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Accessories Saxophone Mutes 101

jbtsax

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The use of a saxophone "mute" was first espoused by Marcel Mule of the Paris Conservatory. He brought that idea to the United States when he did his first concert tour and shared his methodology with American saxophonists and teachers. Larry Teal in "The Art of Saxophone Playing" describes Mule's mute on p.53.

 
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Messages
57
Hello all.
I tend to practice a bit quietly - bit I need to really blow to get the tonguing and dynamics sounding good.
SO i got two choices:
1. Buy a sax mute
2. Build some kind of sound absorbant booth out of bits of sponge or an old mattress or something in the garage / try to insulate the garage door or something.

Has anyone tried the various sax mutes / sax bag contraptions on the market? Are they any good?

I found one here:

http://www.bill-lewington.com/saxmute.htm

and here:

http://www.saxmute.com/saxmute_reduce_noise_saxophone_clarinet.html

My guess is that they would reduce the sound quite well but do all the notes blow ok? and could it have any adverse affects on ones playing (embouchure, breathing etc..)
Cheers guys
Jake
 

Col

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Petersfield, Hampshire
Hi Jake,

I bought the saxmute and use it occasionally but find it pretty annoying on the whole. It doesn't work as well as a soft cloth down the bell and costs a whole lot more. I found you have to blow a lot harder and so loose a certain amount of control, the garage option sounds best to me (wish I had one).
 
Messages
57
hi Col.
Thanks for the advice. I had a feeling that the sax mutes might not be as great as they say on the website. I won't invest in one of those. Maybe I'll try and get some big bocks of sponge or something to soak up the sound..
Cheers
Jake
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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That contraption looks completely mental....is it for real?

Martin

Yes and it's not cheap....

Mutes can't work as well on woodwinds as on bass - the sound comes out of all the open tone holes, as well as the bell... And bell mutes can affect the playing of lower notes.

Unless you're annoying others, a set of ear plugs is a cheaper option. But they don't really cut the sound evenly, so when playing with ear plugs your sound sounds different... Had to stop using ear plugs, cos I sounded a lot smoother with them - and preferred it tht way - then I realised that others were hearing the rough sounds, so I took the plugs out so that I could work on the sound better....

When there's some money, I'm goign to build a sound proff booth, but it won't be before the new year.
 

SteveK

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148
Locality
Guildford, Surrey
Coming in a little late on this thread but I tried those mute 'bags' (hard and soft) last week and thought you might like to hear my experiences.
The hard mute bag that looks like a sax shaped case has a hole for the crook and two for the hands - the saxophone is suspended inside and so playing is mostly unrestricted except for the lowest and highest notes. It has a build in mic and so you listen with head phones - ipod style, that come with it. The level of nice suppression was very good but it all felt very bulky and it was fiddly to get it set up.
The other type is basically the same concept but made in a soft bag. This I found very awkward. The crook mechanism was obstructed where it came out of the bag and it was very restrictive inside - the back of my hands touched the inside of the bag making free movement not impossible but difficult. The only advantage of this over the other type was that the hand holes zipped closed and so it could be used for a soft carrying bag. So you won't have wasted your money if you need a soft carrier.

While the hard case types were more practical, with noticeable sound reduction, they are very expensive £300-£500. I can see that the hard case could be beneficial overall if the price tag was around the £50-£75 - otherwise it's a very expensive mistake to make. The soft bag type was really not very good for playing and the sound reduction was not that great. The price tag as I recall was around £75. If you need a soft carrier then you could take the chance and if it's no good as a mute use it as a case.

In summary neither type gave total sound reduction so in either case your loved one's / neighbours are probably going to hear you anyway and I find that it is not so much the volume but the repetitive sound itself that is the issue. Both of these could easily become clutter like that exercise bike that everyone buys and doesn't use.

Steve
 

Tommy Ng

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South Yorkshire
This is also a good solution:

http://www.sax.co.uk/e-sax.htm

I looked at the description and it says "You can put your saxophone into e-Sax body simply and you’ll hear a sound like talking in whispers (approx -25dB)". Does it mean it can only cut out 25bB, or 25dB is the level of noise you can hear??

My tenor makes about 90dB. If it only cut by 25dB, i think it is still very annoying "to my wife".
 
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SteveK

Member
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148
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Guildford, Surrey
Tommy I had a decibal meter with me when I tried the e-sax. It was on an iphone but it is reputed to be to reasonably accurate.

The back ground noise in the shop was about about 60db - I played the saxophone without the mute and it was at around 90-100db (including background noise). Playing with the sax inside the mute it was at about 70db. So the mute cut out about 25db.
Apparently 'a quiet bedroom' (quoting the decibel meter manual) is 40db and an open office is about 65db.

I'm not sure what conclusion can be drawn from this as sound is measure on a logarithmic scale but at 70 db it would be like two people holding a conversation at 1m apart.

I hypothesie :w00t: therefore that if you were somewhere adjacent (e.g. in another room in your house) in a totally quiet room and someone in the room where you normally practise was holding a conversation then would you be able to hear them? If not then the mute would give total sound proofing.

I'd suggest that in the average house the level of sound would be reduced noticeably but it would still be audible unless the person in the other room had some back ground noise (e.g. television). However for neighbours, though an adjoining semi detached wall, it would probably reduce the sound to close to inaudible.

Steve
 

Tommy Ng

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Tommy I had a decibal meter with me when I tried the e-sax. It was on an iphone but it is reputed to be to reasonably accurate.

The back ground noise in the shop was about about 60db - I played the saxophone without the mute and it was at around 90-100db (including background noise). Playing with the sax inside the mute it was at about 70db. So the mute cut out about 25db.
Apparently 'a quiet bedroom' (quoting the decibel meter manual) is 40db and an open office is about 65db.

