People often ask me why they should buy a new tuba, or euphonium* from Wessex instead of a second-hand one made by a more expensive brand. There are a number of reasons to buy new from Wessex, the most important of which is the sheer pleasure of owning a beautiful new instrument.
However there are Real practical reasons as well for buying new from Wessex. Unlike any other brand, except those in the highest price brackets, Wessex is the only supplier that individually quality checks at factory to assure the quality of their products. Nothing we would not be happy owning and playing ourselves as experienced musicians is accepted. Then just to make sure, we check yet again before shipping out to customers. So you can be consistently sure of a good one, which is more than can be said for some of the expensive brands of the past from what we have heard from people that actually worked at the factories.
Then unlike if you buy used, Wessex offers generous 3-year warranty against any manufacturing defects to give you assurance if you have any niggling doubts about the quality of Wessex getting made in China (but bets are the computer or phone you are reading this is also made in China and is that not good?).
What people often do not realise buying second hand, is that with piston valves, they get worn in to suit the person playing the instrument. What that means is we all push slightly off-centre and at different angles. The pistons get worn in to suit the person owning like a pair of shoes do to suit their owners feet. That is why so often when you buy used there are valve problems, as you will push differently from the previous owner. Buying new, the valves will not be worn and although maybe not quite so smooth initially, within a few weeks they will have nicely bedded in silky smooth to suit their new owner.
Even if the valves move freely, buying second hand you don’t know if the instrument was well maintained before and the valves may well be worn to make a loose fit and therefore provide bad compression. If you are buying used therefore pull each slide and ensure there is good plop from the air compression to ensure this is not the case. At Wessex we carry out compression checks on all our instruments before accepting at factory, so you can be sure they will be good.
The other area to carefully consider on buying used is that continued dampness inside the tuba (or euphonium) may have started red-rot inside the leadpipe. This is rather like rust eating away from the inside and will not be apparent until too late when a hole develops. Most tubas in the past were made with yellow brass lead pipes which are rather susceptible to this problem. To ensure this is never a problem with Wessex, all our leadpipes are gold brass or nickel which are rot resistant.
Obviously it is up to you what instrument you buy with your hard-earned money, but these are some points to consider before making a final decision. Whatever you buy, we hope you enjoy and have many years good music making!
*Most of these points apply to other brass instruments too