Updated on June 15, 2016 by Bill Dishman
This comparison / contrast study was done by myself and Steve Sparks with input from Mitzi Sparks. 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 / Bach 229 C bell), Some alterations in the cork width to accommodate bell size and enlarging some vent holes slightly to reduce resistance. Characteristics of the different mutes may be more or less desirable for any individual player.
The 0 - 10 scale of evaluations 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 0.
Comparison parameters are on a 0 - 10 scale
0 = very restrictive / 10 = very open and free blowing
0 = very poor / 10 = very good
0 = very brittle / 10 = very covered
0 = very loud / 10 = very soft
* (volume is relative to a listener’s perspective and how well sound would carry through walls)
The pitch rating is in two forms. The first (+ or -) is in regards to a standard initial tuning note (Bb or A concert) using an electronic tuner. The overall rating is based on pitch consistency across all registers. Varying bell tapers will affect this assessment. Larger bell flairs generally will cause higher pitch results. Additional thicknesses of cork (or substitute material) generally will help with this.
The volume ratings (2) relate to overall volume while playing at a moderate dynamic level. The first column indicates the perception by listeners in the room. The second column indicates the listener’s perception outside a hollow core wooden door with the player facing away from the door in the practice room. They were NOT done using a decibel meter and are rather subjective according to the listener’s sensibilities.
*** NOTE: "covered" or 'dark' tonal qualities with good overtones do not carry into other areas as well a "brittle" or "bright" sounds with higher frequency overtones present. This accounts for differentiations between the (2) volume ratings in some models.
Cost factors are the least accurate as the dollar amounts were accumulated over several years from various catalogues and web sites. Many are outdated and one would be advised to obtain current pricing information. The cost column is only a general guide to be used to compare prices in the most general way.
|Brand||Material||Openess||Pitch||Tone Quality||Volume||Volume/ Door||Cost|
|Bach Practice Mute||Hard Plastic||8||(+) 5 cents 5||3||7||7||$19.00|
|Best Brass "e-brass" (Electronic) (Compact)||Hard Plastic||7||(+) 2 cents 9||8||9||9||$170.00|
|Best Brass "Junior" (Compact)||Plastic||9||(+) 3 cents 10||10||10||10||$60.00|
|Best Brass (New 2012)||Aluminum||10||0 cents 10||10||9||9||$95.00|
|Best Brass "Warm-Up"||Aluminum||10||0 cents 10||10||10||10||$90.00|
|Best Brass "E-Mute" (Electronic) (Standard)||Hard Plastic||7||(+) 3 cents 8||7||8||9||$200.00|
|Best Brass "Piccolo"||Aluminum||7||(+) 2 cents 8||9||9||9||$90.00|
|Brass Spa (by Bob Reeves) (Compact)||Thin Plastic||4||(+) 25 cents 8||1||7||8||$19.99|
|Bremmner "On Stage" Mute||Plastic||9||(+) 1 cents 9||5||4||4||$75.00|
|Bremmner "Piccolo"||Hard Plastic||5||(+) 5 cents 9||5||9||9||$50.00|
|Bremmner "SsshhhMute"||Hard Plastic||5||(+) 5 cents 9||4||9||9||$38.00|
|Denis Wick||Aluminum||8||(-) 5 cents 7||9||6||4||$34.99|
|Denis Wick "Piccolo"||Aluminum||3||(+) 3 cents 8||8||8||8||$29.99|
|Dillon Music (Compact)||Aluminum||10||(+) 4 cents 8||6||8||9||$35.00|
|FAXX (Compact)||Plastic||7||(+) 4 cents 7||4||7||6||$44.00|
