Band directors hate plastic instruments, but they serve their place.
Of course, they’ll never measure up to real brass instruments, and they are riddled with tuning issues.
But they handle the weather better, they’re cheaper, and the colors are fun!
With this in mind, I got my hands on a Cool Wind plastic tuba to review and check out.
While I don’t own one (yet), I was pleasantly surprised with the sound and quality of this instrument.
Cool Wind Plastic Tuba Review
For plastic tubas, there aren’t a lot of options, and it’s partly because there isn’t a lot of demand.
Still, Cool Wind saw the lack of options on the market and came up with this option.
For the price, this horn comes in at a fraction of the price of full brass tubas (around 80% less, to be exact).
It’s a BBb tuba with 4 rotary valves.
The valves are made of metal, which is a nice feature as plastic wouldn’t work as well over time.
Rotary valves are a nice touch in general.
Piston valves require more upkeep to keep functional, though they are usually faster and quieter.
Rotary valves are more consistent and require little to no maintenance if the horn is played often.
Having 4 valves is a big bonus too!
It’s this feature along that actually raises this plastic tuba above a beginner tuba status.
As a plastic tuba, it does sacrifice some sound quality, though.
Plastic can’t contain and amplify the dynamic power as brass can.
This is why brass instruments are made of brass usually! It’s the best metal for projection.
Still, in the hands of an experienced player, it’s possible to get some good volume out of it.
The tuning is surprisingly good for each valve combination (here, having four valves again helps), though it sounds a little fuzzy when playing fast.
I’m not sure if it’s the plastic or the design of the tuba itself, though.
All in all, for limited plastic tuba options, the Cool Wind Tuba does the job well!
Pros For This Tuba:
- Lower price
- Lighter weight
- Stays in tune
- 4 rotary valves are a big plus!
- Comes in cool colors
Cons For This Tuba:
- Not as much dynamic potential
- The tone quality is a little muted
- Agile playing sounds fuzzy
Tubas are heavy, and it’s a major drawback against playing this instrument for young people or those who have a hard time moving heavy things.
It’s the reason tubas don’t march and why many sousaphone players end up with back issues.
Check out our detailed sousaphone vs. tuba comparison.
This plastic tuba only weighs 24.2 pounds, compared to a standard tuba at 35 pounds or more.
While it’s not always easy to walk around with it, it’s definitely easier to handle.
I know most music teachers hate plastic horns, and I do, too, mostly, but you can’t help but admit the colors look cool.
A giant plastic and colorful tuba are very striking.
Cool Wind makes theirs in black, red, purple, and blue.
It’s not all about looks, but sometimes looks can be a draw all on their own.
Functional Tuning And Valves
When I look for an instrument, the first thing I check for is:
Does this instrument sound in tune (or close to it) with all key/valve combinations?
The plastic instrument is notorious for being bad at this.
But the Cool Wind plastic tuba doesn’t have this problem!
Having four valves is a huge help, but even with the main three, it stays pretty well in tune from high to low.
Also, using rotary valves is a wise choice.
One of the other complaints about plastic horns is how they don’t work long, especially the moving parts like valves.
By choosing metal rotary valves, you increase your chances of the valves continuing to work over time with minimum repair or upkeep needed.
Best Feature: Affordable Price
Obviously, the best feature of this tuba is its affordable price.
No brass tuba even comes close to touching this price level.
(And the ones that do are terrible and should be avoided at all costs!)
Don’t get me wrong!
This isn’t a tuba to use regularly or as a professional or amateur for many reasons.
But I see this tuba as something with a very specific and important use:
Kids who can’t buy their own tubas.
Parents don’t want to drop $5-10K on the tuba, nor should they unless their child plans on playing a lot after high school.
Even adults who graduate and play in community bands can ask to borrow school horns, and it’s usually not a problem.
But this limits your practicing.
The plastic tuba is a perfect practice tuba for those who can’t buy their own horns.
It’ll help the lips and fingers get the parts down for when you play on a real brass one.
Plus, it’ll just be fun to pull out at joke-gigs.
Video Of The Cool Wind Plastic Tuba
Here’s a quick vid of some playing on the Cool Wind tuba.
If you’re buying a tuba for the purpose of playing in groups or beyond the high school level, DON’T get this horn.
But if you want a tuba to practice on that doesn’t break the bank, or you can use it for fun, outdoor gigs, then this is for you.
It won’t win any awards for its sound, but it does the job and does it well.
There aren’t a lot of plastic tubas on the market, but if there were, this would top the list.
Commonly Asked Questions
Why Get A Plastic Tuba?
The main reasons to get a plastic tuba are because you need one to practice with at home when you can’t always borrow a school’s brass tuba or if you can’t afford a regular tuba and you need one to play. Plastic tubas are accepted at higher levels of play and shouldn’t be purchased by serious tuba players (unless they want an extra one for outdoor gigs or as something fun).
How Does Plastic Affect The Tuba Sound?
In general, plastic tubing on brass instruments limit the dynamic range (volume) of the instrument. It also thins out the tone quality and sounds airy or fuzzy at the extreme highs and lows. But it isn’t as affected by weather and is usually much cheaper and more colorful.
Are Plastic Brass Instruments Good?
Typically, music teachers say don’t buy plastic brass instruments because they’re not good. It’s not that they’re not good; it’s more that brass is better. If you want something new or need to save money, a quality plastic instrument will be just fine.