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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. 

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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

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 ‘plus’ size is currently available for tenor or 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 also available upon special request (contact me directly)-- these are even larger for curved and tipped bell 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. 
 
For tenor, I currently offer sizes 0, I, II, III, 0+, and I+.  I designated size I 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 0.  I am also currently experimenting with two sizes that lower the pitch even less-- 00 and 000.  Players who are after a very small pitch correction with minimal change to the timbre, especially jazz players, should contact me directly for these sizes.  I value input and feedback from all players, so feel free get in touch with me to give your thoughts and opinions.  This can sometimes lead to the creation of new bell ring sizes!

Players who often switch mouthpieces may find that their preferences in a bell ring are affected by their equipment.  For instance, I prefer a size III alto bell ring when playing my classical setup, but when I switch to my jazz setup I notice that low B is 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. 
Soprano: $12
0 (large bell sopranos only)
I (standard)
II
III

Alto: $15 individual
0
I (standard)
II
III
IV
I+
II+
Tenor: $18

0
I (standard)
II
III
I+
Sopranino: $12
Email me directly with sopranino orders

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

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