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The sousaphone is like a tuba, but more convenient

The sousaphone is a one-of-a-kind brass instrument that's suitable for a wide range of musical applications. The sousaphone is a kind of tuba that can be supported on the shoulder of the performer, allowing him to play while walking. It was developed by the North American composer John Philip Sousa, after whom the instrument is named. The first sousaphone was made by the private company J.W. Pepper & Son in 1893.

The sousaphone was born of the need to have an instrument that could produce very serious sounds during the marches.The deep and warm sound of a sousaphone blends incredibly well with other brass instruments, and they're often favored by smaller band students over the tuba since they're not as heavy. The sousaphone's shape is such that the bell is above the performer head and projecting forward. The valves are situated directly in front of the musician slightly above the waist and all of the weight rests on the left shoulder. The bell is normally detachable from the instrument body to facilitate transportation and storage. Except for the instrument's general shape and appearance, the sousaphone is technically similar to a tuba. Most have three valves, but some have a fourth valve that lowers the pitch by a 4th. Although sousaphones may have a more restricted range than their concert tuba counterpart (most sousaphones have 3 valves instead of 4 to reduce weight), generally they can all play the same music and usually have parts written in the bass clef.

Early sousaphones had vertically directed 22-inch-diameter (560 mm) bells, with 24-inch (610 mm) bells popular in the 1920s. From the mid-1930s onward, sousaphone bells have been standardized at a diameter of 26 inches (660 mm). Initially, sousaphones were made only of brass, but in 1960 Conn & Selmer began to produce sousaphones with fiberglass bodies and brass valves. This is how lighter analogues appeared. However, they do not have such a dark and rich tone as brass sousaphones.

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