5 Best F Tubas [Reviewed By An Expert]

best f tubas

F tubas are advanced tubas for people who want to play more solos or play almost exclusively with brass quintets.

The average tuba player doesn’t need an F tuba, but there are enough reasons to have them that it may be worth considering if you love playing higher on the tuba or want a more agile version of the instrument. 

Surprisingly to most people (and not those who studied tubas as undergrad like myself), there are a ton of F tubas out there. 

I took a look at the many options and narrowed them down to the top 5 best F tubas to show you in my list. 

Look ahead for a quick review of each option and more info about F tubas in general. 

Best F Tubas In This Article

F TubaNumber of ValvesEditor’s Choice Award
Miraphone 181C Belcanto6 rotary valvesBest Option For Your Only Tuba
Yamaha 8225 (4 piston + 1 rotary)Premium F-Tuba
Miraphone 1281 Petrushka5 (4 piston + 1 rotary)Best Overall
Thomann Phoenix S5 (4 piston + 1 rotary)Best Budget Option
Miraphone 481C Elektra6 rotary valvesPremium All-Around Tuba

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Miraphone 181C Belcanto F-Tuba

You’ll notice a few Miraphone models on this list, and that’s not without good reason. 

Miraphone is one of the top tuba makers in the world. 

My wife has a Miraphone for her CC tuba, and she loves it! 

(I’ve played on it a lot too, and it sounds and plays great!)

The Belcanto is a great one for any serious tuba player. 

It provides a good balance of price and quality. 

The 181C fits in the middle of the F tuba price range (around the $8k mark usually). 

As a 5/4 quarter model, it’s a slightly bigger horn, but not so much you’ll feel dwarfed by it. 

6 valves give you access to all the lower notes, making it able to play well in tune, almost as low as a standard CC or BBb tuba.

The rotary valves are an interesting choice here, in my opinion.

Rotary valves are much more consistent in their use, but they’re noisier and not quite as quick. 

If you’re buying an F tuba for solo purposes, this one may not be for you. 

All Miraphones come in a gold or silver lacquer finish.

Pros: 

  • Great sound quality
  • 6 valves for better access to low notes and tuning
  • Average price

Cons: 

  • Rotary valves may be slower than you want

Yamaha 822 F-Tuba

The Yamaha 822 is my personal favorite F tuba I’ve ever played. 

I’ll be up-front: it costs more than the other options. 

But this higher price comes with a quality that offsets the price. 

This tuba is a custom 4/4 tuba, meaning it’s a little bigger than full-sized but not as much as a 5/4. 

It’s exactly what most need when they specifically buy an F tuba. 

It features 4 piston valves, perfect for playing faster and quite (though they take more work to maintain). 

Its 5th valve is rotary in style, which is just fine for that one as you’ll only use it when playing low. 

The absence of a sixth valve limits its low range a little, but if you’re using this F tuba for its intended purpose, you won’t need it. 

And it’ll still play low enough for more styles of tuba playing anyway. 

It sounds great, clear, and plays like a dream. 

This tuba comes in a gold or silver lacquer finish. 

Pros: 

  • 4 piston vales and 1 rotary valve are perfect for quick playing
  • The sound is well-balanced and rich
  • Perfect for F tuba playing required by quintet or solo work

Cons: 

  • Higher price

Miraphone 1281 Petrushka F- Tuba

As much as I love Yamaha tubas, the Miraphone 1281 (lovingly called the Petrushka) is the best overall option to balance price, quality, and playability. 

It offers many of the same features as the Yamaha 822 for a lower price. 

With 4 piston valves and the 5th valve as a rotary, it plays quick, clean, and quiet. 

Comparatively, I think this bass tuba sounds a little brighter than the darker Yamaha, but if that’s what you want, go for it! 

Many brass quintet players prefer the brighter tone to better match their trombone’s tone. 

If you play a lot in brass bands on the higher tuba part, you may want a darker sound, but this is getting nitpicky. 

