Looking for a trumpet mute? Let me help you out.

There are plenty of mutes out there but only a few brands that are top-notch, and remember not every type of mute is absolutely necessary for a beginner! So I would recommend only the first type of mutes for students in middle school and the first three types of mutes for high school students.

Here’s the organization of this article in order of most useful mutes to least useful (but fun) mutes:

  1. Straight Mutes (middle school)
  2. Harmon Mutes (high school)
  3. Cup Mutes (high school)
  4. Plunger Mutes (needed occasionally)
  5. Solotone Mutes (fun to have)
  6. Practice Mutes (practice quietly)

1. Straight Mutes

As every professional trumpet player knows, the straight mute is the most used and most well-known mute for both jazz and classical players. Funny enough, the straight mute is usually the first and only mute needed for student players from 4th-grade to the end of middle school. Even then, the straight mute is still the only mute ABSOLUTELY needed for most cases.

Due to the amount of use a trumpet player can get out of a simple straight mute, I would recommend in investing a bit more for a better quality mute. Don’t buy anything other than a metal alloy – straight mutes are meant to offer a bright, harsh sound. Don’t soften it by buying a mute made of fibre material.

There are three I would recommend that can be found at great prices, but I’ll list them from cheapest to most expensive.

Protec Trumpet Mute

ProTec Liberty Mutes: ML100 Straight Trumpet

Protec is most well-known for their amazing, top-notch cases they have available for every instrument, but their mutes are also high quality as well. And for the price, it might be best for your budget.

The reason aluminum is best (apart from a fibre material) is because of the sound a metallic material produces. Straight mutes are used to transform the trumpet sound into a brash, bright sound. A fibre material tends to dull the sound, while a metal like aluminum helps brighten the sound.

This would be the cheapest I would go when it comes to a straight mute. Anything less would need to be replaced to be considered for professional situations – this Protec mute would last for a good while before needing replacement.

Denis WIck Straight Mute TrumpetDenis Wick Straight Mute

You can’t get much better than the brand “Denis Wick” and when it comes to their straight mutes, they are acclaimed worldwide for sound quality, intonation, and durability. Again, instead of buying a cheap $15 mute that “gets the job done,” consider spending a bit more so you never have to worry about buying a straight mute again! These are professional grade.

  • Price – around $40
  • Material – high purity spun aluminum (with scotchbrite finish)
  • Real cork and protective edges
  • Click here to view on Amazon!

Denis Wick is a British trombonist that began making mouthpieces and mutes for brass instruments in 1968 and eventually founded his own company which has grown to be quite successful (and has even received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2013!). So – it’s a great brand you can trust in!

Tom Crown Trumpet MuteTom Crown Straight Mute with Copper Bottom

To cut to the chase (no pun intended off my name), this is the mute I had bought myself as a Christmas present a few years back. Unfortunately, I moved and lost it somewhere (saddest thing).

The reason for the price is the copper bottom, but copper is what offers such a higher quality sound. The brightness is maintained through the aluminum, while the clarity of the trumpet tone shines through the copper. So not only does it look beautiful, it also sounds beautiful too!

If you end up buying this one, you’ll never need another straight mute again (unless you love different mutes and will keep buying them anyway – every mute design does a bit different!).

DISCLAIMER: Don’t buy a plastic or fibre material straight mute. They might be cheap, but they sound cheap too – the sound is dulled and flat with no hope to cut through the ensemble. Invest in a better quality mute!

2. Harmon Mutes

When it comes to classical repertoire, the two most used mutes are the straight mute and the harmon mute. Thanks to the company, “Harmon,” there is a lot of confusion because other companies other than Harmon manufacture harmon mutes

You’ll see many names such as:

  • bubble mute
  • wah-wah mute
  • wow wow mute

But know they are all the same. They are all harmon mutes!

Protec Harmon MuteProtec Aluminum Wah-Wah Mute

Much like my straight mute selection, I’ve chosen protec as the first choice (and cheapest option). I know that Bertrand’s Horn Improvement has sold these before and since they’re a great, trusted brand (and below $40), I figured this is one of the best options out there without cutting corners on quality.

Most of these mutes will last years if not longer, so it is important to realize “long-lasting” cork is a great promise. The first harmon mute I had was very old and if I wasn’t careful, it would fall out mid-performance if I didn’t set it in the horn properly. Which was very annoying.

This protec model also has the important addition of the adjustable stem.

DO NOT buy a harmon mute without an adjustable stem – it would be pointless without the option. Different pieces call for “with stem” or “no stem” so without the adjustable stem, a cheap mute could prove useless! This protec mute is the cheapest I’d recommend.

