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Bell Rings

Saxophone muting has been common among classical saxophonists for decades. The traditional saxophone mute is made from a curtain ring or something similar wrapped in a soft fabric such as velvet, and is generally tilted vertically. The primary goals of placing this type of apparatus in the bell is to lower the pitch of the notoriously sharp low Bb and to dampen the brash timbre of this range of the instrument. My design is different, so I’ve decided that calling this product a mute doesn’t accurately describe what I have intended it to do.  This is why I call my product a “bell ring” instead.

There are a handful of advantages I think my bell rings offer over a traditional cloth mute.  The first thing people notice is that the bell rings are not wrapped with fabric to dampen the sound of the instrument, so the overall volume, presence, and responsiveness of the tone is retained.  In my opinion, adding fabric to the inside of a wind instrument is counterproductive acoustically because it reduces the efficiency of the standing wave by absorbing energy.  My bell rings achieve the same primary objectives as a traditional cloth mute without limiting the tone color.  I also have noticed that many cloth mutes are quite thick and can lower the pitch of low Bb too much—even when turned vertically as they most commonly are.  This is one reason I have developed several different sizes.  Players can fine tune exactly how much they want to lower the pitch of low Bb and decide what size offers the best response and tone color for them.  Many traditional mutes are also at risk of inadvertently tipping horizontally during performance, which the player doesn’t notice until they play an egregiously flat low Bb.  Bell rings are designed to fit horizontally and stay in place, but many people also choose to use them turned vertically which is also fine (especially with plus size rings).  They tend to stay in place regardless of which way they’re turned because the material has a good grip on the bell.
Additionally, while traditional saxophone mutes are primarily intended for “classical” saxophonists, I strongly believe that this design is an equally viable option for jazz players. A cloth mute absorbs and dampens the tone, but a bell ring tunes, focuses, and enhances the sound. I believe every saxophonist has something to gain by using a bell ring. 
The New TPU Bell Rings
Bell rings will now be offered in a new material option—A flexible 3D printed TPU (thermoplastic poly urethane).  This material and manufacturing method is excellent for saxophone bell rings.  Compared to the original bell rings that I am still offering (made from vinyl), they perform essentially the same.  The look, of course, is distinctly different.  The 3D printing process offers greater consistency in roundness/shape, labeling, and are overall more efficient for me to produce as a one-man business since I don’t have to do nearly as much production by hand.  I will continue to offer the original bell rings for alto and tenor, but for soprano I will eventually discontinue the original soprano bell rings.  

I feel that the TPU soprano bell rings offer various improvements to the originals made from vinyl tubing.  The material is slightly more rigid, which makes a huge difference with the thinner soprano bell rings and has even allowed me to introduce new thinner sizes such as 0-, I-, II-, etc. for players who felt the old design lowered the pitch of low B-flat slightly too much.  In the past when I attempted to produce these sizes with vinyl tubing, I felt the ring became a little too flimsy, but the TPU strikes the perfect balance between rigidity and flexibility.   I can also customize the shape and dimensions to a greater extent, and by doing so I have made a tapered exterior shape that grips the interior of the bell even better than the old design because of the more efficient contact.  Additionally, since I do not have to join the ends of a tube to make the TPU bell rings, there is no risk whatsoever of the bell ring separating at the seam over time.  In short, this material offers a clear improvement in both longevity and general performance for soprano bell rings, and I would like to encourage my customers to give them a try!

The TPU bell rings will be available in 3 colors to begin with: black, white, and natural (semitranslucent).  I plan to add additional colors before too long as well, such as blue and red. The sizing options will remain the same as with the original bell rings with the exception of the new soprano sizes explained above.  With the new possibilities of this new material, there will likely be new innovations from Peak Performance Woodwinds to come!

I make pretty much any color or color combination you might want. I also offer clear and matte surface finishes. No price difference with these as I hand make every bell ring to order. Two color limit on soprano bell rings, four color limit on standard thickness alto bell rings, and six color limit on tenor bell rings and + size alto bell rings.

