a new set of cornet mutes

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by stevecritchlow, Dec 24, 2008.

  1. My band has always used the Humes and Berg stone lined cup and straight mutes - I like the sound in preference to the metal mutes- but I'm finding increasingly they keep getting dropped and knocked etc which results in them leaking. When putting them out for a rehearsal recently nearly half of them had leaks or other defects.

    So, I'm thinking of buying a complete new set of cornet mutes. What would people advise in terms of tone, tuning, durability, and sadly price (always an issue!)
  2. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    As a former brass store owner, this question personally I feel is a no-brainer. The most in-tune and best sounding mutes are made by TrumCor.


    They even make tuba mutes. A distant second, but probably easier to get are the Denis Wick mutes.

    But TrumCor ships internationally and they are well worth it.


  3. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Frankly, I find it ludicrous that a) people are considering limiting their mute options to just one type, and b) people are prepared to stick their neck out and say that one particular type is superior.

    Surely the whole point is that different types of mute, made out of different materials give different sounds, and bands should have a range of different muted sounds at their disposal, depending on the context/type of music/dynamic/effect required?

    At the very least, I would recommend that a band should have a full set of metal straight mutes, such as the Denis Wick aluminium ones, and also a softer fibre-type mute - the H&B stone-lined are a good example, although there are alternatives, such as the Peter Gane designs. Other manufacturers, such as Tom Crown and Jo-Ral, also offer metal straights in different metals, (copper/brass etc); The whole point is surely that these offer "different" sounds, not "better" or "worse". The most important point is probably consistency, ie. everyone should use the same type of mute, rather than (as I have seen on occasion) a mish mash of different mutes.

    Then again, having said all that, I have also heard two players playing the same make/model of instrument use the same type of mute and obtain different sounds, so, at the end of the day, the real answer is probably that there is no "right" answer anyway ... ;)
  4. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Mr. Green,

    Once upon a time, I owned a music store. I went to shows, played new mutes, old mutes, etc. I (personally) am not "sticking my neck out". I have literally played dozens if not hundreds of different mutes.

    I was just trying to save stevecritchlow some time by providing my conclusions from my experiences.

    Besides and I did mention two different brands.

    Stoned lined mutes are no longer (according to a source and their new catalog) made. Why? They are great for beginners (inexpensive) but compared to the new mutes, vastly inferior in sound and for being able to play "in tune."

    TrumCor makes a tremendous mute.

    I would also be happy with Denis Wick, Jo-Ral, The new Mahattan Mutes. But they are not much cheaper and TrumCor when they say their mute is a "lyric mute" they mean it.

    TrumCor mutes are made from a specially designed composite wood/plastic material. I have met the developer at a show. My reasoning is that they use outstanding materials and high quality cork.

    Now I have give a brand and a reason and my background. Is that enough to keep me from "sticking my neck out?"

  5. not sure what the reason is for the high moral tone in GJG response. I asked a straight forward question, Doc Fox gave his answer. Thanks, thats what this site is for. I would be grateful for the benfits of others expereince as I am going to be spending several hundreds of pounds of the bands money
  6. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    What moral high tone?

    DocFoc claims to be using the benefit of his experience to offer you advice; so am I. To ask on a forum such as this "Which is the best mute?" is comparable to asking "which is the best mouthpiece/instrument/case/etc./etc.?"; only even more pointless. What I am saying is that you are effectively asking the wrong question. What you should be asking is, "what type of muted sound are we hoping to achieve, and what type of mute should we buy to achieve that sound?". Except that's two questions, and only you and your band can answer the first one. After that, the answer to the second one will only be found by experimentation.

    The fact remains that there is no "correct" mute sound, only the right sound for the context. The last time I played lead trumpet in "Anything Goes", I had nine different mutes in the pit; four of them were different makes/materials of straight mute. The idea that one of them was the "best" mute is laughable.

