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Ohio State Band marches out $48K for new equipment

Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor

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Being The Best Damn Band in The Land comes with a price.
This year, it came to the tune of $48,000 ­­­- the cost for the Ohio State University Marching Band to replace rundown and older instruments.
Jon Waters, interim director of the band, said this year the band spent about $30,000 to purchase new brass instruments and about $18,000 on the percussion section. The band replaces some of its instruments every year, and Waters said this expense isn’t an increase compared to previous years.
“Our instrument purchase this year is really no different than they have been for decades,” Waters said.
Waters said last year the band spent about $50,000 on new instruments.
Waters said the money to replace band instruments comes from private donations and the Alumni Club as the university does not have a budget for the band to buy new instruments.
“We are very fortunate to have the support of the alumni to help us to buy new instruments every year,” Waters said.
One band member said that after playing in the band for four years, he knows it’s necessary to regularly replace instruments.
“They get used. We use them every single day. They are going to show wear,” said Ryan Patton, a fourth-year in industrial and system engineering. Patton plays the trumpet in the OSU band.
“They take very good care of the horns, clean them regularly,” Patton said. “We have our own fix-it staff and if our fix-it staff students can’t fix it, we send it away and have it fixed. So it’s not like we are throwing horns away, it’s always getting fixed first. The horns we’ve used, we have used them for many years.”
Some students said they were not aware the band spent what some called a “large” amount of money on instruments every year.
“I had no idea at all of the amount they spent on instruments, but this seems kind of large to me,” said Andrew Needham, a third-year in film studies.
The band’s drums are custom made, and the band replaces the whole section at one time. Other sections are upgraded a few instruments at a time.
Waters said since the drums cost less than the brass instruments, the band is able to replace them all at one time. Waters said they bought more instruments this year, but the total cost wasn’t out of the ordinary.
Waters said the band typically waits eight to 10 years to cycle through a whole section, but that it evaluates the condition and sound of the instruments to determine if a replacement are needed.
Each section purchases its instruments from the same brand in order to maintain consistency, Waters said.
“We are very fortunate here to be able to have a match(ing) set of instruments, which gives the band a very consistent sound from section to section,” Waters said.
Waters said the band is looking for a certain sound out of its instruments and that the buying process isn’t just a matter of picking a brand and ordering.
“If we are looking at replacing instruments in a section, we will get as many of those manufacturers to send us samples and we will play them, test them, field test them, listen to them,” Waters said. “We will have some of our students and alums play them and find out what is best.”

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