Re: Which Tuba should I buy?

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Posted by Steve Inman on September 25, 2001 at 18:54:58:

In Reply to: Which Tuba should I buy? posted by Shawn on September 25, 2001 at 16:22:36:

What type of playing do you anticipate doing? Will it be all with larger groups (community band) or a mixture (band/quintet) or small groups (quintet only)?

Is all your experience with BBb tubas? Are you willing to relearn fingerings to play a tuba in a different key (you can choose from BBb, CC, Eb or F)?

In general (YMMV, MTCW, etc.):

If you're comfortable with BBb tuba, you don't want to re-learn fingerings and you're going to play primarily in a larger group, buy a 4/4 or 5/4 BBb tuba and have fun!

If you're wanting to stay with BBb but you intend to play only in small groups, look for a 3/4 size BBb, perhaps the Meinl Weston model 18 or the Miraphone 182. The slightly more "compact" or "focused" sound will tend to blend better with the smaller group. But it may not be big enough for a large band if you're the only tubist.

If you want to play in large and small groups, then go for a 4/4 BBb as a compromise. You can select different depth mouthpieces to get a brighter (quintet) or darker (large ensemble) sound. I believe you will find that the most cost-effective, 4/4 size, contrabass tuba will be one pitched in the key of BBb. I'd recommend a Miraphone 186, a Meinl Weston 25, a King 2341, a VMI 3301, all available for under $4K. For a little more money, the Miraphone 191 gets very good reviews on this list as a 5/4 size BBb tuba.

If you're willing to learn different fingerings for the same notes, as is required when you switch keys of your tuba, then you've got lots of options available.

Again, in general: the higher-pitched tubas are believed to be slightly more responsive than the lower pitched ones. They are believed to have a slightly more focused or compact sound. CC tuba fingerings are easier on your hands when playing in sharp keys. These comments tend to explain why orchestral tubists prefer CC tubas.

The Eb and F bass tubas (as opposed to the BBb and CC contrabass tubas) are generally used for smaller groups, or for music set higher in the tuba's overall range, for slightly easier playing and nimbleness. The bass tubas also have a more compact/focused sound than the contrabass tubas, so they will blend better with smaller groups, or stand out better as a solo instrument. Eb and F tubas are popular in quintet playing when the tubist ALSO owns a contrabass tuba for the larger ensembles. (Oh my, now we're starting a collection . . . .)

I'm going to stop now, because the options are endless. These are a few general ideas to ponder.

Good luck,

Steve Inman
Kokomo, IN

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