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I'm in the market for a practice mute — something to substantially quiet/silence the instrument so that I can play without waking the neighbors.

There are lots of different makes and models, and they all seem the same to me. Are they? Or are there considerations that significantly differentiate one practice mute from another? Design considerations, material, shape, brand reliability, ...?

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  • Both the sound level and the sound quality differ across mute types. You might want to listen to some early Miles Davis, as he often used straight and IIRC Harmon mutes Jan 6, 2022 at 14:22
  • @CarlWitthoft I'm familiar with the various mutes and own all of the standard ones. I'm specifically interested in the type of mute called a "practice mute" or "silent mute".
    – Aaron
    Jan 6, 2022 at 15:12
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    I agree with the comments on linked pages as well as the secondary links to Wikipedia and elsewhere that purely mechanical "blocking" aka "whisper" mutes will not let you play normally. Those electronic ones are probably worth the cost. Jan 7, 2022 at 13:06
  • I don't know about brass, but for cello what worked for me the best in not getting complaints in hotels was a lead mute. Very heavy. Mar 10, 2022 at 5:30

2 Answers 2

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I own (have owned) multiple ones. All of them are a compromise in that the act of lowering the volume creates a lot of back pressure, creating changes in how you play. I have found that the cup-style mutes either don't lower volume enough, or create too much back pressure.

I personally use the Stone-Lined (H&M Manny Klein); least amount of back pressure for the volume reduction and a design that's been around forever. However, I'm just as inclined to use a harmon style mute without stem which also lowers volume and mellows the sound enough that I can practice in a hotel room (as long as its not late at night) without near the amount of back pressure.

The electronic ones (Yamaha silent) allow listening through headphones and mixing in backing tracks which is a nice trick and I have friends that use them with great satisfaction. I haven't purchased one of them because of the cost, but when I consider the amount I've spent on mutes I should have by this point.

There are a number of boutique mute makes and I can't keep track of them all. You might want to get a conversation going on trumpetherald.com where there is an active community on target with this discussion.

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  • To summarize: One primarily balances back pressure against noise reduction, and then also considers when the features of an electronic mute are valuable enough to go that direction. Yes?
    – Aaron
    May 24, 2022 at 19:29
  • I think that's a good summary. You might want to check with your instructor if you're active with one, or find a good local shop that sells them - they might let you try one. Its a very personal decision in the end.
    – lschofield
    Jun 6, 2022 at 21:53
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Best mute is the one that reduces the volume output the most. Straight mute perhaps. Keep in mind that tonal quality is.also muted

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  • The question specifically related to practice mutes. If you read the comments above, you'll see that the issue of straight mutes was already raised and that I own all the standard mutes.
    – Aaron
    Jan 11, 2022 at 23:48

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