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The Harmonious Hush: Exploring My Favourite and Best Euphonium Mutes and Some You Should Avoid.

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

Euphonium mute

This is a bit of a nerdy post to be honest, but I know there are people out there that like to have all the accessories and like to know what is recommended. I often get asked questions about mutes and mouthpieces, so it's time for a euphonium mute post. It is possible that this post will help all brass players in their mute usage but as always, I welcome any feedback.

The use of mutes in brass instruments dates back a long way. As brass instruments evolved, so did the design and purpose of mutes. In the 20th century, with the rise of jazz and contemporary music, brass players and composers began to experiment with mutes, pushing the boundaries of traditional sound.

This blog post will contain some affiliate links. As always, I like to share products I use and believe in, but my advice is to always shop around to find the best product for you. I am not sponsored by any mute brand.

As a youngster, a euphonium mute was a novelty. I once walked all the way to high school (25 minutes) carrying my euphonium in a hard case and a new mute in a box. Plus my school bag full of PE kit and books. I didn't even need it for any rehearsal, I just wanted to show my mates. Kids today would just share a selfie with the new mute. I do miss the good old days, but I am grateful that life is easier now!

Nowadays, I do find a mute to be a burden. If I must use a euphonium mute, that is fine, but when I need two or even three of them - It can be a bit of a pain.

Composers Love Euphonium Mutes

I have to stop though and respect the composer who is asking for the mute for genuine musical and creative reasons. A mute is sometimes used just to help with playing quietly, but that can sometimes feel a bit like cheating. In most brass band contests, you will find some players using mutes to the point where you cannot even hear anything, making it pointless. You might as well just not play and save yourself the bother of carrying it around.

When composers (and conductors) use mutes cleverly though, it can be a great effect and actually makes carrying the things around worth while. The more common times where I need a euphonium mute is in a solo concerto or brass band test piece. When the composer wants a specific tone or effect.

In Brazil, I gave the world premier performance of Zaidi Sabtu-Ramli's "Euphoria!" Euphonium Concerto with the Banda Henrique Marques. I have recorded the piano version on my solo CD - Hustle, click here if you are interested in this.

The composer had a small section written with a straight mute and it provided an interesting contrast in the music. I had to borrow one locally though, can you imagine trying to take a euphonium mute (which let's face it, looks like a small nuclear weapon) on a flight!

At The British Open Contest with Grimethorpe Colliery Band, the whole band required a lot of different mutes. Andy (second euphonium) and I, used straight and a cup mutes. The test piece actually started with the euphoniums playing with cup mutes in, such a great effect.

Mute Funny Stories

Everyone has a story about a time something went wrong while using a mute. Maybe it got knocked over or dropped, or it fell out the end of the instrument. I once performed in a brass band contest and had placed my mute under my seat. To my horror, in the quietest moment in the performance, when I needed to grab the mute, it had somehow become lodged under the chair and I couldn't budge it. I had to just play the part without the mute, to the 'major' disapproval of the conductor. This performance also featured the percussion section of the band dropping what sounded like about 100 sticks on the floor by accident, so my mishap didn't really have much impact.

Using mutes can be risky, and it is important to plan ahead to avoid any issues or unwanted noises. The best euphonium mute moment I have ever seen was when I was in the USA for a tuba and euphonium conference and the brilliant euphonium player Tormod Flaten, performed the Martin Ellerby Euphonium Concerto. At one point, there is a fast mute change and Tormod just casually leant to the side and one of the players on stage nearby removed the mute for him. It was sheer class!

My Favourite Euphonium Mute

Practice mute

I have one absolute favourite mute. I use it every day. I have written a blog post about my methods with it because it is a practice mute. It is technically designed only for practice and has massive benefits to lots of aspects of brass playing.

Sometimes, brass players use this mute (or other practice mutes) in performance and I never really see the point, as I mentioned earlier. I have been asked in the past to use a practice mute on stage and you have to just do what the conductor says.

I remember one occasion well, performing a test piece called Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Peter Graham, I actually had to take three different euphonium mutes on stage that day! Not happy!

