Brass Instruments

The Best Tuba

Recommending products to our readers, we only like to showcase what we feel is truly the best. That is no different when it comes to tubas.

We know that purchasing a tuba can be a huge investment and you don’t want to make a wrong decision. It can be a little overwhelming, which is why we enjoy taking the guesswork out of it for our readers by reviewing countless tubas to confidently recommend only the best to our readers.

After carefully reviewing many different tubas we were able to narrow down to our top five tubas and have chosen our number one choice. If you want to know all of the reasons this tuba is our favorite and what other tubas it was up against, keep reading.

Top Pick: Jupiter 5080 Quantum Series Marching Bbb

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Classic look, beautiful silver finish, and deep sound. Fast action makes for easy playability and reliable functionality.

How to Choose a Tuba

When you’re choosing a tuba, there is a lot you want to consider:

Mouthpiece

The first thing you should consider is the fit of the mouthpiece. You do not want a mouthpiece that rests against your forehead or chest.

This is not a comfortable fit, nor is it how tubas should rest. You will want to test out where each mouthpiece rests prior to deciding to purchase.

Genre

You will also want to think about the type of music you will play with your tuba. Some people are interested in being a well-rounded tuba musician and want to be able to play several different types of music.

There are other tuba musicians who have an interest in only playing a specific type of music be it jazz. symphony, brass quintet, etc. There are tubas made to be well-rounded musicians and tubas made for specialties.

What type of music you plan to play will make the decision of what type of tuba is right for you. There are BBb, CC, Eb, or F tubas and choosing the right one will be very important to your music playing.

Valves

Considering the valves is another important aspect in choosing the best tuba for you. The number of valves and valve mechanisms is something that can really make your tuba right for you.

Beginners should consider only starting off with a three valve with a piston valve setup as it is simpler and will make the cost of the tuba and any future repairs less.

If you are a more advanced tuba musician you will also have the option of rotary valves. This is a more complex setup, but the movement between notes is more fluid.

Repair costs are also heightened with rotary valve setups.

Horn

Testing the horn of each and every tuba may seem like a lot of work, but it will ensure you are getting a great sounding tuba. You don’t want a tuba that sounds stuffy. You want a tuba with beautiful, clear sound.

You should have someone you trust with you to listen to you test out any potential tuba to give you their honest opinion on sound.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in how good something looks that we are almost deaf to how it actually sounds.

Material

You will also want to think about what you want your tuba to be made from. The options generally include brass, nickel, and silver. When it comes to brass tubas, you are faced with gold or yellow options.

What your tuba is made from will define the tone of your tuba. Yellow brass offers darker tones in comparison to all the other tubas. Nickel and silver tubas provide a brighter, clearer sound.

Size

The size of your tuba is another important factor when it comes to choosing the right tuba for you. You can generally choose from a 3/4, 4/4, or 5/4.

The bigger the numerator, the bigger the tuba. Most beginners will start off with a smaller tuba, but more skilled tuba musicians will select a larger sized tuba as they become more comfortable.

Weight

You should also consider the weight of your tuba. You will want a weight that is comfortable for you.

This is especially important if you are in a marching band. You will want the weight to be evenly dispersed to make carrying your tuba easier.

Price

You should also have a clear budget in mind as you’re shopping for a tuba. Tubas are one of the more expensive musical instruments out there, so you will pay a pretty penny up front.

The type of tuba you choose can also define repair costs. So, you can choose a setup that will cost you less on repairs to save money.

You just want to have a clear idea of what you’re willing to spend up front so you do not overspend out of your budget for your tuba.

You can expect to pay close to $1000 at the minimum, but tubas can run much higher than that. A tuba is an investment, but you will be happy with a tuba that is beautiful in look and sound.

Used vs. New

You may be looking at ways you can cut costs. The number one way people try to do this is by purchasing a used tuba.

This isn’t something we recommend. We understand being on a budget, but buying a used tuba can prove to be a wasted investment that could affect your music negatively.

You don’t know anything about the previous owner. You don’t know what type of care was given to their tuba or if the proper maintenance was done to it. This can affect the sound of your tuba.

You also may not be informed if the tuba is a rebuild, which can really affect the sound of your tuba.

A tuba that should have a beautiful sound may sound muffled and dull simply because it was used not given the best care and now any future owner will pay the price by sacrificing the sound of their music.

When you purchase a new tuba, you know exactly what you’re getting. There are no outside factors that will affect the sound or playability of your tuba. And you will more than likely have options for warranty.

Buying a tuba brand new puts the condition of your tuba in your hands from day one. It will be up to you to maintain your tuba as to keep your tuba in great shape.

A tuba can last a long time when given the proper care. Consider your new tuba an investment and treat it as such so your sound is never affected by improper care,

The Competition

After hours of testing and research, here's the final competition.

InstrumentRatingCurrent Pricing
Jupiter 5080 Quantum Series Marching BBb Tuba
The silver lacquer is a beautiful finish on a brass body giving this tuba a classic look with smooth, beautiful sound$5,489.00
King 2341W Series 4-Valve 4/4 BBb Tuba
Very high quality$6,928.00
Miraphone 186-4U Series 4-Valve 4/4 BBb Tuba
The sound is a beautiful rich, dark sound that will carry throughoutOut of stock
Dillon 995 BBb Tuba
It possesses three top action piston valves, which would provide simple playability for a beginner tuba musicianOut of stock
Schiller Field Series Professional BBb Marching Tuba
Manufactured with a weight balancing system that aids in easier handlingCheck on Amazon
King 2341W Series 4-Valve 4/4 BBb Tuba
The sound really impressed us with the centered, rich tone$6,928.00
Jupiter 5080 Quantum Series Marching BBb Tuba
The fast action stainless steel pistons make the playability of this tuba very simple even for a beginner$5,489.00

Our Recommendation:

Jupiter 5080 Quantum Series Marching BBb

While this is a marching tuba, that does not mean that’s all it can be used for. The silver lacquer is a beautiful finish on a brass body giving this tuba a classic look with smooth, beautiful sound.

