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Does Using a Mute Hurt Keying in on Intonation
I am trying to hone mybintonation, but also want to use a mute, good or bad idea?
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cid
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January 27, 2019 - 8:26 pm
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I have been working really hard trying to hone my intonation so it is more consistantly accurate. To do this, I am playing ... a LOT. We downsized about 12 years ago. We now have a small ranch. Due to this, limited playing area and heard throughout the house.

I pretty much play in the livingroom. It is the most comfortable place. There is more room to set up a chair, music stand and have proper lighting. My husband never complains about the playing, he is very supportive, but I would really like to not have it so loud when I play, sometimes. I have the rubber mute you put in the bridge and it really does a good job muting. It sounds completely different. 

I have used a tuner to see if the notes change, and I don’t see where they did, but they sound different to me. So, I was wondering, if I key in on how they sound with the mute for intonation, isn’t that going to be an issue with intonation without a mute? If so, I will try to find some place I can do it where it won’t be as loud.

The rooms are rather small. There are no empty rooms. It is freezing cold outside, 8° right now. 

There really isn’t any other place in the house, but is the mute will be an issue, might have to see what I can move. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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damfino
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January 27, 2019 - 8:53 pm
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It did mess me up (with a rubber mute, anyway). I used one once for a week, and when I took it off I could hear how it had messed up my fingering. My teacher let me borrow a metal mute, and I didn't notice the same issue with that. 

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cid
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January 27, 2019 - 9:00 pm
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Was it one of those thin metal ones that I have seen that also fit over the bridge? Did it mute it very much?

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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damfino
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January 27, 2019 - 9:13 pm
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It was similar to this one: https://fiddlershop.com/produc.....ctice-mute

It made it very quiet. She let me borrow it when I had to go on a business trip and would need it in a hotel room.

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cid
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January 27, 2019 - 9:17 pm
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I thought the metal would be too heavy for the bridge and it would also be hard to get in and off without themflexibility of the rubber one. Hmmmm

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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damfino
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January 27, 2019 - 9:42 pm
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I can't speak for all of them, but the one I borrowed slid easily over the bridge and strings. 

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cid
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January 27, 2019 - 9:50 pm
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Will have to check into those. My instructor had a metal one that goes over the bridge. I tried it in class and it muted nicely, but, it is really old. Her grandfather gave it to her when she started violin. She does not know where he got it, understandably. 

Hers is very streamlined. If I recall, it was slring hinged. Probably don’t make them like that any longer.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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bocaholly
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January 28, 2019 - 7:15 am
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I have used both of the mutes damfino mentioned (thick rubber and the Fiddlerman heavy metal) and also have experienced that the metal version:
- mutes better
- influences the pitch less (or not at all.)

I'm quite happy to use it when I need to practice really early or late in the day.

It is a snug fit on my well made bridge (thank you Fiddlershop) so I'm super careful about putting it on and taking it off.

One bonus phenomenon when using the heavy metal mute is that I'm not intimidated by the sheer volume of sound and am more inclined to experiment with big, brave tip to frog bow strokes without cringing 🙂

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Gordon Shumway
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January 28, 2019 - 7:54 am
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Is it possible that it is not the case that the mute harms the instrument's intonation, but that it makes it harder to hear accurately?

Andrew

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cid
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January 28, 2019 - 7:58 am
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@bocaholly That is a good point about being able to experiment with long bow strokes. 

@bocaholly  @damfino  I am concerned about the metal on my bridge, though. I know my rubber one, the one from Fiddlershop, fits snug. I have to wiggle the lttle feet to get my bridge in. I hold the bridge at the bottom when putting it on and taking it off. That is not a negative, people. If it just slips on, it will also just slip off, rattle when vibrating, etc. 

My concern is that the mute will not fit over my bridge and be too tight, will fit too loosely and rattle, will fit too loosely and just fall off and scratch my fiddle, will be too heavy and damage the bridge. I have read these comments on other sites. I have not looked at the comments on this style on Fiddlershop because those comments elsewhere, swayed me away from the metal like these.

