My "Frugalhorn"

A playable four-valve tuba suitable for average high school students can rarely be found for less than $1000, and it is not easy for most kids and/or parents to scrape together that kind of money. Three-valve tubas that can easily be made playable can be found for much less. With that in mind I grafted a junky old rotary valve into the wide side of the main slide on a junky old Conn 11J to create a "frugalhorn":

The valve linkage is in the back, where it is not exposed to damage.

Routing the extra plumbing in front of the pre-existing tubing offers some protection for the pistons and also makes possible a very long 4th tuning slide. This slide can be pushed in to make 12&4 exactly in tune, can be pulled out to make 4 alone in tune, can be pulled some more to make 2&4 in tune, or can be pulled out still more to make 4 alone work instead of 2&4.

I also made an extension on the third valve button; this arrangement is comfortable even for small hands:

The second valve slide now has a pull-ring and a small bungee cord that pulls it back down:

The first and third slides were already easy to reach; the new fourth valve slide can be pulled more than a semitone:

As you can see, I did not put any effort into making the instrument look pretty. My goals were comfort, playability, and cost control; it was a success in those areas. I have used this tuba almost every day for more than ten years, giving lessons to students and whenever I need a small tuba but don't care how it looks.

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