The left-handed tuning slide trigger is conveniently placed and makes  tuning a quick and easy process during performances

This is a great beginner’s tuba with 3 stainless steel pistons. The fast action makes for easy playability and reliable functionality. The bore is a good size at .689″ making it a comfortable fit and easy to adapt for any skill level.

The smooth, radiating sound and low, hearty tones really moved us to love this tuba.

We will say about this tuba is the weight is a little heavier than we would like for a beginner’s tuba. It also isn’t well-balanced making the weight a little more difficult to adjust to.

While we do find this to be more of a beginner’s tuba, any musician of any skill level looking for a BBb that plays and functions with ease will be satisfied.

As a middle of the road priced tuba, we were satisfied with the cost. Repairs would be cheaper for this tuba with the mechanisms, so just under $6,000 is worth every penny for this tuba.

Runner Up:

King 2341W Series 4-Valve 4/4 BBb

It was a close call with the King 2341W Series 4-Valve 4/4 BBb. This is a beautiful yellow brass professional grade. This is not a beginner’s tuba as it has 4 valves and is the second largest.

The bore size is a comfortable fit being .687″. The front action valves make them easy to reach, which we found to be nice. The first valve slide provides easy tuning capabilities while playing.

As far as sound goes it has centered, rich tone making for a great performance every time. This tuba would make for an amazing jazz tuba.

This tuba is very high quality, but there a few reasons why it didn’t make the cut for our number one spot. This tuba plays very beautifully, but the 4 valves are not meant for a beginner.

We found it would be best used by an intermediate musician and we like to recommend a model that can be used by all skill levels in our number one. We also found the price to be a bit hefty for those just getting started, at close to $7,000.

Other Products to Consider:

Miraphone 186-4U Series 4-Valve 4/4 BBb

This tuba is at the intermediate skill level at the minimum, with 4-valve tuba with the rotary valve mechanism, which can be more complex. This also is not a tuba we would recommend for marching band.

The sound is a beautiful rich, dark sound that will carry throughout. The sound output is quality and does especially well at perfecting the lower notes.

This tuba shouldn’t be in need of repairs much as long as it is given the proper care. It is more pricey at a little over $8,000.

We did find that the trigger pads do tend to get worn down a little easily and will need to be replaced every few years. A small folded piece of paper can assist with this issue.

We also found that the spit valve at the bottom of the four triggers tends to get a build-up of spit. We did find a way to fix this.

All you would have to do is remove the tuning slide while the tuba is laying on a flat surface on its bell. Then just tip the tuning slide in order to allow the spit to drain out. This should be done after every practice or concert.

Dillon 995 BBb

Credit: Amazon.com

Another tuba that remained on our radar as a top choice is the Dillon 995 BBb Tuba. This is a great beginners tuba with great tone.

This is a 7/8 tuba, which makes it a larger tuba at about 34″ tall with a 15″ diameter upright bell. Three top action piston valves provide simple playability for a beginner tuba musician. The bore size was a comfortable fit at .640″.

The yellow brass is beautiful and the engraving only improves upon its beauty. The outer appearance of this tuba is something any tuba musician would be proud to play.

Outside of appearance, it has great playability. It is very easy to blow and provides a very nice warm, smooth sound.

While we do find this to be more of a beginner’s tuba, we also feel it would be suitable for other skill levels. The cost doesn’t hurt at around $1,000.

Our only iffy area of this tuba is the size. Not only is it large in size, but also 55lbs in weight. This can be adapted to, but it will take beginners a little time to get used to.

Schiller Field Series Professional BBb Marching

This is a beautiful brass and nickel plated tuba that provides a beautiful sound. We would compare the sound of this tuba to a concert tuba, which was surprising to us with the cost being only $1100.

It’s a 3/4 and feels very lightweight, which is very important when it is classified as a marching tuba. It is also very easy on the shoulder.

The weight is evenly dispersed making this tuba very easy to carry while playing. It is actually manufactured with a weight balancing system that aids in easier handling.

The sound is very big and robust and will fill any arena. The bore is very comfortable at .630″.

One concern we had is that the lead pipe soldering doesn’t seem to be fully intact and has the potential to come undone.

Sources

Bobo, R. (2006, August 11). Brass Legend: Choosing a Tuba. Retrieved from Roger Bobo – Conductor and Brass Legend, http://www.rogerbobo.com/musical_articles/tubashopping.shtml

Harry. (2015, June 15). Best Tubas for Beginners 2016: Buyer’s Guide & Tuba Reviews. Retrieved from Wind Plays, http://windplays.com/how-to-choose-the-right-tuba-for-beginner/

Notable Replies

  1. While it’s great to have a quality and well weighted Tuba for marching bands, it hasn’t always been available at the schools I work with. Budgets are tight. In case it can help out any other marching players, getting your body in proper shape for the season can be a big help with this instrument. Learn proper posture, and go on weighted walks in temperatures and humidity similar to what you may experience on the field. :+1:

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