Best tubas for a High school band program Bookmark and Share

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Postby MartyNeilan » Mon Mar 26, 2007 10:17 am

A lot of schools looking at the rotor Mirafones make the mistake of buying similar looking Cerveny tubas, because of the price difference. The comparable Cerveny's are great playing horns, but extremely fragile; better to spend the few extra bucks on an S-series Mirafone than have a pile of twisted up brass in a few years. Don't overlook an MW25 if your school can buy one of those; they are probably even stronger than the 'fones.

Given a choice between the absolute best sounding, and absolute most in-tune tubas for MS-HS students, I would choose pitch. Kids at that stage are just going to put down buttons and blow; and that 5-10% difference in tone will be completely lost on all the notes 20 cents or more out of tune.

Plus, its always funny to see the kids who have one of their valve tuning slides out about 10 inches, just because.
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Postby BigRedTuba » Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:04 pm

A lot of schools looking at the rotor Mirafones make the mistake of buying similar looking Cerveny tubas, because of the price difference. The comparable Cerveny's are great playing horns, but extremely fragile;


Amen! Our schools Cervenys are five years old, yet they are already dented beyond recognition. Go with the Mira's definitely. Cant go wrong with them.
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Postby jonesbrass » Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:40 pm

'nother vote for the Miraphones. I've found them to be extremely durable over many years of touring with them.

BTW . . . why avoid rotors? I don't get it.
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Postby tubatom91 » Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:43 pm

I am currently on a YBB-321 it sounds good but it has taken me this whole year to fix the valves. I think yamaha valved horns would be the best for lower level bands but mirafone 186's would be good for top band(s)..
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Postby cktuba » Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:53 pm

jonesbrass wrote:'nother vote for the Miraphones. I've found them to be extremely durable over many years of touring with them.

BTW . . . why avoid rotors? I don't get it.


Without mentioning names, I believe there are some, in the repair business, on the board who have stated that rotary valves are more prone to damage from rough treatment (generally associated with public school use) and rotary valve repairs are, generally, more expensive (when needed). I don't have any direct experience either way, but on the surface this makes sense.
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Postby Jason Arnold » Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:01 pm

I will offer my opinion. Although I am not sure it is law or anything. I really like the King 2341. I have for quite some time. Now that I am teaching privately I have the opportunity to observe several different programs and learn what I can from each it gives plenty of perspective. As many of you know some of the most common brands for high school are yamaha and miraphone. The King is seen by some non-tuba people as a junior high horn. If I were buying a Bb for myself I would buy a King 2341. I don't like the sound the Yamahas get, the Miraphone sound is more likeable, but the King is less of a fight than these two. Again these are strictly my opinion and I am talking about Bb not CC. That's a different story. So please don't think I am slamming your horn. The only down side to a 2341 is that really annoying bend going into the third valve that makes it nearly impossible to drain. I have finally gotten to the point with my students where I make them take out their 3rd valve and pour it out from the front (before the lesson starts). And the only other con is the removable leadpipe assembly always seems to come loose. Happy Hunting.
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Postby jonesbrass » Tue Mar 27, 2007 7:44 am

Thanks, ck. In my playing experience, I've had FAR more trouble with pistons than I've ever had with rotors, but that belongs in another thread.
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Postby iiipopes » Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:27 am

Hey, jonesbrass -- what we're getting at here is not the relative amount of trouble of pistons v. rotaries, because all school music instruments will by definition get a lot of abuse.

What we're getting at is the King front piston setup is easier to work on and repair than either upright valves or rotary mechanisms.
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Postby Tubaguy56 » Tue Mar 27, 2007 3:28 pm

you'll get guys on both sides of the piston vs rotor argument, but I have to agree with the above that pistons are easier to maintain. Even upright, but thats just me, and I've never had a good experience with rotors.
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Postby Bob1062 » Wed Mar 28, 2007 4:48 pm

How about a smaller horn? Easier to carry, and the inevitable little kids that play tuba will have a chance? Like the Weril Bb or even the 321 Eb :D If a kid can't handle something this small, stick them on alto horn :shock:

A good strong player can still sound good on a smaller horn, and a little kid has a better chance of not sucking on a smaller tuba.
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Postby tubaman90 » Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:07 pm

Hi Bill! Which school is this? Id go for the yamaha though if they dont get to try out the horn before they get it, theyre incredibly consistent in those 641s. the only thing i dont like about them is the rotors are rather slow. i might go fot the conn or king in that case
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Postby tubop » Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:25 pm

I don't think it is the Rotor itself a band program should worry about but rather the catastrophic results of breaking something in the linkage itself near a performance. Kids just want to play, not care for an instrument. Teaching them to care for a $5500 tuba isn't a great idea anyway. The King is the toughest solution by far. Pistons are quick and easy to maintain require only one lubricant, and have fewer moving parts to break. Which would you rather a preteen working on: A sticky piston, or a sticky rotor and dry bearings?

