It’s one of the biggest headaches for guitarists: what is the easiest and most convenient way to travel with a guitar?
Granted, there are some brilliant travel guitars on the market, but if you want to take your prized Gibson Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster on the road, you’re usually limited to two options: lug around a heavy hardcase or opt for a rucksack-style gig bag.
This conundrum is a bigger issue for overseas travelers who, unless they have paid for an extra seat for their instrument, have to part ways with their electric guitar when they check it into the aircraft’s hold. It’s not an ideal situation, to say the least.
However, Julian Lage has taken to social media to share his game-changing top tip for those wanting to travel with a Fender Telecaster, which literally lets you carry the whole instrument in a backpack and thus on to any mode of transport.
As it turns out, you can solve all the above issues by simply removing the neck of the Tele completely.
Yep, that’s right. Whenever Lage takes his Tele on the road, he unscrews the four bolts from the backplate, removes the neck and strings, and places the detached wooden appendage into a plastic tube.
As per the images he shared on Instagram, the tube – and the neck-less body – can then be easily stored in a backsack or, in Lage’s case, a smaller side bag.
“Thank you Ron Ellis for teaching me the Danny Gatton trick of traveling with a Tele by taking the neck off and throwing body and neck in a bag so there is nothing to check,” Lage wrote, before explaining the personal tweaks he’s made to prolong the guitar’s well-being and inadvertently improve its tone.
“We put in metal screw inserts in the neck,” he continued, “so it doesn’t strip the wood with each removal. It also makes the guitar sound better than ever.”
Now, there are a few observations to make with Lage’s Tele tip. Firstly, why stop at the Telecaster? If the method really works, it means any bolt-on instrument can be taken apart for travel, so long as it can be successfully and easily reassembled at your destination.
A Stratocaster would surely work, especially with the help of Lage’s additional tweaks, while a handful of PRS models – such as John Mayer’s Silver Sky, Mark Lettieri’s Fiore and the CE24 – may also benefit from the hack.
Of course, you’d have to be one brave soul to remove and reattach the neck of a $1,000-plus instrument on a regular basis, or turn a vintage-era guitar into a foldable novelty piece, but hey – maybe we’re just overly cautious.
The second point to note, though, is that this travel hack is reserved for guitars with a bolt-on design. Therefore, Lage’s post will unfortunately be of no help to Les Paul or SG owners, or anyone who owns a guitar with a set neck.
Having said that, it looks to be a neat trick for those who can’t bear to be away from their bolt-on-configured six-string for the duration of a long-haul flight.
It’s a trick that Lage himself will be making ample use of in the coming months, as he is set to embark on tour of the US later this year. Alas, he won’t be able to use his new trick on his own Collings 470 JL signature guitar. That, unfortunately, will need its own seat – or to take its chances in the hold.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*
Join now for unlimited access
US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year
UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year
Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49
Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.