|FAXX (Harmon Style)||Plastic||8||(+) 1 cents 9||8||8||7||$29.50|
|Fides||Aluminum||10||0 cents 10||10||9||9||$45.00|
|Hickman "Sotto Voce"||Fabric/Fiber||9||(+2) cents 9||10||8||8||$35.00|
|Houston Music||Aluminum||8||(+) 3 cents 8||7||8||8||$16.00|
|Houston Music "Adjustable"||Aluminum||9||(+) 3 cents 5||8||8||7||$24.00|
|Humes & Berg (large hole)* Mannie Klein "Sh-Sh"||Stone Lined||7||0 cents 6||4||0||2||$19.99|
|Humes & Berg (small hole) Mannie Klein "Sh-Sh)||Stone Lined||7||0 cents 6||5||2||5||$19.99|
|Humes & Berg Mannie Klein "Standard"||Aluminum||9||0 cents 10||7||5||4||$39.00|
|Humes & Berg "Snub Nose" (Compact)||Aluminum||10||(+) 4 cents 7||6||5||4||$45.00|
|Jo-Ral||Aluminum||5||(-) 10 cents 7||5||5||7||$43.75|
|Liberty Mutes (Compact)||Aluminum||7||(+) 5 cents 4||9||9||9||$35.00|
|Mutec (Compact)||Aluminum||9||(+) 2 cents 9||8||9||8||$40.00|
|Mutec "Harmon Style"||Aluminum||10||(+) 10 cents 8||9||6||7||$25.00|
|Mutec "Harmon Style"||Polymer (Plastic)||10||(+) 10 cents 7||7||5||6||$25.00|
|No Name "Piccolo"||Aluminum||8||(+) 4 cents 6||6||3||3||$10.00|
|Peacemaker||Hard Plastic||2||(+) 5 cents 4||3||8||7||$35.95|
|Peter Gane||Wood||10||0 cents 0||2||0||0||$70.00|
|Renuzit "Homemade"||Soft Plastic||4||(+) 8 cents 2||5||4||9||$1.89|
|Silencer (by Easy Bucket)||Aluminum||10||0 cents 0||10||10||10||$40.00|
|Slencer (by Matt Ankland)||Metal||5||(+) 4 cents 8||8||9||9||$35.00|
|Soft-Tone "Homemade"||Fabric/Fiber||8||(+) 1 cents 9||8||4||6||$3.00|
|Softone Mute||Neoprene with Foam Inserts||9||(+) 5 cents 10||10||0||2||$33.99|
|Spivak "Whispa" (by Shastock)||Pressed Cardboard||3||(+) 10 cents 8||2||9||8||$37.95|
|Stomvi (Compact)||Aluminum||6||(+) 7 cents 6||1||6||6||$73.00|
|Stomvi "Piccolo"||Aluminum||3||(+) 6 cents 7||2||7||5||$60.00|
|Tom Crown "Harmon Style"||Aluminum||9||(+) 1 cents 9||9||9||9||$35.00|
|Tom Crown "Piccolo" (Harmon Style)||Aluminum||9||(+) 1 cents 9||9||9||9||$29.50|
|Trumcor "Lyric Stealth"||Very Light Wood||9||0 cents 10||7||8||8||$55.00|
|Trumcor "Stealth"||Very Light Wood||9||(+) 5 cents 8||8||7||7||$40.00|
|Trumcor "Super Stealth"||Very Light Wood||3||(+) 3 cents 9||7||9||8||$40.00|
|Trumcor (Piccolo) "Stealth"||Very Light Wood||5||(+) 5 cents 8||9||7||7||$40.00|
|Wallace Collection (Don Maslet Model)||Fiber||6||(+) 3 cents 6||7||8||8||$39.50|
|Wallace Collection "V" Style (Compact)||Aluminum||10||(+) 4 cents 8||8||8||8||$57.00|
|Wallace Collection "V Style" (Standard Size)||Aluminum||10||0 cents 10||8||9||8||$45.00|
|Wallace Collection "Studio"||Aluminum||8||(+) 2 cents 9||8||8||9||$50.99|
|Warburton||Soft Plastic||7||(+) 3 cents 7||8||8||8||N/A|
|Windy City (Compact)||Aluminum||6||(+) 3 cents 7||6||8||8||$49.95|
|Windy City (Standard)||Aluminum||7||(+) 2 cents 7||6||8||8||$59.95|
|Wine Cork (Homemade)||Synthetic Cork||7||(+) 3 cents 8||7||8||8||$0.00|
|Yamaha "New" Silent Brass (Electronic) (Compact)||Hard Plastic||8||0 cents 10||9||8||8||$150.00|
|Yamaha Silent Brass (Electronic) (Standard)||Composite||6||(+) 10 cents 6||6||8||8||$150.00|
Practice Mute Commentary
Bach Practice Mute: Similar in shape and size to the Brass Spa by Bob Reeves model (exact same shape and size - manufacturer?) but with a cork instead of a rubber ring. Has a “buzzing” tone quality similar to a harmon mute (without stem). Pitch on standard bell size was raised almost an 1/8 tone. On larger bell size the pitch was raised almost a 1/4 tone. Relatively open feel.
