), and it was “a whole thing” for sure, with the US->UK move being the most complicated by far.

This was like 13-14 years ago, so a lot has probably changed, but we did freight for most of our stuff (including a lot of music gear). I think we did 100cubic feet or something like that, and it took like 3 months to arrive by boat. The nice thing is that weight doesn’t matter if you’re doing it this way. As long as it fits in the allotted space, it’s fine.

Given how much stuff we had, and what we were willing to pay, freight was pretty much the only option. Air shipping of anything was incredibly expensive etc…

The more delicate/precious gear we brought with us on the flights. So we each had a carry on, and two suitcases. So in that we put mics, ciat-lonbarde stuff, etc… This was post 9/11 but pre-Trump era, so getting checked at the border leaving wasn’t that big a deal, even with weird gear. This was 2007 though, so much has changed…

I was worried about more circuit-bent and DIY looking shit, but that stuff wasn’t a problem at all. Even now when I travel (inside the EU anyways) with that kind of stuff, they don’t bat an eye. Total grain of salt with that though, as our experience was a long time ago.

2 Likes