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Author Topic: Types of mutes and how to use them  (Read 6819 times)

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Offline Chelsea

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Types of mutes and how to use them
« on: Feb 10, 2011, 06:12:54 AM »
I'm a new fiddler living on a 30 ft. sailboat.  My boyfriend has been very supportive of my new interest, but its starting to wear on him and my dog has never liked my playing.  So I'm looking at mutes and wondering what kind to get and if using one poses any danger to my instrument. 
Thanks!
-Chels

Offline ladydetemps

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #1 on: Feb 10, 2011, 12:36:59 PM »
Cheap option. Get 3 clothespegs (the ones with the springs)...depending on how quiet you want to be ad more pegs to the bridge trying to avoid touching the strings.
I tried a proper mute...didn't like it so pegs work better for me more control.

Offline beeswing

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #2 on: Feb 10, 2011, 07:35:54 PM »
Aye, clothespins, one or two, or even three, though I've never tried that many.

Nowadays my favorite muting option is a big rubber practice mute. A viola-sized one fits on a fiddle, and is more massive than the violin-sized one, so it's a bit quieter. In the past I have used the metal practice mutes, but they don't always fit right, and if they fall off hte bridge you get a big tear-stained dent in the top of your fiddle.
I want to be a musician when I grow up.
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Offline woodwiz

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #3 on: Feb 11, 2011, 01:34:52 AM »
Rubber practice mute if you want quiet, but it will sound different and hurt your bow technique.  You are liable to sound awful with the mute off.

I really like the sliding wire mutes for fiddling, because you can adjust how much they mute.

The little round Tourte mutes are for producing "con sordino" sound.

There's always the option of learning to play quietly.  It's great for tone and bow technique.  Or kick the boyfriend out during practice time.  Send him off to the local watering hole for a couple of hours.

Offline Worldfiddler

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #4 on: Feb 11, 2011, 11:25:46 AM »
The clothes pegs would obscure your view of the bow on the strings. At the beginning stages (at least) you need a clear and unobstructed view of your bow angle and position relative to the bridge / of the fingerboard.

A rubber mute will at least quieten you down, and let you conentrate on left-hand technique.

Jim

Offline beeswing

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #5 on: Feb 11, 2011, 03:59:57 PM »
Doesn't get in the way if you clip it on like this:



I think a mute's ill effect on bowing is sometimes overstated. It can preserve the sanity of housemates while one motors the left-hand fingers through the endless reps that build easier intonation. Still, 'tis a good idea not to lose sight of the purpose of a fiddle, which is to make music right out loud. Time spent without a mute on is time well spent.
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Offline Widge

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #6 on: Feb 11, 2011, 08:21:39 PM »
My wife habitually uses a very heavy lead weighted mute when she practices.
Bless her... she thinks that if I have spent the whole day teaching sticky-fingered kids or been slaving away in a six hour rehearsal session the last thing I want is to come home to is her ploughing her way through her beginners books at full tilt.......but I am determined to wean her off this idea, kind as it is!! ;)

The mute has chewed up her bridge but more importantly she has got so used to the muted sound that the 'real' sound intimidates her and she has no control over it.
I myself have a sneaking suspicion that overuse of the mute can actually close up the sound of the instrument in the short term.....at least this has been my experience. I am a big fan of the sliding wire mute which has a certain degree of 'control-ability' in it's design....however, the one or two I have bought recently were a nightmare to fit on (too tight) and the rubber/plastic tubing bit has been stiff and un-malleable so I don't know whats gone wrong with them there.

The little rubber 'tourte' mutes I have dallied with but they never seem to mute enough and can rattle around on the string afterlengths.

On the rare occaisions in my baroque orchestra when mutes are called for (often 'con plumb...'- lit. 'with lead'!!) we have an assortment of leather, brass or wooden 'trident' types which all produce different qualities of sound according to what we are playing.

I have a nice antique solid bodied practice fiddle which I would encourage my wife to use occasionally but she much prefers her heavily muted fiddle.
« Last Edit: Feb 11, 2011, 08:32:42 PM by Widge »

Offline beeswing

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #7 on: Feb 11, 2011, 08:35:59 PM »
Has anyone here tried the Spector mute?



It looks like you may slide it closer to or further from the bridge, but looks easier to snap in between the strings than the wire mutes with the plastic tube. More of a performance mute for altering the tone than a silencer, it seems.
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Offline edbradburn

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #8 on: Feb 15, 2011, 08:11:42 PM »
I have a solid metal mute see link

http://www.geige24.com/shop/opengal.php?ArtNr=183&bild=1&kid=3d39badedf079414ba53c69ca7421456

that is rather good, it damps the tone massively but doesn't wreck it entirely. Just sounds a little weedy and metallic without breaking up. Interestingly, it actually lets me play further away from the bridge than normal.

But it's clearly for high-intensity scale/technique work, not tone, tunes or etudes.

I am currently working on 1+ hours every day at home with the mute and 2+ hours 3x a week at my outside prac room with full-on no-mute violin goodness.

Seems to be a good routine so far but I couldn't give up unmuted prac entirely.

Ideally, I'd be doing 2+ hours daily at home but that'll have to wait for my imminent move to a proper house, fingers crossed.

Fortunately, my wife has 4 budgies so she can't complain about any noise ;-)
Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like the violin. (John Lubbock)

Offline natnot

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #9 on: Feb 15, 2011, 09:14:28 PM »
I have too many mutes - my practice mute arsenal includes metal, rubber, and rubber-coated metal (this being the last one).

The one I use most (by far) is the metal one. It's a bit scary at first because it's so heavy, and I try to be as careful as I can when putting it on/taking it off.

Widge has a good point about it chewing up the bridge though. Might try and find the rubber-coated one (it's around here somewhere... ::)) as it still mutes more than a plain rubber one.

Offline Worldfiddler

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #10 on: Feb 15, 2011, 09:41:42 PM »
I never use a mute (but I woudn't un-recommend it's use). I really just don't like the muted sound. If I have to play quietly I can still do so with very light bow pressure and play nearer the fingerboard. Tone's not much good, but better than nothing.

Difficult to get a 5-string mute anyway.

I wonder if I did a recording without mute, at normal volume, then with mute, then playing quietly - would the sound levels be all that different on a recording (as opposed to live)?

Jim

Offline Chelsea

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #11 on: Feb 16, 2011, 10:50:23 PM »
Thanks for all the info!  So far I have tried the clothes pin trick, which is working.  I'm also learning that it is possible to play quieter than I had been...  :-)   

Offline beeswing

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #12 on: Feb 17, 2011, 12:44:00 AM »
Difficult to get a 5-string mute anyway.
My roommate cuts one end off of an Ultra rubber practice mute to use on her 5-string.
I want to be a musician when I grow up.
Sorry, son, you can't do both.

Offline dermod

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Re: Types of mutes and how to use them
« Reply #13 on: Feb 17, 2011, 05:19:57 PM »
Even better solution.  Don't be embarrassed by the sounds you make when embarking on the noble journey of learning to play.   Learner trombonists are not.   Nor are fledging pianists.   Nor, I can vouch for it, are beginners with a drum kit.    Your friends and neighbours do not know how lucky they are that you decided to take up the fiddle.   

 




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