The manufacturers claim a 50% reduction in volume by using shaped sponge-like inserts for the bell, neck & mouthpiece. The sponge allows the air to pass through but there is additional resistance when blowing - good for diaphragm development!
Practice is an essential part of any saxophone player's day - making mistakes and repeating what you find difficult is the quickest route to improving technique; but perhaps one of the biggest problems, for beginners and professionals alike, is 'how do I practice without driving everyone around me bananas!'
Presented in surprisingly small packaging, the front of the box boasts of a 50% noise reduction and on closer inspection contains a number of foam pieces and a couple of metal rods. The idea is that you wedge these well-fashioned foam pieces into strategic parts of the saxophones airflow (instructions provided) and 'hey presto' your neighbors are no longer banging on your door at 8.30pm because their toddler can't yet appreciate the subtleties of your chromatic scale.
A warning for older instruments:
Thankfully (unlike many self-assembly kits) it's very easy to put together and is not in the least bit as fiddly as it first looks. The first instrument I tried it on was a vintage 6m Conn and I have to say the results were more than a little frustrating. I expected to have to blow a little harder but what resulted was the equivalent of sticking a large winter sock down the end of your horn. So whilst I'm blowing with all my might I realise or remember that some vintage horns have the low B and Bb keys on the left hand side of the bell, with the C# on the right - as opposed to modern instruments that have everything on the right hand side. The relevance of this is that these strategically placed foam pieces are supposed to sit in between the B and Bb, which (on this particular instrument) didn't seem to fit that comfortably. It still works as a noise reducer - I would say by about 30%, but the effort with which I had to blow took a lot of the pleasure out of the playing experience.
With a newer instrument:
Applying the same mute to a Yanagisawa 991 however was a different experience all together. I'm assuming that the positioning of the sound holes made the difference - but all of a sudden there was a freer blowing resonance with a reduced volume. There was still a greater resistance but you could actually blow in to the instrument as opposed to blowing against it. I would still say however that the noise reduction was nearer a 30% drop, but as concerns the honks and squeaks that leak out of your practise room, make it down the hall and remain just loud enough to distract others from whatever they may be doing, this may well be enough. So although it's not perfect, it's definitely an affordable part solution to the problem facing all diligent students of the saxophone.
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