    And as for the idea that a particular mute is more "in tune" than other makes, well, all I can say is, read up on some basic acoustical physics. In the first place, brass instruments themselves (even the best makes) are inherently not "in tune"; only players themselves are "in tune". Secondly, once you place an object (of any shape/size/material) into the bell, you compromise the tuning of the instrument, thereby necessitating further adjustment by the player in order to play "in tune". (think about the French horn ...) It's true that the adverse effects of a particular mute on the instrument's intonation can be minimised by judicious filing/sanding of the corks to improve the fit, however this can also change the sound of the mute, hence my earlier comment regarding "matching" of mutes. IOW, if two players in a section are using different instruments with differing bell sizes/profiles, then in order to optimize intonation they may well have to utilise differing cork thicknesses on the mutes, thereby changing the sound quality, and negating the benefits of using the same type of mute. And so on. Logically, in order for a cornet section using different makes/models of instrument to achieve a well-blended muted section sound they may well have to use a mixture of different mutes, which can only be arrived at by means of experimentation. And so we return to your original question. "Which mutes should we buy?".

    B*gg*r*d if I know! :-?
  7. Yeah, you're right. I'll go an ask the committee of my village band to buy nine mutes for each of the ten cornets players. Can't see that being a problem.

    Currently my band use four mutes, HB straight, HB cup, DW metal straight and DW harmon. This has been the usual line up in most of the bands I've been involved with, including the several Championship bands I've been privilegded to play with. I am aware that there are several makes of mute out there now that are, in some cases, more expensive. I'm not familiar with these and all I thought I was asking was are these worth the extra investment or do others find HB and DW do the job?

    I guess we'll leave this thread there then. Sorry to have bothered everyone with a pointless question. BTW (not that its important) but I have plenty of higher qualififcations in physics and have worked in acoustics and engineering for the past 17 years. thanks for the lecture.
  8. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    ... and all I thought I was answering was, "Yes, if they give the sound you want"
  9. StellaJohnson

    StellaJohnson Active Member

    Come and join me and Mr B in the Grumpy Rant Room:biggrin:
  10. basebonetone

    basebonetone Member

    I can recommend a set of quality mutes that a lot of bands and top players are switching to - have a look at Mike Maclean mutes at www.mikemcleanmutes.co.uk. Mike is a fantastic guy and a player and will be able to provide a very personal service to your band. Endorsements from people like YBS, Steve Sykes and the Halle trombone section cant be bad (to name but a few!)

    Check it out - I use the mutes myself and have never been so impressed by the tuning, tone and consistency across the instrument range
  11. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Rumor in the industry is HB is not longer going to make mutes. They sell cases -- lots of them. They especially sell rock band stuff. Drum cases, amp, sound board and other types of amped music cases.

    They also make two lines of music cases for brass instruments. Galaxy and Tuxedo.

    I would AT LEAST avoid H&B. They might be very hard to replace in the future.

    And Mr. Green, I would if I were you, I would try a TrumCor mute if you can. PM me with what you play and I might be able to arrange it (shipping on me). I still operate a store in my studio where I give lessons. I gave up the website to focus what little energy I have elsewhere.

  12. many thanks, some very interesting and helpful tips there. I'll try and get hold of some samples, and will post what I think of them. the point about HB is very interetsing and, if true, certainly helps me decide to move elsewhere
  13. I did promise to post an update on this so here goes

    I called Mike McLean about his mutes who let me go and talk to him, and try the mutes out for a few days. The cup mute gives a very pure and quiet sound, not buzzy or jazzy like some other mutes. Ideal for very quiet playing in The straight mute doesn't restrcit the air flow, and hence volume much, and again gives quite a pure sound. Both seem durable, are very reasonably priced and do not appear to affect the intonation of the instrument particularly. I was happy to buy a couple of sets and would recommend anyone trying them.

