The tuba is the lowest-pitched instrument from the brass family and is commonplace in modern orchestras and concert bands.
Since tuba is so widely accepted, there are plenty of options for student, intermediate and professional players. This isn't only true of individual instruments but also of solo tuba makers and larger brands.
With such a wide variety of choices, knowing the market’s top brands is useful. Of course, the brand is far from the most important aspect of a tuba, though it's still worth considering for general knowledge and judgement. In this article, I’ll share my take on the top tuba brands.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Performance of the tubas
- Longevity of the tubas
- Variety of tubas available
- Accessibility of the tubas (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let’s list out the brands.
The top 11 best tuba brands are:
Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best tuba brands. I’ll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable tuba, and a link to their official website.
Although B&S started working as a company in the 20th century, it is the combination of quality manufacturers that adds up to 250 years of accumulated knowledge in musical instrument making.
Moreover, having joined the Buffet Crampon family of brands, the centuries-old tradition and know-how blended with state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques.
As a result, every B&S instrument you come across is a piece of history in the making. Furthermore, it is the perfect canvas to paint your story, one note at a time.
Notable tuba: B&S GR55 (link to check the price at Music & Arts)
This visually-striking instrument is a 5/4 tuba entirely made of gold brass. It delivers even more powerful sounds than you would expect for its size while remaining focused, in-tune, and warm-sounding across the entire spectrum. Furthermore, the .747” bore, 18.9” bell, 4 rotary valves, and 3B linkage system make this an easy to play, big-sounding instrument ready to take any stage like a storm.
Finally, the hard case and the backup of one of the biggest families of brands in the world make this a great-sounding, utterly reliable instrument for the road.
Official website: b-and-s.com
B&S was founded by the government in Eastern Germany to group all the high-end brands making quality instruments in the region. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Markneukirchen, Germany.
13 master builders working for the prestigious Graslitz brand in Germany found themselves alive and out of a job after WWII. Moreover, they found they had enough combined talent and drive to find a new brand name and make the best brass wind instruments the world had ever seen. Thus, they started sharing best practices, and before they knew it, Miraphone was born.
So, what you can expect from a brand like Miraphone is the best of the traditional German manufacturing tradition perfectly blended with state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques. Miraphone is a brand you must check before you buy; it might surprise you.
This 4/4 tuba is 100% made in Germany and features 4 frontal piston valves, making it the quintessential model for orchestra, symphonic, or big band applications. Moreover, the lacquered body offers the player enhanced warmth and a low end that can fill up an entire room with each blow. Finally, with a 17.17” bell, this is a big-sounding tuba that can stay focused and deliver powerful sounds throughout its spectrum.
Great sounds, reliable construction, and top-notch materials make this tuba a great choice for any player.
Official website: miraphone.de
Miraphone was born as a cooperative after WWII when 13 master builders who worked in Graslitz decided to join forces. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Waldkraiburg, Germany.
Although the company formally started when Anton joined forces with his father, Wenzel, to make state-of-the-art tubas, the musical instrument-making tradition of the Meinl family can be traced back seven generations.
That being said, Anton’s spirit of innovation was what propelled the brand from being a family business to a worldwide name in tubas. For example, he was the first to use a hydraulic system to bend the tubes to make tubas. Moreover, he was also the first to use steel ball action on tubas with rotary valves.
Because of the heritage, the bold innovations, and the love for brass instruments, you can never go wrong buying a tuba from Meinl-Weston.
The characteristics of this tuba set it apart from the competition. The elaborated construction is lightweight, and its bows are entirely handmade from a sheet of metal, allowing a special brilliance in the high register. Adding to the tone, the instrument offers easy response and effortless playing. Finally, the natural separation of notes that happens when blowing through this tuba is uncanny on the market; you can impress any audience playing through it.
Official website: melton-meinl-weston.com
Meinl-Weston was founded by Wenzel and Anton Meinl in 1947. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Geretsried, Germany.
Yamaha has been making musical instruments to the highest standards for well over a century. During that time, the company cemented the idea of Japanese precision one amazing instrument at a time. Moreover, that leverage allowed the corporation to grow and branch out.
Nowadays, Yamaha is a synonym for excellence, relentless innovation, and performance. Tubas are no exception to that reputation; try one today before buying anything else.
This tuba by Yamaha belongs to the NEO collection, which means the design received some variations to improve playability. To begin with, the fourth valve position and hand rest offer the player an easier way to make fast passages possible. Also, the bore size and large-diameter bell offer more projection with a focused tone and huge power. Finally, the larger brace plate offers less resistance to the player.
This majestic instrument comes in the BBC-632 hardshell case to make transportation easy and secure.
Official website: yamaha.com
Yamaha was founded by Torakusu Yamaha in 1887. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Having started his career in musical instruments as a repairman gave Willy Kurath senior an in-depth knowledge of the instrument few other manufacturers have. Therefore, by the time he offered the public his first creations, they were steps ahead of the competition.
Nowadays, Willy Kurath junior and 25 high-skilled experts make exclusive, top-notch instruments for the most demanding players around the world.
Trying Willson tubas before buying is a must.
This is an Eb tuba designed in conjunction with tuba soloist Gabriel Capet. It is a small, compact instrument that allows tuba players and manufacturers to think of a new standard. This is because this uncompensated, small tuba projects the sound with a powerful mid-register tone that is ready to take any stage. Moreover, the playing on it is effortless, meaning you can achieve quintessential tuba tones as well as new standards that can potentially revolutionize your playing without blowing so hard.
Official website: willsonbandinstruments.com
Willson was founded by Willy Kurath senior in 1950. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Flums, Switzerland.
Although Hirsbrunner was founded in 1847, the family’s musical instrument-making heritage goes back to Christian Hirsbrunner in the 1770s. Indeed, the tradition he started and the craftsmanship secrets cascaded for generations adding new manufacturing techniques to the quintessential building methods. For example, Peter Arnold Hirsbrunner was the first to develop an automatic compensation system for cylinder valves.
Hirsbrunner is still owned and managed by the family and continues to manufacture state-of-the-art tubas blending seamlessly 3 centuries of leverage and modern innovations.
Notable tuba: Hirsbrunner HBS192 (link to check it out at Hirsbrunner)
This 4-rotary-valve tuba is 4/4 sized, making it perfectly suitable as a band and orchestra instrument. Moreover, the .767” bore and 17.71” bell make it a powerful-sounding instrument that oozes projection while remaining focused throughout the frequency range.
Playability in this tuba is next-level, which means you can effortlessly achieve classic tuba tones. Finally, the lacquer finish applied to the instrument adds subtle yet welcome warmth to the overall sound.
Official website: hirsbrunner.com
Hirsbrunner was founded by Hansulrich Hirsbrunner in 1847. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Sumiswald, Switzerland.
Almost two-and-a-half centuries have gone by since the first musical instrument with the Alexander signature was released to the public. This means that seven generations of the Alexander family have been working their hardest to grow the company’s reputation one amazing brass wind instrument at a time.
Nowadays, in the hands of Georg Philipp Alexander, the company continues to make history with outstanding instruments and modern manufacturing techniques that enhance centuries-old traditions.
The Alexander tuba you need to try has been over 200 years in the making.
This lightweight Alexander tuba is a great instrument for all playing purposes. Indeed, the 17.71” bell and .807 bore allow it to deliver the quintessential tuba tones the entire orchestra needs to build upon. The combination of the extra auxiliary valves, yellow brass, and lightweight make this a great tuba model for gigging players on the move with a need for a transportable, great-sounding instrument. Finally, made entirely of yellow or gold brass, this is a tuba that can last you a lifetime.
Official website: gebr-alexander.de
Alexander was founded by Franz Ambros Alexander in 1782. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Mainz, Germany.
Zigmant Kantsul learned how to make brass wind instruments under the direction of a legend: Foster Reynolds. That went on for over 15 years; by 1970, he was already the Vice President of King Musical Instruments. Furthermore, he also served as Manufacturing Vice President at C.G. Conn.
By 1981, and to no surprise, Zigmant started his brand, pouring everything he learned from an artisan and manager’s point of view into the perfect brass wind instruments. The critical acclaim the company received made it grow meteorically in the past four decades to become one of the most sought-after in the market.
This is the first professional 3/4 tuba in Bb designed especially for musicians on the go. Indeed, the unique removable bell and the specially-designed case make travelling a breeze without even checking the luggage at the counter. That being said, you shouldn’t be fooled by the size and practicality of this instrument since it is capable of delivering the tuba sound you would expect from a brand like Kantsul. Furthermore, it offers amazing playability and great sounds in an easy-to-carry combo which was, to this date, unthinkable for tuba players.
Kantsul did it again; try today and travel comfortably to any gig.
Official website: kanstul.com
Kanstul Musical Instruments was founded by Zigmant Kanstul in 1981. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Anaheim, California, USA.
Charlie Parker used to swear by his King instrument. So did Tommy Dorsey and Cannonball Adderley. This is not a detail since these legendary players could have chosen any brand they pleased, and they chose King as their go-to instrument during the golden years, the 40s and 50s.
But that’s not all, since King has been making outrageously good instruments for over a century and joined the Conn-Selmer family of brands which took manufacturing processes to the next level.
King is a brand that continues its legacy of legendary craftsmanship and attention to detail while delivering innovative, great instruments for serious players.
This intermediate-priced concert tuba is a frontal-action design and features four pistons, allowing players to get those legendary tuba tones. Yet, that’s not all since this tuba was built utilizing revolutionary modular construction, making it easy to clean and repair. Moreover, the nickel silver mouthpiece fights corrosion while the nickel-plated pistons provide the same unmatched durability but with added smoothness and quick action.
Finally, the heavy-duty wheeled case rounds up a combo that can be your workhorse for decades without breaking the bank.
Official website: conn-selmer.com/en-us/our-brands/king
King was founded by Henderson White and Thomas King in 1894. Currently, the company is owned by Conn-Selmer, with headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
This outstanding piano maker from the 19th century created some of his generation's most sought-after keyboard instruments. They were not only amazing-sounding for their time; they are still sought-after these days.
Yet, making great pianos wasn’t Gustav’s biggest skill; his team spirit and relentless commitment to excellence through innovation made Schiller the prestigious brand it is today. That spirit lives on in every instrument coming out of the new facilities founded after WWII bombs reduced the old one to ashes.
Schiller makes some of the best-sounding tubas on the market. If you haven’t already, you need to check them out.
Outrageous sub tones push the sound of this outstanding instrument forward, allowing it to become the pillar the structure of an orchestra can build upon. Moreover, the projection brings the quintessential, hearty, substantive USA tone to any composition. In the same vein, it is more focused and warm than you would expect due to the instrument’s extra thick brass tubing and lacquer.
Made entirely of silver and gold, with 4 piston valves and 1 rotary valve, and featuring a Cordura-covered hardshell case, this is the perfect instrument to take your playing to the next level.
Official website: schillerinstruments.com
Schiller was founded by Gustav Schiller in 1885. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Stevens Point, Michigan, USA.
Jupiter is the go-to instrument for students, beginners, advanced players, and amateur musicians who look for a tuba that plays well, sounds great, and doesn’t break the bank. Indeed, KHS established Jupiter to sell good-sounding, in-tune wind instruments to beginners in Asia.
Soon, demand grew so much that they had to open up the market and extend the scope to reach beginners in every country in the world. Therefore, if you’re looking for the tuba to hone your craft on and grow as a musician without spending a fortune, Jupiter has to be on your list.
The technology used to make this tuba ensures the instrument features an accurate scale. Also, the stainless steel pistons help playability, offering the player smooth, fast action. Finally, the big bore, bell, and lacquered brass body offer the warmth and projection you need to play in a big band or an orchestra.
This 4-piston-valve tuba comes in an aluminum-frame lightweight case that is paramount to taking an instrument like this on the road. This Jupiter tuba can accompany you through your college years, and why not, for a lifetime.
Official website: jupitermusic.com
KHS established Jupiter Band Instruments in 1980. The company’s headquarters are in Taipei, Taiwan.
- RS Berkeley
- John Packer