Harmon B Mute TrumpetHarmon B Aluminum Wow Wow Mute

So here it is! The harmon mute produced by the company Harmon. It doesn’t look too fancy, but this is the mute that I currently own and use for professional gigs. BUT, when I save up enough I will probably buy the option after this one.

My only pet peeve about this mute is the durability of the cork – it does wear down after a few years of use. Cork is easy to replace, but annoying to worry about.

Apart from that though, the sound is exactly what you need and is always fairly clear!

Copper Jo Ral Harmon MuteJo-Ral Copper Bubble Mute

Here we are – the glorious copper bubble mute. The harmon mute every professional desires, including myself.

A good friend of mine who is now a professional trumpet player in big bands and musical production has this mute – and for good reason. It produces a really warm, buzzing harmon sound that compliments the tone rather than blocks it.

The “bubble” design allows the sound to swell and grow  rather than a square aluminum design that stops the sound.

3. Cup Mutes

Now that we’ve covered the most necessary mutes as a trumpet player, let’s review some other mute that are less needed but still a “must-have” for professionals.

The cup mute produces a warm, jazzy sound because the brightness of the brass is dulled while the characteristic tone of the trumpet comes through as a mellow timbre. Cup mutes are more used in jazz situations, but can also be seen in classical music too.

Bach Cup MuteBach Plastic Cup Mute

I love giving options, but when it comes to cup mutes the second one I list here will be my best recommendation. BUT, if you’re on a budget, I’ve heard this is a good cup mute that produces a healthy cup sound regardless of the plastic material. Bach is a great company as well and can be trusted – most mouthpeices trumpet players use are made by Bach and the trumpet I own is a Bach Strad! So the brand can be trusted.

I don’t usually recommend mutes made out of plastic material, but when it comes to the stereotypical sound of the cup mute, a dulled, mellow tone is actually what we’re after. So although plastic isn’t ideal, it would still produce a sought after timbre!

Stonelined Cup MuteStone Lined Cup Mute

Out of the options I’ve listed for cup mutes, this brand is by far the industry standard and is also the one I own. THe characteristic color design is immediately recognizable to any professional and although it is not metal, the fibre material is actually more sought after for the cup mute sound. And it’s actually not too expensive!

I love this mute and have had mine since high school, which makes the one I own about 9 years old! And it still works great and sound beautiful. Although I am giving options for cup mutes, this is really the only cup mute you should consider seriously. The next one I show is also well-known as well – mostly because it’s adjustable.

If you notice, the design of the cup has curved section to allow for sound to escape. The reason this mute sounds good is because of this design that doesn’t seal off the entire bell. This is probably why they are so popular too.

Denis Wick Cup MuteDenis Wick Adjustable Cup Mute

Another well-known brand for cup mute is the Denis Wick model that allows for adjusting, which is really only taking on and off the actual “cup” part of the mute (to make one sound louder if needed). I listed it last because of the price, but notice even the more expensive types of cup mutes still have a plastic material.

It’s known to cover almost the entire bell when inserted, which is good for some cases, but can sound very muted. But due to the material used, it is very light and easy to carry and does have the ability to remove the stem or the cup for a different sound as well.

4. Plunger Mutes

You’ll notice that a lot of these extra mutes are needed in jazz rather than classical – you may wonder why. My best guess is that jazz players love experimenting, not just with improvisation, but also with sound. An old teacher of mine used to take a stone lined cup mute and cut holes out for mutliple kazoos to stay in place. So yeah, they like experimenting.

Plunger mutes are rarely needed in a band atmosphere, but can sometimes be required in certain pieces. But like I said, plunger mutes are mostly used in jazz bands and the like.

WM Sink PlungerWM 4″ Sink Plunger

Now I know this seems like a joke, but IT IS NOT A JOKE.

Mutes can get expensive! Why buy a $50 plunger made specifically for trumpet when you can literally buy a sink plunger and get the same sound. I own this plunger and it works fine! And it’s worked for years! Back when I bought it, it was only $2! You can save a lot of money, my not being embarrassed to play with an actually sink plunger (everyone does it).

If you DO end up buying this, I do have some instructions for you (as mentioned above). I don’t want you to buy it and get frustrated that its a nasty plunger, so here are some more details in preparing this to be used as an ACTUAL plunger mute.

  1. Unscrew the handle
  2. Drill a hole about 1″ in diameter where the handle screwed in
  3. In place of the handle, insert two coins: a dime and a penny/quarter
    1. The dime first and then the penny
    2. You want one coin a little loose to bounce around and the other to block the coins from falling out (to stay secure)
  4. And done! The plunger will block the sound, but the coins will add for a nice metallic sound that will offer a great timbre

If you have any questions about this, or if you really don’t believe me, contact me and I can help you!

