Great Players Using Our Mutes

This list comes from one of our dealer’s websites and it is unfortunately incomplete. If you sent us a testimonial quote in the past yet you are not featured, please accept our apologies and resend your quote to us. We will post it ASAP! 

All quotes reflect the positions the artists held at the time. Some have since retired.

Artists are in Alphabetical order.

New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera New York, National Symphony Washington D.C., Cleveland Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Cincinatti Orchestra, etc…and about 4500 horn players around the world are using Balu mutes.

Joseph Anderer, Principal Horn and “Siegfried Call” soloist for the New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra 2004 Ring Cycle

“The Met horn section received a set of these mutes around the time we started rehearsing the “Ring Cycle”, and I’m happy to say that the Balu mute quickly become the “Voice of the Tarnhelm”.  If you heard any of our Ring broadcasts, you heard the clear, bright, smooth sound of the Balu mute.  Personally, I find it a fantastic addition to my small collection of choice “horn tools”.  I love the sound, which is subtly different from other fine mutes, and the quality of construction is exceptional, perhaps unprecedented!”

Michelle Baker, 2nd Horn, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York

“The Balu mute has excellent response and intonation, and a nice blending sound, with a real “muted” quality. The veneer on my mute matches the decor of the Metropolitan Opera House, too!!”

Dolores Beck, Privat horn studio, White Plains, NY.

“Your mute is by far the best mute I have ever played. I have already recommended it to all my students and colleagues. The sound is glorious in all registers and the muted tone is rich and beautiful. This is a must buy for all serious horn players”

Tod Bowermaster, St. Louis Symphony,

“The Ion Balu mute has everything you could want in a mute: A beautiful, clear sound, excellent pitch in all registers, and ease of playing in any range and at any dynamic. It is also visually beautiful. I get a lot of compliments on the mute before I even get on stage.”

Jeremy Buss,  French Horn Faculty, Messiah College.

“I have played it (n.a.Thunder mute) all weekend and it is glorious!  It is very beautiful and the sound is superb. I am so very pleased with it, and am looking forward to using it in performance.  I have a few friends looking for professional quality mutes that I will be sure to send your way, and any of my students looking to buy a quality mute will be sent your way also.  It is balanced and free-blowing and even though I expected a high quality from what I’d heard, I was still very surprised at its quality.  You have an excellent product and I am proud to own one.  I will be an advocate for your mutes in the future”

Tony Cecere, member of the Philadelphia Brass, “Artistic Extra” for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Principal Horn , Bach Festival Orchestra of Bethlehem, PA, NYC free lance player

“I have been using your Limited Edition “Thunder” mute (# 25 of 77) on the Wagner Ring cycle and several other operas. I think it is the best sounding and most versatile mute that I have ever had. It has clarity and power and still keeps a veiled muted quality appropriate for quiet passages.Also the intonation is superb.  Congratulations on your fine work – this mute is a real breakthrough for hornists everywhere!”

Hans Clebsch, Cleveland Orchestra.

“One of my colleagues remarked he had never heard the muted Third Horn answer from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony sound better. It was rendered using your mute. I now include with the mutes I regularly use in the orchestra. There are key passages that your mute fits perfectly.  It has a nice open clear sound and excellent, sturdy construction”

Mr. Clebsch is the producer of the finest horn support and leather guard in the world.

Samuel Compton, Principal Horn with Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

“I like the resonance of Ion Balu’s mutes. Why should a muted sound be dead? It isn’t with Ion’s mutes. Between the resonance, tone, pitch and response I feel that Ion’s mute is the best mute I have ever played. Also Ion’s practice mute is by far the most free blowing and quiet of any practice mute I have played.”

Dr. Robin  L. Dauer, Assoc. Professor of Horn, Arkansas State University, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

I have recently acquired your straight and your practice mute. I have found them to be outstanding! The straight mute can be played securely and in tune in all registers and at all dynamic levels. The softs take hardly any air at all! The practice mute is the best one I have ever played, especially for the price.  Keep up the good work!

Dear Ion, I recently purchased your straight mute and can honestly say that it is worth every penny and much more! The tonal clarity is fantastic throughout the entire register! Thank you so much for giving horn players a mute that provides such a beautiful sound! Playing on a Balu mute is a real pleasure!

Glenn Doyle, Principal Horn Temple Symphony Orchestra, Temple TX

Javier Gandara, 3rd Horn for the Metropolitan’s Opera Orchestra 2004 Ring Cycle

Ion Balu’s mute has a beautiful, clear sound.  The intonation is excellent, and the quality of construction is first class.  Bravo, Ion!

Dear Ion,

“Thank you for sending the mute. I used it immediatedly on performances of “Most Happy Fella” and “La Boheme” at New York City Opera with great  results.  I also had need (…) of your practice mute, and, you are right, it has less resistance than other practice mutes.”


Richard Hagen, 2nd Horn, New York City Opera

H. Stephen Hager, Professor of Horn, Texas State University, San-Marcos

Dear Ion, Recently I have been doing a series of recitals in our area. On these recitals my wife and I have been performing the Koetsier Sonata for Horn and Harp, the middle movement of which is almost entirely muted. I have, of course, the “Thunder mute” I bought from you last Spring in Austin.  When I played at Baylor last night, two different people came at me (one of whon was not even a hornplayer) and told me it was the most lovely muted horn sound they have ever heard. OK, you have created a dilemma for me now. How do I justify playing absolutely everything muted? Thanks so much.

Dr. Thomas Hale, Principal Horn with Austin Symphony and Austin Lyric Opera.

