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Guide to Tubas

Tuba : What is it?

Tubas

The tuba is the largest musical instrument in the brass family. Most tubas can have three to six rotary or piston valves. These valves lower the tuba’s fundamental pitch by as many as three semitones. First seen in the 19th century, tubas are popularly used in the brass section of an orchestra and in jazz bands.

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Types of Tubas

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Kinds of Tubas include the following:

Concert tuba

Concert tubas feature wrapped tubing, making them ideal for resting it on the lap. They are commonly used in classical and orchestral performances. Most have silver plated or a lacquered brass finish.

Helicon tuba

A helicon tuba has a circular wrapped body. It is commonly used as a marching tuba.

C tuba

C tubas are frequently used in American orchestras. Most typically have hand-lapped valves and tuning slides for smooth action and airtightness.

Contrabass tuba

Contrabass tubas have the lowest pitch-- either in Bb (BBb) or C (CC). The Bbb contrabass tuba is commonly used in brass bands, while the CC contrabass tuba is used in orchestras.

Bass tuba

A bass tuba has an Eb or F pitch, which is a fourth above than the pitch of a contrabass tuba. F bass tubas are used in solo professional performances, while Eb types are used in brass bands.

Tenor tuba

Tenor tubas are also called euphoniums. The pitch of a typical tenor tuba is an octave higher than the BBb tuba. C-pitched tenor tubas (called a small French tuba) can have six valves for creating lower notes in an orchestra performance. 

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Choosing Tubas (Buying tips)

Skill level: If you are an adult beginner, choose a BBb contrabass tuba. Get an Eb tuba if you are a young amateur. Look for a C tuba if you intend to go professional.

Coating: To keep your tuba looking smooth and shiny, choose one coated in clear epoxy. When oven-hardened, epoxy lacquer helps the tuba produce harder, more solid sounds.

Corrosion resistance: Look for a tuba with leadpipes made of nickel silver.

Finish: Choose a brass tuba with a silver-plated finish to achieve brighter tones. If you want rich and low tones, get a raw brass tuba. 

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