It’s one of the biggest headaches for guitarists: what’s the easiest, most convenient way to travel with a guitar?
Granted, there are some brilliant travel guitars out there, but when you want to take your treasured Gibson Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster with you on the road, you’re usually limited to two choices: lugging around a heavy hard case or opting for a backpack. Gig bag in style.
This conundrum is a bigger problem for overseas travelers, who have to part with their electric guitar when checking it into the plane’s hold unless they’ve paid for an extra seat for their instrument. It’s not an ideal situation, to say the least.
However, Julian Lage has taken to social media to share his groundbreaking top tip for those wanting to travel with a Fender Telecaster, which allows you to literally carry the entire instrument in one backpack and therefore on any mode of transport.
As it turns out, you can solve all of the above problems simply by removing the Tele’s neck entirely.
Yes, that’s right. Whenever Lage takes his Tele with him on tour, he unscrews the four screws from the base plate, removes the neck and strings and puts the severed wooden base in a plastic tube.
According to the images he shared on Instagram, the hose – and neckless body – can then easily be stowed in a backpack or, in Lage’s case, a smaller side pocket.
“Thanks Ron Ellis for teaching me Danny Gatton’s trick of traveling with a Tele by taking off the neck and tossing the body and neck in a bag so there’s nothing to check,” Lage wrote before sharing the personal changes he made to prolong the guitar’s well-being and unintentionally improve its tone.
“We put metal screw inserts in the neck,” he continued, “so the wood doesn’t get damaged every time it’s removed. Plus the guitar sounds better than ever.”
Well, there are a few observations on Lage’s tele-spike. First, why stop at the Telecaster? If the method really works, it means that any bolt-on instrument can be disassembled for travel as long as it can be successfully and easily reassembled at your destination.
A Stratocaster would certainly work, especially with the help of Lage’s additional tweaks, while a handful of PRS models – like John Mayer’s Silver Sky, Mark Lettieri’s Fiore and the CE24 – could also benefit from the hack.
Of course, you’d have to be a brave soul to regularly remove and reattach the neck on a $1,000+ instrument or turn a vintage-era guitar into a foldable novelty, but hey – maybe we’re just being overly cautious .
However, the second point to note is that this travel hack is reserved for bolt-on design guitars. So, unfortunately, Lage’s post will not be helpful to Les Paul or SG owners, or anyone who owns a guitar with a neck set.
However, it seems like a nice trick for those who can’t stand being separated from their bolted-on six-string for the duration of a long-haul flight.
It’s a ploy that Lage will make plenty of use of himself in the coming months, as he’s set to tour the US later this year. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to use his new trick on his own Collings 470 JL signature guitar. Unfortunately, that will need its own seat – or try your luck in the hold.