Best Brass “e-brass”: Compact electronic mute. Similar to the Yamaha Silent Brass and the Best Brass “E-Mute” but smaller. One extra feature is that the metronome is included. Has the same features such as line-in and line-out as other electronic mutes do. Best used with a decent set of headphones or good ear buds. One problem in the design is that the volume control adjusts both the player AND the metronome volume. Increasing the metronome volume also increases the player’s volume as well. This seems to cancel out the reason for having the metronome feature. (Player covers up the metronome beats.) Distortion occurs in the output to the headphones. The owner’s manual does indeed warn about this. Can be used without headphones/ear buds as a regular practice mute. Like the earlier Best Brass full size model, all of the electronics are within the mute itself and require no external components like the Yamaha Silent Brass.
Best Brass “Jr.”: Excellent plastic mute and less expensive than the aluminum model. Concern would be durability if dropped on hard surfaces.
Best Brass “2012” Model: Very open. Larger than the original model but still compact. Will fit inside the bell when stored in most cases/gig bags. Very even in pitch across all registers. Best regarding pitch I have come across. Slightly louder than the original but difference is negligible.
Best Brass “Warm Up” Mute: Very open and even pitch across registers. Very small mute. Must be aware of how hard the mute is inserted into the bell. Jamming the mute in affects the resistance and pitch tremendously. Inserting only enough to secure mute from falling out results in a much more open feel.
Best Brass “E-mute”: Electronic practice mute with adjustable resistance (which does alter volume levels). Ear phone/head phone connection and input connections. Variable reverberation settings. Internal battery powered. No extraneous wires for power needed. Newer model contains a built in metronome.
Best Brass Piccolo: Aluminum model. Very small. Very quiet with good pitch tendencies across registers. Has some resistance but not excessive. Small bell shank so may not work well with “large” bell piccolo trumpets.
Brass Spa by Bob Reeves (Compact): Has a “buzzing” sound. Consistent in pitch but quite sharp overall.
Bremmner “On Stage” Mute: Not designed as a practice mute “per se” but can serve as one. Quite a bit louder than other “true” practice mutes but still very usable as one. Very open and consistent in pitch across registers. Only a slight raising of the pitch.
Bremmner “Piccolo”: Same general size as the Denis Wick model but constructed of hard plastic. Small vent hole in the bottom of this mute. Resistance is present but not unmanageable. Pitch is good but is quite dependent on the bell flare like most mutes. Very quiet.
Bremner “ssshhhmute”: * Extra layer of cork used to accommodate larger size bell. Low register sharp in pitch. Middle register a little flat.
Denis Wick (Standard): Very covered sound, “mushy” pitch centering in the low register, good in middle and upper registers, (* extra ring of cork added to accommodate large trumpet bell, vent holes enlarged slightly to reduce resistance).
Denis Wick (Piccolo): * Enlarged vent holes to reduce resistance. New models have a foam material instead of the original cork.
Dillon Music (Compact): Aluminum (Identical to the Best Brass Version in appearance.) One of the better practice mutes and price is very good compared to the Best Brass. Not nearly as sturdy as the Best Brass. Foam type “cork” does not hold the mute in the bell very well. When the mute fell out of horn, the mute split into two pieces. The bottom is not secured with any adhesive. This can be remedied with some super glue. Tone quality is not quite as covered as the Best Brass but very acceptable. Pitch tendencies are a little sharp but not exceptionally so.
