Posted by John Swensen on August 19, 1999 at 14:43:25:
In Reply to: BBb tuba for my son posted by Cim on August 19, 1999 at 13:39:40:
You could buy a St. Petersburg tuba for considerably less than $2000 direct from www.tuba.com. I have owned two of those horns and, while they are certainly not in the class of $9000 tubas, they are very good, for the price. The St. Pete has large bore (.830"), but a small taper and bell, so it plays like a small 4/4 horn. It would work well through high school, although the horn would probably limit a tuba performance major in college, if you son decided to do that.
If your budget is in the $3K range you might be happier with one of the VMI tubas, which I have heard very good things about. You might also want to consider a good, used tuba in that price range. Dave Fedderly (bbctuba(AT)aol.com), listed in the Shops section of this web site, has a very good reputation for his honesty and integrity.
Other brands to consider (probably used) include Yamaha (4 valves, minimum), Miraphone, Besson, Cerveny, Meinl Weston, older Conn (heavy, but great sounding), as well as others that have eluded my memory. I have not heard good things about Jupiter and Amati tubas.
For band or orchestra a 4/4 horn is probably the most versatile size, while a 3/4 size is often preferred for smaller groups, but bear in mind that there is little agreement in size designations (for example, some have called the St. Pete a 5/4 horn because of its bore, but it probably plays like a smaller horn than a 3/4 Rudy Meinl). All other things being equal (hah!), the bigger the horn, the bigger the sound, but a larger horn can be harder to control at low dynamics.
If at all possible, have your son (as well as his teacher and/or other, experienced, players) play that particular horn before committing to buy it. There can be considerable differences between horns of the same model. Most dealers will allow a 2-week trial period if you pay shipping both ways.