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Robyn Stirling
Hi all, just a quick question. Where does everyone stand on practice mutes? I was considering getting one for the England workshop for evening practice (possibly wishful thinking:P). Some of them look quite industrial and heavy and I really don't want to damage my bridge.
As ever all advice and comments greatly appreciated.
Robyn Stirling
11 Responses
Posted: April 6, 2017
Last Comment: April 23, 2017

Elke Meier
Posted: April 23, 2017
Barb, there are section in orchestra music that are marked to play with a performance mute (con sordino). That makes the violin section in the orchestra softer so, for example, you can hear a solo instrument better. 

The rubber or heavy metal practice mutes have different purposes:
  • keep your children from waking up
  • prevent yourself from being evicted by your landlord
  • keep peace with your neighbors
  • keep your own sanity, for example during vibrato practice :)

Barb Wimmer
Posted: April 23, 2017
What is the purpose of a mute? Never had one. Does it even sound in performance or just for quiet when needed

Cheryl Frankfurth
Posted: April 22, 2017
Hi Robyn,

I use all three...the heavy metal, the large rubber and the small 'orchestral' rubber mute...i've never noticed any damage to my bridge but they all distort the sound.  I've only been playing a bit over 3 years and joined our local volunteer orchestra so i always have the large rubber mute on at rehearsals so i won't disturb those who play well, but i can still play along to the best of my ability.  The heavy metal actually sounds better but it is heavy and i get tired much more quickly.  If you're looking for something really quiet to play at home i would suggest an inexpensive can find them now for as little as $150 and after a few adjustments from my local luthier, mine sound pretty darn good, if i use the headphones you can barely hear it if you stand next to me.  Good luck

Robyn Stirling
Posted: April 21, 2017
Thanks Simon that would be great though like yourself I've done a bit of research on them and I'm not sure about them but it would be good to try them. Incidently are you offering these because you watched my Simple Gifts video on FB? :P
Joe, my intonation can be pretty poor, especially as I go higher up the fingerboard, so anything that dampens the tone might not be a good idea .

Posted: April 21, 2017
Hi Robyn, I've got a couple of practice mutes that I have to use when the kids are in bed which I'll bring with me so you can borrow and try out, although there should be practice rooms to use rather than practicing in bedrooms. I'd prefer not to use the mutes, but sometimes it's unavoidable.

Joe P
Posted: April 18, 2017
I bought a practice mute before I went to the first Violin Lab workshop way back when.  I tried it once for about 5 minutes and it has never seen the light of day since then.  I suppose if you are very experienced and have mastery of your tone it might be useful for practicing fingering and the like but you completely loose the ability to produce or enhance tone (in my opinion).
I decided that I would never use it unless asked to do so, which has never occurred :-)

Mohammed Hajjar
Posted: April 7, 2017
Robyn, you could use a wooden clothe clipper and just clip it sideways. It's wood, inexpensive and very light

Robyn Stirling
Posted: April 7, 2017
Hi all, thanks for all your help. Diane, I'm in luck with the Tourte mute as I got it with my violin when I bought it. I think I may hold off on a practice mute in case I damage the bridge more due to being a bit clumsy than anything else. After I posted this I did wonder whether  I'd be knackered at the end of each day considering we have an evening jamming session and I think maybe sleep would be the better option.

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: April 6, 2017
Tourte Mute
Hi Robyn.  My husband is a string luthier and he recommends staying away from the heavy rubber or metal mutes.  They can damage the bridge and they put too much weight on the top of the violin…this are is already thin when the maker carves the arching of plates.  Here is a mute that will help. It's on Ebay and it can stay on the violin when it is not in use…it just slides back towards the tailpiece.  We use these in orchestra.  Be aware that you do not want to practice with a mute all the time as this will distort the tone of the violin….you will not hear the ringing of the strings or the notes played.  A practice mute is best made of wood that clips over the top of the bridge…never leave it on the bridge and put it away like this.  It can damage the violins top. 
Here is the one I use in orchestra…from Ebay. It's called a Tourte mute. About $1.25 plus postage.  You probably will not have much time for practice…I have been to two of Beth's wonderful workshops and no time to practice but lots of playing with others and LOTS of music.  Have fun.   Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal
Tourte Original Violin Viola Mute - single 

Lisa, Houston-TX
Posted: April 6, 2017
I have a rubber mute that came with my violin.  It muffles the sound but the volume remains high.  I wouldn't recommend the rubber ones if you need to really lessen the volume.

Elke Meier
Posted: April 6, 2017
I have been using the Artino heavy practice mute for quite some time. It makes the violin sound absolutely terrible (probably like an electric violin without the amplifier), but you won't hear it in the room next door. The metal is plastic covered, and I have not noticed any damage to the bridge nor to the violin. It does create damage, but on another level: It wrecks my bowing/tone production if I use it regularly. But during this last week, for example, what little chance for practice I had was all way after 11 pm. So it is the choice between not practicing at all or using the mute.