At IHS Denver I gave a presentation on playing the Wagner tuba, based on materials in my new book on the same topic. At the end of the session someone present brought one of the Wagner tubas that are being sold on eBay now for around $400, made in China. I tried it briefly. Actually, the first impression was not bad. It is a compensating double. Don’t expect it to be a top end, pro quality instrument at this price but if you want a Wagner tuba to play some for personal enjoyment it is very worth looking into and certainly better than some of the old beaters that are out there. The owner was clearly enjoying his and I am glad to see this instrument on the market. [See UPDATE for link to review].
Also I saw something Wagner tuba related noted on the horn list from Dan Phillips, who is Associate Professor of horn at the University of Memphis. He mentioned another great resource that just came out this summer, one that I have been meaning to mention in a post, the book version (somewhat expanded, actually) of the William Melton articles on the history of the Wagner tuba that were originally published in The Horn Call. They are online in a very abridged form at www.wagner-tuba.com but check out the book, it is much better. Dan gave this info, “Go to http://ebenos.com/katalog+shop.html, click on books and the first entry is this book.”
If you are an enthusiast of the instrument, buy my book, the new Melton book, and one of these very affordable Chinese Wagner tubas. Check it out, they can be fun to play.