    Wasn't able to find a UK supplier for trumcor to let me try them so can't comment. I am currently trying so new metal by Wallace to see how they compare to the Wick.
  14. flugelgal

    flugelgal Active Member

    When I was playing cornet I bought a couple of Jo-Ral mutes - a cup and a copper bottomed straight. Both sound lovely and I felt were much easier to play in tune with than a wick. Mind you, I think you were asking about non metal mutes, in which case I'll just run away... :bounce
  15. thanks, I was asking about all mutes really. For instance I had seen the jo-ral for sale, they are quite a bit dearer than the Wick, so wanted people thoughts on whether there was benefit in spending the extra cash. So thanks, I'll get hold of some and have a try
  16. TheFopp

    TheFopp Member

    My personal preference for straight and harmon/bubble are Jo-Ral. I love their copper harmon/bubble mute, it has a much nicer buzz in comparison to the DW harmon's 'quack'. However, I generally prefer the DW Cup over others because of its adjustable cup which can give you a number of different sounds depending on how tight you pull it to the bell.... but as has been said in this thread already, one straight mute might sound great in one piece, but a different straight mute might be a preferable sound in another piece. Whilst it is understandable that bands don't want to or can't afford to splash out a number of different makes of the same mute, these options really should be a part of our armoury available to create different sounds and textures.

    My current mute list (with my favourites in bold) is as follows:

    DW Straight
    Jo-Ral Copper Bottom Straight
    H&B Stonelined Straight
    H&B Symphonic Copper Bottom Straight

    DW adjustable cup
    H&B Stonelined cup

    DW Harmon
    H&B Wah Wah Du All
    Jo-Ral copper Bubble

    Jo-Ral copper bottom bucket

    Rubber Sink Plunger

    All good mutes and used for different settings.

    Now we just need TrumpetMike to post his list which makes mine look tiny in-comparison!
  17. jonesbp

    jonesbp Member

    Have a look at the Tom Crown mutes. they are much cheaper than the Jo Ral ones but are still good quality and hard wearing. If you are buying a full set on a budget then these are probably the ones I would suggest. However, if you are planning to spend a lot then I would agree to go with the Jo Ral. (when I say a lot, the Jo Ral's are generally double the price of the Tom Crowns).

    With the cup mutes, I would probably agree that the Denis Wick ones are best for what you are after as they can be adjusted for different sounds etc.. If you want softer sounds from the cup then go for Peter Gane mutes, available from Gerry Birch Music Services.

    I would have to agree, nothing beats the Jo Ral bubble mutes. However, on a budget: the "Harmon" mutes (made by harmon) tend to be slightly cheaper and I prefer these to the other options.

    This is all personal preference, but I am just giving an indication based on my experience what I prefer and find easiest. Hope it is of some help
  18. Johnhamilton81

    Johnhamilton81 New Member

    Hi Everyone,

    Interesting thread this, and I thought I'd give you my preferences. I have 4 trumpet/cornet mutes that I have bought over the last 12 years.

    - Jo Ral Cup
    - Jo Ral Copper Bubble
    - Jo Ral Copper Bottom Straight
    - H&B Bucket Mute

    I Have conducted a junior/training band for the last 3 years and the band used Denis wick steel straight, Denis wick Adjustable cups, denis Wick Haron & an assortment of H&B stone lined straight. The problem I had most of the time with the DW straight was the corks were always falling off. My Jo-Ral mutes still have the original corks after more than 10 years. Real quality, but expensive if you want to buy a whole band set. Another problem with the DW cup mutes is that after a while there was no resistance between the two sections, in other words it wouldn't stay together. This is probably from the years of use.

    All the best
  19. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    If you haven't already tried one, it's worth having a look at the Don Maslet adjustable cup mute. (I know you can get them from Phil Parker - don't know where else) As you say, the benefits of a range of different cup sounds, with a fully adjustable/removeable cup, which also gives the option of a good fibre/composite (not exactly sure what the material is) "soft" straight mute. Not cheap, though, unfortunately ...
  20. flugelgal

    flugelgal Active Member

    Just on this point, make sure you shop around. I got mine from mouthpieceexpress.com and I don't think they cost me any more than ordering Wick mutes from the UK. But I am in Ireland, where I have to pay for International postage from the UK anyway!

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