About the Sousaphone - A member of the Tuba family
A common part of military and school marching bands, brass bands and New Orleans style ragtime jazz bands, the sousaphone is an adaptaion of the concert tuba which was designed to be easier to carry. It is a modern adaptation of a now-obsolete type of tuba called the Helicon - a circular marching instrument thought to have been invented in mid-19th century Russia, which was carried on the shoulder.
The sousaphone is a giant among brass instruments, weighing in at as much as 50 lbs (though most marching band sousaphones weigh only half that or less). If it were unrolled, the average BBb Sousaphone would be approximately 18' long!
While more often used for marching, sousaphones are also seen in concert settings.
Range: The standard range of the BBb Sousaphone is from the F below the bass-clef to the F above the bass clef. Accomplished sousaphone players can produce notes over an octave higher higher as well as lower, "pedal range" tones.
Pitch (Keys) : BBb ("Double B Flat") is most common, occasionally pitched in Eb (E flat), C or F. The C and F instruments are less frequently seen, but sometimes used as concert instruments as they are thought to have a richer tone. The sousaphone is a non-transposing instrument.
Number of Valves: 3 or 4, with three valves being the norm. Four valve instruments are heavy and expensive.
Materials: Rolled brass or fiberglass.
Weight: These huge musical instruments can range in weight from approximately 18 lbs to as much as 50 lbs!