“The mute I purchased from you is not only a work of art, it plays extremely well. In all registers and all dynamics the mute produced a well-balanced and even tone. Congratulations on inventing the “Better Mousetrap.”

Mike Harcrow, Teaching Fellow, Univ. of North Texas, Adjunct Faculty, Texas Women’s Univ. ; former Principal Horn with Korean Symphony Orchestra; former Professor, Korean National Univ. of Arts.

“I have never found a straight mute that projects so easily and clearly (and I have a rather large collection)!  The tone is not stuffy or fuzzy in the least, but bright, resonant, and ringing.  Your mutes are genuine functional art and reasonably priced to boot!  Keep up the great work!

Andrew Joy, Principal Horn with Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, Recording Artist.

“Ion Balu has created a free blowing mute which responds evenly over four octaves with a uniquely distinct and satisfying sound.  His practice mute is also excellent, successfully reducing the sound to a minimum whilst retaining almost normal air resistance.”

Barbara Jöstlein, 4th Horn, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York

“Wagner’s “Ring” makes great demands on the mute in the low register, and Ion Balu’s mute met those demands with flying colors.  Speaking of colors, the veneers are beautiful and very distinctive”.

Thomas Jöstlein, Associate Principal horn St. Louis Symphony Orchestra , 2003 American Horn Competition winner.

“I use Ion Balu’s practice mute when I go on tour or at auditions,  to prevent neighbors in hotel rooms from getting annoyed at me.  I love the fact that the mute is in tune, free blowing, and yet quiet.  The large amount of cork makes it an easy fit in my Berg horn.  Bravo, Ion!”

Dear Ion,

Now that I have had some time to play the new mute that you sent, I find that it is as good as the other two that I have tried. The mute is definitely the best in the low register than any other I have used in my career. It also projects wonderfully and has a very flexible sound in terms of what dynamics I play. Pitch is good and the blowing characteristic is great; not at all resistant and feels very ‘open’. I’m lovin’ it! A student of mine tried it today and I believe he will buy one soon.


John Lorge, Principal Horn San Diego Symphony

Ethel Merker, Horn Legend

I like your practice mute because it has a great pitch and LESS air resistance compared with other practice mutes.

Hi Ion,

I received my practice mute today in the mail (well-packed).  This is a fantastic mute….I played it near my sleeping 4 week old and not a peep from baby.  All of the notes come out clearly throughout the range of the horn (nearly four octaves).  1000% better than other practice mutes that I’ve tried and ultimately abandoned.  Also, the mute looks as good as it plays.

Thank you,  Marc Hetzel

Phil Munds,  Principal horn, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

The Balu mutes play and sound as beautiful as they look!  I was most impressed by the fine workmanship and beautiful appearance of the mutes when I first saw them.  Then I played them and was pleasantly surprised at how even all the registers felt and how clear the sound was.  I honestly think that this is the best sounding mute on the market today. They sound great in our hall here in Baltimore.

I also bought one of Ion’s practice mutes.  I sold my silent brass mute immediately!  Need I say more.

So basically, these mutes Rock!

Makoto Yamamoto, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo, Japan.

“The (Straight) mute produces a very clear sound. The high notes have no difficulty in sounding, having an equal strength for the high and low registers. It plays satisfactory in an orchestra, making it a very wonderful mute to have.”

Seth Orgel, Assistant Professor of horn, LSU, Atlantic Brass Quintet.

“Mr. Balu’s mutes have the best intonation of anything I’ve ever played. They generate a great sound, and playing characteristics are extremely comfortable. Great in both, Chamber music and the orchestra.”

Linda Patterson, Principal Horn Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Professor of Horn, Middle Tennessee State University.

“I bought the Balu mute this summer, while searching for a mute with the perfect sound for Scherezade solo. I found the perfect mute not only for the Rimsky-Korsakov, but a mute with great pitch and projection, appropriate to the characteristic sound needed in the literature. The sound has the right amount of clarity, no “stuffiness” and is free blowing. Thanks so much!!

Robert G. Patterson, PhD., Composer, Second Horn with Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

“I have played most major brands of mutes, and the Balu mute has by far the best sound of  any of them. To fully appreciate it, you must play it on stage with an orchestra. In a practice room it sounds great. On stage it is revolutionary”.

Visit Dr. Patterson on his web site and listen some of his Awarded Compositions

Erik Ralske, Principal Horn, Metropolitan Opera NY

“I own over 25 horn mutes of various shapes and composition, but none of them compare to Ion Balu’s. His mutes have an extremely clear and warm sound in all registers and are the only mutes I’ve found that don’t muddy one’s articulation. They are a treat for the ear as well as the eyes– beautifully crafted.”

Anne Scharer,  Third Horn, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York

“I’ve found the mute has excellent projection and a beautiful, round sound.  The articulation is clean in all registers and I find it responds easily.  The Balu mute is a wonderful color to add to your palette.”

Gene Standley, Principal Horn with Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

“I received the mute and I’m impressed (…) very positive reaction to your very fine mute. Its sound and pitch are unsurpassed.”

Richard Todd, Los Angeles Recording Studios Artist, Principal Horn with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Horn Faculty University of Southern California

“I own many different varieties of mutes in size and shapes, and I am very impressed with the Balu mute I recently purchased. It has no apparent weaknesses in sound, and it has a terrific sound. I have used it both in live concerts and in recording sessions for films, and find it equally satisfying to use. My students have also discovered and are buying them with regularity. I recommend this mutes highly,  and will continue to use them for years to come. Keep up the good work.”

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