Tuba – Opinions, Analysis and Buying Guide in 2021
Tubas are not as well known as other instruments such as the guitar and the trumpet, however more and more interest continues to appear towards them, making models such as the Roy Benson TB-312C tuba , which brings accessories such as thumb rest and a backpack type for greater wearing comfort, or the playLITE PLEUPHBW tuba , an ABS plastic tuba with an elegant black design that stands out with its contrasting colors. Any of them could be yours, you just have to think about which one would serve you the most.
Despite its distinctive structure, so different from trumpets but so similar to them at the same time, the tuba is not a well-known instrument and, for that reason, it is not very common to find people comparing tubas to find the best one. Because of this, when someone is really interested in this instrument, it is very possible to make mistakes when purchasing.
Tubas look almost always the same, however, not all of them are identical and there are different types of tuba that, depending on the sound you want to obtain from them or what type of musical group you are in, will adapt to your needs, or not. . If you don’t pay attention, you can end up with a tuba that has a tuning that doesn’t suit you.
The most common tubas are those tuned in Bb and French tubas, tuned in C. However, there are different others such as F, Eb, low Fa tubas, and convertible tubas.
Bb tubas are commonly used in the outskirts of Europe in tuba schools to initiate musicians, meanwhile, the use of the C tuba is favored in the old continent. The latter is used in both professional and student settings, therefore, it is possible to make presentations with it.
Despite not being the most famous when it comes to teaching the instrument, the F-tuned tuba is the most used in orchestras. It is also usually preferred by soloists, due to its ease in reaching high tones. For its part, the low tuba in F is used to make harmonies.
For that reason, before purchasing one, you need to be clear about what you want to do with the tuba and choose a model that has a tuning according to your requirements.
Before crowning an instrument in your guide to buying the best tuba, you should also consider the design of the model that catches your eye. Like the varieties in tuning, there are also some structural differences between tubas that, if not taken into account, will affect the quality of your music or simply make the instrument not the right one for your purposes.
Before noticing how much the instrument costs or what color the tuba is, your gaze should be directed to the pistons and valves. A slight change in the number of these parts and the sounds will be limited or the tunes will change. The most common tubas are those that work with 4 valves, however, you can find models that only have 2 or 3 valves in their structure or, on the contrary, some tuba that reaches up to 6 valves.
The French tubas, as they are known, come with 6, while the 3 valves are ideal for children and beginners, due to their ease of playing. The 2 is only used in special models. A design highlighted by delegating its wide range of tone only to the strength and shape of the lip vibration of the tubist.
In addition to this difference in valves, tubas also vary in size and weight. This depends entirely on the manufacturer and does not usually affect sound production, although it must be taken into account that the longest tubas will be the ones that produce the lowest tones. This is evidenced by the approximate length of the tubas in Bb with 5.5 meters and the tubas in Fa, the most acute, which only reach 3.7 meters.
Materials and quality
After clearing all the technical concerns about buying your tuba, it is time to focus on other things such as the superficial appearance or if it is the instrument that you chose an economical product. A good and inexpensive option may be medium quality tubas, however, although they tend to adapt well to beginners who are already adults, these are not usually sold or resold as quickly in the market.
If it is a tuba for a child or for someone undecided, it is better to buy a low quality product to use it as an instrument that seeks to accustom the musician to the structure and its use. If you want to use the tuba professionally, you need to buy a high-quality product.
Regarding the design, despite the fact that the material is usually always brass, it can range from golden to copper tones without problem. Models change. Additionally, some tubas have copper, tin, or nickel in certain details.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: How to use a tuba?
The first thing to keep in mind is that, before any professional practice or presentation, it is advisable to perform breathing exercises, since maintaining control when breathing while playing the tuba is one of the most difficult skills and is necessary to play this instrument.
It is possible to place the tuba on your lap to play comfortably, since the weight range of these instruments goes from 6 to 8 kilos with ease. However, this is not mandatory and you can practice standing up if you wish.
When you blow, you will produce an un-artistic noise, but as you start to play the pistons, this sound will begin to take shape. The position of the lips, the amount of air you blow, the pressure you put on the pistons … all this will influence the sound. The answer to a perfect tuba concert is to just practice until you drop.
Q2: Why is the trumpet higher than the tuba?
The difference between the registers and note ranges of trumpets and tubas has to do with their structure.
Tubas are large instruments, with wide cavities, while trumpets are thin and smaller instruments. When blowing a trumpet loudly, it will take less time for the air to come out of the bell, it will condense more within the cavities, and for that reason, your result will be sharper.
No matter how hard you try, the size of the tuba’s internal cavities makes it impossible to reach the register of the trumpet. Therefore, these instruments must be used to produce the lowest tones.
Q3: Where is the tuba placed in the orchestra?
The positions of the instruments in the orchestra depend very much on the vision of the conductor and the intention of the composer. The first thing you notice in an orchestra is that there is usually only one tuba and that this usually finds a place in the back, exactly on the far right.
This happens frequently due to the harmony you perform with the trombones that are also on the far right. However, in symphonies like “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” the place of the tuba changes. In addition to that, some composers have dared to use two or more tubas, so the space can also vary.
As interest in the tuba is growing, this instrument is increasingly being part of more solos in various symphonies, therefore the position of the tuba may continue to change to suit the composition.
Q4: How to choose mouthpiece for tuba?
To know if the mouthpiece for tuba is correct it is necessary to do a test before. It all depends on the sounds you want to produce, as the small mouthpieces make the high tones easier, while the large mouthpieces specialize in the low registers.
In addition to this, the V-shaped mouthpieces are characterized by giving a clear sound with more projection, while those in the form of C have a dark sound.
Q5: What is the tuba made of?
The tuba is made, most of the time, of gold or silver brass. On certain occasions, various models may use materials such as nickel to make instrument accessories and some other details. Brass is made up of a mixture of other elements, such as copper and zinc.
Q6: What family does the tuba belong to?
The tuba, like instruments such as trumpets and trombones, belongs to the great family of brass instruments. So named for the material used in its manufacture and also because the sound depends largely on the flow of air that the player lets out in order to play any of them.
Q7: Who created the tuba?
Made in the mid 1800s, the tuba had two creators who, wanting to replace the serpentine, came up with this instrument. Their names were Wilhelm Wieprecht and Johan Gottfried Moritz.
Seeing the end result of their creation, they decided that this instrument was too different from the serpentine to be its successor, and from there the tuba made a name for itself as a unique instrument.
Q8: What is the name of the person who plays the tuba?
The Royal Spanish Academy indicates that the person who plays the tuba, regardless of gender, should be called a tubista. However, when you walk into a room full of “tubistas” and call them that, you are likely to get some bad looks.
Despite being the correct word, almost 100% of professional tuba musicians refer to themselves as “tuberos”.