Quite a few guys have asked me what I think about using practice mutes. Knowing that many use them, I want to talk about my experience with them.
Every time I use a practice mute for LONG periods of time, it feels like «something is wrong» when I play without it.
More specifically, I experience the following:
1. I miss too many notes (3 or 4 out of 10)
2. It’s a lot harder to adjust the tuning of notes
3. It gets very difficult to perceive the center of notes before playing them (in any range)
4. My sound feels not centered (spread)
5. I feel a lot less available flexibility and a very rigid mouth
6. My use of air doesn’t feel right at all, because with the mute I can’t use the air normally, without breaking something internally (testicles maybe…?).
This represents a predicament for people who would have problems with neighbors or spouse if they practice without a mute, or for people who can only practice late at night or very early in the morning.
A possible solution could be to practice a smaller part of the «routine» with the mute and the rest using just the mouthpiece, covering the back-bore with a towel. It’s not a perfect solution, but it attenuates the sound (noise in this case) quite a bit and using the mouthpiece that way, is not as bad as using the practice mute for the full routine all the time.
I’m not going to recommend a brand of practice mute over the other. I have a few and all feel very similar.
I’ve seen some guys using a Cup Mute to practice and even though it attenuates less and probably won’t eliminate problems with the neighbors, is a lot more efficient for these purposes and less dangerous for your chops.
Hope this helps.