VI. Picollo

In 1975 we were back home, after a year in Germany, away from the mute business. I saw again that we didn’t have a line of piccolo trumpet mutes. We already had a superior straight mute for Bb-C trumpet. A piccolo trumpet is exactly half the size, and half the length of tubing as a normal Bb trumpet. Therefore the piccolo trumpet mute should be a half size duplicate of the Bb trumpet mute. We had half size copies made and were prepared for testing and changes. None were needed. The half sized mute worked perfectly.

We tried the different combinations of metals, aluminum, brass and copper and found that the brass end and all brass versions were not good, so we ended up with piccolo trumpet straight mutes of aluminum, aluminum with a copper end and all copper. I preferred the all copper mute but the other two also had their supporters. The piccolo trumpet cup mute was made simply with a cup fastened to a somewhat lengthened straight mute. It also worked perfectly. I had no plans for a piccolo trumpet Wah-wah mute but late one night, let’s say in 1977, I got a telephone call from Lew Soloff, asking if we could make a Wah-wah mute for piccolo trumpet. I actually said “no, I don’t think so” but the next day, with odds and ends of mutes and a few days later with a new cone to fit the piccolo trumpet bell, I had it. I have seen and heard Lew play piccolo trumpet with this mute and it has a good Wah-wah sound and good intonation. Claudio Rodity also uses the piccolo trumpet Wah-wah to good effect. Thirty five years later we developed a Piccolo trumpet practice mute. It is on a Mute Story page with its big brother. 

The piccolo trumpet is now used on many pieces in the classical repertoire previously played on a D trumpet. When Bud Herseth first played Goldenberg and Schmuyle on the piccolo trumpet using our mute it was a sign that it was OK to play this piece on a piccolo trumpet rather than a D or a C (as originally written) or even a Bb trumpet as I heard painfully done with the Berlin Philharmonic. 

Dogs also like the piccolo trumpet straight mute. We have had several emergency telephone calls and e-mails asking for corks or a new mute, their dog had chewed off and eaten the corks on their mute. This happened with Tom Stevens of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He called in a panic. He had a rehearsal of Le Sacre du Printemps the next day at 10:00 a.m. and his dog had chewed off the corks. He wanted to know if I could send a new piccolo trumpet straight by Fed Ex in time for his rehearsal the next day. I got the mute packed and sent it at 5:00.p.m. It arrived in L.A. in time for the 10:00 a.m. rehearsal. Cost of shipping $25.00, cost of mute probably the same. Keep these delicious little mutes away from your dogs.