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So you want to buy a tuba. Or you’re thinking of buying a tuba. Or you’re stuck at home crawling out of your skin and now feels like a good time to learn to play the tuba.
Well, we think you should buy a tuba. Here’s why.
Technically, this tuba is a sousaphone, a valved brass instrument with the same tube length and musical range as other tubas. A sousaphone is also the instrument you’d typically find in a marching band because its design makes it easy to carry and play at the same time. The sousaphone wraps around the musician’s body, while the bell (usually detachable) rests on the musician’s shoulder facing forward. Yes, it’s one of the largest brass instruments, but it’s surprisingly easy to hold, and with just three of four valves, most people pick it up pretty easily (both literally and figuratively).
Tubas in general are not very difficult to learn to play, and sousaphones are even easier because they’re more comfortable to play while standing and are not as heavy. The sousaphone’s deep, warm sound blends beautifully with other brass instruments but that’s not to say it isn’t strong enough to stand on its own, which it most certainly is.
Named for conductor John Philip Sousa, the instrument didn’t even exist until the late 19th century, but it eventually became a signature element of the New Orleans brass band tradition. It’s still used in many college bands, jazz bands and even rock and funk recordings today.
Sousaphones come in professional or beginner varieties, but you’re going to get the best sound from a full-sized instrument. A good tuba sousaphone feels substantial and is a unique instrument to pick up, whether you’re looking to expand your musical repertoire, craving a crowd-pleasing instrument, or just want a new hobby to tackle horn on.
1. Handmade Sousaphone Brass Tuba
Assuming you are not a professional sousaphonist, you’re not going to do much better than this particular instrument. It has a satisfying heft to it, with solid tubing, a large bell, and big piston keys. Most important is the sound quality of course, which is smooth, and would sound at home in a marching band, brass band, or your own basement.
While musicians are often suspicious of instruments manufactured abroad, we’d consider this tuba an exception. It comes with a mouth piece and carrying bag.
Pros: The quality of this sousaphone tuba is remarkable both in sound and construction, with excellent sound quality and substantial weight.
Cons: The finish is quite dull.
2. Brass Sousaphone Bb Big Bell Tubas
We like that this sousaphone’s white brass finish sets it apart from the typical gold brass. The instrument comes with a carrying bag and mouthpiece, which is plated in phosphorus copper. The manufacturer also points to the smooth action valves and comfortable faux mother of pearl inlaid keys.
This is a tuba you’ll be proud to show off, with big, full sound matched by its stylish and sophisticated finish.
Pros: Attractive style stands out from generic brass models.
Cons: Sound quality won’t be as good as a professional grade instrument.
3. Jupiter University Quad Valve Brass BBb Sousaphone
The major advantage to this sousaphone is its superior construction which is produced accurately to scale and holds up to travel and long-term wear and tear.
Other notable features include the fast action stainless steel pistons which allow for improved agility when the instrument is played, and a removable valve section which allows full access for repairs that would otherwise have been unreachable by a technician.
Pros: Excellent construction and intonation. Rich, warm sound.
Cons: It’s large in size which can be intimidating to beginners.