shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

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shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby pbrawdy » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:37 pm

Okay, I want to know how the listing on ebay list shipping at 20 - $30 and whenever I buy one, the shipping is $60 -$80 due to oversize... Is there a magic way to ship that you don't run into the big fee's? At what length of box do the fee's soar? Someone must have the answer to this..
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Re: shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby harpmaker » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:05 pm

Shipping costs and regulations vary wildly from one outfit to anther. I use the post office most of the time so that is the one I am most familiar with:

With USPS there are 3 ways to ship. In descending order of cost they are : Express mail, Priority Mail and Parcel Post.

For priority mail the post office also has a kicker in their pricing called a dimensional (aka balloon) weight. This is a surcharge added for any package over 1 cubic foot but less than 15 pounds and is being shipped more than three zones away. Unfortunately, most dulcimer sized boxes are going to be over 1 cubic foot. They also have a surcharge for "oversized" boxes that are more than 86".....this dimension is determined by the girth of the box plus the length. For example if the box is 10" wide by 10" high by 38" long the size is figured at 78" (40" around the box plus 38"). Increase the height and width to 12" and the length to 40" and the size is now "oversized" (48" around plus 40" long.)

All of this plays havoc with my shipping. As an example I generally use two different sized boxes. One is 10 wide X 10 high X 38 long, the other is 10 wide by 4 high by 38 long. The smaller box is less than 1 cubic foot and is the size I use for student dulcimers because the student model doesn't require as much cushioning or crush space. Well, technically it is supposed to have 2" of crush space all the way around but with the student model I can get away with less. For regular dulcimers I use the larger box.

If I am shipping within a hundred miles or so (staying within 3 zones) the cost for shipping either size box (assuming they are the same weight) is the same. But once I get into the 4th zone things change quickly. The smaller box might go for $12 but the bigger one jumps to $30 plus. And the farther away it goes the bigger the difference. There have been many times when the balloon rate for Priority mail causes the cost to exceed what they charge for Express mail. IOW, sometimes it is cheaper to ship Express Mail than Priority mail. Or it can be cheaper to send two small boxes than one bigger one. A couple of weeks ago I sent 2 student dulcimers to the east coast and it cost about 20 less to ship them in separate boxes. No wonder the post office is going broke....

Then there is Parcel post. Cheap, but it takes forever. I had a dulcimer shipped from Oklahoma City to Warrensburg MO and it took ten days to get here. OTOH I shipped a dulcimer to Arizona last Saturday via priority mail and it was delivered on Monday. IMO, I'd rather spend a few bucks more than have it in the hands of the carrier for 10 days or more.

The post office does have a neat little price calculator at http://postcalc.usps.gov/ which will let you check the various costs.
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Re: shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby Judy K » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:32 am

Anytime I see a S&H of $20 or less on a MD, it tells me the seller probably hasn't shipped much lately, doesn't cover insurance, or doesn't pack the instrument very well. (This does not mean harpmaker -- love getting something from him!) I recently had to send a dulcimer for repair, but didn't have the time to package it myself. I asked a niece to take it to a UPS pack & ship store. Packing, shipping & insurance cost $115. :shock: I've got another dulcimer to send out that will run about the same, but I need to work a few more days before shipping that one. (Of course, the $115 didn't cover the bribe/fee the niece wanted either .... ;) )
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Re: shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby joe sanguinette » Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:03 am

for years i shipped dulcimers via UPS but more recently USPS beats their rates.....sometimes by quite a lot. a few months ago i shipped an instrument to england and was quoted $450 from UPS. USPS shipped it for $40 something.

if at all possible avoid the parcel packaging stores. they are VERY expensive. you can fashion a box by cutting down bigger boxes or even better save boxes if you get them.
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Re: shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby Judy K » Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:26 am

joe sanguinette wrote: if at all possible avoid the parcel packaging stores. they are VERY expensive. you can fashion a box by cutting down bigger boxes or even better save boxes if you get them.


Oh yeah, I knew that. Mine is a time issue at the moment -- working 15-18 hour days. That only left bribing someone to get the MD packed or wait at least another month to get it repaired.
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Re: shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby KenH » Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:40 pm

I've almost always used USPC Parcel Post. For a shipping container I use a piece of 10" diameter sonotube - the ultra heavy duty 1/2" thick cardboard tube used as a form for casting concrete pilings. I roll the dulcimer in large bubble wrap until it's a snug fit in the cut-to-length tube and the wrap extends beyond the ends. Then I make corregated cardboard end caps, add some balled up newspaper at each end, tape the cylinder closed, and add a shipping label.
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Re: shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby pbrawdy » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:06 pm

KenH wrote:I've almost always used USPC Parcel Post. For a shipping container I use a piece of 10" diameter sonotube - the ultra heavy duty 1/2" thick cardboard tube used as a form for casting concrete pilings. I roll the dulcimer in large bubble wrap until it's a snug fit in the cut-to-length tube and the wrap extends beyond the ends. Then I make corregated cardboard end caps, add some balled up newspaper at each end, tape the cylinder closed, and add a shipping label.



So do you get a break on the size due to the round? Or what kind of shipping cost do you get with these... Secondly where do you find them....? Paula
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Re: shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby KenH » Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:57 pm

You don't get a break for the shape... But the shape tends to not get breaks because of the way it deflects pressure on it. I buy the tube at Home Depot or Lowe's. Can't remember the last shipping cost exactly, but around $20 I believe.
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Re: shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby Rahere » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:20 pm

I suppressed a similar thought because the tube containing my MD's cross-section must of necessity be greater than the circumference of the cross-section itself - adding in an equivalent thickness of packaging doesn't change that equation. So on a strictly costed basis, there's nothing to be gained going that way - but in terms of packaging strength, it's got to be worth it.
Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains uses something similar for his whistles - two lengths of UPVC guttering hinged together, fixed with drain caps on the ends. Got to play seconds to him once - being homebrewed he'd not heard them before, so we enjoyed ourselves. Another nice guy.
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Re: shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby harpmaker » Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:08 pm

I just quoted shipping for a student dulcimer from Missouri to the East Coast and while I was on the post office site I ran a few options:

For a 5 lb box 39 x 4 x 11 the prices were $49.40 for Express mail, 16.05 for Priority mail and 11.08 for Parcel post

a 5 lb box 39 x 11 x 11 came out to $49.40 for Express, $48.60 for priority and 11.08 for parcel post In this case I'd spend the extra buck and go Express mail.

Using a 12" diameter tube, 40" long and figuring it at 7 lbs (tubes are heavy) the price was $59.35 Express, $46.95 priority and $12.65 Parcel post. You also have to figure about $9 to $10 for the tube itself.

So clearly Parcel post is the cheapest and I suspect that is how the shippers on ebay are able to quote such low prices. But as I said earlier, if you ship via Parcel post be prepared for double to triple the time in transit.....and IMO the longer the carrier has it the more likely there will be damage.

Insurance adds about 3 bucks to the above costs for a student dulcimer.
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Re: shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby Dulcimerbuilder » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:11 pm

Parcel posts works pretty well if you are going to an adjacent state, but across the country, it could take a good long time. And the PO is trying to discourage folks from using parcel post by charging almost as much for it a priority. I have sometimes shipped dulcimers to Europe for not much more than it costs to send them to California.
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Re: shipping mountain dulcimers inexpensively!?

Postby halfpint » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:11 am

Shipping has really increased over the last few years. Make sure you use insurance, I had two packages lost last fall, one through UPS and one through the Post office. Both were insured so I didn't end up losing any money.
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