Are you having trouble adjusting the sound of your violin? or do you want to know how to use a violin mute so that you can practice without disturbing others? Whichever the case, this article is meant for you. If you are an instrument lover, you may know the challenges when you want to practice, but the area you are in is not conducive, or you are not comfortable enough to be as loud as the instrument may sound.
Fortunately, there is a way to reduce the sound of a violin and still enjoy its play. This article shall discuss the most useful accessory for all violinists-the violin. In addition to that, we shall describe what a violin mute is, its function, and how you can install it yourself. Let us begin by describing what a violin mute is so that you can get a clearer understanding of this article.
What Is A Violin Mute?
Violin mutes are small, inexpensive devices that you attach to the bridge of a violin to dampen the sound. They ensure silent music playing during practice and add texture to the quality of music you play. Mutes determine the tempo, melody and harmony during violin playing.
If you wonder how they manage to do all that, this is how. Violin mutes limit the vibration of the bridge, thus preventing the instrument from resonating and amplifying the sound produced by the violin strings.
The violin mutes make the sound of a violin mellower, quiet, softer and warmer. They muffle the higher frequencies by adding eight to the bridge. The mass created then absorbs the violin strings' vibrations, thus resulting in sound reduction.
There are different types of violin mutes, each serving different purposes. Some change the timbre while others give you an orchestral mute. Let us now get to the common types of violin mutes, their uses, and pros and cons.
Types Of Violin Practice Mutes
1. Metal Mute
Metal practice mutes are unconventional compared to rubber mutes. Still, they provide maximum sound dampening effects, thus ideal for practicing in an apartment with thin walls or anywhere you may not want to disturb your neighbors. Also, if you have small children and are worried that the violin's sound may affect them while sleeping, metal practice mutes are a great choice.
The metal mute works the same way s a rubber practice mute. It rests on the bridge of the violin to create a dampening sound. It does not give the violin a metallic o tinny timbre but a more substantial volume than the rubber mute.
2. Rubber Mute
The rubber practice mutes are used for sound dampening during practice. The rubber must cover the entire bridge, thus creating more sound dampening effects than the standard mutes. Rubber mutes are the best for violinists who want to silence their instruments to practice. Rubber mutes are not used in performances, and they are only meant for practice.
3. Orchestral Mute
Orchestral mutes are commonly referred to as standard mutes or Tourte mutes. You can find them in round shape or violin shape varieties. Orchestral mutes have two rubber slots that you use to attach the two center strings of the violin in between the tailpiece and the bridge.
When you have attached the orchestral mutes in that position, they can easily move on and off the bridge while remaining attached to the strings. In addition, the position makes it convenient as you can leave the mute attached to the bridge even when you are not using it.
These mute are often us in orchestral music, and they have always marked " con sordino" to mean with mute. If you are a violinist who plays in the orchestra, you will need one of these mutes.
However, it is worth noting that these mutes do not provide a significant difference in volume, so if you are looking for a mute that will not disturb your neighbors while practicing, then you have to choose another one.
4. Brass Mute
Brass mutes are a perfect option for practice mutes. They attenuate sound more than sufficiently. Moreover, they dampen the sound without altering the violin's beautiful tone.
5. Magnetic Mute
A magnetic mute has a close similarity to a torte-style mute. It comes with a small magnetic clip that you attach to the fingerboard of your violin. The fingerboard allows you to store the mute in a secure place even after using it.
If you have a problem with your standard mute constantly falling off your strings, vibrating or rattling during play, then you will need this mute.
How To Use A Violin Mute
a). Pick A Violin Mute To Use
Violin players use different kinds of mutes to achieve different sounds. Therefore, it is important to choose an appropriate violin mute to suit the objectives you want to achieve. For example, if you want to play a mellow sound, you could use practice mutes since they attenuate sound waves more than regular mutes.
If you are sure of the mute you want to use, you can proceed to the next procedure.
b). Clean The Strings
If you have a violin cleaner or a string cleaner, this part will be easier for you. You will have to wipe the strings as you start from the tailpiece and move towards the scroll. If you do not possess a cleaner, you can use a soft fabric and run it along the strings.
Generally speaking, you should do the cleaning the way you clean other instruments. For example, remove the rosin build-up to clean your violin strings, and your bridge will have a smooth surface.
It is important to clean the violin strings before attaching the mute since the rosin usually gets stuck near the bridge area. If there is rosin build-up on the bridge area, your mute may not function properly.
c). Slide Your Mute Beneath The Strings And Attach It To The Bridge
As discussed earlier, there are different types of mutes, and they require different types of installation depending on the shape and the slits of each mute.
Installing a round violin mute
A small round mute has two holes in it; you will see that there are slits connected to these two holes.
Hold your mute with the side of the tabs facing the bridge, and the other should face you.
Use the slits and slide the mute between the two middle strings in the non-playable area. The non-playable area is between the bridge and the tailpiece. You can flip the mute sideways to allow the D and A strings to go inside the two small holes through the slits.
You can also allow the mute to rest there if you are not playing. Then, when you want to start playing, you can use the violin mute by sliding it up the stings toward the scroll. Finish by hooking the top tab part over the bridge.
Installing An Orchestral Violin Mute
An orchestral mute has a slit connected to a single hole in the middle of the mute.
Use the slit to flip the mute. Let the A string go into the center through the slit connected to the hole.
If you want to know how to use the violin mute, you have to slide up the strings towards the scroll and hook the top tab part over the bride.
If you are not playing the violin, you can unhook the mute from the bride and let it dangle on the string.
How To Use A Heavy Mute
If you use a heavy mute, you will have to inspect the curvature and see if one side is taller than the other. Then, place the mute over the bridge with the bigger side above the G string and the smaller side on the E string.
To use the mute, place it over the bridge, and make sure it fits perfectly into the bridge-shaped hole on your practice mute. Then, start playing to confirm if it gives an attenuated muted sound.
Installing A Slide-On Wire Violin Mute
If you use this mute, you might find it complicated at first since it has a wire and a plastic part. The installation is quite easy since you follow the exact procedure as the rest. You have to mount the mute on top of the bridge and slide it below to make it active.
Installing A Metal Practice Mute
Like the mutes we have installed above, a metal mute is also easy to install. But, first, you place it over the bridge. The bridge goes into the space at the center of the mute, and it is parallel to the length o the mute.
Which Is The Best Violin Mute?
To pick the best violin mute, you must know the specific sound you want to achieve from a mute. For example, if you aim to dampen the sound o your instrument to avoid public nuisance, you can choose the rubber practice mutes since it dampens every violin string.
You can go for a standard mute if you want to dampen only one sting to achieve a specific sound. For example, if you want to dampen A and D strings, it is best to go with a round mute.
You can use the slide-on wire mute if you want a slight effect since it has the least dampening effects. And if you are looking at the violin mute brands, you should know that there is no big difference, so you should not spend a lot on a mute.