Further to my interview with Tom Clary, the master craftsman behind ‘Clary Woodmutes’ [read it here if you haven’t already!], Tom has kindly sent me a beautiful Kramer Adjustable Cup model to try out. Crafted from gorgeous Sapele and Cherry woods, this model is named after Don Kramer, one of Tom’s former teachers.
The above ‘glamour’ shot of this mute looks pretty great. But trust me, it does not do it justice! The grain of the woods, the beautiful sheen… and the smell. Heaven! As I am admiring the fantastic craftsmanship, it suddenly occurred to me that I should probably try it out, and it does not disappoint. This model has a flat cup rim, but it is also available with a scalloped rim too.
I started off with cup at full extension, and there is immediately a fantastic resonance to the sound. Of course there is the softness that you would expect from a cup mute, but there is a depth of sound that you just do not get with some of your ‘pret-a-porter’ mutes such as H&B and DW.
Sometimes we want a more enclosed sound with mellow to the max, and this is where the adjustable feature comes in. I moved it inwards to give just a 2mm gap to the rim of the bell and it is transformed. There is a lovely added resistance to give you something to blow against. Often, this is the point where the intonation could suffer, but the resonance within the body of the mute allows you to keep that core sound and good tuning alongside the softness and even smokiness that we look for. Incidentally this cup section alone is made up of over 60 individual pieces of wood.
And with the cup removed, this is a resonant and responsive straight mute. Projection is stunning and the response at both loud and soft dynamics is as even as any great mute that I have played. When sent an item for review, I try very hard to give an objective opinion on what I have been sent. And here, I promise that I have, it is just that I can genuinely only find positive things to say!
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