Ideas for Making a Trumpet Mute at Home

Written by lauren vork
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Ideas for Making a Trumpet Mute at Home
Alter your trumpet's sound through homemade means. (Trumpet 6 image by Chad Perry from Fotolia.com)

Trumpet mutes are conical objects inserted into the instrument's bell; they are designed to alter the volume and timbre of the instrument. While there are many standard types of mutes, players can improvise mutes from found objects or handmade items to create exciting new trumpet sounds. Create both kinds of mutes using readily-accessible household supplies and recyclable materials.

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Bottle Mute

The original trumpet plungers were bottles inserted into the bell of the instrument, so it's only natural to create a homemade mute from a bottle. Try different types of glass and plastic bottles, inserting them mouth-first into the bell. To make a more professional-sounding, homemade straight mute (which you won't have to hold in place), use an empty aluminium beverage bottle (used for sports drinks and some beers) and attach strips of cork using a quickset epoxy. Insert the mute and twist it securely into place.

Plunger Mute

While professionally-made plunger mutes are equipped with a hand strap and are easy to handle, many trumpet players simply use the head of a new, clean kitchen plunger. Make a homemade plunger mute by removing the conical section (where the threads for screwing in the handle are moulded) using a band saw or scroll saw. Attach an inch-wide strip of soft leather to the back of the plunger using epoxy or leather cement, leaving space for your hand to slide between the mute and the strap.

Practice Mute

The purpose of a practice mute is to soften the sound of the trumpet, making it quiet enough for practicing in close quarters like an apartment or hotel room. Create a practice mute from soft cloth, like towel rags or athletic socks, and a piece of hollow tubing (like a piece of PVC pipe or a bubble tea straw) about a half-inch in diameter. Wrap the cloth around the pipe to form a cone. Make sure to leave the ends of the tube uncovered, as the sound will resonate there. Wrap the cone in masking tape, then apply lines of silicone-based glue down the side of the cone and let them cure fully. The texture of the silicone will help the mute stick inside the bell.

Bucket Mute

Create a bucket mute by taking a plastic bowl or empty plastic food container (like a sour cream tub) and cutting four or five dime-sized holes in the side. Fill the container with cotton batting and cover the top with part of an old pair of pantyhose. Hold this in front of the bell of your trumpet during passages that call for this kind of mute.

Cup Mute

If you have a small, store-bought conical straight mute (or an extra straight mute made from an aluminium bottle), transform it into a cup mute by gluing the base of the mute into the bottom of a plastic bowl. To create a transformable mute that you can switch back and forth from straight to cup, purchase adhesive Velcro™ strips and attach one side to the bottom of the mute, and the other to the inside bottom of the bowl.

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