September 11, 2015 at 9:32 am #25111
I thought I’d share this with you. Based upon an illustration I saw in a book by prof. Larry Teal I managed to make a sax mute with simple materials foud at home. Mute is a torus (doughnut shape) wrapped in light cloths that fit into the sax bell.
The core of it is a ring of approx 3 in to fit a tenor, you should measure the inner diameter of your sax bell and make it smaller, considering it will become thicker after being wrapped up.
I made the ring using semi-rigid coaxial cable, but any plastic or metal pipe would be perfect. Copper pipes generally used to feed propane gas stoves or engine fuel can be used.
Then I used a couple of mop threads wound loosely over the ring leaving some millimeters of space between coils, that will form an air chamber. Do not wind it too tight.
Over those wound threads a long stripe (spiralled cut from a 4×4 in sqare) of yellow cloth, the type we use to polish furniture, was loosely wound as well
Pictures are pretty explanatory…
This is the finished torus
And here it is inside the sax bell
Now the results…
1- It really attenuates the sound, not too much, but it works particularly trimming those high frequency harmonics which give the “brightness” to the tone. Saxophone sounds more wood than brass… jazz lovers will like it.
2- It restrains a bit the air flow, so you’ll feel you need to put a little more pressure, which in the end can be good to strengthen your breathing muscles as well.
3- And finally, as I had been reading somewhere else, the lowest note (Bb) becomes very hard to blow and sound correct… I found it’s almost a lost note. My scales go down to low B if I practice with the mute in.
However, it’s a useful accessory easily made and costs almost nothing if you have some simple stuff at home.
Hope this helps to anyone who wanted a mute and wasn’t sure to spend some bucks in one… go and DIY! 🙂
Marc.September 11, 2015 at 9:43 am #25112Anonymous
that looks cool – i might make one out of a toilet plunger, cut a hole in the bottom & fit it upside down in the bell!September 11, 2015 at 10:14 am #25113johnKeymaster
I’ve noticed that these type of sax mutes work much better on alto than tenor because of the horn size.September 11, 2015 at 1:29 pm #25120
James, I see what you mean… there are plenty of them in the market, those that clearly resemble a toilet plunger made of aluminum with a band of felt on the side.
Metal is not the best (and I think it’s the worst) soundwave attenuator. That’s why I made it of cloths… If you manage to do one from a rubber plunger, it’ll surely work better. And much more if wrapped with soft cloths. Be well aware that the central hole must not be too small or the airflow will be so restrained, it won’t sound at all.
Johnny, the lower the frequency, the larger the soundwaves, so they’re more difficult to attenuate or guide. Car boomers are heard even before the vehicle appears on sight, yet the street is fill with lo-freq soundwaves. On the other end of the spectrum, higher notes are relatively easy to dampen with foam, carpets, couches, cushions and even hanging clothes in an open vestierSeptember 11, 2015 at 2:38 pm #25121Anonymous
thanks for the info Marc – that’s one of the things i like about JF’s site – I only come here to buy great backing tracks, get JF’s courses that are 2nd to none, and pickup any tips from members that will help me with my playing or help with my instrument!September 12, 2015 at 12:51 pm #25146Anonymous
Well i cut a hole in the bottom of a rubber plunger, put it inside my alto, and the volume was the same, the lower Bb would only play as a lower A instead of a lower Bb, so much for people on you tube saying the lower Bb key wouldn’t work at all.
Anyway so i scrapped that idea , cut half of it off, and created a massive hole, basically ended up with a rubber ring about half an inch wide, shoved that in the bell and produced a nice warm sound. lol
i think your mute is better.
i did think of opening the wardrobe door and playing inside the wardrobe, but that would be eerie – won’t go there, would be like a little man singing inside a mans mouthSeptember 12, 2015 at 2:54 pm #25147
Hey, you can always wrap your rubber ring with some soft cloths (an old thick cotton winter shirt could provide the material) and that will surely improve its acoustic characteristics.
I don’t fit inside my wardrobe LOL, but when I’m not alone at home, I use to play standing at the open door with the horn pointing inside. That and keeping the bedroom door closed really mutes the sound a lot, at least for the rest of the people in the house.March 9, 2020 at 3:58 pm #92072Joseph DipasqualeParticipant
Thanks I have been experimenting too…and the same difficulty with the lowest notes..but hey you can practice without worry…there is rubber ring that is available on Amazon..I ordered it today…I think I’ll try wrapping it with different materials and you suggested…I love the dark tone I have been getting on my Tenor and Alto saxes…with the many things I have tried..thanks again, gypsyjoe..
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