There were lots of surprises during my first few years of teaching. The year that our new school building opened, I discovered that there were not one, but two, tuba players who were coming to SCPA, and they both happened to be in the same grade. This posed a problem since I hadn't put any thought into getting tubas for the school without anyone to play them. I had already spent my budget on other needed items (a bari sax, bass clarinet, and an oboe), so I did two things:
- Beg for more money
- Find the cheapest tubas
#2 is what got me started on looking very seriously at Chinese imports. Postings at TubeNet and David Werden's forum convinced me that there some things worth looking at, and so I picked out two models: a smaller, 3-valve piston tuba, and a larger, 4-valve rotary tuba. The cost? Just under $3k, delivered. You can't even get one Yamaha tuba for that amount new!
Those first tubas have seen five years of daily use, and they have held up great. The rotary valve tuba is fine mechanically, plays in tune, and just went in for its first ultrasonic cleaning this spring--no major issues. Students lost a couple stop nuts by the rotor paddles and they were replaced no problem. My only complaint is that the case has not held up as well—but it is clear from the tubas I've purchased since then that suggestions to the company about case design have been taken into account, and I think the newer cases are holding up much better.
What else do you want to know? Leave a note in the comments or send me an email.