Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that noticable? Bookmark and Share

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Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that noticable?

Postby FatCat » Wed May 17, 2017 5:54 am

Hi all :D

I'm playing an Eb Tuba in a brass quintet at university (my F Tuba playing is not good enough yet :cry: ) and I have come across the need to use a mute.

The only mutes that I have access to are wooden, which doesn't match with the metal mutes that the trumpets want to use (apparently, according to them). For the sake of arguing my case to them, will me using a metal mute actually make a huge difference to the sound?

At this stage, there is no way that I could possibly get my hands on a metal mute in time for our Recital (my only option is to buy one, which I consider an unwise investment considering this is Eb Tuba.....)

So what can I do? Would a metal mute even make a difference? The trumpet players are set on metal mutes (they don't like playing with wooden mutes).

Cheers :tuba:
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby timothy42b » Wed May 17, 2017 8:02 am

Wrap it in aluminum foil. Trumpet players will never know the difference.
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby 58mark » Wed May 17, 2017 8:10 am

The sound is very different, and I can understand why they think it's an important distinction, but it's not realistic for you to purchase a metal mute to use for this one performance

Show them how much one costs, and then ask them if they would purchase a trumpet mute that cost that much if you asked them to
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby YORK-aholic » Wed May 17, 2017 2:36 pm

timothy42b wrote:Trumpet players will never know the difference.



:lol:
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby smitwill1 » Wed May 17, 2017 3:58 pm

Perhaps the bigger difference that I've heard with my own mutes (Stonelined aluminum "symphony", and a "Tech Tuba Mute" from long ago and far away...) is how deeply they seat into the bell. This also impacts the intonation and response. If you have time, I suggest you try adjusting the cork thickness (tape extra cork on the existing cork...) to see how moving the mute affects the tembre and intonation to find the "sweet-spot" where it changes the tone without sacrificing tuning (too much...) and response.
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby Ferguson » Wed May 17, 2017 4:22 pm

While in college, Tommy Johnson needed a tuba mute, so his father made him one. It was wood or similar. After using the mute at a rehearsal, the conductor said to Tommy, "Could you get a metal mute please?" Dejected, he returned home to his father and explained the issue. His father said, "No problem", and painted the mute silver. After the next rehearsal, the conductor said, "Thank you for getting the metal mute. It sounds much better."

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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby DonShirer » Wed May 17, 2017 6:49 pm

The trumpet players in my band (including some retired pro players) have an impressive array of mutes attached to their stands and I note them using both wood and metal varieties for different pieces. Sounds like your colleagues may be a little biased toward metal.

(I like the "paint it silver" option!)
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby bloke » Wed May 17, 2017 6:56 pm

much more different than the sound differences between identically-interior-shaped brass and fiberglass bells
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby eeflattuba » Wed May 17, 2017 7:45 pm

I too am an ee flat tuba player. I own 2 denis wick tuba mutes;one aluminum and the other wooden. I much prefer the wooden one.Not sure why, but the wooden one seems to work better at softer dynamics than the aluminum one. As a sidebar,i have access to a really good f tuba but prefer to use my besson 981 ee flat when playing in my brass quintet.
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby bloke » Wed May 17, 2017 8:26 pm

I use spun metal mutes mostly, because the sound of a spun metal mute more contrasts the sound of the open (typically: "mellow", obviously) tuba.

Fortunately, the small H&B is about as close to ideal as I could imagine for my F tuba, and - last year, due to an amazing bargain offered to me - I upgraded to the Wick spun mute (to which I added some thicker corks) for my 5/4-size contrabass tuba. I don't believe there's really any "ideal" mute shape for 5/4 or 6/4 contrabass tubas, but the Wick is a great improvement over what I had previously been using for that application.

As typically one who shuns most all "nerdy tuba accessories", I finally sprung for a Wick mute bag (which fits either mute). It saves a lot of cork wear-and-tear, and I can now toss the mute in the trunk of the car.
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby Eflatdoubler » Wed May 17, 2017 8:29 pm

I understand they are expensive, but I would buy one if I were you. I have an entire closet full of mutes for my trombones. Although some are rarely used, I always want to use the one that gives the proper timbre (sometimes what you want and what the rest of the section/group want don't always go hand in hand).
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby Biggs » Fri May 19, 2017 9:10 am

bloke wrote:I use spun metal mutes mostly, because the sound of a spun metal mute more contrasts the sound of the open (typically: "mellow", obviously) tuba.


^this. Too many brass players treat mutes as adjustments in volume rather than adjustments in color, probably (?) because too many composers write con sord. passages when the desired effect is pp.

As you are a university student, I would recommend asking your teacher if he has a mute you could borrow or, alternatively, suggesting that university funds be used to purchase a studio-owned mute available for checkout by students faced with the situation you describe.
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby cambrook » Sat May 20, 2017 12:49 am

The short answer to your question is "it depends". If the passage in question asks for the mute to make it softer then a wooden mute tuba might work - even though the trumpets are using metal.

However, a mute is often required for a different sound colour rather than a different dynamic.

While a metal mute in a tuba doesn't provide the same "zingy" sound that a metal trumpet mute does, it is a much closer match than a wooden tuba mute being pushed hard.
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Re: Metal versus Wooden mutes; is the difference that notica

Postby bloke » Sat May 20, 2017 8:52 am

I suspect the material in the END of the mute makes the MOST difference:

example: Those old Tennessee Tech aluminum (sheet metal) mutes had wood ends, and (to me) they sounded more like wood (or so-called "Stone lined") mutes than spun aluminum mutes...so when trumpet aluminum spun mutes feature brass or copper ends, maybe (??) there's something to it.
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