Does anyone else have problems getting mutes to play in tune

Discussion in 'Mouthpieces / Mutes / Other' started by Tom_MacNiven, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. Tom_MacNiven

    Tom_MacNiven Pianissimo User

    Dec 13, 2003
    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    Does anyone else have problems getting mutes to play in tune? My jo ral bubble mute seems to be really sharp, as does my H & B 'Pixie'. Now, is this something to do with filing the corks, or am I simply just doing something wrong! Also what is the best way to play a cup or straight mute into a mic? Cheers!
  2. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    I have been told, for what it's worth (which, when combined with $0.35 will allow you to buy a local pay phone call anywhere in Canada) is that a straight mute tends to throw "sharp", a cup mute is alleged to make a trumpet go flat, and a harmon mute is essentially unpredictable.

    My EXPERIENCE is that a straight mute might go sharp a little (I'm using a Denis Wick straight), but adding cork to cause the mute to extend outwards a little will keep it pretty close. A cup mute (Denis Wick adjustable and Humes & Berg stonelined) doesn't seem to really change the tuning all that much for me. A Jo-Ral bubble mute virtually has no effect whatsoever on my trumpet! (Unlike a "harmon" brand Wah wah mute which made the trumpet go so sharp that it was a joke).

    I can understand a straight mute making some notes go sharp... creating an artificially shortened wavelength. I would have thought that a cup mute would do the same... I know that I was exceptionally pleased with the intonation of the Jo-Ral bubble and think that this mute is well worth the price.

    I do have an issue with mutes in section, however. Our section leader is constantly telling us to lip down or pull out when we use a mute (regardless of what kind of mute); yet I know that my tuning stays very centered. I think that the ones complaining about tuning should be paying more attention to corking THEIR OWN mutes so that the section intonation doesn't take off from the rest of the band. Am I wrong in this?
    Juarez-MA likes this.
  3. Lawler Bb

    Lawler Bb Piano User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Milwaukee, WI
    I think it really varies player to player on this issue. I know some people that are constantly moving their tuning slides to "adjust" for different mutes. I don't have any major problems with any of mine, pixie through harmon. My straight mutes play normal (Marcus Bonna, Tom Crown, and Yamaha), and my Wick cup is normal too. I have an old copper Harmon brand harmon mute and it might tend to be a little sharp, but I don't move my tuning slide for it.

    I have also played in bands where the leader was real picky about mute intonation with moving your tuning slide and such. I just had to play and show him that I can actually play in tune without moving the slide.
  4. 2LIP

    2LIP New Friend

    Nov 28, 2003
    Mute Intonation

    I just purchased a new straight mute from WW/BW and there was information on the side of the box RE intonation and how to change it so it plays in tune for your horn. I am trying to remember this as the box is at home. My harmon used to play very sharp and went in the bell too far so it made it sound really soft and not much like a harmon mute. I went to the arts/crafts store and purchased some rubberized tack stuff and built up the "cork" area with this stuff. I first removed the cork and used "Goo B Gone" to get rid of the adhesive that was left. Then I added the first layer. Tested the horn open and mute in. Still sharp, so I added another layer of rubber which is pretty thin stuff. You need to cut this a bit longer so you don't have a gap like I had. The second layer did the trick. The mute sounds better, and plays right on in tune. I then tested my new straight mute and found that the new corks bring it right in tune. I now have to replace the corks on my straight to bring it further out of the bell to get it where it belongs. Bottom line is you need a tuner and some patience, but you should be able to tweak your mutes to play in tune so you don't have to fool with your tuning slide when playing through quick changes in a pit orchestra.

    Mitch "The LIP"
  5. TrumpetDreamerBoy

    TrumpetDreamerBoy New Friend

    Mar 27, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Maybe I'm looking at things to simplistically, but if its out of tune just pull out your tuning slide, its not that big of a deal.
  6. jsmiley89

    jsmiley89 New Friend

    Jan 23, 2011
    I've only heard people mention 'properly filing the corks' on their mutes- anyone have an idea of what this would be? (I guess I'm looking for a more general standard to aim at and not as much a concrete answer, like 'file it till it's 3/8'' tall')
  7. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    I always have to pull my tuning slide a fair bit for the Harmon mute. Why that is, I have no idea.:dontknow: Also, I'm looking for a spot where the mute resonates most easily and then I just adjust it as I go ..... it's always a little wonky. It's a tough mute, that's why I use it as my basic practice mute, to get more time on it.

    Last edited: Mar 31, 2011
  8. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I've never, ever worried too much about it. I either pull my slide a bit, or in the circumstances where there simply isn't time, then it's up to my chops and ears to pull it in tune.
  9. babybirdsfunk

    babybirdsfunk New Friend

    Sep 12, 2011
    Need some advice:
    I've purchased a Jo Ral copper bubble harmon. The mute would not fit/stay in my horn at all since the bell on my trumpet is larger than most.

    I bought some foam/rubber material from a crafts store to add cushioning and space around the existing cork, so now there is about 1/8" extra space in addition to the cork. It fits in perfectly now, but it plays very sharp on my horn.

    If I changed the material back to cork or tried to have the padding reduced would that maybe bring the pitch down? It's hard to know where the original pitch would have been on the mute since it would never stay in my horn before and I couldn't establish a baseline.

    Is there anyone who has had a similar problem and maybe a solution?

    Thanks in advance for any help,
  10. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI

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