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A sousaphone bell cover is just that: a cover for the bell. Typically it is made of things like nylon and gets stretched over the bell. Using one of these top sousaphone bell cover picks, you can prevent the spread of germs while you play and protect your instrument.
While all of the items reviewed here are good quality and suitable for protection against germs, the bottomline is that I recommend the Gator Bell Cover with Filter because it is the only one that not only has a space for a filter but gives you a filter adding a layer of protection to the material itself.
It can be machine washed, so you don’t have to wash it by hand and wait for it to dry in the sun.
Bottomline Up Front
Sousaphone bell covers can prevent the spread of germs and protect your instrument while you play. They have been around for decades but are in higher demand because of COVID. I reviewed each of the top sousaphone picks based on their quality, material, and ease of use.
The bottomline is that I recommend the Gator Bell Cover with Filter because it is the only one that not only has a space for a filter but gives you a filter adding a layer of protection to the material itself and can be machine washed.
Who Needs to Use a Sousaphone Bell Cover
Bell covers have been used for quite some time, with many reputable companies like McCormick’s producing valve covers for almost three decades. Of course, in the last few years, bell covers have become less of a suggestion and more of a requirement in group settings, primarily through public schools, music schools, and more prominent orchestras.
Since COVID, the use of the top sousaphone bell cover picks has been particularly popular among groups like bands and orchestras. Even the top sousaphone players of all time use them now during performances.
When you play your sousaphone (or any similar brass instrument), saliva and condensation build up in the horn. When you practice with new sheet music, this can spread as you play when drops come out of your sousaphone bell.
With a cover, you can prevent this from happening and, by extension, protect other players from your germs.
- So, the first people who should consider using a sousaphone bell cover are those who need to prevent the spread of germs or simply want to be conscientious of the amount of air (and possibly drool) that comes out of the instrument. This can be used during performances and practices alike.
- The second group of people who should consider using a belt cover or simply those who want to get a cover for protection when their instrument is not in use. These covers might be thicker and not designed to be used during practice or performance.
When using covers for safety and germ prevention, you can check out this video to show how it is done and why:
How Bell Covers Impact Sound
A sousaphone bell cover does have a minor impact on the sound and timbre of your instrument.
During covid, this last Christmas, everyone in our orchestra had to play with a bell cover to prevent the spread of germs and keep our community safe.
However, I have played with a bell cover in years prior simply to reduce the projection I achieve because the concert hall we use is relatively small with many hard surfaces. My projection is usually louder than my brass counterparts, but a bell cover can help me level our projection so that we are all even.
When I play with a bell cover, it reduces my projection slightly because the cover physically extends over my bell, so it doesn’t allow as much air to escape my sousaphone. I noticed a slightly muffled sound but the audience and my fellow Orchestra members did not.
When you play with a sousaphone bell cover in a marching band where you are required to project across an entire field or lot, you might reconsider using the Bell cover during a performance because it can reduce your projection, volume, and clarity articulation, especially with higher frequency sounds.
Note: A bell cover won’t completely dull the sound, but it does change the sound ever-so-slightly. Some musicians might be bothered by this, but younger players probably won’t be, and most audience members who have no musical experience don’t notice anything. So if you have a family member who is worried, reassure them that the audience won’t see a thing.
What are the Most Popular Brands in Bell Covers?
There are many popular brands for bell covers. Some of the cheapest and most common popular sites like Amazon include Protec. Many music schools and teachers order from more established brands like Gator or McCormick directly because they can buy customized bell covers with school mascots printed on the front.
Selection Criteria for the Top Sousaphone Bell Cover Picks
My selection criteria for these top sousaphone bell cover picks include materials, because some material lasts longer than others or is easier to get around the bell.
The easier the material is to use, the more younger players will be on board with using it. Out of all the top sousaphone bell cover picks, I recommend the Gator Bell Cover with Filter because it is machine washable, comes with a filter, and is higher quality than comparable items that have to be washed by hand or have a space for a filter but no filter.
I recommend the Protec cover for larger instruments. This double-layered cover is intended not just for sousaphones before any larger bells. This not only protects against the spread of germs and other aerosols, but it protects your instrument when you leave it on at home when you are not playing or practicing.
- Double layer of fabric
- Larger size, up to 27 inches
- Washable and reusable
- Fits over the bell easily
- You have to wash by hand
IBAM makes reliable bell covers good for smaller sousaphone bells. Discover does very little in terms of the tone and timbre of your instrument.
I like that it comes in three different colors so you can choose black, red, or gold. I have the gold because it blends in nicely with the brass, but I don’t like that you have to hand wash only. There is an industrial-strength cord that you can tighten around your instrument once you put the bell cover in place.
