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Mutes, what's your experience?
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Gordon Shumway
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August 10, 2019 - 2:26 am
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I've got a selection of practice mutes including the Artino (metal inside, rubber outside, very heavy) which I used to like most, but not so much nowadays. The best seems to be the USA-made Ultra brand, although it's not as heavy as others - random ones I bought from China for pennies. (I used to assume, the heavier the better, but it doesn't seem to work that way)

But I recently bought a selection of orchestral rubber mutes (Tourte 2-string and 1-string versions), and initially they don't seem to attenuate any less than the so-called practice mutes. Again, the good American ones are probably made of slightly softer rubber and this helps them stay on the bridge and not slip off.

I've also got a solid mahogany mute which is a very beautiful object and gives a distinctive beautiful delicate tone but, because it's inflexible, will probably be useless in an orchestra (and it's very sensitive to bridge thickness), and the ones that stay behind your bridge are so much more convenient.

I should have done a fuller appraisal before posting this, I guess. I'd like to hear from you regular orchestral players about what you have used, and what works under fire and what doesn't (lol). Probably in a big group of players it doesn't matter, as everyone gets lost in the mix!

Andrew

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AndrewH
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August 10, 2019 - 3:10 am
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I normally use a basic round Tourte 2-string mute. It gets the job done, but it tends to rattle slightly on the afterlength, so I remove it completely if I know I'm not going to need it before I have a chance to get back to my case.

Once, when I forgot to put the mute back on my viola during a concert intermission, I used the famous/infamous "$1 mute": a dollar bill folded into a thin strip and placed through the strings on the afterlength, and pushed up against the bridge when needed to mute the instrument. It worked surprisingly well, and had a nice velvety sound that I don't really get from the Tourte mute, though you have to really jam it against the bridge for it to work properly. It also shouldn't be used regularly because, if you're not careful with it, you may cause your bridge to start leaning or even knock your bridge over.

I'm planning to buy an Alpine Shield mute, which I've heard good things about from professionals in my area (it doesn't rattle on the afterlength) though I will most likely wait and combine it with my next string order to avoid paying extra for shipping. The Finissima mute similarly avoids rattling, but isn't wide enough to fit on a viola.

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Gordon Shumway
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August 10, 2019 - 4:19 am
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I find the rattling on the afterlength is not a problem for me as long as I keep the mute on the cotton windings. If I let it ride up to the metal, then it is annoying.

Andrew

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AndrewH
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August 10, 2019 - 6:13 am
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It's isn't going to stay on the fabric wrapping in an orchestra setting. It simply isn't. You are not going to keep the instrument on your shoulder without lowering it through an entire concert or rehearsal. If you do, you're asking for repetitive stress injuries.

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cid
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August 10, 2019 - 10:29 am
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I thought those little round tortes that attach onto two strings below the bridge were orchestral mutes and really just dampen a couple strings as the conductor needs it, not actual practice mutes. 

I have the soft rubber, rubber with metal, and I also have handmade leather. The luthier and shop owner of the violin shop I go to makes them. I have one for viola and violin. They all have different strengths of muting. I just use whatever I feel like. 

I do have one of the tortes on my violin. I bought it thinking it was a mute mute. Does not mute like a practice mute. Then it was explained to me. It was only $2 or so, so no biggy.

I used the earplugs I bought from Fiddlershop when I don’t need to actually mute. I don’t want hearing problems later. They are great. The sound is not distorted. They come in that little case and have small and large plugs in it. Can’t remember the name, but if you are interested, that is a description.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Gordon Shumway
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August 10, 2019 - 1:30 pm
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cid said

I thought those little round tortes that attach onto two strings below the bridge were orchestral mutes and really just dampen a couple strings as the conductor needs it, not actual practice mutes. 

Although Tourtes only fix onto two strings (some of them only one string), they actually dampen the bridge, so all 4 strings, not just the strings they are sitting on. In theory they are "orchestral" mutes, but you can use them for practice, unless your neighbours are very sensitive to sound. Some people are disappointed at how little any mute mutes. The name is misleading really. Otoh, you don't expect a trumpet's mute to make a trumpet nearly silent, lol.

I do have one of the tortes on my violin. I bought it thinking it was a mute mute. Does not mute like a practice mute. Then it was explained to me.  

I find it does mute like a practice mute, but I'm going on my memory of what practice mutes sound like, so I could be wrong.

Andrew

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HP
Trondheim, Norway
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August 10, 2019 - 3:32 pm
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I use my Tourte for practice. Works great when I don't really need to mute my violin, but want to spare my ear under practice. It works pretty much as well as my Ultra, maybe a slightly less muting. But it works for my use and it's easier to put on. When I need to mute my violin I use my ebony or brass mute. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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x Coach
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August 10, 2019 - 5:01 pm
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 I have a 2 strIng tourte and a rubber mute and both dampen equally. Andrew is correct, it is impossible to prevent the tourte from sliding down. 

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Gordon Shumway
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August 10, 2019 - 6:20 pm
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The solution may be the violin-shaped 1-hole tourte which my teacher, a violist, uses - the 2-string has big round holes: the 1-string version has a narrow slot that tapers to a point and can be pressed onto the string. An interesting experiment might be to have one on the E string and one on the G string?!

Andrew

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 12, 2019 - 1:58 pm
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I would in the past practice from time to time with my torte mute when my ears were tired. They don't dampen much but it's more agreeable to play with it when practicing for many hours. Especially when you are playing strong and aggressively.
Sometimes you need to slice the rubber on the top of those mutes just a tad bit more for them to sit tighter on the string.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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