Choosing the right courier to ship your guitar or large parcel.

If you have little experience of selecting the right courier to ship your parcel, it can be a little daunting. This is especially true if your parcel goes over a certain size , usually 1 meter. Thankfully, I was employed in the courier industry for nearly 30 years, so feel I can offer you some sound advice.

Picking the right courier for your item, especially if it contains a valuable item such as a Guitar or Golf Club, means that selecting the cheapest option, is usually not the best option! That said, there are certain things you can do to ensure you are not paying over the odds needlessly. 

When shipping a high value item, potentially fragile, you absolutely want to choose a courier that offer Next Day Delivery (or at worse 2 day) as opposed to an economy courier. The simple reason for this is the longer an item remains in a courier network, the greater the chance it has of being damaged or going missing.

In the UK, this typically leaves you with the below options.

DPD, DHL, Parcelforce, Fed Ex.


DPD offer one of the best delivery services in the UK, but don't like parcels that exceed 1 meter in length and apply a hefty increase, so this rules them out for me personally. Excellent delivery service, just not suitable for larger items. 


For a UK shipment, the DHL pay as you go portal (for non account holders) allows members of the public to send a parcel with the same dimensions as a Guitar Shipping Box purchased from Black Country Boxes for a minimum fee of £8.59, delivered to your customers door with a signature taken. For this service/price you must drop in to one of their local depots.

As stated earlier in this blog, the less time your item spends moving around on a van, the better, so dropping into the depot and cutting out a good chunk of this time is what I would be doing anyway, the fact its cheaper than having the parcel collected from your door, is a handy bonus.   

DHL are absolutely the go to option for shipping an item overseas.

They are the largest courier in Europe, have a vast fleet of aeroplanes to fly goods  ( as opposed to the potentially more hazardous road network) and crucially, they can clear their own goods through customs. If you have ever tried to ship a parcel out to Europe post Brexit, you will know only too well how painful and stressful it can be. DHL hold a licence allowing them to clear their own goods through customs. This fact alone pretty much puts them at the top of the tree from a service point of view.  My advice is simple, shipping an item abroad? Pay a little extra and use DHL. 


Parcelforce's reputation has come under heavy scrutiny recently due to being part of the the Royal Mail. Most people will be aware of the ongoing legal dispute within the Royal Mail Group over pay. This led to industrial strike action, meaning all of Royal Mail's customers had to find an alternative courier throughout most of the peak period and the result of this was horrendous delays across all couriers as they did their best to cope with increased demand. 

That said, when there is less turbulence and more importantly, no strikes, service from Parcelforce remains strong and for me, probably the most convenient and cost effective way to ship a large parcel. 

You can use their pay as you go website to arrange a drop off at one of their depot's or ( and this is what swings it for me ) a Royal Mail Post Office. It will cost you £9.00 for a 2 day service which is nearly always delivered the next day and roughly £12.70 for a guaranteed next day. 

Avoid using Parcelforce for international shipping, no aeroplanes or ability to clear their own goods means you could be in for a bumpy ride. They utilise the GLS network cross border which was a bit hit or miss pre Brexit, let alone after Brexit. 

Fed Ex

Fed Ex are probably the biggest brand in the courier industry worldwide. They recently completed a takeover of TNT that has caused major service issues as the freight mix between the 2 companies is not aligned. They continue to face difficult IT challenges integrating the companies and their hubs. 

This, coupled with the fact they are primarily looking for B2B (business to business) traffic means I would swerve them for a UK shipment.

If you are shipping to the USA however, it is a fact that many Americans prefer Fed Ex to any other courier and being a US company, they export many parcels there from the UK.

As with DHL, Fed Ex have an extensive fleet of aeroplanes and their own customs clearance procedures. These factors mean anyone sending parcels to the US from the UK should absolutely get a quotation. 

Their services are available to book for non account holders on broker site Parcel2go.

Should I pay extra for added insurance when shipping my guitar?

This is of course a personal choice but my long held view is that most if not all couriers will find something within their terms and conditions to avoid paying you should the unthinkable happen and they lose or damage your parcel. Especially if it is a more specialist item such as a guitar.

This, along with the vastly increased cost when adding more insurance, leads me to advise you that the very best thing you can do to protect your parcel is to invest the required time and money in proper packaging, as opposed to paying a fortune for (likely pointless and invalid) added insurance. 

Details on how to package properly can be found on one of our other blog posts here. 

Black Country Boxes of course have you covered when it comes to the materials needed to protect your goods properly. Take the first step to a successful delivery experience by purchasing your box here.












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