Different Types of tubas explained: Things to Know

The tuba is one of the most well-liked brass instruments. The types of tubas explained in this article will be classified. The lowest and loudest brass instrument is the tuba. A trumpet that has been crushed into its distinctive spiral or oval shape for usage is called a tuba. Although some tubas are now made of fiberglass, the majority are still made of brass.

Johann Gottfried Moritz and Wilhelm Friedrich Wieprecht created the tuba in 1835, which grew into a sizable family of musical instruments. These were the first brass instruments to incorporate valves, along with the saxhorn family, enabling the production of additional notes.

“Tuba” is a Latin term that signifies horn or trumpet. The mouthpiece, main tube, valve tube, valves, and bell make up its body. In this essay, we’ll describe the many kinds of tuba and answer some relevant questions.


What types of Tubas are there?

Tubas come in three primary categories: concert (also known as orchestra), mobile, and alternatives. Mobile tubas are made to be carried around or wrapped around the body, whereas orchestra tubas are generally always played on the lap. Additionally, there are a number of well-liked tuba alternatives. Below, we’ll evaluate those tubas.

1. Orchestra Tubas


The tuba in an orchestra is typically a bass tuba, and its main function is to support the bass line of the brass section in the octave below during tuttis. Together, let’s learn more about the types of tubas explained in the orchestra tubas group. 

1.1 Bass Tuba

The bass tuba rose to fame as the majority of written music could only be performed in the 19th century. The majority of four valve bass tubas range in price from $7,000 to $20,000 now.

The F tuba is the most popular in Europe, while the bass tuba is often played in the keys of Eb or F. When employed in a brass band, the Eb tuba typically plays an octave higher than the contrabass tuba, although professional performers utilize the F tuba for solos and varied groups.

Nowadays, the majority of professional tubists carry both a bass and contrabass tuba since some pieces call for one or both of them.

1.2 Contrabass Tuba

In Russia, Australia, and Germany, contrabass tubas are primarily utilized, although in the United States, novice Bb players in music schools often use tubas. They are the lowest-pitched type of tuba, and are also sometimes known as contrabass bugles.

Contrabass tubas are the instrument of choice for the majority of professional tubists, and they may be the most popular tubas in use right now.

Professional-grade contrabass tubas typically cost between $10,000 and $40,000, while students can spend as little as $900 on a less expensive model.

1.3 Ophicleide

In a technical sense, this instrument is not a tuba. The ophicleide, which dates to the early 1800s, is said to have been the first commonly used brass instrument.

It serves as inspiration for the tuba bass’s design, which in turn draws inspiration from the serpent, a rare instrument. The final ophicleide was produced just before 1900, and the remaining instruments are almost entirely located in private collections and museums.

1.4 Subcontrabass Horn

Another highly uncommon tuba is the subcontrabass, a behemoth upright variant that stands over eight feet tall, weighs a ton, and can be played by up to three people. There are around six that are known to exist, and Sousa commissioned two of them. Each instrument is tuned to BBb, which is one octave below the contrabass.

Despite the fact that subcontrabass tubas are quite uncommon, a Harvard University music professor now possesses one. The tuba is even occasionally used for concerts.

1.5 Wagner Horn

Although it also played parts in other pieces, the Wagner (or Bayreuth) tuba is a well-known hybrid that was largely created by composer Richard Wagner for the Ring Cycle. Wagner horns may be bought, but doing so requires almost solely receiving a commission from European producers.

The instrument has a rotational three-valve system and produces a blend of French horn and euphonic tones. The tone of this instrument is very dignified and magnificent, adding much to the sound of any symphony or band.

2. Mobile Tubas


Marching bands often use mobile tubas. It includes instruments such as the upright tuba, marching tuba, helicon, and sousaphone. Types of tubas explained will be here. 

2.1 Helicon

The helicon is a highly spherical instrument with four valves that are nearly always tuned for either bass (E) or contrabass (B) usage. The majority of modern helicons have four valves and are tuned to bass or contrabass. Helicons cost between $2,000 and $5,000 when purchased as a specialized instrument online.

2.2 Marching Tuba

To comply with strict drum and bugle corps regulations, the marching tuba is a modified contrabass tuba tuned to B or C and made to be carried on the shoulder. Although most tubas are carried on the left shoulder, some players carry them on the right shoulder. There aren’t many of those. The cost of a marching tuba ranges from $2,500 to $10,000, and the 34-variant is more common than the regular size.

