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Help with a Tuba decision

Postby pakins51 » Fri May 22, 2020 10:18 pm

To start off, yes I know these post can get iffy on here at times, but I really need some help/advice. Ill be starting College in the fall as a Music Education Major, and I’m highly considering double majoring with Performance. At the moment I’m borrowing my Colleges only CC tuba which is a Meinl Weston 30. I would be able to use this the whole first year before needing my own tuba but I’d rather get my own sooner then later as this horn has some very funky intonation Issues and no fifth valve. I’m looking to get a large 4/4 to small 5/4 horn and I’ve found a few used ones that I’d like some opinions, info, and comparisons from people with actual experience with them. I know trying them all would be the best option but I’m not really near anyone who owns any of these and getting to the actual horns that are for sale would be hard, especially with everything going on at the moment.
Here’s the list:
-Miraphone 1292/3
-Yamaha 822
-Besson 995
-Willson 3050
-4/4 Nirschl
-Miraphone 188

Please let me know if there’s any others for sale that are around this size that you think I should consider. Also the decision to switch to CC was mainly mine as I played a few and prefer them over BBb. Thank You!
EDIT- I’m not asking y’all to make the decision for me this is more to help guide me and just give more information on the horns.
Last edited by pakins51 on Sat May 23, 2020 11:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby Chazg » Fri May 22, 2020 10:48 pm

You might also consider the Wessex Wyvern and the Mack Brass ZO "Little Thunderbird ".

Also a good idea to check with your tuba professor for his or her opinion also.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby keeganthepotato » Fri May 22, 2020 10:51 pm

Personally, I play the Eastman EBC 632 and it's done nothing but wonders for me. I bought it second hand, which made it even cheaper, which was great for when I was starting college. It's a 4/4 horn, but if you know how to work it well you can fill up any space quite easily. I have tried both the 6/4 Eastman and the newer 4/4 832, however I still prefer my 632. Then again, I am just a college student, so I would listen to more experienced players. That's just my two cents, though.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby Matt G » Fri May 22, 2020 11:05 pm

That’s an interesting list.

I’m pretty sure the 995 and Nirschl are even “shorter” than a 186. I know, having owned a 822 and 188 that the Yamaha is “shorter”.

How many 3050s are available? Those seem like decent tubas. I’ve played a couple. The only thing on your list I’m not familiar with is the Miraphone 1292/3, I’ve only played 186s and 188s.

Given your list, I’d probably add looking for a Meinl Weston 2155/2000/Thor and the B&S PT-6P. I think you’ll find good options there.

If it’s a blind situation and you’re looking for some level of consistency to hedge bets, I’d probably stick with the Miraphone or the Willson. The 995 and Nirschl can be all over the place and based on your ergonomic concerns, I’d skip the Yamaha for sure.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby pakins51 » Fri May 22, 2020 11:10 pm

Really? The lead pipe on the 186(Chinese copy) I tried seemed to be shorter then any other horn Ive ever played, I didn’t think those horns would have shorter lead pipes, but again I could be wrong.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby russiantuba » Fri May 22, 2020 11:10 pm

Instead of asking a group of people who have no clue on how you play or the direction you should be guided in your collegiate study, I would highly suggest you contact the applied professor at your university whom you will be studying under. There are certain professors out there who request certain brands and sizes of horns of their students. Without even knowing where you are studying, you can't even get alumni to mention the professor's view on certain horns.

Play your MW 30 that you have on loan for the summer and until you can play on some of these horns, hopefully under the ears of your professor, to make a decision.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby pakins51 » Fri May 22, 2020 11:26 pm

I completely understand that. I’ve talked to him and he told me to lean towards the Yamaha and miraphone 1291/2/3. But said they would all be fine horns. Thank you for the advice!
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby Matt G » Fri May 22, 2020 11:46 pm

pakins51 wrote:Really? The lead pipe on the 186(Chinese copy) I tried seemed to be shorter then any other horn Ive ever played, I didn’t think those horns would have shorter lead pipes, but again I could be wrong.


I’m going off old memories and I haven’t played any of the Chinese copies.

