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Author Topic: Mutes  (Read 8481 times)

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Offline Celtic Lass

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Mutes
« on: Sep 26, 2007, 11:42:48 PM »
I plan on ordering a shoulder rest soon, and I want to order a mute as well. I was thinking of maybe getting a rubber one, but which one to buy?
http://www.swstrings.com/Store/Shopping.jsp?Category=Accessories&SubCategory=Violin&Group=M14 (This is the one I'm really thinking about getting.)
http://www.swstrings.com/Store/Shopping.jsp?Category=Accessories&SubCategory=Violin&Group=6223
http://www.swstrings.com/Store/Shopping.jsp?Category=Accessories&SubCategory=Violin&Group=M5A
http://www.swstrings.com/Store/Shopping.jsp?Category=Accessories&SubCategory=Violin&Group=M8
Or perhaps one made of wire.
http://www.swstrings.com/Store/Shopping.jsp?Category=Accessories&SubCategory=Violin&Group=M1
Anyone ever tried any of these mutes? I've never had a mute before, so I need some help deciding which mute is right for me.

Offline madmat

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #1 on: Sep 26, 2007, 11:47:38 PM »
What are you going to use it for? If you want it so you don't disturb others when practicing, go with the first one, or the metal equivalent that will make the violin even quieter, like this one: http://www.elderly.com/accessories/items/VM50.htm

The other mutes are mutes that you would use because the music you are playing calls for it (eg, "con sordino") http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mute_(music)#String

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Offline sreizes

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #2 on: Sep 26, 2007, 11:58:31 PM »
Hmm, my luthier warns against the heavy metal ones, they can get stuck on your bridge and damage it.  Also, one of my violins has a dent caused by one of those...  Threw it out....

Personally, I have one of these:  Ultra For quiet practicing

One of these (but by Tourte):  "figure 8" tourte  for in orchestra (quick on and off)

and

One of these: Three Prong Ebony  For "classy" muted playing - like Brahms Lullaby say...



Offline beeswing

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #3 on: Sep 27, 2007, 12:05:00 AM »
I use the rubber one in the wikipedia picture with the clothespin. Really. That's my viola mute in the picture. I've used the metal ones, and while they do a great job of hushing the fiddle, they do mark the bridge (unless you pad their notches, as I believe sreizes has done in the past.) and if they rattle loose and fall off, they leave quite a dent in the top of the fiddle.

The 3-prong ebony ones are elegant, but easy to lose track of. I think more people use the 2-hole tourte type for con sord. playing, or a similar one with a little magnetic clip that goes on the tailpiece to keep it still when it's not on the bridge.

If it's to hush things so as not to bother nearby folks, I'd go with the $3 rubber practise mute from swstrings, and NEVER close the case on the fiddle with the mute on. Make sure you take time to practise without the mute as well, since that's how you hear best what you're doing with the fiddle.

words, words... never mind, I see Steve already said about the same thing
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Offline Steve_W

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #4 on: Sep 27, 2007, 12:06:15 AM »
Regarding performance mutes, those ebony mutes change the tone more more than the little rubber "Tourte" models, and the wire ones are somewhere in between; it just depends what sound you want.  Actually I like the 1-hole Tourtes (like this: http://www.swstrings.com/Store/Shopping.jsp?Category=Accessories&SubCategory=Violin&Section=Mutes&Group=M5) better than the 2-holers; they mute a bit more and you can rotate them sideways and wedge them in the strings when not in use so they stay out of the way.  In my experience the wire mutes tend to chew up the string windings a little and can rattle around a bit when not in use, but a lot of players swear by them.  The wood ones work well but since they don't stay on the fiddle when not in use I tended to misplace mine...

Offline Celtic Lass

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #5 on: Sep 27, 2007, 12:24:39 AM »
Thanks for the tip about metal mutes. The rubber ones are so cheap, I may buy more than one kind to try them out.

Offline awildman2384

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #6 on: Sep 27, 2007, 12:35:38 AM »
Why do you need a mute?

Offline madmat

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #7 on: Sep 27, 2007, 12:38:09 AM »
Hmm, my luthier warns against the heavy metal ones
There we go again, another classical musician warning you about heavy metal... :D
Quote
Also, one of my violins has a dent caused by one of those...  Threw it out...
I hope it didn't hit a viola on the way out. ;)

I haven't taken any special care with mine (big brass mute) and have not damaged my instrument in twenty or so years, but more importantly my brothers and parents did not go insane listening to my incessant sawing, and it hasn't stuck on a bridge yet. I'm not so sure a rubber mute would not have disintegrated in the meantime... but they are cheap.

