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Best French Horn Mute 2022? 12+ Mutes Reviewed (Full Guide!!)

How does a French horn player mute his or her horn? Here's what a French Horn mute does + 11 of the best...

The best French Horn mute can revolutionise your playing experience.

No – seriously! French Horns are (just like all brass instruments) pretty loud in terms of volume. A characteristic that can make practicing them somewhat of an awkward experience. Let’s just say that if you don’t live alone, putting in hours you need to improve is going to cause a lot of headaches. Not to mention cause any relationship you have with your neighbours to fray.

So this beggars the question, how do French Hornists practice without wracking up a long list of noise complaints? Answer: they use a French Horn practice mute. A nifty little device that slides inside the bell of the horn and works to lower its volume considerably. However, that’s not the job of every mute. A regular French Horn mute is actually used to sculpt the sound, making it more sharp and brassy. Musicians call this altering the timbre of the horn.

So as you can imagine, before searching for the best French Horn mute, you first need to understand what type of mute you need + what to look for. Even for the most rampant music fanatics or professional hornists, choosing the right mute can be quite a humdinger. Hence why we’ve done the legwork for you, and picked out what we believe to be the best French horn mutes for both practice and performance. Sounds like your cup of tea? Read on for our full rundown!

After something specific about how do you mute a French Horn? Or just curious as to what we think is the best French Horn mutes for sale today? Use the menu below to get the answers you need in 1 click…

The best French Horn mutes @ a glance…

15 of the Best French Horn Mutes You Can Buy

SPOILER: French horn mutes come in all shapes, sizes & are made from all kinds of materials. Go on to factor in all the various different brands + the fact that no 2 mutes are the same shape, & finding the best French horn mute for your situation suddenly seems a LOT harder than it sounds.

But no matter, because we’ve done the majority of the work for you. Simply read on to discover what we think is the best French horn mute for you & your situation… you can thank us later!

Best practice mutes for French horn

If you’re looking to dampen the sound of your French horn as much as possible, then you’ll need a practice mute. Here’s just a few to consider…

1: Yamaha Silent Brass French Horn Mute

2: Pampet Practice Mute for French Horn

3: Humes & Berg Stonelined Practice French Horn Mute

4: Bremner SshhMute French Horn Practice Mute

5: Protec ML205 Liberty French Horn Practice Mute

6: Denis Wick DW5530 French Horn Practice Mute

Best straight mute for French horn

Looking to cut out a lot of your horn’s low overtones & brighten your sound? If so, then a straight mute is probably all you need. Ask us & if you’re going to invest in just 1 French horn mute, this should be it…

7: Denis Wick Wooden Tunable Straight Mute

8: Jo Ral Copper French Horn Mute

9: Denis Wick DW5524 French Horn Straight Mute

Best French horn stop mutes

If you’re commonly playing large stop passages & would rather focus more on your actual playing than stopping the horn with your hand, then a stop mute would be ideal. There’s few better (& simpler) ways to stop a horn & remain in tune…

10: Tom Crown 30 FH Brass French Horn Stop Mute

 11: Denis Wick DW5525 stopping mute

12: Jo Ral Transposing horn mute

13: Stagg MHR-S3A mute

14: Humes & Berg All Brass Symphonic Stop Mute

Best Wow-Wow mute for French horn

Okay, so while Wow-Wow mutes aren’t technically designed for French horns – most are designed for trumpets – a good amount of them do function surprisingly well. A Wow-Wow mute enables you to create some proper unique (slightly more jazzy) sounds. The best of the bunch (& coincidentally, most popular) being this pick from Harmon…

15: Harmon Wow-Wow French horn mute

Which French horn mute performs the best? Our editor’s choice…

Deciding on the best French horn mute is not easy. And that’s because a large part of it actually comes back to who you are.

Because as you’ve probably gathered throughout this blog, not everyone’s after the same thing from their French horn mute. For some, it’s about trying to drown out as much sound as possible, while for others it’s more about refining the sound or making the horn that bit more playable in a certain space. Equally, budget & build quality also play a part too.

So to just claim that one French horn mute is the best, seemed to us a bit… unhelpful. Exactly why our verdict as to what is the best French horn mute, is a bit more broad. Therefore, in the case you’re after the best practice mute, we’d say look no further than the…

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A mute that is by the most technically superior on this list. Not to mention the most solid feeling too. Then again, for the price that’s something you’d expect.