FAXX (Compact): Aluminum small mute similar to the Best Brass Warm-Up Mute. Brittle tone quality.
FAXX: Plastic “harmon” style practice mute. One vent hole. Slight vibration “rattle”. Good pitch consistency.
Fides: Aluminum body. Interesting concave cavity with smaller cavity for the vent hole. Good consistency of pitch. Very open.
Hickman “Sotto Voce”: Not designed as a practice mute but easily serves as one. Fiber material as structure covered with a felt type of material. Not as soft as some but definitely usable as a practice mute.
Houston Music: Black plastic clone of the Denis Wick model. Shiny black paint. Very “covered” sound.
Houston Music (Adjustable): Modified “bubble” style but not as large as a Jo-Ral “bubble” harmon mute. Unique “twist” mechanism that opens and closes the vent hole and allows for variable resistance/back pressure. Can be set at any degree from 100% open to 100% closed.
Humes & Berg “Mannie Klein” "Sh-Sh" (Large hole): * This mute is possibly mislabeled as a “Sh-Sh” mute. Sounds more like a “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.
Humes & Berg “Mannie Klein” "Sh-Sh" (Small hole): Centers pitches well but very sharp in low register.
Humes & Berg “Mannie Klein” (Standard): Aluminum version that is very similar to the Denis Wick standard size models. One vent hole. Has a good open feel and pitch is relatively good. Has a funny vibration/buzz when pushed too hard.
Humes & Berg “Snub Nose”” (Compact): About 1/3 larger than the Best Brass compact size. Has a neoprene type cork substitute like the Best Brass models. Avoid pressing too hard into the bell as this affects the pitch significantly. Only insert gently into the bell. Quite sharp overall but even and consistent across registers. Vent hole is through the mute like the Best Brass but larger. Has a funny vibration/buzz when pushed at all similar to a harmon mute buzz.
Jo-Ral: Vent holes slightly opened to reduce resistance. Very similar to the Denis Wick standard model.
Liberty Mutes (Compact): Clone of the Best Brass compact version with a slightly differently contoured shape. Very good mute.
Mutec (Compact): Aluminum with foam style “cork” similar to Best Brass version. Overall very good mute. Quite open. Pitch variation is minimal. Only problem is the vibration/buzz at louder playing volumes. Rattles similar to a harmon mute without the stem. Nice covered sound at quiet playing levels. Same recommendation to not “squeeze” the mute into the horn for best results. Only enough to secure the mute into the bell.
Mutec (Harmon Style “Aluminum”): Very open compared to most other practice mutes. Four (4) vent holes. Somewhat louder than desired but because of the dark, covered tone quality this will not carry through doors of practice room or studio very well. Pitch is sharp across registers but is consistent from low to high registers. Has “real” tenon cork around shank like most harmon mutes. Needs moisture “breath fog” to secure mute into the bell.
Mutec (Harmon Style “Polymer”): Moderately open feel. Has one (1) vent hole. Louder volume level than the aluminum Mutec and has a somewhat “tubby” sound due to the polymer (hard plastic) material. Sound will carry through doors to practice rooms but due to the covered tone, it will not carry much further into other areas. Has “real” tenon cork around shank like most harmon mutes. Needs moisture “breath fog” to secure mute into the bell.
No Name (Ultra Compact): Very small mute and the neck is so small in diameter that it would be suitable for piccolo trumpet size bells and possibly some Eb bells. Does not work well with standard sized bells. Quite loud compared to other types of practice mutes. Price however is very low.
Peacemaker: Very sharp in low register and inconsistent across registers. *Used w/o plastic tube type earphones.
Peter Gane Practice Mute: Handcrafted in England. Light wood construction. Is a straight mute with an unusual venting design. Cork wrap around with 3 small, thin strips of cork added instead of vent holes. Air is vented around the 3 strips. Very open but louder than most practice mutes. Could be considered a “soft” straight mute. Very in-tune mute. Nice open feel.
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 inconsistent pitch centers. Different amounts or type of “filler” material may alter results. (cotton balls, Kleenex, etc.) With the stem out, volume is increased but resistance is lessened.