The Denis Wick, black, euphonium practice mute is a must have item for me. I use it to develop my sound (by playing loud). I use it to solidify my stamina by playing longer pieces like concertos all the way through with the mute in and I use it for late night or early morning practice. Use as a hat is not recommended 🤣

Mute hat

To check prices, I find Thomann and of course Amazon to be fast and reliable. Here are affiliate links to this mute from both sites, just click the shop names or photo. Gear4music is generally more expensive but you can always browse for offers.

Mute Word of Warning (Mute-Fog)

Using a mute too much, can have sever negative effects on your playing. Some mutes are worse than others (see below). I try and avoid doing technical sort of practice with a mute. If I am doing exercises to develop an area of technique, I never use a mute. If I am learning a new piece, I never use a mute. I find it causes me to mis-pitch and impacts my intonation if I use a mute for longer periods. I call it 'mute-fog'. Ideally, it is best to just use it for running through repertoire, which I call 'performance practice' and always use it in conjunction with an already established daily practice routine.

My Favourite Euphonium Mute For Performance

Mute straight

The Denis Wick 'silver', aluminium straight mute is my favourite for performances. Sometimes in brass bands a player has no choice but to use the mute that is requested by the composer or which is decided by the conductor. This mute isn't great for fast mute changes and is easier to drop or bang into something, but from a playing feel and overall sound point of view it is the best. No issues with intonation, no issues with clarity and no issues with tone quality across the whole range. I have two of these mutes at home. It is not a mute I use a lot but I know that when I have another concerto opportunity it will be my choice of mute (any wind bands out there, there has not been a UK premier of the Sabtu-Ramli concerto yet, hint hint).

My Third Favourite Euphonium Mute

My third favourite mute is really just there for convenience because it is really good to have a mute that fits inside the bell and can go anywhere with you. It is the Denis Wick 'red' Travel Mute.

Travel mutes, silent mutes, compact mutes, whatever we call them, basically any that fit inside the bell are generally awful to play on. It will negatively impact your tone if used too much and will sound extremely out of tune on a lot of notes, especially those at the extremes of your range. I don't understand the science of it, I am sure it is fascinating but I try and avoid using travel size mutes if possible.

Sometimes they are great for when you just need to play a few notes but need to be really quiet. If this is at home, I always use the black mute above, which unfortunately means I do not get a huge amount of use out of this red one. It has been very well used in the past, as you can see from all the dents, but right now, it is being used as a baton holder. If I need to travel anywhere though, it is with me just in case, so well worth having if you feel you will use it.

The Best of the Rest

In a band setting and at Grimethorpe Colliery I use the Schlipf Combi Mute. A bit expensive but versatile due to being able to use it as a cup or straight mute.

I also like the Peter Gane 'fibre' straight mute but always check the condition of the corks. These have a 'woody' sort of sound but are not great for playing really loud in my experience.

Euphonium Mutes to Avoid

I would advise anyone, on any brass instrument, to avoid buying any mute that is unbranded. If you find one online that is far cheaper than everything else, it can be tempting to try it. I wouldn't waste the time and money. There are Chinese made copies of everything.

I would also be wary of any brand new companies that seem to just pop up or lesser known brands. There are products out there that have been designed by professionals and remained the same for many years. It is not a complex device. A new company is probably going to 'redesign the wheel', market it cleverly and charge you more. Be mindful of this tactic, it happens a lot.

This mute, is an example of one I would avoid. I do not agree with the advertised comments stating "very free play feeling" and "very good intonation". Most players you meet haven't got 'very good intonation' and this mute certainly won't improve it! I have tried it multiple times, avoid it. The red mute above is cheaper and 100% better.

Then finally, my absolute least favourite mute is the Yamaha Silent Brass. I appreciate some new design work has been done compared to the original version but they are not good for your playing. If you want to sit by yourself with headphones on and play alone then okay, get one but what musician ever wants to do that?

Euphonium Mutes Summing Up

Euphonium mutes are not just tools for altering sound; they are gateways to artistic exploration and expression. As brass players continue to push the boundaries of their instruments, the world of mutes remains an exciting frontier but the more new products appear, the more confusing it can be. Where possible, try before you buy. Or buy online only if you know you can return it if you are not happy.

Number 1 euphonium mute = Denis Wick, black, euphonium practice mute. A classic never dies.

I hope this post can help people with any mute decisions. If you like it, please help me share with others and consider signing up to be notified of new blog updates from me.

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Thank you for reading. ❤

Mark Glover


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