Do high school kids really play well enough yet to notice the difference?

Aside from it being pretty, I can't imagine the kids or the parents enjoying the Miraphones more. And i'll echo how easily those Kings play. I wouldn't buy anything else for my band.
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Postby tubaman90 » Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:29 pm

ah, but we high schoool students do know the differnce between rotors and pistons! I am definately a fon of the piston tubas though. Is it a middle school or a high school anyways?
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Postby tubop » Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:38 pm

Oh no doubt!! I was always attracted to the Rotors when I saw them in HS. I just wouldn't have been able to discern a difference between a Miraphone and a King.
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Postby tubaman90 » Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:45 pm

tubop wrote:Oh no doubt!! I was always attracted to the Rotors when I saw them in HS. I just wouldn't have been able to discern a difference between a Miraphone and a King.


yeah i probably would, but thats just me, im weird like that. Then again at most of the schools around here there are a lot of good musicians and a ton of talent (im in the same general area as bill) so many of us know the difference too, believe it or not
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Postby richland tuba 01 » Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:23 pm

tubop wrote:I don't think it is the Rotor itself a band program should worry about but rather the catastrophic results of breaking something in the linkage itself near a performance. Kids just want to play, not care for an instrument. Teaching them to care for a $5500 tuba isn't a great idea anyway. The King is the toughest solution by far. Pistons are quick and easy to maintain require only one lubricant, and have fewer moving parts to break. Which would you rather a preteen working on: A sticky piston, or a sticky rotor and dry bearings?

Do high school kids really play well enough yet to notice the difference?

Aside from it being pretty, I can't imagine the kids or the parents enjoying the Miraphones more. And i'll echo how easily those Kings play. I wouldn't buy anything else for my band.


some high school kids that do play that well but have very little $$$(me, for one), and the miraphone is a Godsend.
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Postby TubaRay » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:41 am

Perhaps it is worth mentioning that there is a very wide range of high school tuba players. I mean this in a number of ways. The ability level varies greatly. Their seriousness(is that a word?) varies. Their sense of responsibility varies. Blanket statements about high school tuba players can not be expected to be anywhere near 100% accurate in all situations. When a school is in the market for new tubas, the director needs to assess what type of kids he/she has. As we can tell from some of our young posters on TubeNet, some are quite serious, intelligent, and responsible. Then there are others who appear to have been placed on this earth simply to annoy and destroy. This should be taken into consideration when buying school tubas.
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Postby KevinMadden » Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:01 am

TubaRay wrote:Perhaps it is worth mentioning that there is a very wide range of high school tuba players. I mean this in a number of ways. The ability level varies greatly. Their seriousness(is that a word?) varies. Their sense of responsibility varies. Blanket statements about high school tuba players can not be expected to be anywhere near 100% accurate in all situations. When a school is in the market for new tubas, the director needs to assess what type of kids he/she has. As we can tell from some of our young posters on TubeNet, some are quite serious, intelligent, and responsible. Then there are others who appear to have been placed on this earth simply to annoy and destroy. This should be taken into consideration when buying school tubas.


BUT that director must also keep in mind students they will have a few years down the road, while a director may have a bunch of serious responsible students now, five years from now they may have a bunch of hooligans for a tuba section. The choice must be made with the worst possible students in mind.
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Postby Deleted dp » Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:37 am

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Postby iiipopes » Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:59 pm

Now, of course, this next post assumes a respected program with respectful students, regardless of their musical ability, including a good repair budget:

My director dealt with all of the above in this manner: when a student came into band as a Freshman, he/she was assigned an instrument for the duration of their playing in high school band, whether ending in graduation, dropping out, or otherwise. The student was expected to take care of the horn, was given proper instruction on the personal maintenance required, and the procedures for reporting damage or other circumstances needing attention. The student was NOT allowed to "trade up to a better horn" as they gained seniority. Rather, as their abilities improved and seniority achieved, the rewards were advances in section seating, "letter" awards etc. This resulted in the overall care and attention to the condition of the horns being better overall for two reasons: 1) there was no discounting the horn in hopes of a "better" one later, and 2) because the horn was "theirs," there was direct responsibility imposed on the particular student for damage not the result of normal wear and tear or accidents beyond the student's control.

I am a case in point. I happened to get assigned the oldest souzy in service. But by the time I graduated, it was the cleanest, shiniest, best playing one in the inventory, and everything was at least in a passable condition and all the horns lasted many, many years.

By contrast, the one semester I marched in an NCAA I university marching program, they had the "pass the horns down" system a lot of programs had. They had to get new horns every few years because there was no respect by and no accountability to the individual student, and they even had to differentiate between "practice field" horns and "performance" horns, and they were overall in worse shape than the high school horns.
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