That being said, the 822 has funky ergonomics all around. If you google that horn you’ll see some interesting posts.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby bloke » Sat May 23, 2020 9:42 am

I'm fairly tall (73 inches + shoes), not short-waisted, and almost never encounter problems with tubas' mouthpipes' positions.
I can - nearly always - adjust the spacing between my thighs and the tilt of an instrument to remedy whatever...

...I could understand one of my 7-feet-tall friends encountering problems, but they seem to manage with their instruments as well.

My own lists of equipment acquisition priorities always begin with "intonation tendencies", so - were it that the only tubas I could purchase would be those you've listed - I'd personally migrate to the last one that you mentioned...the one that you've claimed is too short for you to be able to play.

I've never really thought of myself as an "ergonomics sensitive" player, but one of those models that you listed (which I borrowed from a friend for the better part of a year, in the distant past) is quite top heavy, which draws my attention away from "the music" and towards "holding up the instrument", which - to me - is annoying. Another thing about that particular model is that my attention is drawn (due to a considerably long list of intonation issues) towards BOTH the #1 and #3 slides. When I have to devote that much physical effort towards intonation, that (to me) distracts from "the music" as well, and - thus - defines that instrument as a nonstarter.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby ggdadams » Sat May 23, 2020 12:35 pm

First, I'll say I am primarily a BBb tuba player and therefore very limited playing on a CC, the finger changes give me a headache! But, I would like to mention a couple of things no one else has. It is very likely that no matter what you buy, eventually possibly sooner than you would imagine, you will decide it doesn't have the sound you imagine or you find one you like better or.......The bottom line is you will want to sell it and buy another. And since the horns on your list will all be well in excess of $4K if they are in presentable and playable condition, think about resale. If you wanted to trade for another, which would someone else want. So my advice since you are young is to make sure you buy something you can get most of your investment out of and don't spend a lot of $$ customizing it.

I have played a lot of different Miraph(f)ones over the years (all BBb) and have not played a bad one. They have a well deserved reputation for good intonation, nice tone and easy to play. However, when I bought the one new Mirafone I owned for many years, I bought it from a large dealer who had 6-8 of them. I am an average player and was decent at the time but not exceptional. That said, I could grade them from best to worst. I recall a couple were OK, a couple were good and one was really good. I of course bought the one that was "really good". What was different? I dunno, easier to play, a little more resonant, can't say. But it was better. And it was an S model so it was $300-400 less, even better. My point in all this, I strongly urge you to test play before you buy. Time is on your side and tubas aren't exactly flying off the shelves right now so don't be in so much of a hurry that you buy one sight unseen/unplayed. I have done it a couple of times but it is a HUGE risk and would only buy that way from someone I really trusted.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby bort » Sat May 23, 2020 12:59 pm

If you like the American style sound, then the Nirschl 4/4 is hard to beat. The Besson 995 is nearly as good, but I've tried a few awful versions of it. Try it first if you can.

The Miraphone 1292 would be a great all around option, and will give you a more focused but still plenty large sound. Very easy to play, big low register, and a good size all around. I had a 1291 with a 1292 leadpipe. It was a great tuba, and sounded at home just about anywhere. Build quality is solid, and you'll just never have trouble with it. Only complaint is that some other tubas "sound prettier" to my ears... But yes, I could have happily kept this tuba forever, and sometimes think that maybe I should have done that and saved myself a lot of time and trouble.

For a big CC, the Willson is great. But in college, you might find it not as fun for recitals and smaller groups. But if you just need a big CC, then this is a good option. I had the rotary version, and even the largest ensemble was no problem.

I love the Miraphone 188, but in your average (and above average) college wind ensemble (loud, loud, loud, loud....), it's going to take some work to push it hard and keep the output where you want it. In orchestra or in an ensemble that can control itself volume-wise... Then you'll never need anything else. The 188 is a great tuba, if it's a good fit for the ensemble.

If it were me, I'd go with the Miraphone 1292 or 1291. Even better, the Miraphone Bruckner is a super nice tuba. If I hadn't fallen into my Alexander, the Bruckner was probably next on my list. It's a great tuba, the best of the 1291 and 188 together.

