Have you ever wondered how to make your trumpet quieter? Are your family or your neighbors giving you trouble for practicing too late? Then a regular mute or the Yamaha Silent Brass might be exactly what you need in order to practice where you want and when you want.
Let’s get into the most common questions about playing the trumpet quietly!
Why are trumpets so loud?
Trumpets are so loud simply because they were designed this way. They have a large flare that helps transmit the sound waves from the tube outwards. (For a more detailed explanation, see this Quora entry.)
And exactly how loud is a trumpet? The volume of a trumpet can be in the range of 80 decibels to 120 decibels. For comparison, normal human conversation is at roughly 60 dB.
How can you practice the trumpet quietly?
There are various methods to practicing the trumpets quietly:
Practice your embouchure
If you’re only looking for something to do if you have days off from playing or you’re going away for a few days without your trumpet, consider just practicing your embouchure with the Warburton P.E.T.E*.
It’s not a replacement for practicing your playing, of course, but it is a great tool to exercise your chops – and totally quiet at that. You can practice with it on a plane, in a hotel room late at night, or even while you’re watching TV.
Use a mute
There are a variety of mutes available to dampen the sound of your horn. You essentially stick them into the bell of your instrument and they will muffle the sound to a more tolerable level.
- Quieter than regular playing
- Muffled tones will sound a bit dull
- Some mutes require a bit of extra pressure to play
We recommend the sshhmute*, as it doesn’t need very much extra pressure to play. It gets the volume right down without hindering your playing too much. Plus, it’s a basic device that won’t break the bank.
Use the Yamaha Silent Brass
The Yamaha Silent Brass* is a fascinating piece of technology that reduces the volume of your trumpet for everybody else, but lets you still hear it loud and clear. How does it work? By playing the sound digitally for you to listen to with headphones.
The Yamaha Silent Brass sounds even quieter than the Ssshhmute* and yet to your ears it will sound loud and clear. There’s a bit of back pressure, as with most mutes, but it’s a lot freer-blowing than some.
It’s excellent to practice with and you can even record your playing with it. There’s not a lot of setup with it either – it takes 2 AA batteries (which are not included, unfortunately), other than that all the necessary cables are in the box.
You’ll want to make sure you get the newer version of this (SB7X), as the older version (ST9) had some issues, most notably the mute was easy to slip out and the pitch wasn’t very good. These issues are fixed in the newer version and it’s great fun to use.
To give you a short overview over the model numbers:
- SB7X-2 is the Silent Brass for trumpets
- SB6X-2 is the Flugelhorn version
- SB5X-2 is for trombones
- SB3X-2 fits the French horn
- SB2X is for the euphonium
- SB1X fits a tuba
- ST9 is the old version of the Silent Brass for trumpets
How To Record With The Yamaha Silent Brass
One convenient feature of the Yamaha Silent Brass is that you can record the sound that comes out of the gadget. See a detailed explanation about how that works here:
- 3.5mm AUX cable*
- Audio recorder like the Zoom H1n* or the Zoom H4n*
- Headphones (e.g. Edifier headphones* as seen in the video, or if you can afford them, get some Audio-Technica ATH-M50s*)
There are other inventive ways of using the Silent Brass. One suggestion is to connect the device directly to an Ableton Live
How to Play Along to Music with Yamaha Silent Brass
Another nifty feature of the Yamaha Silent Brass is that the gadget has an AUX IN jack that you can use to e.g. connect your phone to the device so you can play along to your favorite music. You’ll hear both the music and your own playing coming through your headphones.
This is a great way to make practicing fun. Get a book that comes with play-along music (like the Herb Alpert Jazz Play-Along book*) and play along to some great music without disturbing your neighbors.
There are several ways of playing the trumpet without the noise. If you want a low-tech version, get yourself a simple mute and reduce the decibels coming out of your instrument that way.
If you want a high-tech version, get the Yamaha Silent Brass to practice even more quietly while hearing yourself loud and clear through the headphones or jamming along to your favorite tracks.
If all you need is a simple way to do a bit of training without hauling around your instrument, get yourself an embouchure trainer to get your chops into shape.
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