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Thread: Denis Wick Practice Mute Review

  1. Denis Wick Practice Mute Review

    As we low brass musicians well know, the bigger the horn, the more brass that goes into making it. All other things being equal (when they are) a Euphonium will cost more than a Trumpet. So also will a Euphonium mute cost more than the same model that is sold for Trumpets. The DW Practice Mute costs ~$170, that might legitimately put off a musician that doesn't actually need one to keep from being evicted from their apartment. Practice mutes have benefits besides the obvious one, however, I recommend the serious euphoniumist consider trying one.

    There is that, but the purpose of my review is mainly to show the unacquainted reader just what this mute actually looks like in the real world. I'm sure you've seen the product photos on various retailers websites, and possibly the Denis Wick site itself. It looks rather like this, in fact. Let's try that again, this time with a 1L sparkling water bottle for reference. Here you go. I don't know about anyone else, but I was impressed. The smaller mute to the left is a practice mute for a French Horn. Another illustration I think might be useful is the DW5512 in situ, ready to rumble. Literally. Pedals are possible with this mute in place. It is not nearly as top heavy as it looks.

    But, how does it play? Just fine, I think. Compared to the practice mute I have for the Horn, the Euph mute is MUCH better in tune. I personally cannot detect intonation anomalies with it in. I can easily do so with the Pampet (Horn) mute. Another thing that I can do with the euph mute that cannot be done with the horn mute is play the full range of the instrument with it. Double pedals are possible with the Wick mute. I find it very satisfying to warm up with the practice mute because right from go the first notes with cold lips speak well. I find myself spending a couple of minutes just blowing Middle C without the mute until they are ready for more.

    So, all in all, I recommend a Denis Wick practice mute. You will probably NOT want to use it for backstage warm-ups, there are 'travel mutes' for that. You might be tempted to just use a travel mute for all your practice and performance warm-up needs. That isn't what I chose to do, but I can see the wisdom in that. I have that luxury with the Pampet mute of using it as both practice and performance warm-up aid. I doubt you can get down to pedals range with a travel mute, however. Again, as I said earlier, my aim here was to give the reader a visual of just what this mute is about. That is not something I've seen elsewhere. Not unless there are YouTube videos reviewing this mute. But for those who are not regular YouTube watchers, this review just may be informative.
    John Packer JP274 MKII S

  2. I just bought the Denis Wick practice mute. All the reviews have great things to say about it and specifically mention the small amount of back pressure. I have nothing to compare it with and have never used one or a travel mute. I think there is a lot of back pressure. There is no room for air to get around the seal and only 2 little holes about 3/16” in diameter for air to get through. It is like trying to blow up a balloon while playing.

    I would be happy with a little more sound if it played more naturally. I hate to bore out the holes in such an expensive piece of equipment. Any suggestions out there?

  3. #3
    I had the black DW practice mute for a couple years and it fit the bill for keeping my volume down when I needed, but I never really enjoyed playing with it.

    I eventually switched to the DW Steven Mead practice mute, the red one, and I much prefer it. I honestly don't recall the black one to say whether the SM one has less back pressure, but the thing that immediately jumped out to me was it was so much more pleasurable to listen too. The black one always had a kind of thin metallic quality that I really didn't like, but the SM version just kinda sounds quiet and a little stuffy.

    Rather than having two holes in the top like the black one, the SM basically has two pieces of foam that make the seal to the inside of the bell, and there is a gap between the two pieces on each end to let some air through so that it isn't a complete seal if that makes sense. So maybe before drilling holes into your mute you could try modifying the foam that seals inside the bell. If I remember there is a complete circle of foam around that part, so maybe add two strips of dense foam in such a way that the mute wouldn't totally seal, that way some air would go through the holes as always but also through the gap in the foam?

    Hopefully that makes some sense.
    Last edited by aroberts781; 09-16-2021 at 11:29 AM. Reason: Typos

  4. Thanx. It makes perfect sense and I considered that too. Maybe the shop where I bought it will let me try the SM before I do anything to this one. How many gaps are in your foam seal and how wide are they?

  5. #5
    There are two gaps. If you imagine a circle and draw a line splitting it into two semi-circles, in other words the diameter, there is a gap at each end of the diameter line. Each gap is a little less than 1/2 inch. The thickness of the foam pads is about 3/16th of an inch, so between those two numbers that should give you a rough idea of the size of the openings that the air is passing through.
    Last edited by aroberts781; 09-16-2021 at 03:44 PM. Reason: Added info about foam pad thickness

  6. Outstanding! I will make that change if I cannot exchange it for a travel mute. For anyone in the market, the practice mute is huge and extends way beyond the bell. It needs to be pushed in pretty firmly to keep it from wobbling around. Thanks again

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    401
    Best Brass makes an exceptional practice/warm-up mute as well. I acquired mine years ago, and use it for warming up in the back stage areas before a concert or some band practices. At the time, they were hard to find new, but fortunately, I found a used one. It stays in relatively good pitch and fits in the bell of my horn inside the case perfectly.
    Miraphone 5050 Ambassador
    Mp: Wick SM4 Ultra X
    The San Diego Concert Band
    Big Brass Quartet- tuba ensemble (EETT)

  8. Reading through the thread again, leisesturm attached a picture of the mute placed in the euphonium at the top of the thread. I missed that the first time through. The shop had no problem exchanging it for the DW travel mute. The practice mute has great reviews but I felt the huge size of it was impractical and inconvenient. That is just my personal preference. I hope my input is helpful to those reading through here. The last time I played consistently was back in the 70s. Technology has really changed, lol. There is a steep learning curve, lol. That must make me to officially be an old man now. I appreciate everyone’s input throughout the blog.

  9. #9
    Glad to hear that exchanging the Wick practice mute for the Wick travel mute was no issue at the shop. I would be curious to know how you like it and how you think it compares to the practice mute.

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