Good luck! In the end, just pick something, use it for a good while, and after that change things up if you want to. Buying a tuba isn't a life sentence. It's about learning enough to decide what to do next, stick or switch. Try not to be frivolous or blame things on the tuba... But if you don't like it, you don't like it.

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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby tubamarc8891 » Sat May 23, 2020 1:04 pm

Chazg wrote:You might also consider the Wessex Wyvern and the Mack Brass ZO "Little Thunderbird ".

Also a good idea to check with your tuba professor for his or her opinion also.


I would also add the Zo 5000 “YorkaZo” BBb if you’re willing to go down a whole step. Just got one and it’s amazing.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby kingrob76 » Sat May 23, 2020 4:44 pm

I will second everything that Bort said with one exception.

I played a 188 for some time in a very good college wind ensemble and had zero issues keeping up volume-wise. When I listen to recordings from that ear (25-30 years ago) the 188 had no trouble getting on mic. Checks every box but probably won't win any gold medals. Given you'll probably need to be able to roll into a chamber setting from time to time with whatever you own, given that you'll be working on the undergrad rep... the 188 is a very solid choice. The 129x play bigger and are more work in the smaller settings IMO, and the Wilson is even bigger than that. The Besson and Nirschl are near identical and if you can find a good one then that's a win, but the range of quality here seems wider. Never been a fan of the Yamaha.

It's plausible you're going to have cover stuff like the Strauss Serenade, which is a contrabasson part, Tchaikovsky 5 with orchestra, and play a lesson for your teacher all in the same day. Flexibility is more useful in the undergrad single-horn setting than you would think - and as such the 188 just works.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby Sousaswag » Sat May 23, 2020 5:22 pm

We've already discussed some of this elsewhere, but figured I'd chime in anyway :D

Of the horns on your list, I'd choose one of the piston Miraphones, and here's why.

The 1293, specifically, is a wonderful instrument. If you want a 4.5ish/4 CC, the 93 is hard to beat. Huge low register, great intonation, and it sounds just as big as your Willson/Pt6/etc. That larger bell really does wonders. Yeah, I own a 1293 and am considering selling it for a rotary horn :oops: But I am also totally happy with how it plays and would not mind holding onto it. It is a seriously good tuba. Somebody above posted that you may end up selling your first horn, which is totally true. Look at Bort! He's gone through more horns than most of us ever will! But there's nothing wrong with that. All of those horns on your list will hold their value if you take care of them. If you buy an $8500 dollar Miraphone someone else will buy it for that or something just shy of that price.

But in all seriousness I'd really just forget about the Yamaha. In my experience they have funky intonation and aren't that comfortable to hold and play. The Nirschls, as mentioned above, have some significant variation, and of course you should try and play whatever you're interested in buying, but definitely the Nirschl/Besson if you find one. Of your list, I could be comfortable buying a 188, 1292 or 1293 sight unseen. Miraphones have a reputation of being pretty consistent.

The Willsons are sort of a hit or miss to a lot of people, it seems. You either love it or you hate it. The piston 3050 is REALLY heavy. Well made, but super heavy, and a few pounds more than I am comfortable with.

I did just echo what a lot of people said, and as a 1293 owner am I biased? Perhaps. But if you're looking for consistency, any of the Miraphones would be a great choice. The 1293 is the one I'd pick, not just because I own one, but because I like the way it sounds and plays, especially down low.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby bort » Sat May 23, 2020 6:37 pm

Rob -- I would have loved to play a 188 in college. Especially playing for Wakefield, where I seem to remember everything being too loud, and told to play softer. Many years after that, when I got my 188, I was playing in larger and louder bands, and the directors just wanted more/big tuba sound. Not that the 188 sounded bad, but I was working harder to make the sounds that were being requested. Other tubas were just easier to handle. I loved that tuba, though.

And in orchestra (including some very very good ones in NYC), the 188 was just plain awesome. If I had been doing more orchestra and less band, I would have never sold it.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby kingrob76 » Sat May 23, 2020 11:44 pm

Brett, over the course of the years I did something like 18 semesters in that wind ensemble with Wakefield. Half those semesters it was the only class I was taking because I was done with school and they needed a player so it was the only class on my schedule. He was particular about having control over the instrument. If you demonstrated you could play soft he usually gave you the space to play loud, but if the sound wasn’t “right” (or characteristic) you got the hand. We didn’t have CSPAC yet, just Tawes, the Chapel, and the Student Union ballroom so the acoustics were never good. In that group I used a Cerveny Piggy, a 188, and a Kalison Pro 2000 over the years.
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby MikeMason » Sun May 24, 2020 11:52 am

If I could at all justify it, I’d own an Eastman 832. Just loved everything about it. Joy to play
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby Rick Denney » Sun May 24, 2020 1:00 pm

pakins51 wrote:To start off, yes I know these post can get iffy on here at times, but I really need some help/advice. Ill be starting College in the fall as a Music Education Major, and I’m highly considering double majoring with Performance. At the moment I’m borrowing my Colleges only CC tuba which is a Meinl Weston 30. I would be able to use this the whole first year before needing my own tuba but I’d rather get my own sooner then later as this horn has some very funky intonation Issues and no fifth valve. I’m looking to get a large 4/4 to small 5/4 horn and I’ve found a few used ones that I’d like some opinions, info, and comparisons from people with actual experience with them. I know trying them all would be the best option but I’m not really near anyone who owns any of these and getting to the actual horns that are for sale would be hard, especially with everything going on at the moment.
Here’s the list:
-Miraphone 1292/3
-Yamaha 822
-Besson 995
-Willson 3050
-4/4 Nirschl
-Miraphone 188

Please let me know if there’s any others for sale that are around this size that you think I should consider. Also the decision to switch to CC was mainly mine as I played a few and prefer them over BBb. Thank You!
EDIT- I’m not asking y’all to make the decision for me this is more to help guide me and just give more information on the horns.


Miraphone 1292--nice horn. Takes a lot of air, but uses it to good effect. Not a tuba that plays itself. Too big for smaller ensembles and too broad in its sound for solos--it's hard to hold back.
Yamaha 822--I've heard people who sounded great on these, but I've admired their ability to get a colorful sound. Not everyone who I've heard play these, especially including myself, has gotten past the bland, do-no-harm sound.
Besson 995--no opinion.
Willson 3050--large, heavy, ungainly, takes a lot of air, and seems to me optimized for players at the top of the pyramid. Which I am not and never have been. But I wonder if it's a V8 tuba--you buy it, and then after a while think, "Wow! I could have had a ____"
Nirschl--every one I've played has been excellent.
Miraphone 188--a classic with good justification.

The Nirschl and especially the Miraphone seem most versatile to me, and versatility seems to me an important requirement.

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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby bort » Sun May 24, 2020 2:16 pm

kingrob76 wrote:Brett, over the course of the years I did something like 18 semesters in that wind ensemble with Wakefield. Half those semesters it was the only class I was taking because I was done with school and they needed a player so it was the only class on my schedule. He was particular about having control over the instrument. If you demonstrated you could play soft he usually gave you the space to play loud, but if the sound wasn’t “right” (or characteristic) you got the hand. We didn’t have CSPAC yet, just Tawes, the Chapel, and the Student Union ballroom so the acoustics were never good. In that group I used a Cerveny Piggy, a 188, and a Kalison Pro 2000 over the years.


I forgot about the ballroom! I bridged the gap between Tawes and CSPAC, literally half my time in each place. And far more playing for Sparks than Wakefield, but still plenty of that.

My whole time there, I used the school owned Sander/B&S PT-3. Really nice tuba, and it put out way more sound than you could expect from it!
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Re: Help with a Tuba decision

Postby toobagrowl » Sun May 24, 2020 5:57 pm

Anyone have any experience with the YCB 861? Someone has one for sell here: http://forums.chisham.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=96594

Looks like Yamaha's version of a 5rv Alex 163 CC. Nice looking tuba, and the price is good :idea:
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