With a little innovation, a bit of plastic and a couple decades of experience, you may just create something that saves your instrument—and your wallet. The new SousaGuard, also known as a sousaphone bottom bow protection guard, does just that.

Retired band instrument repair technician Wayne Bulla had a vision, one that would harken a new era for one of the largest and most recognizable musical instruments, the sousaphone. Throughout his 20 years of repairing instruments, Bulla saw the same problem with sousaphones: They all had the same hallmark dents on their bottom bows.

Those dents were easy to make but very expensive to repair. From its case to the field and the stands, a sousaphone goes through a lot of wear and tear. And of course, the bigger they are, the harder they fall (or in this case, dent or break). So after Bulla retired, he decided to tackle the problem head on.

In order to protect the bottom bows on sousaphones, Bulla opted for high-impact ABS plastic. This kind of plastic can take a lot of the beating that the average sousaphone cannot and is highly multi-purposed. When he implemented his work, Bulla designed the plastic guard to fit “nearly all modern sousaphone[s].” What’s more, it only takes “seconds to install,” which is great for on-the-go marching bands and corps.

For those concerned with the added weight on an already heavy instrument, the bottom bow protection guard is not a problem. Bulla said that the SousaGuard only weighs 18 ounces.

According to Bulla, not only is the SousaGuard lightweight, but the dents on the bottom bows are “virtually eliminated.”

With the SousaGuard, there’s less time worrying about damage. “You’re playing and swaying, and you’re moving side to side and setting it down over numerous times; [with the SousaGuard,] you’re preventing damage,” Bulla says.

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