Tubas serve as the bass voice of the brass family, and the tuba is both challenging and fun to play. Tubas have many variations that make them well suited for different kinds of music. There are BBb, CC, EEb and F tubas, but most bands and orchestra players use BBb or CC tubas, which are sometimes called contrabass tubas. Most manufacturers offer tubas in a range of sizes to fit players physically with tuba bores to accommodate a player's ability to deliver the amount of air required to play.
For the majority of school-band music, BBb tubas work very well. BBb tubas have a broader sound with more weight than comparably sized CC tubas, which helps to balance a band's sound. CC tubas have a sound that can be categorized as more compact and cleaner, which works well for orchestral use. Depending on the type of ensemble you play with the most, you may need to transpose your music for your tuba's key.
View Recommended Instruments:
Tubas can be made with yellow brass or gold brass (also called rose brass) and even have parts made of nickel-silver. Gold brass contains a higher copper content, making the metal color and sound slightly darker than yellow brass tubas. Instruments that feature nickel-silver trim resonate differently and are primarily intermediate or professional models. Tubas are also available with a lacquer or silver-plate finish. Silver-plated tubas have a slightly brighter sound than lacquer instruments. Many players prefer the combinations of piston valve tubas with a silver-plated finish and rotary valve tubas with lacquer finishes.
Tubas are available in all types of sizes. Instrument manufacturers devised a system to categorize tuba size into 4 common sizes: 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, and 6/4. All of the sizes are relative to each manufacturer's line of instruments. A manufacturer's 4/4 will be larger than their 3/4. However, the same 4/4 may be smaller than another manufacturer's 3/4. These size designations are only a guideline for choosing a tuba.
Miraphone S186 Series 4/4 BBb Tuba
As with its smaller counterpart the euphonium, tubas are also available in 3-, 4- or 5-valve versions. The added fourth valve aids in low-register production and helps with low-register intonation. The general rule of thumb is at least 4 valves are needed to produce and perform all the low range notes in a tubist's daily life. A fifth valve makes the tuba much more versatile and facilitates a wider range of alternate fingerings to improve a performer's intonation.
Tubas are available with piston or rotary valves. Piston valves, like the valves of a trumpet, move up and down to direct air into different combinations of tubing to change notes. They extend the length of the tuba. Rotary valves rotate to direct the air into different tubing paths. Most student tubas and some intermediate and professional models have piston valves. The majority of intermediate and professional tubas have rotary valves. Rotary valve tubas use a shorter amount of action to operate, offering more fluid sound.
In choosing a tuba, you need to consider your musician's age and skill level, and the kind of use (school band, marching band, orchestral, etc.). If for school, consulting with the band teacher is a good idea.
Whatever tuba you select, The Woodwind & Brasswind's 100% Satisfaction Guarantee means you have 45 days to be sure it's the right instrument for you. If it's not, just return it for a full refund.* And neither do you need to worry about paying too much. Our 45-Day Lowest Price Guarantee means that if you find the same horn advertised for less elsewhere, we'll make up the difference. When you buy a tuba from The Woodwind & Brasswind, you can buy with complete confidence.
*All returned woodwind and brass instruments are assessed a $10.00 sterilization fee. Instruments priced over $3,000.00 are assessed a $20.00 fee. All mouthpieces are assessed a $4.00 fee.
Download the Product Comparison Charts: