The Wagner Tuba was originally designed for Wagner for use in his Ring cycle and has been used by many composers since because of it's unique sound.
We offer Wagner tubas custom made in Germany by Alexander and Engelbert Schmid. Most of these instruments are custom built to order in 90-180 days. If you would like to test them out, we are glad to arrange that. Please call for current pricing and availability.
Traditionally, a section will consist of two Bb tubas and two F tubas (or in the case of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring one of each). While double tubas exist as full doubles or compensating, they are rarely used in sections, more commonly used by individuals who wish to have a tuba. Both full double and compensating double Wagner tubas are available. Prices vary, but you can expect to pay about $10,000 for a German double Wagner tuba, and only a few thousand less for a single in either Bb or F. It's definitely an investment for the French horn aficionado.
However, we now carry the Meister Hans Stauffer Wagner tuba, made for us by Jin Bao Musical Instruments in Tianjin, China. Though the Chinese are not known (yet) for being premier brass instrument makers, this is a good looking and nice playing horn. It stands in either Bb or F, has a compensating valve system for light weight, and includes a hard case and mouthpiece. We offer this at a fraction of the price of the German Models. We tune up and play test each instrument to ensure a quality experience for you.
$10,000 or $850? We wish there were some middle ground, but this is all we see available in the market place.
Here is a review by John Ericson at Horn Matters:
This January/February we were very pleased to receive two new Wagner tubas for use by members of the ASU horn studio! Wagner, Bruckner, Strauss, and others (more info here
) wrote for Wagner tuba in sections of four, with the instruments performed by horn players using horn mouthpieces.
Arizona State for many years has owned only a pair, a Mirafone tenor and bass. However, now we have a full set. First was the receipt of a donation by ASU professor emeritus of horn Ralph Lockwood, a F bass that matched the set perfectly, same vintage and a very powerful low range! It had once belonged to yet another ASU horn professor, Eugene Chausow, which made the donation even more special. Then we were able to fill out the set with the purchase of one more instrument, this Jinbao (or Jin Bao) double, made in China.
With a sound and feel very similar to our Mirafone tenor this instrument fills out the set well. The instrument was purchased for $850 from The Horn Guys, and as they note there the choice really is $10,000 or $850 when it comes to price for a Wagner tuba, there is no middle ground.
The Jinbao Meister Hans Stauffer model Wagner tuba is a compensating double and may be set to stand in F or in Bb. When it arrived the only mechanical problem was that the thumb valve would not quite rotate fully due to either the long lever being bent in shipping or it was never bent quite right. I was able to correct this issue pretty easily.
The Bb side is quite good really, and this instrument works well on tenor parts, which is where it would fit in our ASU set. The F side is rather flat on the harmonic that would be E at the bottom of the staff and into the very low range the instrument does not have nearly the power of our Mirafone bass tuben. Fortunately, again we really only need it as a tenor and as noted the Bb side is really very nice. Another plus is the instrument takes a standard shank mouthpiece, while our Mirafone set needs a shank size a bit bigger than US standards (i.e., European shank) to play their best.
The case supplied is very lightweight (plastic) and I expect the very cheap latches will need to be replaced at some point soon. But it does the job. Back to the instrument though, construction really looks pretty clean and solid and the valves and slides are working well. With normal maintenance I believe it should provide years of good service, and I expect because it is a double (thus using standard double horn fingerings) ASU students will like it the best of all the instruments in our set.
Your mileage may vary of course, but if you are looking for a bit of the Wagner tuba experience for a very low cost the Jinbao really is a viable option. And with the addition of this instrument we are very pleased to be able to now use the full set in the horn studio and in ensembles at Arizona State.