Practice Mutes have become accepted as a necessary evil for brass players. They are not an ideal way of preparing yourself, however there are times where we all accept that you just need to practice or warm-up quietly. Listed below are a number of mutes currently available that will all do the job. They will all have different strengths though, so I have tried to demystify them somewhat with this ‘Buying Guide’.
NB. The prices listed here are meant as a guide and are subject to change.
I have put this at the top because it is by far the best practice aid that I have come across. A great mute that does not allow you to overflow while practising, and also has a built-in mouthpiece buzzing aid. Around $80, worth every penny!
A really great lightweight and responsive mute. The intonation is pretty good across the range. Low C and below tends to be slightly sharp as with pretty much all practice mutes, however this is better than most. Priced at just $50, this is a really good all-rounder.
Lightweight, robust and actually surprisingly free-blowing for a piccolo practice mute. A good buy at $50.
As with the other Sshhmutes, this has very low resistance and a nice quick response. The Whisper Mute has a lovely soft tone that can also be used in a section where a real muted pianissimo is required. Again, a good buy at $50.
This is not the quietest practice mute on the market, however it is one of the most even and allows you to blow pretty honestly. This is a great hotel room tool! $60 for this one.
This is extremely decent especially considering its modest price tag of $35. Back pressure is pretty low, cutting down on over-blowing, and intonation as also surprisingly good for the price point.
This is an excellent compact mute that only just protrudes from the bell. You do not get a feeling of ‘battling’ this mute as it feels really natural. It is quieter than most and also has decent intonation. $94.99
This is a plastic (and therefore lighter) version of Best Brass’ practice mutes. There are some small compromises in resistance and tuning compared to its big brother, however this is reflected in the lower price of $54.99, and it is still a darn good mute!
Like the Lyric Stealth, this has a nice even response across all registers and dynamics. It is softer however, so inevitably has slightly more resistance. $45
This lightweight neoprene will fit easily in any case and is great for travelling. There are a number of sponge ring inserts so that you can adjust the volume and resistance levels. It also doubles up as a very compact bucket mute by hanging it over the bell of your horn. Even if you already have a preferred general practice or warm-up mute, this is something a little different that will always have a use. $39.99
This is very quiet and perfect for that ‘back of the church’ warm-up. $40
Let’s face it, all of us have probably had one of these classics at some point! A good solid all-rounder that allows for a quiet warm-up. The intonation is perhaps not quite as good as some of the newer designs on the market, however still a good mute for the price. $42.95
This is not the quietest mute on the market, however the intonation across the range is very good. $46.99
The Silent Brass system has been around for a while now, and the latest pickup mute is very good indeed. Now fitting completely into the bell for storage, the intonation, response and quiet volume are all very good. Even at the price of $189.99, the sharpness in the lower register has not been completely eliminated, however the digital technology that comes packed inside the Personal Studio, and the acoustic environment that it creates are exceptional.