Tuba FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope that you’ve found our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Learning The Tuba’ series helpful.  And do drop us questions and suggestions for more Tuba FAQ’s…

Tuba FAQ's

Choosing An Instrument

How do I choose a tuba?

Start by looking at the material with which the instrument is made of. The timbre of a brass instrument like this depends heavily on what type of material is used to make it, including its shape and length. Make sure that when you’re shopping for a tuba that the instrument itself is made of real brass, and not just brass plated. The metal itself is so good for this kind of instrument, that the classification is named after it. 

What is the most common tuba?

The most common one is a BB-flat instrument which is one octave lower than the euphonium, which is another brass instrument. But for modern orchestra players, they prefer using the CC tuba, which while not the most common, is a preferred instrument for this type of application (orchestral music). Tubas are also often made with three or four pistons and rotary valves. Other common types include the Eb and F tubas which are used in chamber music. 

Maintenance

How do I clean a tuba mouthpiece?

Fill a glass with warm water enough to cover the entire mouth piece, then add a drop of dish soap to the water. Make sure that the water is not boiling hot, or else the mouthpiece’s finish will be tarnished! Anyway, you should then proceed to soak the mouthpiece in it for at least 20 minutes, and every single day after that, to loosen the buildup of gunk. If the mouthpiece is extremely filthy, soak it overnight. After soaking, be sure to rinse under warm running water, then dry with a clean cloth. 

How do you care for a tuba?

Keep moisture out of the tuba and its innards as much as possible, for its greatest foe is moisture buildup, which can cause corrosion on the body and affect the way it produces sound. Use swabs (weighted cloth tied to a string) to soak up this moisture after every use. Also, avoid hitting the tuba on anything while you move it around to prevent denting and exterior damage. You should also clean the outside with warm, soapy water every week to clean it. And of course, there are numerous care kits available that remove the hassle of working out what you need.

Technique

How do I get faster on a tuba?

The valves and the pitch can make it hard to play fast runs on a tuba, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. These valves require a significant amount of strength to press, and are placed far away from each other. So in order to get faster, train your hands to be both fast and strong-fast enough to transition between valves, and strong enough to press them completely. You can achieve this with enough practice (check out our tuba practice guide). And when you do, it’s easily among the most amazing things a great tuba player can do! 

How can I increase my lung capacity?

Breathing exercises! This is actually one of the very first things that tuba students learn (much like the learners of other wind instruments). With constant breathing exercises, your lungs and diaphragm will get stronger, enabling them to pull in more air. Dedicate a good amount of time to daily training just to get your body used to taking in a lot of air quickly and exhaling it slowly. It takes time, so don’t be impatient! Eventually, your lung capacity will grow with constant work. If you want to know more about this breathing technique and other techniques to improve your tuba playing, take a look at our dedicated guide Tuba techniques here.

General Tuba FAQs

What is a tuba?

The tuba is the lowest pitched member of the brass instrument family. It serves as the lowest “voice” of the band. You make the tuba produce a sound by blowing air into a mouthpiece, which will cause the player’s lips to vibrate. This vibration is then amplified by the instrument’s entire body, where the metal (often brass or any other alloy) and its overall quality comes into play. That’s how the tuba produces its characteristic and iconic sound. 

How can I safely transport my tuba to an airplane if I have a flight?

Tubas are not small instruments, and they can be quite heavy and delicate. Your best bet would be to use a dedicated tuba hard case, or even better a custom-fitted flight-case  to protect it during the journey. But before you try to book a flight, contact your airlines first on the exact charges that your tuba and its casing will cost you. And when you’re going through the TSA checkpoints, make sure to stay with your instrument so you’ll be able to see if it’s being repackaged properly after inspection. 

What kind of instrument is a tuba?

A tuba is a brass instrument with the lowest tonal range of all brass instruments. Consider them the bass instruments of their family. But while the general idea is that they have the lowest notes available, they still come in a lot of variations. There are F, Eb, C, and Eb tubas. The baritone, euphonium, and sousaphone are also closely related to the tuba. The name “tuba” itself comes from a Latin word meaning “tube,” which is basically what the instrument is: a hollow tube that produces sound. 

What is the most number of valves you can see on a tuba?

A tuba will often come with three or six valves in its most standard configuration. Three-valve tubas are often the most affordable ones compared to six-valve ones, because there’s less hardware to build and set up. The sousaphone, which is often used in marching bands, is a variant of a three-valve tuba. Four and five-valve tubas are commonly used by more advanced players, with six-valve instruments being quite rare except the F tuba, which has five or six. 

Tuba FAQ's
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