Pros: 

  • Bright, clean, sound
  • Plays fast and clear
  • Middle of the road price for F tubas
  • 4 piston valves and 1 rotary valve for agile playing

Cons: 

  • Sound may be a bit too bright for some groups at the professional level

Thomann Phoenix S F- Tuba

The Thomann Phoenix S F Tuba is one I hadn’t even heard of until I started doing more research for this article. 

Of course, I was familiar with the brand for its reputation in making quality instruments for prices that don’t drain your wallet. 

After checking this horn out, I was impressed. 

It played like a great F tuba for a fraction of the price of a normal one. 

It still features 5 valves (4 pistons + 1 rotary) for clean playing and carries a large tuba sound. 

Better yet, with a little adjusting, all the valve combinations played well in tune across the whole range of the tuba. 

This is a big problem with cheaper tubas, but not this one at all! 

The biggest complaint I found from people (and experienced a bit of myself) is that water gets trapped in valve pipes more often than it probably should. 

This isn’t a huge issue; you just need to empty the valve tubing for spit more often. 

But if you don’t know how to or want to do that, this may not be for you. 

I recommend something like this horn for the average tuba player who just plays around in many community groups or pickup brass quintets. 

This tuba comes in a gold or silver lacquer finish. 

Pros: 

  • Low price
  • Good broad sound
  • Plays quickly and in tune

Cons: 

  • Traps spit a lot
  • Doesn’t sound as big or rich as more premium tubas

Miraphone 481C Elektra F-Tuba

The F- Tuba Elektra is the premium version of the Belcanto from above. 

It features many of the same elements, including 6 rotary valves and a 5/4 size.

These tubas are often referred to as rotary F tubas.

It just does it with a little bit higher quality. 

The horn responds to your adjustments better, making it play dark, bright, high, low, and whatever you want to do. 

The 6 valves extend the range down to match the CC or BBb tubas. 

Essentially, if you want a tuba to use for every single ensemble, this one will do the job in spades. 

As long as you spend most of your time in quintets, soloing, brass bands, or German bands playing tuba 1, this is a smart choice. 

But if you spend most of your time playing in orchestras and concert bands, it’s still better to get a CC or BBb tuba of similar quality. 

Pros: 

  • Amazing big sound
  • Plays powerfully at both high and low
  • Adjusts to match your tone goals quickly and easily

Cons: 

  • High price
  • Rotary valves are consistent but not ideal for quick playing

The Verdict

If I was forced to recommend specific tubas for a given situation (and I’m making myself do it), here is what I recommend. 

The Miraphone Petruschka is my overall best pick for any given situation. 

It plays quickly, sounds great, doesn’t kill your wallet, and does everything an F-tuba is supposed to do. 

If this costs too much, the Thomann Phoenix-S will do the job just fine for you. 

But if you want the best and the price isn’t a big deal, opt for the Yamaha 822. 

What Is An F Tuba Used For?

The F tuba is used mainly as a higher, more agile version of the standard CC or BBb tuba and for the purpose of playing solos in chamber music, brass quintets, and higher tuba parts, as seen in brass bands or German bands. 

Its length is around 12′ feet of piping. 

Most people keep an F tuba as a second tuba after their CC tuba or Bb Tuba. 

F tubas use 5 or 6 valves for the most part. 

What Is The Range Of The F Tuba?

The range of the F Tuba depends on the number of valves it has and the skill of the player. Generally, though, consider the F tubas range as F1-F4. Some serious solo players will even extend the range up to C5 or beyond.

Check out our article on how low a tuba can play.

What Are The Most Popular Tubas?

The most popular tubas are BBb tubas. This is what most middle, high school, and amateur adults play on. Professional or advanced tuba players will stick with the CC tuba as their main, and some own the F tuba as well. Eb tubas are rarer in America but more popular in Europe, where they replace the F tuba in purpose. 

Play better with our detailed tuba tips.

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher in Michigan with 12 years of experience. He's the President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and founder of the Dynamic Music Room.

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