Yamaha have earned themselves a strong rep over the years for building quality, but functional pieces of musical kit. And we’re glad to say that the Silent Brass French horn mute is no exception! That name isn’t a lie. Out of all the mutes we tested, the Yamaha delivered (by far) the best sound deadening. So if you’re an eager trumpet player who’s eager to practice, but living in a block of flats, then this is the deffo the way to go.

However, what really cliched it for us was the fact that you can plug headphones into this mute. So that while in reality you’re practicing in silence, you’re not sacrificing any loss in sound. A perk that we think gives this mute serious value as a rehearsal tool.

In fact, the only niggle we have with this mute is the fact that it’s battery powered. Something that makes it that bit less ‘pick up & play’ than your average manual mute. But really, when you consider all the advantages of the Silent Brass, we’d say a bit of forward planning & a couple of batteries is a small price to pay. Especially if it means you can still practice with what is (in essence) a fully fledged sound.

However, not everyone’s after a practice mute, nor has the cash to splash on a techy-savvy mute like this. So in the case you’re just hunting for a French horn mute to make life inside the bell that bit easier, we’d suggest checking out the…

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A mute that really does sound the part.

In fact, we’d say you’d be hard pushed to find a better sounding straight mute. Turns out wood is a great way of muting a French Horn, without robbing it of its richness & warmth. Unlike aluminium & copper mutes, this Denis Wick wooden mute doesn’t fall into the trap of changing the tone/ timbre of your notes. The only thing it really does is reduce the volume.

And by reduce, we mean the loudness of your sound is pretty much slashed in half So for hornists after a delicate sound, this mute is pretty much perfect. For use as a backing instrument in a theatre or somewhere where you don’t want your horn to be too overpowering, this mute is pretty much perfect.

What’s more, being made by Denis Wick you can be confident of this mute being long lasting. Just to put that into perspective, we know hornists who’ve been using the same Denis Wick mutes for well over 10 years without issue. So really, it’s little surprise why most hornists start up a collection, especially when they’re such an easy (yet effective) way to sculpt your sound.

Saying that though, if you’re not after a straight mute & instead just want a helping hand with stopping your horn inside the bell, then we’d suggest checking out the…

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And that’s because out of all the stop mutes we’ve tested, the Tom Crown was the most consistent. Then tone you get with this mute is pretty much identical to that you achieve using your hands. Only the sound itself is a substantially more even than when stopping your horn by hand.

Plus, this is one of the easiest stop mutes to install – something that also makes it one of the quietest! Good to know if you perform alongside a lot of woodwinds, vocalists or other delicate sounds that’d be disrupted by the clanging of a loose French horn mute. The deep layer of cork you find at the tip of this mute does a really solid job at absorbing any knocks!!

And yet, despite all the pressure this mute is under, it manages to not to move about inside the bell. A pretty common issue we came across with cheap horn mutes. In fact, that’s really the main selling feature of this mute: it’s build. This is pretty much as dependable as it gets.

As far as French horn mutes go, it’s show-stopping… get it?

Enjoy this review of the best French Horn mutes and eager for more? Don’t miss out on all our latest Music Instrument Advice + all our recent Brass Instrument Reviews. Recently, we also did a full rundown of the Best French Horn Cases/Gig Bags+ the Best Double Horns For Professionals, which may also be worth a read.

Or, if you’re just here to learn about French Horn mutes, keep reading & we’ll tell you even more about why French Horn mutes are such an essential for any hornist…

The lowdown on French Horn Mutes, horns & more…

In simple terms, a muted horn is a instrument (most commonly a French horn), which has a mute inserted in the bell.

Mutes that can be used for various reasons including:

  • Deadening out the sound during practice
  • Tuning the sound or adjusting the timbre for certain types of performance
  • Recreating the stopping sound that hornists traditionally create using their hands

There’s really only 1 way to properly practice French horn quietly & that’s with a practice mute.

This being a mute specifically designed to mute out as much of the sound as possible, to ensure you don’t become a nuisance to anyone around. With a good French horn practice mute you can practice at in full at midnight without waking anyone up.