The instructions that come with the bell cover say to hand wash it and leave it out to dry, which can be problematic if you have to use it multiple days in a row. I have had to resort to using a blow dryer to get it dry on time to use the next day.
- Made from polyester
- Comes in many colors
- Hand wash only
- Only fits a 25-inch bell
KYT Music Instrument Bell Cover
The KYT Music Instrument Bell Cover is a 26-inch cover that is meant for sousaphones and similar large bells. This particular Bell cover fits larger sousaphones. It is made with an elastic combination of spandex and polyester, so it fits securely over the instrument without a lot of hassle.
You can easily take it off, throw it in the washing machine, and reuse it. It doesn’t significantly impact the sound or the projection when you play. There is a mesh pocket behind the double layers of fabric to put a filter.
- Machine washable
- No pull tabs
- Double layers
- Has space for filters but doesn’t come with any
- Doesn’t have a secure cord to hold the cover in place
Gator Bell Cover with Filter
This Gator bell cover comes with a filter and is designed to fit over your sousaphone bell and protect against the spread of germs. This is for a sousaphone bell between 24 inches and 26 inches.
The National Federation of State high schools produced an aerosol study with specific recommendations that band members and other Performing Arts students invest in the top sousaphone bell cover picks to prevent the spread of germs.
This is a nonwoven polypropylene fabric that is very easy to use but prevents the spread of germs while you play your instrument. You can take it off and put it in the washer or hand wash it and use it over and over.
I love that it is easy to take on and off, easy to throw in with my laundry, and has a filter that comes with it. It does only have one filter, so at some point, you will have to get a replacement but, in the meantime, it has an elastic closure and a cord that helps you lock the cover in place once you put it over the bell.
This almost makes up for the fact that it only comes with one filter because I know that when my children use it, they won’t lose it.
- Has a double layer
- Meets requirements for performing arts centers
- Next to no backpressure, so it is easier to play
- Closure and cord locks the cover in place over your bell
- There are no refunds because of the nature of the cover, so if it does not fit, you have to buy another one
McCormick’s provide a double layer in their bell covers. The covers are made of polyester and spandex mix with two layers, so it blocks twice as many small particles. This is a very good brand that has been providing music teachers and musicians with bell covers for over 25 years.
McCormick’s offers the broadest range of sizes, so if you have a non-standard bell size for your sousaphone or want covers that you can use on multiple instruments, you might have to settle for McCormick’s they offer up to 32 inches in diameter.
- Double layer
- Good company with decades of experience
- Lots of sizes
- Machine washable
- Elastic rim to hold it in place
- Does not have a space for a filter
Answer: A sousaphone bell cover can cost anywhere between $10 and $30, depending on the brand and the material. Softer materials meant to protect against the spread of aerosols won’t affect your playability and are easy to wash.
Hence, they are usually on the cheaper end of the spectrum, whereas sousaphone bell covers that you use during storage will be on the more expensive end.
Answer: The material varies by manufacturer. Most manufacturers create something that is durable and stretchy made of nylon or polyester blend.
Answer: Bell covers have been used for decades to decrease the respiratory droplets that come out of a woodwind instrument like a sousaphone. These are stretched over the bell and create a physical barrier that traps aerosols, beneficial for bands who must comply with covid regulations.
Answer: Lots of instruments can use bell covers, not just sousaphones. Trumpet, trombone, tubas, clarinets, and other instruments that have an area where aerosols and spit can be projected benefit from using a bell cover.
Answer: A sousaphone bell cover helps contain the spread of aerosols when you play your instrument. Like many woodwind instruments, the sousaphone is something that you breathe into, and when you breathe into it, your breath and spit can sometimes be transferred through the instrument and come out the other end.
By putting a bell cover over your sousaphone, you can significantly stop that spread.
Answer: When most people think of quieting their instruments or reducing the volume when they practice, they think of a sousaphone mute. A sousaphone bell cover is not the same as a mute.
A mute is designed not just to quiet the sound but to change the sound, whereas a bell cover is not meant to change the sound of your instrument at all.
Bell covers will vary it slightly, but a mute will thoroughly dampen your sousaphone sound. A mute is used intentionally during certain pieces to create a more mellow sound. You don’t want to use a Bell cover as a substitute.
I recommend the Gator Bell Cover with Filter because it is machine washable and comes with a filter.
All of these top sousaphone bell cover picks will get the job done, and if you are concerned about spreading germs or there is a requirement in your Orchestra to protect other players with a bell cover, these top picks all come from quality manufacturers made with good material that has minimal impact on the sound.
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