Saxophone mutes are musical instruments that fit into the bell of a saxophone and are usually made of light materials. The saxophone is a woodwind horn, and like many other similar instruments, musicians use a mute to change the sound that comes out of the horn’s bell, which is its open rounded end. Saxophone mutes are unique to the instrument, even though they are similar to other types of mutes.
Many professional musicians and others point out that saxophone mutes are not the same as trumpet mutes, which muffle the horn’s overall sound. Rather, some experts believe that the saxophone mute reduces “rattling” or vibration in the horn, making notes sound smoother. Many people who have used saxophone mutes in the past argue that the mute doesn’t really muffle the sound on this instrument because so much of the sound comes from other parts of the horn’s infrastructure.
Professional musicians recognize the value of these musical tools, even if the saxophone mute does not effectively muffle the horn’s sound or reduce its volume decibels. Some claim that a saxophone mute can improve the sound of lower or higher register sounds “darkening” the sound or changing the tone. Others claim that using a saxophone mute can help with pitch issues with specific horn notes. It’s worth noting that if saxophone mutes aren’t properly placed, they can cause other notes to be out of tune.
Many sax players make disclaimers about how these simple items might help with issues surrounding the sound of the horn when discussing the saxophone mute and its use. Some players believe that a mute would benefit a specific saxophone range, such as the tenor saxophone. Others claim that using the mute can help dampen lower notes like B flat. Furthermore, some saxophonists claim that using available mutes can suffocate the sounds of specific notes, making the mute unsuitable for actual performance use.
The most common material for saxophone mutes is foam or another light material. Making your own mutes out of cloth or any other light material is frequently recommended saxophonists. Others argue that using these tools is unnecessary, especially because they may not be effective at reducing noise. It’s really a matter of personal preference.