For con sordino playing I have a wire/glass mute, and no, it hasn't been chewing into my string windings. You guys must be really brutal with your instruments... ;D
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Offline Joe Gerardi

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #8 on: Sep 27, 2007, 12:41:02 AM »
Thanks for the tip about metal mutes. The rubber ones are so cheap, I may buy more than one kind to try them out.

Remember, too, that the tourte mute isn't going to actually *mute* it that much. It doesn't so much lower the volume as soften it some.

..Joe
"Some people are like a Slinky... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs"

Offline sreizes

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #9 on: Sep 27, 2007, 12:47:22 AM »
I hope it didn't hit a viola on the way out. ;)
Naw, violins are small, it's hard to hit things with them when you throw them.

but more importantly my brothers and parents did not go insane listening to my incessant sawing...
Oh there are so many comebacks...  ;D

Offline chrisandcello

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #10 on: Sep 27, 2007, 01:01:24 AM »
A small piece of lead covered in cling film and bent over the g side of the bridge is very effective.....and does'nt steal the nice tone like most mutes do......
Obviously its highly toxic so not safe if toddlers are in the house etc...

Offline Celtic Lass

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #11 on: Sep 27, 2007, 03:12:50 AM »
Just got the practice mute (first one listed above). Thanks guys! :)

Offline Spritelike3

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #12 on: Apr 12, 2009, 05:39:38 AM »
I know there hasn't been anyone on here in quite awhile, but I'm looking for any information on violin practice mutes. I know there are a few different materials they can be made of, & am wondering which ones work best.
I recently moved & don't want to be disturbing anyone. Also I'm curious if, or how much they affect the tone, tuning, etc... of the violin. Please, help! :-\

Offline chrisandcello

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #13 on: Apr 12, 2009, 12:39:38 PM »
Theres a version of the heavy metal practice mute coated in rubber too now...think it was e-bay I saw them......
The very effective 'tonwolf' can be used without marking the bridge too much if you get to work with a pair of pliers and fine files etc..
Quote
I'm curious if, or how much they affect the tone
Metal sounds thin and metally....rubber, thick and rubbery....as you'd expect really.
I've mentioned lead earlier in the post as my prefered tonewise...but modern heavy (pear shaped) fishing weights can be used (which are not lead)....just slice 1/2 way through with a stanley knife...prise open and a quick spray of lacquer in the split to prevent it staining the bridge

Offline Spritelike3

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #14 on: Apr 12, 2009, 02:27:47 PM »
Thank you soooo much for the help!  ;D It's very much appreciated. Now I can play again, YAY!

Offline jtafaro

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #15 on: Oct 28, 2009, 12:00:54 AM »
I like the three pronged mutes.  They come in ebony and rosewood(Sharmusic)  I started using one when I was in the hospital for a week and needed something to keep me from going nuts.  It didn't fit very well so I used a fingernail emory board and sanded it until it fitt.  Then I could close the door and sit in the chair and practise.  Now I use them at home on all my fiddles to keep from disturbing people around me.  They work but only if they fit.  Some are a little bigger than others and some bridges are thicker or thinner than others so you have to just find the one that fits your different fiddles.  I even use them to record you tube videos.
Watch this  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsDJnwatn1k  and you judge the sound.  W/O the mute the sound would have overwhelmed the microphone.

Joe T

Offline Henry George

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #16 on: Oct 28, 2009, 06:32:34 AM »
I used one of those ebony 3 pronged mutes for years. I reshaped it by sanding and I sanded the inside of the prongs for a really snug fit, but it never really made the violin quiet enough. I have'nt used a mute on my fiddles since I bought a silent violin...Carlo Giordano. Really it's a muted violin because I can hear it just enough acoustically and I'm now getting heaps more practise in. But today no-one is home so I'm gonna prac on acoustic fiddle without the mute.

