Players can choose from a variety of trombone mutes, including bucket mutes, straight mutes, cup mutes, harmon mutes, and plunger mutes. These are the most common trombone mutes, but there are also others like the derhat mute and the practice mute. The trombone’s sound can be changed with the mute, which can be done in a variety of ways. The instrument’s sound is muffled slightly, but the shape and material used to make the mute generally alters the sound in a specific way. The only type of mute designed specifically to make the instrument quieter is the practice mute.
Some of the most common trombone mutes are straight mutes. These are slightly conical in shape, with a thin end that opens and a thicker end that is closed. The most common materials used to make a straight mute are cardboard and aluminum, which produce slightly different sounds. The aluminum mute produces a bright, biting tone, whereas the cardboard mute produces a muffled and stuffy tone. The mute’s thinner end is inserted into the trombone’s bell.
Harmon mutes are also known as “wah wah” mutes because they can produce a sound similar to someone saying “wah wah.” These trombone mutes are made of aluminum and have a large bell-shaped piece as well as a thin stem. The larger section is placed on top of the stem, which is inserted into the bell of the trombone. To make a “wah wah” sound, players cover and uncover the end of the harmon mute. Some players, such as Miles Davis, prefer to play without the stem on the harmon mute.
Another type of trombone mute is the bucket mute. They have a bucket shape to them. These are unique in that they are clipped onto the outside of the instrument rather than fitting into the bell. To muffle the sound, mutes are usually made of cardboard lined with cotton. This trombone mutes is one of the quietest on the market.
Cup mutes are one of the most common trombone mutes. They resemble a standard straight mute in appearance. Cup mutes have a cup-shaped attachment on the thicker end of the conical straight mute, which is the main difference. The cup attachment’s rounded edges allow some air to escape from the bell, but the sound is still muffled compared to a straight mute. The majority of cup mutes are made of cardboard.