How I Met My Tuba

I’m shacked up with a tuba. Yes, you read correctly. I’m shacked up with a tuba and I’m going to tell you the incredible story of how we met. OK, so it’s a pretty common story but it’s still cool nonetheless.

Since I’ve already given an in-depth account of my history in the magical world of tuba playing in For The Love of Brass: Rekindling My Love of Performing Music, I’ll spare you the recap. Let’s fast-forward to last week when I traded an IBM rack server cabinet, 5 rack servers, 1 tower server and a rack keyboard/monitor combo for a tuba and some cash.

Well the initial plan was just for the cash but I’ll tell you how my new tuba, I have lovingly named “Huggy”, was thrown into the deal.

For months since I discovered the public auction just up the street from my house, I had been buying and buying and buying. My very first purchase was an IBM rack server cabinet in great condition, complete with two 6 outlet PDUs and a bunch of rails. After that purchase I was out of control; filling my garage and house with awesomeness. At a couple of these auctions, I also purchased 5 rack servers, 1 tower server and a rack keyboard/monitor combo; all from Dell. Nothing was removed from the servers except the harddrives in some of them. Although a couple were missing the front bezel. Anyway, they all worked.

I wanted to do some learning on them but eventually decided I didn’t have time and they were taking up too much space (not to mention they sound like jet engines and I couldn’t stand the noise). So I decided to sell them. I’d had an ad on Craigslist for months with an occasional inquiry and “near buy” here and there. I wasn’t selling them for much but at this point I re-posted the ad and lowered the prices even more. I’m moving in a few months and didn’t want to haul the cabinet and heavy servers to my new home.

Now if I can only get rid of that ultrasound machine I bought at the auction… What was I thinking? I almost killed myself getting that thing out of the van…

Anyway, I thought it was interesting that I never felt a sense of urgency about selling these items. I blew off a few inquiries and made a half-ass effort on the “near buys”. For example, I almost sold one of the servers for $250 but I wasn’t responding fast enough to the buyer who needed it almost the next day and he bought one from someone else. Another guy at the auction was trying to give me $80 just for two cards out of one of the servers. I was too lazy to arrange that deal. Earlier last week I almost sold the cabinet to a person other than the guy with the tuba but fell asleep instead of telling the guy he could come get it during the window he would be available. Now I know why… Huggy and I were meant to be. *Smile*

Early last week, the guy with the tuba sent me an email about the cabinet. I decided it was time to make somewhat of an effort to get that big beast out of the garage. He said Friday was the only day he could pick it up so I made sure I was working from home that day. At the time, I didn’t know he had a tuba. There was no deal discussion with him that involved a tuba. When he showed up, he looked over the cabinet and wanted it so I sold it to him for less than what I was asking because he was a nice guy (yes, it’s true). He asked about the price for one of the servers and I cut him a deal on it too. Why not? He was in school for networking and wanted the items to learn on and further his career. In the end, I sold him the cabinet, all the servers and the keyboard/monitor combo. It only seemed right that it all went to the same place. So that was the deal.

As he was loading the items into his trailer, we started chatting. In the trailer, I noticed what looked like a hard case for a tuba. I asked him about it and he said it was indeed a tuba he and his wife purchased for their teenage son who after said expensive purchase decided that playing the tuba was not cool. Say what?! I gave “tuba guy” a lecture about the incredible coolness that is being a tuba player that he certainly didn’t deserve but if he had any ounce of awesomeness in his body (and I believe he does), he would repeat said lecture to his son at a speed that will make him wish he’d never given up on Huggy.

I told tuba guy if he and his wife could come up with a good price for the tuba, I might buy it off of them. He said he could probably give it to me and called his wife right then. She said it would be OK and I nearly fainted with glee (although I tried to play it cool). He pulled it out and opened up the case. In it was a beautiful, Jupiter Bb tuba in great condition. It had a few dents in it that weren’t too noticeable, a missing top valve cover and a very … very… very stuck 3rd valve. They were told by a repair shop the resell value of the tuba would be nowhere near what they paid for it and that the cost of getting the valve out would be more than what they would get if they sold the tuba. … weird.

I couldn’t dispute these claims. I’ve never sold a Jupiter tuba and I didn’t really know if the valve was so stuck that it wouldn’t be able to be removed without extensive repair. All the tubas I’ve ever played were maintained by the schools I attended. So needless to say, I was still happy to accept the tuba. I have been longing to play one again for so many years. They have had them at the auctions but they were always in dire shape since they usually came from Jr High and High schools.

Once he left I immediately went to work on the Jupiter tuba. I’d never dealt with this brand. I’ve always played King and Conn tubas. I removed all the slides valves, springs, etc. and embarked upon the quest to remove the stuck valve. However, no matter what I used, the valve would not budge. I played it safe and didn’t do any forcing that would damage the horn. For days I tried Blue Juice valve oil, PB Blaster (I was quite shocked when this didn’t work. This stuff works on everything!), Liquid Wrench, WD-40. The thing wouldn’t budge.

The valve casing doesn’t look dented in any way (I suppose it could be inside). With all all the pieces of the horn in place, I can even play it (sounds nice!). I just can’t get that valve out. So the plan is to try Kano Kroil and if that doesn’t work, I’ll take it to a repair shop and see what they have to say. I can’t wait!

So that’s it. That’s how I met Huggy. We’re in love … until I get a King (insert diabolical laugh here).

1 Comment
  1. UPDATE: A lot of valve oil and a heat gun on the lowest setting allowed me to remove the stuck valve. There was no damage to the lacquer on the horn either. There doesn’t seem to be anything thing wrong with the inside of the valve casing. It was just really dry. I was able to move the valve freely with the valve oiled up. Now I’m going to give the whole horn a thorough cleaning. I’d already ordered parts to replace the valve guides, felts, etc.

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