Silencer (by Easy Bucket); A-typical design. Is a 2 inch diameter cylinder rather than the normal mute shape. About the size of a standard mute in length. Rubber mute “cork” on one end with a rubber hand grip on the other. Made of aluminum. Extremely open and free blowing. Covered tone quality is soft and does not penetrate walls or doors. Pitch is exceptional across all ranges. Cost is very reasonable.
Silencer (by Matt Ankland): Small, steel insert designed to be placed into a harmon mute replacing the stem. Similar in nature to the homemade “wine cork” idea. Vent hole is on the side. Testing was done with a Jo-Ral “bubble” mute. Very little difference between using this mute and playing without the actual stem.
Softone (Homemade): Made of electric floor “buffer pads” filled with foam inserts (packing material). Does not affect pitch and is somewhat difficult to mount onto bell.
Softone Mute: Neoprene soft material. All foam inserts used. Flexible resistance factor with different number of inserts removed. Centers adequately and very even in pitch across registers. Not designed as a “practice” mute but could be used as one.
Spivak "Whispa" by Shastock: Good low register pitch centering, quite restrictive in high register.
Stomvi: Aluminum mute similar to Best Brass and other compact models. Quite soft but brittle in sound.
Stomvi (Piccolo): Aluminum mute with a hard plastic bubble end. Extremely large vent hole. Very narrow cork ring secures mute into bell. Very bright tone quality.
Tom Crown (Harmon Style): Has four vent holes. Quite open and responds well in the low register. Good pitch consistency with minimal tendency to play sharp.
Tom Crown Piccolo: Aluminum “harmon” style with two vent holes. More open feel than the Denis Wick model.
Trumcor “Lyric-Stealth”: Quite open feeling. Good centering of pitches across registers.
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 (Piccolo) "Stealth": Some resistance added. Even pitch centers across registers.
Wallace Collection “Don Maslet”: This model is an early version. Has an adjustable stem that allows for a variety of resistance levels. Adjustments alter volume levels and tone qualities. Mute is made of a fiber material.
Wallace Collection (Compact): Aluminum “V” shaped with adjustable vent cylinder that can be set to various settings of resistance. Stem can be removed entirely is so desired. Is compact in size similar to the Best Brass Warm-Up mute but with a different shape. Slight vibration present. Not as “covered” a tone quality as some mutes.
Wallace Collection (Standard): Aluminum “V” shaped with adjustable vent cylinder that can be pushed in or pulled out to varying degrees for different resistance and volume levels. Can also be removed completely if desired. Some vibrations of the stem is present.
Wallace Collection “Studio”: The “New” version is a completely new design. Modified aluminum “bubble” with an adjustable stem that allows for a variety of resistance levels. Adjustments alter volume levels and tone qualities. Newest versions have a redesigned stem with two rubber ring dampeners as opposed to only one on the earlier model. This improves the tone quality with less vibration noise.
Warburton: Plastic construction. Two piece design. Plays well and is open feeling. End of the mute came loose from the body of the mute and was not secured other than fitting in a slot around the inside of the body. Application of super glue fixed the problem. No price listed as was given out as a promotion. Dark sound that is quiet.
Windy City (Compact): Black aluminum mute. The small size is similar to the Best Brass/Brass Spa/Renuzit. Some back pressure/resistance.
Windy City (Standard): Similar to Denis Wick style. Black aluminum. Somewhat “tight” relative to the openness of other mutes. Raises the pitch somewhat. Volume characteristics are good but not great.
Wine Cork (Homemade): Synthetic cork with a drilled out vent hole to desired size to be used instead of the stem. Sanded down taper to fit Jo-Ral “Bubble” mute. Can be adapted to any brand harmon mute.
Yamaha “New” Silent Brass (Compact): Above average regarding lack of resistance. About on par with the original version or slightly better. Very well in tune. Evenness of pitch across registers is quite good. Interesting “flower petal” grip makes it easier to place into and remove from the bell without dropping. Fits flat into the bell.
Yamaha "Silent Brass": Used w/o electronic part. 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.