TRUMPET MUTE TYPES
Trumpet mutes are handheld attachments used to alter the trumpet sound. They’re capable of softening, warming, reducing, or altering the instrument’s tone to produce the specific, desired sound. Although most any solid object can be used to mute a brass instrument, the most common trumpet mutes used by working players are straight, cup, harmon, bucket, plunger, and practice. Standard trumpet mutes are either inserted into the bell and held in place by friction, like the straight, cup, or harmon mutes, or attached to the outer bell by clips, like some bucket mutes. The plunger mute, as an exception, stays in the player’s left hand and must be precisely held in place over a specific portion of the bell to produce the desired tone.
Early trumpet mutes were constructed from fiber materials and polyurethane. As the Industrial Age progressed and manufacturing techniques improved, straight mutes were soon being made by processes that included metal spinning, injection molding, woodworking, and casting. By the 1960’s, mute manufacturers used aluminum, wood, brass, copper, ABS, polystyrene, carbon fiber, and fiberglass. Today, the finest mutes are generally made of specially-engineered fibers or independently-spun aluminum halves joined together. The metal mutes that join together are usually mechanically joined forming a “crimp” connection. The Soulo Mute Company designed the first, break through “crimp-less” connection, joining the two halves in a way that allows the air to flow freely on the inside, as well as on the outside.
Most inserted trumpet mutes utilize a solid strip or small segments of cork to retain the mute inside the bell. To reduce falling, some brands require the musician to file and individually shape their mute’s cork segments to better match the bell’s interior surface angle. The issue with using cork is that over time it deteriorates and dries out, leading to the inevitable mute fall outs. Modern mute makers like SouloMute use an advanced combination of shaped cork and neoprene to “lock” the mutes in place. This prevents musicians from experiencing the inconvenience and embarrassment of losing their mutes during a performance, as well as protecting their investment. Over time, damage from falling can potentially alter the tone your mute produces.