TSA Not So Bassist Friendly

Christian McBride with bassApparently when traveling, no one is safe from the TSA. Jazz bass superstar Christian McBride took to Facebook to express his outrage after his bow was taken from his case on the way to a gig in Canada.

“Now that it’s confirmed, I can tell you that good ol’ TSA confiscated (aka STOLE) my brand new bow right out of my hard case yesterday,” McBride wrote. “I arrived in Saskatoon only to find the bow missing inside the case to my Lemur Travel Bass. Maybe they thought it was a weapon (idiotic), or they were looking for ivory, of which there wasn’t any. I will get to the bottom of this.”

This comes only three weeks after fellow bassist John Patitucci had his Pollmann bass badly damaged by TSA on the way to a gig with the Wayne Shorter Quartet (photos below). The bass, which was converted to a neck-off by luthier David Gage, was apparently dropped during an inspection that Patitucci was denied access to. The bassist was forced to tape up the damaged section of the bass for the two-week tour.

It’s obvious that serious reforms are needed to the TSA’s process of inspecting and checking in musical instruments. If these catastrophes can happen to the world’s greatest players, then what precedent does that set for the rest of us?

Here are the pictures of Patitucci’s bass showing the damage and the tape job he had to resort to on the gig:

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Share your thoughts

  1. seems someone wanted a souvenir… shameful on the TSA. but they can be very mean and downright evil if they want to be.

  2. Dave

    Once,while between flights,I witnessed a plane being off loaded with a ramp coming from the cargo bay from a plane and cargo coming down the ramp.I watched as a cargo handler grabbed a handle from the top in the head stock area of a hard shell upright bass case and just let the case fall from about six feet off the ground at the end of the ramp.I’m sure it happens all the time.

    • Jimmy mack

      Hey Dave, I sat on the plane once and watched my own cases get dropped from the cargo bay. Thank you Anvil cases. No damage!

  3. The TSA is not to blame. All of the baggage handlers who load planes work for the I devidual airlines the only bags that TSA touch are the ones that go through as a carry on. Don’t get it confused TSA doesn’t handle your bags!

    • Adam, the article clearly states that McBride’s bow was taken by TSA and that Patitucci’s bass was damaged during a TSA inspection. Not saying baggage handlers aren’t guilty of stuff too, but these stories are reportedly involving TSA officials, not baggage handlers.

    • Not true Adam. I have flown with a bass in a Bass Safe numerous times, and more than half the time TSA has inspected my bass before it was loaded in the cargo section.

  4. bvdon

    Ah… finally a story to get musicians to wake up to our abusive Fed.

  5. We better stand up and fight this tyrany or our kids will grow up in a totaly different country that we know today.

  6. Alex

    I think the normal laws regarding search and seizure should be in place and the owner of what is being searched should be legally required to be present during any searches, and that any damages should be paid for. This [email protected]+#[email protected][email protected] country is getting way out of hand. Further, the TSA agents involved in things like this should be terminated, fired. Respect the bass as well as other instruments you +$&$&-!/!+# assholes! Hopefully some of these big names have big money to hire big lawyers and file big lawsuits over this violation of constitutional rights. It’s like every single day the constitution that this country was built on is disregarded in some new way. Why do we all keep letting it happen? We have a responsibility as citizens of the United States to uphold our constitution, especially when our government stops doing so and becomes tyrannical. Without the constitution, our country is the worst place to live instead of the best. Make this country the best in the world again!

  7. With all the trouble they have been causing and the cost to the taxpayer to litigate this stuff, let alone the bad PR, why don’t they just have a formal training session (one afternoon even) to inform these cretins what a bass and a bow look like and allow them to use some common sense?

  8. Jimmy mack

    Going to do a gig in Chicago last year, TSA broke the TSA coded lock off of one of my cases while Southwest didn’t know what happen to or where my guitar was and why it was missing from the plane. After being in panic mode because the gig was later that night and nobody supposedly knew anything, and spending hours trying to get answers, I put in a call to a friend at Fender who help me get a bass for the gig on loan. As I was leaving my room to go to the gig my case shows up with TSA tape all around it and the TSA lock punched out. Everything was in the case but what a hassle. Needless to say after several months of claim filling and submitting a ton of evidence including photos, they wrote that they would not pay for replacement cost because they couldn’t verify that TSA broke it! WHAT??????? I give my luggage/ guitar case to an airline, they give it to you or you take it and it comes back to me damaged and you tell me you can verify the condition before it was in your hands???? Take pictures of your instruments and cases at the airport, if necessary take them at the ticket counter and who cares if you hold up the line. Make sure that your camera/ cell phone camera time and date stamps the photos. Open the cases as soon as you get them on the other end. Right at the baggage claim and check carefully for damage and missing things. Even when TSA has the tools to not damage your things, some of them will anyway.

      • Jimmy mack

        Thank you Kevin for bringing this issue to light. It is a growing problem and somehow needs to be addressed.

  9. Unfortunately, when I travel with instruments now, I travel defensively. Never travel with something irreplaceable unless it is within reach or sight. If it’s going to be in the TSA or an airline’s care, I should be able to afford to have it lost, stolen, or destroyed. Whether it’s the TSA, the airlines, weather, or whatever, if the instrument is out of my sight and in the care of others, it’s as good as lost in these days of lost human to human respect. It’s sad to have such so low expectations of people in order for me to travel with an instrument.

    When I came to peace with that, I realized the ability to make music is in my fingers and not necessarily in the instrument.

  10. onthe440

    I was on a pre-9/11 shuttle flight from Boston to DC and sat next to a guy who tried to bring his saw (the instrument) on the plane. It looks like a saw, but it is not sharp and there are no teeth. There was a bit of a scuffle between him and the flight attendants. The pilot came out and offered to hold the saw in the flight deck and return it when we landed. Problem solved.

  11. Antonio.

    Screw Canada, our talent is far superior to a bunch of Baby Seal killing Twerps. Don’t waste your talents up there in the land of nose rubbers.. Thats the Thanks you get, broken and stolen treasures. Great representation from a frozen wasteland.