Posted by Fellow Tubist :) on December 22, 1999 at 13:20:18:
After reading many questions people have about tubas and reading of tuba purchasing horror stories I decided to write this email. Someone SHOULD write a book "Tuba Buying for Dumbies." It would look cute on the book store shelves next to "Windows95 for Dumbies" and "Sex for Dumbies." Frankly, it should be a short book too...maybe just a pamphlet. Anyhow, I have purchased 4 tubas to date. The first one was in high school based on word of mouthpiece and bought over the phone. The second one I tried out and I ordered one. Finally, numbers 3 and 4(which I play on now) I bought by trying them out at Dillon Music.
Rules of Thumb:
1. Buying a tuba is an expensive endeavour no matter whether you are buying a student or professional tuba. You are making a purchase in the thousands of dollars. (don't forget that!)
2. Consider what level you are as a student. How serious are you about the tuba? Do you want to major on tuba in college? Or is this just a hobby?
3. GENERALLY SPEAKING: college students= CC,F, and Eb tuba
Not so serious/hobbiest: BBb tuba. (again, GENERALLY SPEAKING)
4. Buy a tuba for quality and NOT for asthetics. It may look nice and pretty, but if the SOUND is less than desirable, and it doesn't play how you want it to, DON'T BUY IT! Also be sure you are buying a reputable brand.
Catalogs vs Buying AT the store:
I bought my first tuba over the phone. I knew nothing about tubas and nothing about that one in particular but I bought it because it was suggested to me. Could I have gotten a better USED tuba for the same price? Probably! Should I have bought a used tuba? With hind site at 20/20....yeah probably. Don't go blindly into a tuba purchase without knowing information about the tuba such as brand, key, # of valves, rotary or piston, if used approximately how old it is. Another BAD thing about ordering through a catalog is that you can try 8 Mirafone 186 CC, or MW 2145, or Hirsbrunners, and find that you have 8 completely different playing horns. You may like one better than the other. Try the horn you will OWN before you lay down the cash. Most catalog places would be more than happy to send you the horn to try before you buy. The only problem is, you have only 1 to compare. See if they can send you more than one, OR, if you can, go to THEM and try out a couple of the same tuba in their warehouse.
Buying a tuba at the store is a more secure purchase (IMHO). You get to meet your salesman in person and smile at them. You get to try out a large variety of tubas, new and used in one trip. You can put your mouthpiece in a $12,000 Hirsbrunner or a $5,000 Mirafone. The choices and buying power is greater in your control. Also you get to try out the tuba you will OWN right in the store before you pay the money. Also, you can walk out of the store with tuba in hand and a smile on your face.
There are many buying methods and to each their own. Never forget that you are spending THOUSANDS of dollars. Finally, you can find some GREAT new and USED tubas at places like Baltimore Brass Company (http://members.aol.com/BBCTuba/) and Dillon Music in NJ. (www.dillonmusic.com) If you have $4000 to spend on your first tuba, buy a good quality USED tuba instead of a lesser quality new tuba. You will be happier in the end. TRUST ME!