What is said here is almost getting me to try it. Man, this is a tough one. I do not fiddle around with my fiddle and don’t want to damage it. 

The problem with many reviews is you don’t know if the it item was used properly, if it was abused, etc. I am positive about the comments from the two of you are accurate. Will have to mull this over.

Thanks for your very helpful comments.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Pat
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January 28, 2019 - 8:15 am
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I practice a lot with the (Fiddlershop) Ultra rubber mute, also for consideration of others in the house, and don't seem to notice it affecting my intonation. I had another rubber Ultra from Shar, but it sat higher on the bridge which made it harder to see the bow on the strings. During lessons I don't use the mute and my teacher said my intonation is fine, for where I am on the learning curve. It sounds different (note color?), but the note is still the same.

The issue I did have, however, was bowing to produce a good tone. My teacher kept telling me to use more pressure on the bow as I was getting a wispy sound. I record my lessons and, upon review, could hear what he was talking about, but when I played it, it sounded just fine. Then my eureka moment was realizing I was unconsciously reproducing the same sound without the mute as I was used to hearing with the mute. And this reflects what I've heard from multiple folk, that you have to practice without the mute to hear what you really sound like. Now when the wife's out of the house, the mute's off and I let it wail!  

Last time I hit the 'shop, I picked up these two mutes also:

https://fiddlershop.com/produc.....iolin-mute

https://fiddlershop.com/produc.....lin-mute-1

Not as fully effective as the rubber or metal mutes, but do take the volume down a tad without effecting the color as much. And you can put them on different parts of the bridge such as around the A or E to reduce the high end more.

We all have to find our own personal method that works and I wish you luck on your search.

Bad times make for good stories.

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cid
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January 28, 2019 - 9:04 am
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Pp@tpquinn  Actually, tourte mutes are really not practice mutes, from what I was told. They, from what I have heard because I do not perform with orchestras or solo, are for changing the flavor of tones when performing. They do not mute much. I have one on my violin because I thought it was a mute mute when I bought it. I could be wrong, but I think that is what they are mainily intenended for. 

If I am wrong, anyone, please correct me so I don’t lead anyone astray. That is what I was told when someone saw it. It does not mute much. They could be used as a mute mute if you don’t need to mute a lot. I just want to give my husband a break and be able to bow normally.

Bowing does seem to be an issue with the mute, doesn’t it? Never thought of that angle. I was thinking intination, only. Another point to ponder.

Thank you for your input and sharing mute experience. Very helpful.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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bocaholly
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January 28, 2019 - 10:09 am
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@cid About that heavy metal mute, I think I should add that it is probably the culprit in a couple of tiny but noticable grazes to the top of my bridge. Maybe avoidable if I were more careful.

I tend to push that metal bridge down snuggly since I rather risk the scratch to my bridge than having the chunk of metal fall off onto the top of my violin (which is a real possibility if it's not sitting properly.)

The heavy metal mute is the best solution I found for those situations where I need to be quiet. (I'v even tried playing with a small towel over the f-holes, tried saran wrapping them 🙂 ) But, in the end, it's probably not the right gadget unless you're willing to see the bridge as replaceable in a pinch.

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Fiddlerman
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January 28, 2019 - 11:05 am
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To the original question on this thread I would say no. However, you do need to hear what you are playing clearly to key in on intonation. So if you have a mute while there are other players or noise in the room or in a hall, then yes, you might not hear what you are playing well enough to focus.

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but the one who needs the least."

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Pat
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January 28, 2019 - 6:03 pm
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Cid, I think you're correct, they are orchestral 'mutes', but an option perhaps.

And Pierre has an excellent point. Practicing in my house with the Ultra, it seems plenty loud, but I had it on at a pub recently and could barely hear what I was playing and certainly no enough to ensure I was in tune.

Bad times make for good stories.

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