Offline Mina the fiddler

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #17 on: Oct 28, 2009, 10:26:16 AM »
Sorry folks but most of the links postet earlier in this topic don't work anymore. I'd be glad to see some good versions of mutes really MUTING the violin for practice, maybe without the downside of the metal ones some people here described. I use a rubber mute which does mainly soften the sound and an ebony one on the viola. I think ebony mutes produce a muted and interesting sound but it's not really quiet enough if you want to practice around touchy neighbours.


Watch this  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsDJnwatn1k  and you judge the sound.  W/O the mute the sound would have overwhelmed the microphone.

Joe T

sorry, i can't see the point of this video. This player has very bad intonation, bad bowing technique and uses a baroque bow (which produce a softer tone). He even gets the fingering wrong repeatedly. All while playing a piece which requires a glorious, big, classical sound. This  doesn't help to judge the effect of a mute. He also claims in his comment that he not only uses the mute because of his neighbours but because he believes that "his violin sounds better with the mute".  This is simply rubbish. A violin might sound different and interesting with a mute but not "better". Sorry if i go on about this but i've met too many amateur musicians who will play with their mute on all (or a lot) of the time. This is really no acceptable method of improving your sound. it just covers the fact that you have poor technique and maybe even a poorly sounding instrument. What's worse, those people are tricking themselves thinking they produce a nice sound when all they produce is a muted sound. The only way to improve the sounding of your fiddle is either get a better fiddle and/or practice and get some teaching on bowing and intonation.
Furthermore its no problem recording a violin with a microphone without "overwhelming" it. Many people here have done so.

Offline Henry George

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #18 on: Oct 29, 2009, 02:51:29 AM »
Mutes that clamp onto the bridge don't make any fiddle sound better, they restrict the vibrations reducing the resonance, even poor quality fiddles produce resonance/ringing. Practise mutes are needed to save your own ears and if you are considerate of your neighbours, their ears too. Practise should be balanced between unmuted and continued the same when muted. Have a second fiddle for muted practise and continue to play the best fiddle for unmuted prac so as to allow full resonance/ringing to be absorbed by the fiddle.
But even my heavy metal clamped mute is still not quiet enough for late night practise or even when someone is home, because I live in a small cottage....:-)) That's why I'm really pleased about my mute-violin. I'm sure it was a real violin once and has parts of the belly and back cut away. I can plug in the headphones but I can also hear it acoustically and when I do get to play without mute on my best fiddle I hear all the fruits of my hard practise, and it's so much fun and pleasure that I think it is also due to absents makes the heart grow fonder.

Offline jtafaro

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #19 on: Oct 29, 2009, 02:39:31 PM »
I agree completely.  I don't practise with the mute.  I use it to keep the volume down so as not to disturb others.  Its not entertaining to practise because you have to do licks over and over to get them right and this takes a lot of time when learning new songs.

It is interesting to note in the 1902 Sears Roebuck Catalogue they sold an Achme violin(made in Germany) with Achme strings, rosin, exercise book, and a three pronged mute for 19.95.  Amazing.

Joe T

Offline Mina the fiddler

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #20 on: Oct 30, 2009, 04:12:53 PM »
jtafaro, i'm extremly sorry about my harsh comment. I didn't realize i was talking to the same person here as is in the vidoe. this is the worst blunder ever happened to me on the internet. i can just hope you don't hate me now.
i was just irritated by the comment on your youtube video. but it seems i understood you wrong. again, im very sorry.

Offline jtafaro

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #21 on: Oct 30, 2009, 05:59:52 PM »
You were right about the baroque bow. I bought it out of curiosity and didn't realise you are supposed to use it with the stick part being concave not straight.  I don't take things personal and if I can learn from comments that is good.  I play because its a challenge and I like it.  I can always improve.

There are some idiots out there that post comments malicously.  I was a police officer here for 32 years and have a very thick skin.  Was my intonation that bad?  I do have problems in that area.  Like Jack Benny I can't always tell when I am off. It's so much easier on the ukulele and guitar but there is no challenge there.

