Wednesday, 28 January 2015

All About Mutes

There are many mutes on the market for the trumpet, but what do they all do? Which ones would I recommend? Keep reading to find out.

The Practice Mute
This particular type of mute is perfect for those who live in an apartment or a busy household, allowing you to practice with minimal sound. A quieter sound is produced because there is much less air escaping from the end of the trumpet. If you take a look at any practice mute you will see that although it looks very much like a straight mute, it fits much more snug into the bell and has a very small hole for the air to escape through.

There are some benefits to practicing with a practice mute. Blowing the trumpet with a practice mute in causes a lot of resistance because you're trying to force the air through a much smaller hole. This in some ways is beneficial for your lips, however it is always important to practice without a mute whenever you can in order for you to properly hear yourself play.

Yamaha produce a 'Silent Brass' system which allows you to hear yourself play through headphones while keeping the trumpet's sound to a minimal. Although expensive, its definitely something to look into if you need to practice quietly.

I own the 'Wallace Studio Practice Mute' which I highly recommend. It has adjustable resistance and is also available in an even more compact version. Another popular straight mute is the 'Denis Wick Practice Mute' a much more affordable option and loved by many trumpet players.

The Straight Mute
This is probably the most frequently used mute and a necessity for every trumpet player. The straight mute gives the trumpet a brighter, more piercing tone. There are lots of different types of straight mutes available. The best thing to do is to go to a music store and try out several different types of straight mute to find the one you like the best. There's no reason why you can only have one too!

A popular choice has to be the 'Denis Wick Straight Mute'. As well as this particular one I have a Humes and Berg fibre straight mute which has a wooden base and a Humes and Berg copper bottom symphonic straight mute.

The Cup Mute
A cup mute gives the trumpet a much more soft tone and is, my opinion, another essential mute to have. Many come with an adjustable cup to enable you to change the sound quality as required.

A popular choice is the 'Denis Wick Cup Mute'. This is a great all round cup mute and can also be used as a straight mute because the cup part can be removed. As well as this particular mute, I like to use the 'Humes and Berg Stonelined Cup Mute'.

The Harmon/Wah-Wah Mute
This mute is most commonly used in jazz music. It has a distinctive tinny 'buzz' sound. You can change the sound of the mute by removing the stem giving it a much darker tone.

I would recommend the 'Denis Wick Extending-Tube Mute'.

The Plunger Mute
This is a fun mute. With this mute you can 'make your trumpet talk' by moving the plunger over the bell and away again.

I own the 'P&H Plunger Mute' though for a budget option you can use a sink plunger from your local hardware store - just remove the handle.

When you buy a new mute it will have more cork than is needed. You want each mute to fit snuggly in your bell and to do this you will need to file them down. Do this slowly, taking a small amount off every time to ensure you don't go too far.

Read a post on replacing corks here


Sunday, 25 January 2015

A Closer Look: Fusion Urban Trumpet Gig Bag

Fusion Gig Bags are a range of British-designed instrument cases for a wide range of different instruments. Many of their cases allow for 'fuse-on' attachment bags which can be used to carry mutes, accessories and even laptops. I recently got my hands on the Urban Trumpet gig bag and it has quickly become my favourite.

The bag is very lightweight, which makes it perfect for travelling, but still offers good protection. The trumpet itself can be strapped in to stop movement and an additional 'Trumpet Sleeve' can be purchased to further its protection.

The back straps are very comfortable and can be hidden away neatly if not needed. The handles on the case are very sturdy and the case also has a reinforced base which makes the bag able to stand upright without any trouble.

There are two external pockets on that case the first of which offers a velcro pocket for 3 mouthpieces and room to store A4 sized music. The second contains lots of different sized pockets for storage of accessories and even features a clip for your keys.

The lower pocket has several internal storage pockets
Well padded mouthpiece storage in the upper pocket

A great feature of this bag is that you can easily attach a 'Fuse-on bag' that allows for storage of mutes etc. These are available in three different sizes - I have the small.  The fuse-on bag is also very well padded and has backpack straps that can be folded away. The bag attaches to the case by four velcro straps.

The small 'Fuse-On' bag

It has a large internal pocket and a smaller external pocket. I can fit 4-5 mutes in the small bag.

'Fuse-On' bag's external pocket for accessories

Overall a brilliant gig bag with great all round protection and perfect for any traveling trumpet player. Check out Fusion's website for their full range of gig bags and accessories. Their level of service is also second to none.