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You are here: Home > Tubas > Tuba Buying Guide & Tips
What you need to know before you buy a tuba.

  • Tuba types:  Tubas come in many sizes and options.  They are most commonly pitched in B-flat, C, E-flat, or F.  Different types of music and preferences determine which key instrument is used, but most bands and orchestras will use B-flat or C tubas.  No matter what pitch tuba is being used, the same concert pitch music is read.  
  • Sizes:  Tuba sizes are usually measured in a quarter system.  Normal full size will be 4/4.  3/4 tubas are smaller, and 5/4 and 6/4 are larger.  There is not a standard measurement to classify a tuba into these categories, but each manufacturer uses them relatively.  Bigger tubas are not always better because a smaller student may not be able to handle a 4/4 tuba, the best choice would be a 3/4 tuba.
  • Piston or rotary valves:  Tubas are made with both types of valves depending on the model.  Tubas can also have 3-6 valves, more valves usually on professional models.  Both types of valves serve the same purpose, but they react differently and require different maintenance. 
  • Marching:  Sousaphones are commonly used for marching situations.  Sousaphones are Bb tubas wrapped so that they wrap around the body and rest on the left shoulder, with the bell facing forward to help outdoor acoustics.  Marching tubas are also used occasionally, and some concert tubas are convertible to marching tubas by switching leadpipes.
  • Mouthpiece: All tubas will come with a mouthpiece from the manufacturer.  Most of these will be standard size mouthpieces, even if it is not printed on the mouthpiece.  If the tuba player wants a different size or type of mouthpiece, they can be purchased separately.