Mute Stories

The Classic Straight Mute
The first mute in our mute family was what we now call the Classic straight mute. It came into being as a result of my search for a piccolo trumpet mute. I was playing in the Lyric Opera orchestra and in 1967 the Lyric scheduled Le Chant du Rossignol by Igor Stravinsky. My part was a D trumpet part, more easily played on a piccolo trumpet. There were many muted passages and not having a piccolo trumpet mute, I asked Adolph Herseth if he had one. He did and I borrowed and used his mute on all the performances. It worked very well. I also started playing piccolo trumpet on radio and TV commercials and felt the need of having a piccolo trumpet mute at hand. It was embarrassing borrowing Bud’s mute so often so I asked him if I could have his mute duplicated. He said yes I could. I found a metal spinner and had it, what I thought, copied. The copy, however, was not exact. It was larger and really not suited to the piccolo trumpet. Then one night, trying different corks on the mute, I tried it with the C trumpet and higher corks. Wow. It was like the discovery of sex. What a mute. I had a dozen made for friends in the CSO and the Lyric Opera. I sold four to the trumpet section of the Philadelphia Orchestra. I then asked the original metal spinner if he could make 100 copies of the mute. He balked. He wasn’t used to dealing with such quantities. I found another metal spinner who was happy to do orders of 100 and then 1,000 mutes per order. Later, at the suggestion of a friend, I had mutes made using aluminum, brass and copper in different combinations. This also worked well. One trumpeter swore by the copper end mute another the all brass etc. This was the start of the Tom Crown Mute Company. We have sold more than 200,000 classic trumpet straight mutes to date.

Since starting the Tom Crown Mute Co. in 1968, my wife Donna has played a major role. For many years she did, among other things, payroll, bookkeeping, deliveries, and correspondence. William Camp, who is now president of the company, has worked with us for more than 40 years. Chitaka Nishikiori and Gene Arnold, our other two employees, have each worked for us for more than 30 years. More to follow,
Website Inquires
On our website,, we have a well hidden link to Website Inquiries. Brass players occasionally find this link and we then receive inquiries about a variety of topics. Mostly the inquiry is about cork replacements, We even receive requests for corks from dog owners who’s dog somehow found his master’s mute and liked the taste of the corks. We supply replacement corks at no charge and with no questions asked.

Other messages are about how well the writer likes a particular mute and when he or she bought it, sometimes back to the 1970’s. One message called our attention to the toxicity of aluminum, brass and copper. Don’t Google toxicity in metals. We have enough bad news without this. A favorite topic is why we don’t make certain mutes. Wa-wa mutes for tenor and bass trombone. (we might sometime.) Why not adjustable cop, cup mutes for trumpet and trombone. (we are working on this). Why not Gemini piccolo trumpet straight mutes ? (why?).

My favorite mute Inquiry was several years ago, about wa-wa mutes for adouble-belled euphonium. A young man wanted us to make wa-wa mutes for his double-belled euphonium, a small and a large wa-wa mute for the small and large bells. He said he played in an Iranian drum circle (what is that?). He wanted to equip his double-belled euphonium with two wa-wa mutes. I didn’t see how this would work without three or four hands. One hand to hold the instrument, one hand for the valves and a hand for each wa-wa mute. I frivolously responded, expressing my doubts, but suggesting that if we did make the mutes for him, he could have a scantily clad young lady work the wa-s, signaled by his blinks, left eye for small bell, right eye for large.(a sexist remark then, less so now with the current unprecedented (sic.) rampant trumpery). I never heard back from him and have been ever sorry for my
“clever reply" to his serious request. If we had proceeded to make these two mutes it would have cost at
least $500.00 a mute, including mandrels , spinning, buffing , testing etc. for one of a kind items. Would it have
been worth it to him to spend $1,000.00 to have the only two double belled-euphonium wa-wa mutes in the world.
Maybe it would have been, but we will never know. Double-belled euphonium man in the Iranian drum circle, if
you read this, please accept my apologies. I am sorry.