Joe T

Offline Mina the fiddler

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #22 on: Oct 31, 2009, 12:23:10 PM »
Hi jtafaro
thanks for not taking things personal. Intersting about the baroque bow. I didn't know this.
Yes unfortunately i think your intonation was off. I don't know how long you've been playing. Maybe it was rather good for the time you have been playing. Just keep going! I truely admire every one who learns violin as an adult. I had the chance to learn as a kid. Even though i didn't play for some years, intonation comes back quite quickly. but i never learned to play another instrument as an adult (apart from a few guitar chords you need around a campfire :-)). so really, hats off to everyone who tries and succeds!
it's worth working on this.
. and as i said i reacted mainly to the fact that you played with the mute on in the video. (we discussed this in another thread here): clearness of sound is not only a thing one produces with the bow. The more your fingers are in the right position, the clearer is the sound of your fiddle. so just listening of the clearness of the sound will also help you improve intonation. which is again easier without mutes. another point is you played a classical piece. i think in folk fiddling sometimes intonation isn't given so much attention: as long as the rythm is right and makes you wanna dance. but with beethoven....i didn't manage to be so tolerant.
i noticed in the video that your right hand is quite stiff. but then that might have to do with the baroque bow. flexibility in the right hand wrist will improve your sound as well and make the fiddle sound clearer and better.
Interesting that you used to be a policeman. i'm a social worker. we need thick skin sometimes as well :-)...!

Offline beeswing

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #23 on: Oct 31, 2009, 03:54:26 PM »
O dear, Mina, what are we going to do with you ;) if you say things like this? (I'll spare you my usual rant about folk tradition preserving intonation in its finest forms while art music has been barking up the spurious tree of equal temperament, and carrying most people along with it, since they might not know any better. ;D)

I think in folk fiddling sometimes intonation isn't given so much attention: as long as the rythm is right and makes you wanna dance. but with beethoven...

Specially in the beginning, it helps to play tunes you already know the sound of... lots of "classical" (baroque and romantic too) themes have made it into popular consciousness, among them Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. Right now I'm also thinking of Jethro Tull and J.S. Bach's Bourrée in E minor.

Joe, you may be finding out how playing the fiddle in front of other people exposes exactly who you are at that moment. :D Carry on, and enjoy the trip!

I will go along with Mina and any others who say that a mute can keep you from hearing how the fiddle sings better when you play like you mean it, and in tune.
I want to be a musician when I grow up.
Sorry, son, you can't do both.

Offline Henry George

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #24 on: Nov 01, 2009, 02:22:20 AM »
art music has been barking up the spurious tree of equal temperament,

Whoa..!! play in an equal temperament and you will sound out-of-tune, but that's for another thread.

Offline Mina the fiddler

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #25 on: Nov 01, 2009, 11:33:09 AM »
O dear, Mina, what are we going to do with you ;) if you say things like this? (I'll spare you my usual rant about folk tradition preserving intonation in its finest forms while art music has been barking up the spurious tree of equal temperament, and carrying most people along with it, since they might not know any better. ;D)


Things like what?  ;) go ahead with the rant at the danger that i might actually know it already. ;D
The whole discussion just reminded me of summer fiddle school in Sweden. There we were, a little bunch of people from germany and switzerland, most with some (or a lot of) classical training in our backgrounds (AND a lot of folk fiddling experience) in the midst of 80 Swedes learning about their own tradition.  What is extremly nice about the folk music scene there is that every player is really welcome to join in no matter what his ability. So there were people who knew hundreds of tunes and played them according to tradition and  rhythmically good for dancing. point is, many of them just made my ears hurt when i heard them play on their own. while we managed to really impress people with our good sound but of course constantly struggling with learning the tunes by ear and struggling with those rhythms!
and there is this mother/daughter couple  - who were there already two years ago when i was there last time - who wil play CONSTANTLY with their mutes on. in the two years neither their intonation nor bowing has improved the least bit while my friend from germany who has only played four years improves by the month.
on the other hand, this young guy who was in one of the beginner groups gets up at the last-night-party of the summer school and plays his half hour for the dancers ON HIS OWN and everybody is happy with it, even though his intonation could really do with some improvement. I on the other hand have been fretting all night about having a go and in the end didn't dare play for the dancers on my own  :-[.
So when during one of the lessions the fiddle teacher was talking about playing double strings and double stops, he makes it clear that you CAN'T do this in equal temperament. you actually have to use quarter tones / adjust your fingering ever so slightly because you will have chords there that wouldn't be "acceptable" in classical music so you have to adjust your fingering to produce an interesting sounding harmony instead of a horribly sounding harmony (like: leave your 3d finger on the a string and play an open e string drone).
I took the chance of asking him does the player still have to know what they're doing! and the answer is of course yes. it's no leave to just play with a lacking intonation.
so what i take from this experience is: the approach to intonation in folk music is a mixture of giving it a different priority (playing for dancing, you need rhythm in the first place) and a different concept of intonation/harmony (compared to the "classical" or equal temperament ideas). but still something which is important and a folk piece played with good intonation sounds NICER than without.

