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Q: But what about all the 'regular' practice mutes out there?


A:

Editor's note: What follows is an evaluation of various practice mutes made by Bill Dishman, a middle school teacher and fine trumpet player in Gainesville, Florida. It was originally made available on TPIN, the trumpet player's mailing list, but I thought it deserved wider permanent availability, so it is posted here with the consent of the author. Both Mr. Dishman and I hope that it will be of some use to those hunting for a practice mute. The goals of the individual player (low volume vs. playability vs. cost) will be different in most every case, so the mutes are not rated as to 'the best" but rather described so the player can match his or her needs with the most appropriate mute.

 

Practice Mute Comparison Chart

Comparison parameters are on a 1 - 10 scale
Openness: 0 = very restrictive / 10 = very open
Pitch: 0 = very poor / 10 = very good
Tone Quality: 0 = very brittle / 10 = very covered
Volume: 0 = very loud / 10 = very soft

Volume is relative to a listener's perspective and how well sound would carry through walls.
Further explanatory notes are below.

Brand

Material

Openness

Pitch

Tone
Quality

Volume

Volume/
Door

Cost

Denis Wick

Aluminum

8

- 5 cents (7)

9

6

4

$34.99

Spivak "Whispa" by Shastock

Pressed
Cardboard

3

+10 cents (8)

2

9

8

$37.95

Humes & Berg
Mannie Klein "Sh-Sh"
(small hole)

Stone lined

7

0 cents (6)

5

2

5

$19.99

Humes & Berg
Mannie Klein "Sh-Sh"
(large hole)

Stone lined

7

0 cents (6)

4

0

2

$19.99

Peacemaker

Hard plastic

2

+5 cents (4)

3

8

7

$35.95

JoRal

Aluminum

5

-10 cents (7)

5

5

7

$43.75

Bob Reeves

Thin plastic

4

-25 cents (8)

1

7

8

$19.99

Trumcor Stealth

Very light wood

9

-5 cents (7)

8

7

7

$40.00

Trumcor Super Stealth

Very light wood

3

+3 cents (9)

7

9

8

$40.00

Trumcor Lyric Stealth

Very light wood

9

+0 cents (10)

7

8

8

$55.00

Bremner "ssshhhMute"

Hard plastic

5

-5 cents (9)

4

9

9

$38.00

Softone

Neoprene
with foam inserts

9

-5 cents (10)

10

0

2

$33.99

Denis Wick (piccolo)

Aluminum

3

+3 cents (8)

8

8

8

$29.99

Trumcor Stealth (piccolo)

Very light wood

5

+5 cents (8)

9

7

7

$40.00

Yamaha Silent Brass

Composite

6

+10 cents (6)

6

8

8

$139.95

Renuzit (homemade)

Soft plastic
air freshener

4

+8 cents (2)*

5

4

9

$1.89

Mr. Dishman's notes and comments:

The comparison/contrast study was done by myself and Steve Sparks with input from Mitzi Musen. This is by definition a subjective evaluation of these various practice mutes. Variables include individual playing characteristics, bell sizes of different instruments (Bach 65 Bb bell/Bach 238 C bell), some alterations in cork width to accommodate bell size, and the enlarging of some vent holes slighly to reduce resistance. Characterstics of the different mutes may be more or less desirable for any individual player.

The 0 - 10 scale of evaluation is used for simplicity. Note that for volume the more desirable quality of softness is rated towards 10 where a louder mute is rated towards zero.

The pitch rating is in two forms. The first (+ or - ) is in regards to ta standard initial tuning note (Bb or A concert) using an electronic turner. The overall rating is based on pitch consistency across all registers.

The volume ratings (2) relate to overall volume while playing at a moderate dynamic level. The first column indicates perception by listneners in the room. The second indicates listener's perception outside a hollow core wooden door with the player facing away from the door in the practice room. These were NOT done using a decibel meter but rather subjectively according to the listener's sensibilities.

The prices are from recent Brasswind or Giardinelli catalogues. Renuzit cost is from my local grocerty store. The Bremner mute cost is from them directly.

Editor's note: This information was assembled and posted in February 2005, though it is likely relative cost will remain stable.

 

Comments on Individual Mutes

Denis Wick: Very covered sound, "mushy" pitch centering in the low register, good in the middle and upper registers. The test mute was modified by adding an extra ring of cork to accommodeate a large trumpet bell, and the vent holes were enlarged slightly to reduce resistance.

Spivak "Whispa" by Shastock: Good low register pitch centering, quite restrictive in high register.

Mannie Klein "Sh-Sh" by Humes & Berg (small hole): Centers pitches well but very sharp in low register.

Mannie Klein "Sh-Sh" by Humes & Berg (large hole): Thsi mute is possibly mislabeled. It sounds more like an H & B Solo-Tone mute. Not sure this is actually a practice mute at all. Has different configuration at the bottom with open vent tube all the way through. Very open in all registers.

Peacemaker: Very sharp in the low register and inconsistent across registers. It was tested without the headphones.

JoRal: Vent holes slightly opened to reduce resistance.

Brass Spa by Bob Reeves: Has a buzzing sound, consistent in pitch.

Trumcor Stealth: Slightly flat in upper register. Pretty open feel. Good centering of pitches.

Trumcor Super-Stealth: More restrictive than Stealth but also quieter. Good centering of pitches.

Trumcor Lyric-Stealth: Quite open feeling. Good centering of pitches across registers.

Bremner ssshhhmute: * Extra layer of cork necessary and used to accommodate larger size bell. Low register sharp in pitch. Middle register a little flat.

Softtone Mute: * All foam inserts used. Flexible resistance factor with different number of inserts removed. Centers adequately but very even in pitch across registers. Not designed as a practice mute but could be used as one.

Denis Wick (Piccolo): * Enlarged vent holes to reduce resistance.

Trumcor Stealth (Piccolo): Some resistance added. Even pitch centers across registers.

Yamaha Silent Brass: *Tested without electronic sound processor or headphones. Heavier in weight than other mutes and sticks out farther from bell causing weight shift of the horn. Restrictive in upper register. Centers well in low register. Plays flat in upper register.

Renuzit (Homemade): Kleenex used inside with internal stem used. Tenon corks attached with contact cement. Sharp low register, flat middle register, extremely flat upper register and difficult to center. Generally inconsistant pitch centers. Different amounts or type of filler material (cotton balls, Kleenex, etc.) may alter results. With the stem out, volume is increased but resistance is lessened.


 

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© 2005 by Williiam F. Dishman
and James F. Donaldson
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