2.3 Sousaphone

Even among tubas, sousaphones are quite unique. They have the biggest bells (at least 30 inches broad), yet nearly all of their variants only have three valves. Traditional brass sousaphones cost between $3,000 and $9,000.

It was intended for use in marching bands and military bands, although several brass and jazz bands eventually started using it. The tubist can wear them and support their weight on their shoulders and waist. It weighs between 35 and 45 pounds.

2.4 Upright tuba

The bells of the upright tuba are situated on a player’s lap and face away from the musician. They are simple, easy to carry and perform while moving about due to their upright design and bell position.

Even heavier tubas, which may weigh more than 25 pounds, can be put on the player’s lap and are simple to carry even when on the marching field because of their upright form.

3. Popular Alternatives to the Tubas


There are 3 popular alternatives to the tuba. It includes euphonium, flugelhorn, and baritone horn. There is a section on “types of tubas explained” called Popular Alternatives.

3.1 Euphonium

Since they make a “sweet sound,” euphoniums get their name. Due to their distinctive sound, euphoniums can be used in place of bass tubas and trombones. Compared to its siblings, it is said to be exceedingly challenging to learn. Costs will range from $3,000 to $10,000. Beginner variants with three valves may be obtained for as little as $600.

The euphonium comes in four varieties. Euphoniums include the Marching Euphonium, Double Bell Euphonium with two bells, Compensating Euphonium, and Five Valve Euphonium. 

3.2 FlugelHorn

Flugelhorns are frequently used by trumpet teenager players and are frequently mistaken for trumpets. Swing, pop, and marching bands started using the flugelhorn (where it has remained since).

These tiny tubas weigh as little as seven pounds and will cost as little as $300 to $400, with the most expensive models running up to $6,000.

3.3 Baritone Horn

The baritone has a slightly greater range than the trombone and produces a mellow sound. The baritone horn has a low pitch and is occasionally referred to as merely a baritone. The baritone horn is both a transposing and non-transposing instrument.

The sole difference between the baritone tuba and the trombone is that the baritone tuba is designed to look like a little tuba.

Are there different keys for the tuba?


Of course, tubas are available in four distinct keys: Bb(BBb), C(CC), Eb, and F. Contrabass tubas use the Bb and C keys, whereas bass tubas use the Eb and F keys.

Tubas in Bb Keys 

One of the most popular Bb key tubas is the sousaphone. Since they are simpler to play and more in tune on flat notes, Bb key tubas are preferred by beginners. They are frequently used by orchestral musicians in Europe and amateur musicians in the United States.

Tubas in CC keys 

They sound something like a Bb tuba but are more flexible in all keys. CC tubas create a smoother, more compact sound that is ideal for symphonic use. CC tubas are favored over Bb tubas by orchestral performers because of their flexibility.

Tubas in Eb Keys 

They are mostly chosen by English players and a few solo performers. The kinds of sousaphones that play this key very well are the older models.

Tubas in F keys

F Tubas are becoming more and more popular among solo musicians since they don’t sound like ordinary tubas. They are mostly noted for the upper registers’ stunning clarity.

FAQ – Types of tubas explained

Here are some relevant questions that players wonder about.

What various materials make up a tuba? 

Tubas are often composed of gold brass or yellow brass, although they can also incorporate nickel-silver components. Different sound qualities will be produced by each material.

How many valves are there on a tuba? 

Three, four, or five valves are possible for tubas. The addition of a fourth valve enhances intonation and low-register production. At least four valves are required to play and produce all of the low-range sounds that a tubist plays on a daily basis. The fifth valve increases the tuba’s functionality and makes it possible to perform a wider range of finger patterns to enhance intonation.

Are there different sizes of tubas? 

Yes. There are. Tubas come in a variety of sizes. Tuba sizes are separated into four groups: 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, and 6/4. Smaller tubas, like the flugelhorn, are frequently categorized as 3/4, larger tubas as 5/4, and standard-sized tubas as 4/4. It’s necessary to keep in mind that a tuba’s size will depend on the size of its bell and bore.

What distinguishes a C tuba from a BBb tuba?

The majority of school band music is perfect for BBb tubas. The BBb tuba has a wider sound and more weight than CC tubas, which contributes to a band’s sound being more balanced. CC tubas create a richer, more compact sound that is ideal for symphonic use. Depending on the type of group you perform with most often, you might need to transpose the music for your tuba to the technology.


This article summarizes the types of tubas explained in detail. Your questions regarding relevant topics are also carefully addressed. We’ll keep adding to our expertise and information on musical instruments. Pay attention and read on.

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