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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Homemade mutes

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fiddlenbanjo - Posted - 12/01/2012:  21:14:18

Maybe this thread goes on another board, but does anybody have any homemade mute success stories?  My Ultra finally feel to pieces and the metal one mutes too much.  I've tried clothes pins and other kinds of clamps but they vibrate annoyingly.

Last night I made one from a wine cork.  Not too bad for a first try but I'm afraid I'm gonna cut my finger off if I do it again.

rustycase - Posted - 12/02/2012:  00:06:51

Yah, I just posted a success story in another thread, with pics!

It was a real bonehead move, but I stuffed the corpus of my becker with some packing foam, and it worked very well.

Took a real chance at dislodging the soundpost.  Wasn't the brightest thing I've ever done.  Got it all out, now.

A while back I made a mute from the rubber tube off my old garden Wrist-Rocket slingshot..  put some slices in a string width length and slipped it onto the strings just forward of the bridge...  It didn't work too well.

lol   so don't bother trying those methods!

...actually, for the $4, I'm gonna get me an ultra.




mad baloney - Posted - 12/02/2012:  05:38:29

Strong rare earth magnets work great too

giannaviolins - Posted - 12/02/2012:  06:06:31

Don't keep rare earth magnets around with little kids in the house.

mad baloney - Posted - 12/02/2012:  06:28:56

Why? Are they toxic or are they a choking hazard?

transplant - Posted - 12/02/2012:  06:41:56

It seems that kids swallowing more than one magnet can have problems when the magnets pinch a fold of gut.

If you go with the Ultra rubber mute, I favor using the viola size. It fits a violin, and does a better job of muting, weighing 24 grams instead of 15.4 g.

martynspeck - Posted - 12/02/2012:  06:56:12

Yeah, swallowing one of those magnets isn't a big deal. Two of them can kill you.

They're REALLY strong and can pull each other right through your intestines.

I'm getting the last of the 'Bucky Balls' toys for Christmas. We don't have small kids in the house anymore and it's mostly a cube toy for me.

SamY - Posted - 12/02/2012:  08:27:50

Get some stiff vinyl hose about 1/4" inside diameter from the hardware store. Cut off any length you want, slice it lengthwise, spread it apart into the shape of a "C", and clip onto the bridge. You can put little pieces between the strings, or longer pieces on the sides. The more or longer pieces you apply, the more muting. You can also use vacuum hose from the auto parts store, but it may discolor the bridge.

fiddleplayer2 - Posted - 12/02/2012:  12:00:45

Clothes Pins, simple and cheap! 1 for soft mute 2 for quiet.

modon - Posted - 12/02/2012:  12:14:01

I like the hose idea. I've always used the clothespin tho.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 12/02/2012:  12:37:45

I guess I'm hungry...I read the title of this as "Homemade Donuts". Lol...but as to mutes, I've heard of people folding a dollar bill and stuffing it somewhere to function as a mute that costs only a dollar and a couple f minutes for folding....but I don't remember how exactly it's done. The donuts...I could do right now, and just might!

bigtree - Posted - 12/02/2012:  12:49:55

My dad partially opened a blade on his pocket knife and hung it on the bridge beneath the strings.

dogmageek - Posted - 12/02/2012:  16:26:51

I use two quarters one on each side of the bridge held in place with clothespin. You can add another clothespin on the opposite foot of the bridge.

jeffiddle - Posted - 12/02/2012:  18:42:54

I whittled some of the wood away from the insides of clothespin jaws to make one pinch point at the jaw tips and glued small squares of leather to the tips to reduce slipping around from the vibration. The degree of muting can be changed easily by positioning the clothespin at different locations on the bridge. Overall muting can be reduced by shortening the "handles" of the clothespin, reducing the mass. Sure fits this fiddler's budget and works great!

paulinefiddle - Posted - 12/02/2012:  19:12:48

You guys are so creative.  I'm impressed.

fiddlenbanjo - Posted - 12/02/2012:  20:03:41

Thanks to all. I haven't seen any wooden clothes pins in Japan. Most are cheap plastic and the vibrate too much, but I'll have another look at the Home Center.

wooliver - Posted - 12/03/2012:  06:03:26

i usually line the jaws of the clothes pins with tissue. 

Otherwise i weave a bit of yarn through the strings. (close to the bridge on the bowing side) 

Adjustable. The farther away from the bridge the more it dampens.

