Here’s another entry in the “Horn DIY” series, changing mute corks. My go-to straight mute is Ion Balu’s “Red Mahogany” model. Over time the corks that came with the mute have worn and even started to break apart in a few places (see below).
If you look closely at the top of the corks you can see that the one on the right side is missing some pieces. I contacted Ion Balu and he very generously sent me some of his new replacement corks, shown here. Pictured beside them is the box cutter I used to carefully remove the old corks.
Step one in this project is to remove the old corks, using a box cutter or razor blade to cut or pry them loose. My corks began to break apart as I pried them away from the body of the mute, so I resorted to carefully shaving them away bit by bit. Using a very fine sandpaper, I removed the residual cork pieces. What I was left with was a smooth mute without any corks.
Here’s a closeup of the old corks.
Next I attached the new corks, making sure to keep the same placement as the old ones. There are probably a number of adhesives that will work for this task, but I recommend using something that bonds pretty quickly. Here is the final result.
And another view from the top.
Why replace the corks? Well, other than the obvious aesthetic improvement, the mute now plays better than previously. These new corks came with a foam backing (visible in the above pictures) that I assume allows for a more customized fit in the bell. I immediately noticed an improvement in response and overall clarity with these corks. It is a very easy process, requires only a couple of tools, and can breath new life into an older mute.