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Trumpet Mutes are small add-on devices that are either inserted into or clipped onto the end of a trumpet bell. The main objective of trumpet mutes are to alter, change, reduce, minimize or muffle the original trumpet sound. The most commonly used trumpet mutes are straight, cup, harmon, bucket, plunger and practice. There are also other less common types of mutes such as a pixie and solo-tone.
Mutes that are inserted into the bell use cork or a combination of cork and neoprene, to “lock” the mute into the bell. The addition of neoprene helps the mute “grip” the flare of the trumpet bell, to help prevent the mute from falling out during performance. Some brands of trumpet mutes require the musician to file the corks in order to achieve the correct fit. Other brands preset the cork height to work universally among all trumpet brands. Mute corks that have a curved side are designed to match curvature of the mute, thus have more surface area to mate the cork to the mute.
The most common type of material used in the manufacturing of straight mutes is aluminum. The first straight mutes were made out of reinforced cardboard, finished with a hard polyurethane clear coat paint. As the industrial age progressed, a wider variety of materials and manufacturing processes became available. Metal spinning, injection molding, wood working and casting processes became available in 1960s to manufacture straight mutes made out of aluminum, wood, brass, copper, ABS, polystyrene, carbon fiber and fiberglass. Metal straight mutes generally have a more desired bright and piercing sound, while cardboard, wood and plastic counterparts have a less desired more dull sound.
Straight trumpet mutes can only be inserted into the bell of the trumpet and are held in place by 3 corks, evenly spaced around the circumference of the cone shape portion of the mute. The Soulo Straight Mute SM6525 uses a neoprene enhanced cork to eliminate the need to for moisture as an aid to hold the mute in the bell. Instead of breathing in the bell to create moisture, the musician can feel confident that a neoprene/cork composite will hold the mute securely in place. Straight Mutes that are made by the process of metal spinning are made in two parts; a spun top and a spun bottom. After the top and bottom parts are complete, they are joined together on a metal lathe with a crimp connection. This crimp connection adds extra metal and also a large bulge on the outside of the mute, which creates an air obstruction, forcing the musician to blow harder and requiring more effort. The patented design of the SM6525 has a “crimp-free” connection, allowing for great projection and practically no resistance, which does not exhaust the musician from overblowing. Due to the lack of a crimp connection, the mute is also the most lightweight metal straight mute on the market. Straight mutes are most commonly used in classical music although can be heard in early jazz music as well.
The second most common type of mute is the cup mute. It has a more distinct, fun and mellow sound than a straight mute. The most common type of material used in the manufacturing of cup mutes is reinforced cardboard. As with straight mutes, a wider variety of materials and assembly processes developed including metal spinning, injection molding, wood working and casting processes. Cup mutes are typically made out of aluminum, reinforced cardboard, wood, ABS, polystyrene, carbon fiber and fiberglass. Metal and plastic cup mutes have a less authentic cup sound when compared to the first traditional Humes & Berg cup mutes made from reinforced cardboard. The problems with the first cup mutes invented included poor pitch, lack of adjustability, and resistance. The Soulo SM7525 has the traditional cup sound, but with an adjustable cup and perfect pitch. It is also the only fiber adjustable cup mute that offers the adjustability factor.
Cup trumpet mutes are also only inserted into the bell of the trumpet and are held in place by 3 corks, evenly spaced around the circumference of the cone shape portion of the mute. The Soulo Straight Mute SM7525 also uses a neoprene enhanced cork to eliminate the need to for moisture as an aid to hold the mute in the bell. Instead of breathing in the bell to create moisture, the musician can feel confident that a neoprene/cork composite will hold the mute securely in place. Cup mutes with an adjustable cup, including the SM7525, are designed with a flange on the bottom to prevent the cup portion from coming off when removing the entire mute from the bell. Adjustable cups can also double as a straight mute when removing the cup portion. This can be an economical solution for a student in college for example, who may not be able to afford two professional mutes (a cup mute and a separate straight mute).
Harmon Mutes fit inside the bell and completely seal off the bell flare forcing all of the air into the mute (whereas with the straight and cup, air flows in the mute and also between the corks. Since there cork wraps entirely around the small end of the mute, harmons generally require more effort from the musician as they produce more back-pressure.
Bucket Mutes that clip onto the end of the trumpet bell provide the musician with a free-blowing experience. Since nothing is inserted into the bell, the musician feels less resistance, thus making the mute easier to play. This prolongs the trumpet players endurances and makes him or her feel less tired when using a clip on mute. The clips typically have a protective coating to prevent them from scratching the trumpet bell. Some trumpet mute brands allow the user to adjust the clips to fit different bell sizes. Other brands require the user to purchase separate mutes for different bell sizes. The Soulo SM5525 has flexible coated brass clips which the user can adjust for different bell sizes. It also has a patented shape that allows the user to adjust the mutes bottom portion closer or further away from the bell. This offers two different sounds; one more open and one more closed. This allows can help the musician blend with a trumpet section using different brands of mutes. The SM5525 is also the lightest bucket mute available, almost half the weight of other brands.
Practice Mutes are non-performance mutes that are typically used in a setting where a musicians needs to discretely practice or warm up without disturbing others. For example, in a hotel, apartment building or back-stage prior to a performance.