However, if you don’t like the idea of not being able to hear your full sound, be sure to check out the Silent Brass mute by Yamaha. An electric mute, which aside from being one of the best at deadening sound, uses an audio pickup to convert your input into sound.

Something you can listen to through a set of headphones.

At the core, French horn mutes are all about airflow & it impact on an instrument’s sound.

Some are designed to mute as much of the sound as possible, while others are more focused on having a certain impact on the sound. How you wish the mute to change your sound will ultimately affect which French horn mute you choose to buy. Here’s a rundown of the main 4 types of mute & what they do…

  • Practice mute – The focus of a practice mute is to make the horn as quiet as possible, to avoid disturbance during practice.
  • Straight mute – This is a mute focused on changing the sound of a French horn. Some straight mutes make the sound softer, while others brighten up the sound by ironing out the brassy overtones.
  • Stop mute – These are mutes designed specifically to mimic the stopping technique used by French hornists to alter the timbre of their sound.
  • Wow-Wow mutes – These cup-shaped mutes come with e detachable stem & are used to change up the character of a sound. And while not all Wow-Wows are designed for French horn, most will fit + work well.

There isn’t just 1 advantage to having a French horn mute – there’s many. So to help you understand what we mean, here’s just a couple of reasons why a French horn mute could give you as a player, a significant advantage…

  • Easier practice – Invest in a French horn practice mute & you can practice any time of the day without being a nuisance to the people you live with, or your neighbours. Our favourite is the Yamaha Silent Brass, which comes equipped with headphones & an audio pickup, so you can practice as if your horn isn’t actually muted. Very clever!
  • A more suited sound – Not all settings favour the rich & brassy overtones that you get with a French horn. So in the case you want to vary up the style of s pieces you can play, a mute is a great idea. Straight mutes are one of the most popular for this very reason. They allow you to deliver a more bright & brassy tone – our favourite being the wooden straight mute made by Denis Wick.
  • Makes staying in tune easier – Stopping is a major part of playing a French horn. And it’s also quite a hard skill both to master & maintain. Something that by using a stopping mute your can get around. Aside from concentrating more on what you’re playing, you can also be sure you’ll stay in tune.

Whether you need a French horn mute or not, really comes back to how you play. Ask us & we’d say investing in the best French horn mute you can find, would be wise in any of the following scenarios…

  • You’re a beginner who serious about French horn & wants to experiment with tone right from the get-go #ProActive
  • You’re an intermediate player who’s looking to vary up your performances & expand you capabilities. Useful if you want to attract more gigs!!
  • You’re a professional French horn player who’s looking to replace an old mute or upgrade for a better sound. Mutes have come a long way in the past couple of years – for anyone who’s a hornist by trade, an upgrade is never a bad idea.
  • You regularly perform live & are looking to fine tune your sound to suit a certain setting. Let’s just say, not all settings favour the deep brassy overtones of a French horn.
  • You’re looking to keep your practice quiet, or make peace with your neighbours.

* Of course, there are a whole load of other reasons why French horn mutes are so essential, but in our experience, these tend to be the most popular.

Stopping a horn is a process of restricting the airflow through the bell.

Usually this is done with your hand, however in the case you wish to make your stopping sequences easier on you as a player & achieve a more balanced sound, you can substitute your hand for a stopping mute. Using a mute also typically allows you to play louder too!

If you’re unsure as to where in the music, a stopped horn would be needed, keep an eye out for the (+) sign or the words: “bouche” (French) or “gestopft” (German). All of which are signs that a stopped sound is required, but of course this will differ depending on the composer.

Yes being the answer to that – you can (& commonly do) insert a French horn mute midway through a composition.

In fact, the insertion of the mute is something that composers have to bear in mind – usually they give the hornist a couple of bars to reach for their mute & insert it into the bell. A must if performing in a space that’s rich in reverb, otherwise the composition can very easily be shattered by the clink of a Hornist rushing to insert their mute. Hardly ideal, especially when more delicate sounds (vocals or woodwinds for instance) are taking centre-stage.

Luckily for the hornist, most French horn mutes will either come with or include an attachment for a string, so they can have hooked around their right hand as they play. The trick when inserting the mute (no matter what type it may be) is to go slowly. The majority do come with some form of cork to reduce the sounds made against the bell when inserted, but they can emit an unsightly noise or two if this process is rushed.