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The Top 3 Heaviest Marching Band Instruments

Marching bands have different singularities. One of those is the type of instruments seen in the parades, some of them really heavy and difficult to play.

When considering what are the heaviest marching band instruments, it is essential to define if that weight includes or not the equipment that is needed for a certain band instrument to be played while marching.

For example, some carriers that help with holding and marching certain types of instruments can weigh around 10lbs or more. These elements can add several pounds to the overall weight of the instrument.

However, after gathering some info around the web and questioning marching bands players, the most common answer is:

  • euphonium
  • bass drums
  • tubas and sousaphones

What Are the Heaviest Marching Instruments?


Marching Euphoniums

Perhaps one of the heaviest instruments, that needs to be held entirely by the marcher’s hands.

Physically, the euphonium is generally pointed as one, if not, the most demanding instrument in a marching band.

Bass Drum

A bass drum in a marching band performance

Very heavy and somehow uncomfortable to march and play with.


A very demanding instrument to be played while marching. Not only because of its heavyweight but also by the effort you need to play it.

At the same level of heaviness, but somehow a bit more comfortable, we can include the sousaphone, a companion of the tuba which is mostly used for marching bands.

A Sousaphone and a Tuba side by side
A Sousaphone and a Tuba side by side

Apart from the instruments identified above, there are also others commonly pointed to as some of the heaviest you could find in a marching band:

  • the tenors
  • some types of cymbals (for example the SCV cymbals).

Factors Influencing How Heavy a Marching Instrument Is

The Materials Used and Its Construction

The weight of an instrument is highly dependent on the construction and material used for it.

The techniques used in making the instrument can greatly affect the materials used to construct it. Stiff materials are generally lighter than soft materials.

Nowadays, a number of marching band instruments are made of wood or plastic so that marching and playing are easier than carrying around what used to be heavy metal instruments.

Recently, there have been some developments in plastic instruments as well, and some types can also be used in marching bands.

In terms of weight, but also due to their price and durability, this has been a growing alternative to some players during the last years.

When looking for the right material, it is also important to take into account how difficult it would be to repair the instrument.

Most metal musical instruments need to be repainted frequently in order to maintain their quality. Plastic instruments will often need only cosmetic repairs.

A good rule of thumb when choosing the material is if it can be repaired, then it is probably worth buying.

If it is extremely hard to repair, it is better to buy a new or second-hand inexpensive instrument.

a marching band cartoon

The Size of the Instrument

The length and size of an instrument are also determining factors when considering what are the heaviest marching band instruments.

Larger instruments can be cumbersome and difficult to handle.

This makes it sometimes uncomfortable and unnatural for one person to manage to play the instrument alone.

Therefore, if an instrument is much longer than others, it may be more difficult to get along with, resulting in less enjoyment of the experience.

Equipment Needed for the Marching Band Instrument

Apart from the equipment itself, there are other pieces of equipment needed either for carrying the instrument, making it more comfortable to play, enhancing the quality of the sound, or assisting in reading the notes of the music.

For example, on the drums section of a band, the material you choose for the carrier of the drum itself, can have a significant impact on the amount of weight you will be carrying. If you use straps, rather than metal or aluminum frame harnesses can lower greatly the total weight of carrying an instrument.

But the truth is that for certain types of instruments you might not have that option, as for example, for quads where metal-frame harnesses are normally used.

a Canadian Marching Band

Other Factors to Consider

Directly connected to how heavy and which materials are used in an instrument, it’s the price.

Buying a large and heavy marching band instrument may not be financially feasible for every musician.

This means that players will have to take into account the amount of time and effort it will take to keep their instrument in top condition before making such a purchase.

If you are already a player or soon to be, get help and focus on the right technique for playing it while marching.

Proper techniques require that each member should be able to lift and maneuver the instrument without much difficulty or discomfort.

It is difficult to find an exact answer for which are the heaviest instruments around the internet. And that’s legit because it does depend on different factors as mentioned above.

Also, different players get different sensations while playing a marching band instrument, so it’s difficult to generalize and point exactly the ones which are the heaviest ones in a marching band.

However, there are certainly some which are commonly pointed to as the heaviest and that’s why we’ve developed this article.

What Are the Heaviest Marching Band Instruments?

The three most commonly pointed as the heaviest are the euphonium, bass drums, and tubas.

The Heaviest Marching Band Instruments