@MrsPramm - OK, this might be a risk, but in my experience the best way to get a musical instrument overseas is to just not ask for permission.
I traveled through West Africa with a friend of mine and he wanted to bring home a couple of massive Kora harps. These things are about as tall as the average person and made from leather, wood and a calabash gourd.
I agreed to take one and he took the other on separate flights. I was visiting friends on my way home so I took that massive thing on something like five different flights to get it home. At no point did I ask if I could take it on the plane, I just did it. Every time I ended up on the actual plane the steward would just take it from me and put it in a special locker they had for instruments.
I actually couldn't believe how easy it was, but this was post-9/11 so it wasn't like I wasn't going through all the usual security. I think, with most kinds of adventure travel you just have to assume that no one is going to stop you and they rarely will.