Stonelined Plunger MuteStonelined Plunger Mute

If you’re uncomfortable using a real plunger, then the only other mute I’d recommend is this stonelined mute – other options are pointless because they’re either difficult to grasp or exactly the same as the $8 plunger I listed above (just marked up $20 to $30!).

The handle is much nicer than a real plunger and would make it easy to hold. The fabric interior of the aluminum alloy is promising, for both sound and durability. So for a professional performance on a concert stage, maybe consider this stonelined mute. For those wanting to save almost $30, then definitely go for the sink plunger!

5. Solotone Mutes

Cleartone, or solotone, mutes are not as well-known but produce an intriguing sound like a mix between the harmon mute (with stem in) and a cup mute. It is almost never called upon in a score for band or jazz band, but most professionals collect mutes, mouthpieces, and toys – this mute being one of them.

Stonelined Cleartone MuteStonelined Cleartone Mute

When it comes to the cleartone/solotone mute, there are very few options. The Humes & Berg design is the only mute on the market that is taken seriously and is also the mute I own. The durable design doesn’t dull the bright clearness of the mute sound, so you can’t go wrong with getting another stonelined mute!

  • Around $45
  • It is a brilliant and mellow soprano distinctive sound that projects out clearly
  • Gives a desired tonal effect for the soloist and a complete brass section.
  • Click here to view on Amazon!

Again, no one really NEEDS this mute, but it makes for a great gift and useful accessory for trumpet players.

6. Practice Mutes

Trumpet is a loud instrument and not everyone wants to hear a trumpet 24/7, especially a student trumpet player repeatedly attempting those high notes as 12am.

Luckily, there are some options for the late night practice sessions: practice mutes! They are not meant to be used in performance, only for practice. The design of practice mutes purposely softens the trumpet sound and allows the player to practice without disturbing your neighbors (or you).

Keep in mind that practice mutes are also known as silence mutes or silencer mutes.

Pampet Practice MutePampet Practice Mute

The brand isn’t well-known, but I’ve heard some good things about this product and for the price, it is definitely is worth considering. The customer reviews (although few) look fairly promising. So as far as practice mute go, this is the only cheap option I’d recommend.

And look it even comes with a little bag! When traveling, this lightweight mute would make practicing very doable. Trust me though, you definitely need a mute to practice in hotel rooms.

Jo Ral Trumpet Practice MuteJo Ral Trumpet Practice Mute

This is the first practice mute that I bought in high school because I began practicing more high notes that bothered my family (and I was practicing more in general).

  • Around $46
  • Neoprene-enhanced composite cork pads for durability
  • Designed and tested to perform evenly in all registers
  • Dramatically reduces volume without distorting tone quality
  • Click here to view on Amazon!

The material used is very durable and the tone isn’t altered by the reduced sound. There’s a little hole in the mute that allows for air to escape so the back-pressure isn’t too noticeable. I used the mute most of my college life and I soon needed it on me when traveling or warming up in a church before a gig. It was in my trumpet case for years before I moved out of my parents house.

So stop worrying about where to practice and buy a silent mute – your family will thank you (and so will your neighbors).

Yamaha Practice MuteYamaha SilentBrass Practice Mute

Out of all the gadgetry I own for trumpet, this is by far the most amazing piece of equipment that I can’t image living without. And I was lucky enough to have an amazing family buy this for me as a Christmas present! A big shout out to them – they are wonderful, thoughtful people.

  • Around $156
  • The pickup mute combines a high-performance mute with an internal microphone to pickup sound.
  • The mute offers superior muting performance, excellent intonation over a wide pitch range, and natural playability.
  • The silent brass features this unique Yamaha Technology which uses the Modeling of non-muted brass instruments to correct your instrument’s tone when the pickup mute is in place.
  • By connecting to portable audio players or smart phones with audio playback capability, you can play along with your favorite tunes or practice with popular “minus-one” backing tracks.
  • Click here to view on Amazon!

I love this practice mute. It allows you to practice at a very low volume, but with the earphones plugged in, you hear yourself playing as though you aren’t practicing with a practice mute but in a glorious concert stage! There are two options for output: dry, unaltered sound or additional reverb.

If budget is of no concern for you, this is the silent mute for you – I don’t think there is another mute out there that does as many things at such high-quality performance as this Yamaha mute. I would highly recommend!

Conclusion

I hope this gives a rough outline to the mutes you may need or your student/child might need. These all make for great gifts and double as useful equipment every professional needs.

If you have any questions, ask away in the comment section below.

Which of these are your favorite? Would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Thanks for reading – stay tuned for more info about trumpet related good, materials, and equipment.

Thanks for stopping by!

Chase

Categories: Trumpet

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