Though there are many articles and support resources from airlines on how to transport your guitar on an aeroplane, none seem to specifically address whether you can carry guitar strings. This article will walk through the basics of what you should think about if you are planning to take guitar strings on an aeroplane.
Can you take guitar strings on a plane?
The answer to the question ‘Can you take guitar strings on a plane?’ is that yes, you should not expect any issues trying to take guitar strings on an aeroplane. If you pack them in your suitcase and then check your suitcase in you should be ok. And f you pack guitar strings in your carry on luggage you can expect the security team to see them on their detectors and take a closer look, but then let it pass through without issue.
Given the ever-evolving nature of airport security, there is no way to guarantee that this will be the case. Certain security individuals and certain individual airports may take a different perspective on the potential risk of carrying guitar strings in your luggage or carry on luggage, but I can find no evidence (yet..) of an airport that specifically states these are not allowed in the luggage.
Why Would An Airline Not Let Me Take Guitar Strings on a Plane?
Though it is difficult to imagine what risk a packet of guitar strings might pose to an airline, there are a few scenarios that come to mind. Both are far fetched, but so are some of the other reasons given for certain things we can’t take on board.
It could be feared that you plan to use the strings to choke someone in the process of carrying out a bigger plan. Again, this is far fetched but possible. But if this was their risk then surely they wouldn’t allow shoelaces etc.
Again, it is a huge stretch I know, but the ends of those guitar strings are very sharp and someone could imagine a scenario whereby those string ends are used to poke someone’s eyes out or something similar.
How to Maximize the Chance You Can Take Guitar Strings on an Aeroplane
Leave Them in Their Packet
If for some reason you take your string out of their packet then the first thing a security operator will see are all the sharp wire ends, which I am sure will raise some concern.
So in case, you were thinking about it – leave the strings in their packet.
Have the Guitar Strings With Other Guitar Related Gear
If your packet of guitar strings is one of the multiple guitar-related pieces of gear, it will arouse less suspicion, and the story of why you have them with you will make more sense to the individual looking at possessions.
Be Prepared To Have Them Confiscated
It sounds strange, but if you totally accept the fact that they may take your guitar strings and throw them in the bin, then your mood and demeanour will be calm and collected. If the security personnel detect any hint of fear or anxiety about your luggage it will make them dig deeper, and more likely to be proactive.
It sounds strange but put yourself in their shoes. They deal with thousands of people a day, many of them unpleasant, and they have to develop certain patterned responses to get their work done.
Give them no sign that you care either way, and they’ll have no reason to care either.
Call the Company and Find Out Their Policy
You can always go ‘old school’ and try and get in touch with the company by phone or chat and explain the situation and what you plan to bring through and see if they can forecast how the strings are likely to be treated by security. But even then I wouldn’t take it as a guarantee.
Would Nylon Guitar Strings Be Treated The Same as Steel Guitar Strings?
My hunch is that nylon strings would be less concerning for an airline. Firstly they wouldn’t appear in the scanners, and may not be picked up to the same degree. But given they are plastic material, and not steel then ends are less sharp etc, they may be considered less ‘potentially fatal’. But that is just a personal opinion/guess on how they would interpreted it.