I'm not sure what conclusion can be drawn from this as sound is measure on a logarithmic scale but at 70 db it would be like two people holding a conversation at 1m apart.

I hypothesie :w00t: therefore that if you were somewhere adjacent (e.g. in another room in your house) in a totally quiet room and someone in the room where you normally practise was holding a conversation then would you be able to hear them? If not then the mute would give total sound proofing.

I'd suggest that in the average house the level of sound would be reduced noticeably but it would still be audible unless the person in the other room had some back ground noise (e.g. television). However for neighbours, though an adjoining semi detached wall, it would probably reduce the sound to close to inaudible.

Steve

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the info.

By the way, did you buy the e-mute after trying it? 70db still seems to be a bit high in residential area. If i am not mistaken, the allowable noise in a house is about 45db.
 

SteveK

Member
Messages
148
Locality
Guildford, Surrey
Tommy,
No I didn't buy the mute. If it was less than £75 and I had somewhere convenience to store it if I didn't use it then I would have gone out on a limb and tried but as the noise reduction is not total and for my family I don't thinks it's so much the level of the noise as the repetitive nature of the practise it self.

We really need an acoustic engineer to unravel this for us but my understanding is that a quiet room is already about 50db. You would have to be floating weightless in a complete vacuum to experience 0db and even then you would hear you own body and the movement of your clothes. I am sitting in my office now, at home, with a db meter and it is at 50db this is basically just background noise. I live in a quiet street - the only sound is the A3 (2 miles away) and the occasional creek from the wooden joist in my house as it warms up. I cannot hear any other discernible sound
The 45db you mention as acceptable may well be in addition to the ambient.
I went into an old meat fridge (the type butchers use) a few weeks ago in a recording studio - they use it for total isolation and there was still about 10db of sound. It was so quiet that it actual was uncomfortable on the ears when the door was first closed.
Our own presence inside it actually causes sound. If we could have stepped out of the fridge and taken the db reading without us inside it would have dropped.
I would estimate that a typically living room with 3-4 people in watching television is probably already at least 80db.
I tried my db meter in my car driving on a motorway at 70mph and it was about 95db (Ford Mondeo) without the radio on and just me in the car.
I believe that the safe live music venue sound is supposes to be 120db (?). But let's not forget that the human ear perceives sound logarithmically - i.e an increase of 10db is actually doubling the sound energy.

The measurement of electrical level (in db) is quite a different mater and shouldn't be mixed up with audible sound. (If my memories of studying this - 30 years ago - are correct)

I'm guessing that a saxophone on it's own is, let's say, 40db. If you play it in an environment with a background of 50db then the saxophone sound will probably be dominate because it is the single loudest sound - the brain probably works that way? If the saxophone was playing at 20db - would it be any less noticeable from the perspective of being annoying? Probably not.
If you had a guitar playing at 75db along with the sax at 45db, the sax would not be an issue - it would be the guitar that was annoying.

For personal taste the e-sax is not for me at that price. If I could rent one for a month or buy one on e-bay second hand and resell it for a similar price I would probably give one a try.

I hope this helpful

Steve
 

kevgermany

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For sound, a doubling in power is an increase of 3dB

You can't add dB figures together directly as they're log values - so adding them is multiplying the underlying power values, not adding them.

So 50dB + 50dB => 53dB.
 

Stevie

New Member
Messages
15
I've recently started using the saxmute thingy (seems quite cheap from Bill Lewington as long as you don't start thinking of what the raw materials are actually worth ...). I put into the mouthpiece only the larger piece - not the disc-shaped bit - and use the linked discs in the bell.

Seems to work for me.
 

littleplum

Member
Messages
445
Locality
Isle of Wight, United Kingdom
Sax Mute

A friend of mine is seriously considering selling her sax and giving up because of the volume level of the alto. I have just re read all of this thread including following the links to Bill Lewington and listening to the sound clips of the mutes in action. As far as noise reduction goes I really struggled to hear any difference. It was only the quality of sound that seemed to be affected. I even stood my decibel meter in front o the speaker and there was about 1 or 2 decibels difference.

My friend lives in a flat and as she says there is not point in her having lessons as she cant practice what she is given.

Any realistic ideas folks?

Dave
 

littleplum

Member
Messages
445
Locality
Isle of Wight, United Kingdom
I have just found this on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnXYC4oQMlE and it certainly seems to work. its called the sax partner and the first site I checked it is available for $299 plus postage, were as the e mute is £485. However their is also the vibes whisper mute at £245. Huge price difference and would be nice to see a side by side comparison.

Dave
 

SteveK

Member
Messages
148
Locality
Guildford, Surrey
This is the same product as we have been talking about earlier.
 

Stevie

New Member
Messages
15
Sax is a noisy instrument. Even though I've been using the Bill Lewington/LeBayle thing, it's still loud. I have heard many tales of people in houses across the road from a player mentioning they could hear. It's not really a like/dislike the sound thing: it's usually the repetition (ie practice) that irritates.

First option: speak to the neighbours. Is there a time when they'll all be out, or doing something which wouldn't be disturbed by her playing? Could she rearrange things to allow her to practice at a different time?

2. Does she know anyone with access to a village/church hall, rehearsal room etc?

3. I haven't tried this, mind, but it occurs to me that you might be able - with the help of a handyman - to rig up a 1.5x1.5x2.0m frame out of pine, maybe with hinges, and then attach cheap duvets to it - sides, top and probably bottom too. IKEA sell cheap duvets, I know, but ebay might be even better.

Yours etc, Heath Robinson
 

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