Offline babbage

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #26 on: Nov 01, 2009, 04:37:05 PM »
Not that it have anything to do with mutes: The advantage of the silent agreement of "classical/equal" temperament is that it makes it easier/possible to play with others instantly.

Intonation is a learning process wheter it is equal temperament or something else. Both to play and listen to. I think that small deviations from any temperament could be used to enhance different moods of the music. I guess my view of intonation is to play consistent and with control. Something I still have to achieve.
« Last Edit: Nov 01, 2009, 05:46:23 PM by babbage »

Offline jtafaro

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #27 on: Nov 01, 2009, 10:13:12 PM »
I am not sure how I got involved in this!  I just wanted to reply to a thread about mutes.  I don't use them anywhere but in my small bedroom/studio because its too loud without them in that room.  As far as intonation and technique WELL.  Not all of us have perfect pitch or fantastic technique.  We play for the fun and challenge of playing and sometimes to get away from annoying wives and children.

I play in a public park in New Orleans and when its too cold I go to a shopping mall.  Both places have walkers who for some reason unknown to me seem to like to hear me practice.  That's what I do--practice.   They say that's how you get to Carneige Hall but I won't be going there any time soon unless I buy a ticket.

I had a strange experience practicing this past summer.  I played Over the Rainbow for a walker that I didn't know and asked her if it was too fast.  She told me it wasn't but I was flat in one place.  We couldn't figure out where I was flat until after she left and I realized I was playing an F# too low on the fingerboard.  I waited two months to tell her she was right but I never saw her again.  In September her sister-in-law came out and found me to tell me this lady had died of brain cancer.  But before she died she had her family bring her out in a wheelchair to see the park and listen to me one last time.  I saw her then but didn't recognize her.  Her family asked me to play at her house at a reception after the memorial service and I did and felt honored to be asked.

Needless to say this was a humbeling experience.  I know I am not Isaac Stern .  Far from it but I try to do the best I can and always appreciate constructive criticism.

Joe T

Offline chrisandcello

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #28 on: Nov 01, 2009, 11:11:00 PM »
Thats a nice account Joe....and there is nothing wrong with using mutes!  ;)

Offline frodopogo

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2010, 07:57:13 PM »
On another forum, someone suggested a trick of using a rolled up crisp dollar bill stuck under the D and A strings but over the G and E strings.  It works really well!
It's very adjustable- you can put it up flush with the bridge, or back towards the tailpiece to mute the afterlength.  Actually you can put it at different places in between for a different subtle muting effect.
One of the things it does is that it can make a harsh fiddle less so.
And you can angle it more towards the treble or bass side of the bridge to mute the high or low strings more.
And it does all this with virtually no wear on the string windings.

It probably doesn't mute as much as some of the heavy clamp-type musts, but it sounds and feels very much more natural.
There is a lady locally who leads bluegrass jams with her voice and guitar,
neither of which are very loud.
and the mute makes her a LOT happier!!!

And it's cheap- only costs a dollar!
And if your broke and absolutely need to, you can spend it!!

Since one dollar bills look kind of ordinary,
I recently upgraded to the scarcer 2 dollar bill.
They don't get circulated much, so most of them are
fresh and crisp enough for the task.

It's very appropriate for the bluegrass verse:
"Lost all my money but a two dollar bill"

And if I take it out for full volume, the 2 designation helps me recognize it
as one of my "mutes".

It also might be a useful thing to do with obsolete or excessively inflated currency,
or leftover checks (cheques) from a closed bank account,
although I haven't tested the sonic properties of check paper yet!!!

Monopoly money might work too!!!

Offline Skillet

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #30 on: May 11, 2010, 09:00:38 PM »
Thanks for the suggestion of using a rolled-up $2 bill as a mute. I'm going to try it.

Offline chrisandcello

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #31 on: Mar 14, 2011, 06:24:05 PM »
I just bought 2 x clip on plummets (fishing) for £1.80....great! Convienient and about good as the lead I used to go on about.
Easy to clip on the G side...the tone is preferable to other practice mutes imho.
Just google or search ebay for 'clip on plummets'

 




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