Q: How can I make a practice mute out of a Renuzit air freshener?
These instructions are adapted from the directions given to me by Flip Oakes, if not the father of the Renuzit Practice Mute, certainly its leading proponent. Flip is also the designer and seller of the acclaimed Wild Thing trumpet, a somewhat more involved stretching of trumpet technology.
First, clean all the gel out. If it's hard and dry, soak it in water so it will expand again which makes it easy to remove.
Pop off the lid (on the small end), and poke a hole up through the long tube inside since you can still use this part to make it even quieter. Make the hole the size of a 1/4 inch drill, #1 drill, or a pencil. More on that later.
Put the top and bottom together ( they screw together.)
You can either use cork, with contact cement, or some foam to make the seal. The fastest way to do this is to use 3/4 inch (width) self-adhesive weatherstripping. If it won't stay on you may have to use contact cement--paint both sides and put it together. The foam sticks nicely in the bell. Weather stripping is usually a closed cell foam which compresses less than open cell foam, but probably sticks better and lasts longer. Mr. Dennett's (pictured) uses open cell foam, at about an inch and a half, and probably fits better or at least has more room for error than the narrower closed cell weatherstripping.
The ideal is to have the tightest seal possible. Attaching the foam with a beveled overlap often improves the seal, i.e., sort of like: _____/ mating the other end had a corresponding bevel / . The main trick is to get the both ends of the foam to mate up, since the shape is not cylindrical.
This is all there is to it. But if you want....
You can also add to the inside of the chamber crumpled Kleenex (for softer sound). Other possible additions for dampening purposes: foam pieces, or a piece of a nice plaid handkerchief, or a red bandana, a wool tie, or perhaps a little black lacy underthing...You can also decorate it with Magic Markers or stickers or have your kids decorate it. Here is an opportunity for creativity without risk. As the Apple iMac brochure reads: You've got 206 bones in your body, surely one of them is creative.
And, with the lid you popped off with the #1 hole, put the lid back in but not all the way--you'll notice that it has grooves so that its adjustable. The further out it is the further it sticks up in the bell of your horn .By doing this you can vary this for the volume and the change of resistance...or just leave it out....
The benefits of this mute are: it's light, it plays in tune, and it works. It costs $0.97 (at Walmart)--How can you beat that?
Unsolicited testimonial from Jonathan Huie:
This is just to thank and validate the genius who invented the Renuzit mute. It is all it was tooted to be. What's great is that now i am able to practice in those motels that once evicted me. Also, I even leave the rooms smelling better.
Unsolicited testimonial from Mike Dennet:
It plays great. Really does, a nice comfortable feel to it, minimal backpressure, good intonation and response from low F# up. Mine sounds a lot like a harmon with less bite to the sound, i.e. highs are attenuated more. Sound level is very acceptable. Not as quiet as say an unmiked Silent Brass mute, but I also own one of those and I hate it. It only gets used for playing along with recordings late at night, and that's not worth the friggin' money I paid for it.. grr.
I'd even try this thing at a quiet combo gig. I'm going to annoy my cohorts\by forcing them to try it.
I haven't tried stuffing it yet, but I likely will tonight or tomorrow and I think I will use either cotton balls or polyester filter media (fish tank filter stuff..) as they are porous but should attenuate sound well.
The low cost and great performance of this mute seems to be an object lesson in "just because something costs several times more than any other equivalent product on the market doesn't mean it is worth it". Obviously it doesn't offer some of the other benefits of the Silent Brass but I expected the SB to feel better than it does for the $$$ shelled out....
Try a Renuzit! For a lousy $0.97 you can't go wrong. But avoid the Hazelnut/Vanilla type (all they had at our Walmart, no wonder) IMHO they smell like crap. I'd rather not use one of those than put one in the bathroom and make the problem worse.
Unsolicited testimonial from Brian Stewart, a trombone player:
The renuzit mute is great. If you can ignore the fact that it raises the pitch by about half a step, it works well in a trombone. The air resistance is even less noticeable. Not that i'd use it for serious practice, but warming up discreetly before a gig..
And finally... if you want the grand deluxe version, complete with microphone, amplifier and headphones, the really poor man's Silent Brass, take at look at what a trumpet player in Poland is up to. Go here.
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