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Peak Mutes by Peak Performance Woodwinds

Peak Mutes by Peak Performance Woodwinds

Peak Mutes by Peak Performance Woodwinds

Peak Mutes by Peak Performance Woodwinds

Peak Performance Woodwinds Bell Ring Colors
I currently have several sizes available for players to explore, and I’m continuing to experiment with and develop new sizes. There are two variables in delineating size. First is the length to which the tube is cut, which changes the resulting depth at which the bell ring sits in the bell.  
Depth is indicated by a roman numeral. Larger roman numerals indicate a shorter tube which results in a ring that fits deeper in the bell (greater number=greater change to the tone). Generally, a bell ring that fits deeper will lower the pitch of low Bb more and have a slightly different effect on the resonance and response of the low register. There seems to be a sweet spot to be found for each player and setup, especially when it comes to balancing the ideal pitch of low Bb and the improved response of low B.

The second variable of sizing the thickness of the tube. A bell ring made from a thicker tube will lower the pitch and darken the tone more without having to fit as deep in the bell. Many players find that they prefer moving to a thicker bell ring instead of having one that fits especially deep. A thicker bell ring is delineated with a ‘+’. No ‘+’ size is currently available for soprano, but this may change. Additionally, I have made a small number of ‘minus’ sizes for alto and tenor upon request by players who wanted to try something especially minimal.  
Bell Ring Sizing at Peak Performance Woodwinds

Selecting a bell ring without being able to test them in person can be a challenge, as there are currently seven different sizes for alto alone.  I have settled on two "standard" sizes of alto bell ring that seem to work well for most people—sizes I and I+. Size I is made from the tube thickness and length of the original design, and is standard because it improves tone, pitch, and response while being fairy noninvasive. You can’t go wrong with size I.  Size I+ is made from a thicker tube than size I and its tube is cut to the same length (due to the thicker tube, size I+ has a slightly shallower fit than size I).  If someone desires to try two safe but different options, I recommend ordering sizes I and I+.  I have also been getting very positive feedback from many players on size 0, which is the least invasive size.  If you seek to change the tone of low B-flat as little as possible while improving pitch and response, I recommend trying this size (especially if you have tried traditional cloth saxophone mutes and disliked them).  Additionally, for the player who would like  to order every size to find their ideal size, I accept returns for full refunds (buyer pays shipping).  Please get in touch with me if you plan to return any bell rings.  

For soprano, there are currently four sizes. Size  I is standard, and is the largest size that fits easily in most popular soprano saxes, such as models by Selmer Paris and Yamaha. Size 0 is slightly larger for larger belled sopranos (such as Yanagisawa and Eastman sopranos).  Sizes 00 and 000 are even larger to accomodate the significantly larger bell diameters of curved sopranos and tipped bell/saxello style sopranos.  Some people prefer the effect of a bell ring that fits deeper, such as size II or III, regardless of what make/model instrument they play--it mostly comes down to personal taste. As a default, I recommend first trying the least invasive sizes (those that fit nearest to the bell flare), then try deeper sizes if more darkening or pitch lowering is desired.  
For tenor, I currently offer sizes 000, 00, 0, I, II, III, 0+, and I+.  I designated size 0 as the "standard" size just because it is the size I originally settled on when I was first designing these, and I feel that it is generally a safe option for players who don't want to order every single size to try.  If you want something that changes the sound as little as possible, but offers similar pitch correction and improved response, I recommend size 00 or 000. Players who are after a very small pitch correction with minimal change to the timbre, especially jazz players, should consider these sizes. 

Players who often switch mouthpieces may find that their preferences in a bell ring are affected by their equipment.  For instance, I once prefered a size III alto bell ring when playing my classical setup, but when I switched to my jazz setup I noticed that low B was less responsive.  Switching to a size II brought low B back to life, and lately I'm gravitating more to size 0 with my jazz alto setup, and 00 for my jazz tenor setup. 
I value feedback from players!  Please do not hesitate to share any thoughts and opinions you may wish to share with me after trying my products.  In the past this has lead me to the creation of custom sizes, which I am happy to provide.  For instance, I have once made a size 00- alto bell ring, which used a thinner tube and a conservative fit in the bell for minimal pitch lowering.  Many of the sizes I currently list as options began as custom sizes.  If you are interested in custom sizing, please contact me directly!
Soprano: $15
000 (curved and tipped bell sopranos)
00 (curved and tipped)
0 (max size for Yanagisawa, Eastman, & other larger bell sopranos)
I (standard)

Alto: $19 individual
I (standard)
Tenor: $22
0 (standard)
Sopranino: $15
Email me directly with sopranino orders

Bass Deep Bell Insert: $30
Email me directly with Bass Deep Bell Insert orders