Fiddler - Posted - 12/03/2012:  09:04:32

Clothespin was my first mute.

When I was learning and in that "very hard to listen" phase, I was at my folks house and squawking away noisily one Saturday afternoon. My Dad was in the family room watching a ball game. I saw him get up, but thought nothing of it - he's just going off to get a drink or something. I continued scratching away. A moment later he walked in, did not say a word, clamped the clothespin on the bridge and walked out.

He told me later that he learned about his technique when he was growing up in the early 20s.  He then "invited" me in the future to go serenade the cows and chickens or play by the creek. I took the hint. The family joke is that the cows quit giving milk, the chickens quit laying and the fish quit biting.


leemysliwiec - Posted - 12/04/2012:  09:38:25

I once thought that my fiddle needed to be repaired because it often made a sound resembling someone slamming a door or window. My wife said that a mute should solve the problem, and it did. Recently, I've been thinking of muting my fiddle by slipping a Twinkie under the string right in front of the bridge, however the local Quick Mart seems to be out of stock.

fiddlepogo - Posted - 12/04/2012:  23:47:39

I used wooden clothespins back in the early '70s, and was never very impressed with their muting ability.

Those black plastic hobby clamps with orange jaws have good muting and a pleasant muted sound, but the handle sticks out too much and gets in the way of the bow.

I currently use the neodymium magnets, but then, I don't have kids- or grandkids.

It would however be pretty easy to imbed them in two blocks of wood- small enough to fit under the strings, but large enough not to be swallowable by small humans.


Edited by - fiddlepogo on 12/04/2012 23:49:31

fiddlerjoebob - Posted - 12/05/2012:  06:13:25

Pogo, I tried the magnet trick. I like the results but the magnets slowly slide up the bridge and eventually pop off.  Do you have that problem?  

JRice - Posted - 12/23/2012:  18:58:03

Has anyone used the ebony three pronged mutes that go over the bridge? I have. They work well, but will mark the bridge.

sophiabrugman - Posted - 12/26/2012:  11:59:10

how about cotton in the ears?? lol!

fiddlepogo - Posted - 12/26/2012:  21:12:30


Originally posted by fiddlerjoebob

Pogo, I tried the magnet trick. I like the results but the magnets slowly slide up the bridge and eventually pop off.  Do you have that problem?  

I did notice them sliding some, but mostly I've always kept the side of the largest magnet against the bridge coated with masking tape- it improves the sound, makes it less metallic sounding AND mostly stops the sliding.

However, I noticed a problem with the neodymium magnets that was unexpected:

Our apartments have a card-key for the entrances, and I came home Christmas Eve and the card didn't work.

I had had the neodymium magnets on the fiddle at a gig to start, and either when I flipped the fiddle over to put on the chin rest or when I took the magnets off, they must have contacted the key card and erased some crucial magnetic info!  Not good, really not good!

kathyb - Posted - 12/27/2012:  09:50:47

I just started using wooden clothes pins, they certainly do work well for me.  I can still hear the notes, but I can also hear better the squeaks and squawks.  This is good because now I can figure out how to correct my technique without getting distracted by the volume of the notes.  For some reason my bow is also "tracking" less toward the bridge , probably the visual barrier set by the pins (did that make sense?)  It also builds my confidence a bit because I know no one will hear me unless they are less than five feet away, which allows me to apply a bit more pressure, which in turn gives me truer-sounding notes.  As my kids would say, cool!

billkilpatrick - Posted - 12/28/2012:  10:04:17

mutes are interesting - the one i'm using now is a mini-clothes peg that came with an xmas present.  it doesn't smother the sound so much as it integrates a piercing "e" (my sensitive hearing, not the fiddle) with the other strings.  makes the fiddle sound a bit like a medieval instrument as well.  mutes are acceptable on trumpets (horn players use them - miles davis and others) as they should be on fiddles.





rustycase - Posted - 12/30/2012:  12:44:54

Tnx to those who have mentioned the lowly clothespin.

Amazing!  Simply amazing!!!

I don't have any NEED to use a mute, yet I've had great fun experimenting with the clothespin.

It really shows the significance of the bridge, in the function of the instrument.

KnarfEK - Posted - 01/03/2013:  07:23:23


Originally posted by Fiddler

He then "invited" me in the future to go serenade the cows and chickens or play by the creek. 

I picture a country kid with fishing line tied on the tip of his bow jigging the bait while squeaking out a tune.

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