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Lethal Weapon or Airline Follies 2

I flew to Nashville this week to get this one owner unbound 58.

I flew to Nashville this week to get this one owner unbound 58.

I went to Nashville this week to inspect and purchase a one owner ’58. I almost always do the higher end purchases in person and when the seller is more than a few hundred miles away, I fly rather than drive. I should point out that I don’t like flying with guitars. The folks at the check in will always tell you that you can’t take it on the plane. I always insist on having it checked at plane side and then I talk to the flight attendant when I get there about getting the guitar onto the plane. They almost always say they don’t think so and then they figure out a way to do it. I have only checked a guitar once on a very small plane and I was allowed to watch them load it into the baggage compartment. The big airlines will accommodate you if you press them and you do it nicely. Otherwise they won’t. I flew American from Nashville to LaGuardia in New York and they were most accommodating and very nice about allowing the guitar to accompany me on the plane. As usual, the guy at the check in counter said no, the baggage guy at planeside said he didn’t care and the flight attendant was very good about finding a way to fit it on a relatively small plane (with a lot of empty seats). It is important to try to get on a flight that isn’t full. It’s hard for them to say no with 50 empty seats. Incidentally, I packed the guitar with bubble wrap in the case so if it had to go into the cargo hold, it would have a better chance of survival.

But wait, didn’t I call this post “Lethal Weapon”? Yes I did. Apparently, I was carrying one when I tried to board in Nashville. The weapon in question? My big ol’ Stew-Mac truss rod wrench. They said you can’t carry a tool more than 7 inches long and told me to check the bag ($25), mail it to myself ($13) or give it to them to confiscate. Now, correct me if I’m wrong but I have to assume they are looking for dangerous items. I’m pretty sure you can’t hijack a plane with a truss rod wrench. First of all, it has no pointy ends. A Phillips screwdriver would probably work better and, if it’s less than 7 inches, you’re free to get on board with it. I guess I could travel with a smaller one but I really like the big one-which I’ve flown with at least twenty times before. You would think the guys in Nashville would be used to these things by now. Every other guy in the airport was carrying a guitar it seems. Consider this scene in your next thriller movie: “Nobody move. I’ve got a truss rod wrench and I’m not afraid to use it.” Or “Take this plane to Havana…I’ve got a truss rod wrench and I’m not afraid to use it.” Yeah, I’m not afraid to use it to add a little relief to this guitar but beyond that, it’s pretty well useless. I understand the TSA has a difficult job to do-if there’s one shoe bomber, I guess we can all be shoe bombers, although I don’t recall a belt bomber. But really, a guy carrying a guitar case who has a wrench used to adjust guitars (that has no function at all as a weapon) is probably a safe bet not to be a hijacker or bomber. I could probably do more damage with the guitar (or my suitcase) than I could do with a truss rod wrench.

This isn't even my truss rod wrench but it looks just like it. Stew Mac doesn't make it any more so I wasn't inclined to let the TSA have it. I mailed it back to myself and it's somewhere between Nashville and Connecticut. I don't think I could swat a fly with it. It would probably hurt if I bopped you over the head with it but I doubt I could do much damage.

This isn’t even my truss rod wrench but it looks just like it. Stew Mac doesn’t make it any more so I wasn’t inclined to let the TSA have it. I mailed it back to myself and it’s somewhere between Nashville and Connecticut. I don’t think I could swat a fly with it. It would probably hurt if I bopped you over the head with it but I doubt I could do much damage.

7 Responses to “Lethal Weapon or Airline Follies 2”

  1. Danny says:

    Charlie, forgive me if this is obvious. I’m sure you’ve looked into it, but… I have a friend who’s an internationally touring guitarist and always checks his ’64 es 335 in as baggage, in a Calton case. He’s been doing it for well over a decade and has never had a problem.

  2. RAB says:

    Well, an inproperly used truss rod wrench can be a WGD (weapon of guitar destruction) in the wrong/untrained hands, ha, ha…

  3. RAB says:

    oops…meant to say improperly used…

  4. Rob says:

    Now if you were just going to procure run of the mill Fenders, an Allen wrench would have sufficed and even the most dense of the Thousands Standing Around would recognize one of those.

  5. Jonne says:

    Danny’s got a good point. If you have to fly, take a Calton case with you just in “case” and put empty original case also in cargo. It costs little extra but your check-in’s will be easier and makes you feel much calmer sitting in plane.

    Calton cases aren’t cheap ($800-1000?) and have many months waiting list but it’s definately worth it. They last forever and are very easy to sell. You must order one with an exact measurements but I’d assume the differences between 58-64 aren’t that big. Well, maybe some in neck angle and headstock angle (after ’65). But it’s really worth to consider.

  6. Murray says:

    Wow! A truss rod wrench??? The TSA must be run by Fender. I hope the Postal Service gets your wrench home safe and sound.

  7. cgelber says:

    The truss rod wrench is back in my dangerous hands ready to offer relief to all who require it.

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