Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

35
Fiddle Lovers Online


 All Forums
 Playing the Fiddle
 Playing Advice
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Practicing Fiddle Quietly


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/53902

soppinthegravy - Posted - 08/09/2020:  21:46:57


I've noticed that it's fairly easy to practice quietly on banjo, guitar, and mandolin, but not fiddle. Thoughts?

alaskafiddler - Posted - 08/10/2020:  00:24:14


Big heavy mute solves it pretty well; make it quieter than banjo, mando or acoustic guitar.



Other options; solid electric violin;  or a DIY conversion of cheap student fiddle, fill the cavity with foam. Both are pretty quiet acoustically, like an electric guitar; can run it thru headphones for more volume and tone.


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 08/10/2020 00:26:32

carlb - Posted - 08/10/2020:  04:52:34


quote:

Originally posted by alaskafiddler

Big heavy mute solves it pretty well;






Even the rubber ones that fit over the bridge work well though not as muted as the metal ones.



amazon.com/eBoot-Rubber-Violin...amp;psc=1



wwbw.com/Anton-Breton-VP-50-Vi...8QAvD_BwE

Viper - Posted - 08/10/2020:  08:17:45


My only practice time comes late at night when my wife and son are in bed. I used a heavy rubber mute like the one linked above, and it's quiet enough to not wake them.

Mobob - Posted - 08/10/2020:  08:36:35


poor man's mute, wooden clothes pin, spring type

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 08/10/2020:  10:03:29


We live in a very small house and it seems impossible to play ANY instrument quietly in here...lol. I do use the cheap rubber mutes on the fiddles and try to go outside or somewhere as far from where I'm gonna be a nuisance with it as possible. Banjo is really the worst, though...my banjo is really loud...keeps me from playing it enough...don't like to be so loud. I guess if your house is big enough you could find a far off room with doors...that's another problem here...there's no inside doors to speak of either.  It's just hard to practice without bothering somebody else.


Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 08/10/2020 10:04:34

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 08/10/2020:  10:28:09


quote:

Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

We live in a very small house and it seems impossible to play ANY instrument quietly in here...lol. I do use the cheap rubber mutes on the fiddles and try to go outside or somewhere as far from where I'm gonna be a nuisance with it as possible. Banjo is really the worst, though...my banjo is really loud...keeps me from playing it enough...don't like to be so loud. I guess if your house is big enough you could find a far off room with doors...that's another problem here...there's no inside doors to speak of either.  It's just hard to practice without bothering somebody else.






Have you tried the Gold Tone banjo mute?  It really quiets it down, almost sounds like a bare finger-picked guitar.



For fiddle, I use the slab rubber ultra mute for annoying technical exercises, but try to play songs without.  Those big mutes tend to hide the little bow noises that you want to hear in order to eliminate them.  Also, I think being able to play fiddle softly is a skill worth striving for.



I wish I had the extra cash to try one of those "quiet" violins--the ones where you put earbuds on.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 08/10/2020:  11:10:22


No, I haven't. I'll have to look into those mutes. Speaking of being quiet with your music, somebody just parked a car across the road from our house, opened up the hatchback, and was playing a bunch of really bad-sounding, music of some sort, like really loud...lol. I'm like...Oh my gosh...I try to be quiet with my music and then the neighbors just force my nerves with this junk...can't stand it. I'd rather hear a jackhammer all day long...lol. Ugh...really bad music.


Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 08/10/2020 11:11:28

soppinthegravy - Posted - 08/10/2020:  13:18:24


Any suggestions of what make/model of mute to buy?


quote:

Originally posted by alaskafiddler

Big heavy mute solves it pretty well; make it quieter than banjo, mando or acoustic guitar.



Other options; solid electric violin;  or a DIY conversion of cheap student fiddle, fill the cavity with foam. Both are pretty quiet acoustically, like an electric guitar; can run it thru headphones for more volume and tone.






 

DougD - Posted - 08/10/2020:  13:37:17


Why not get the one with the little rabbit on it? swstrings.com/product/accessor...olin/M111
I think that's what Harry Hare uses around the house. They also have them with whales, but I think they're kind of loud in their own environment, compared to bunnies.

bf - Posted - 08/10/2020:  17:41:07


quote:Originally posted by soppinthegravyAny suggestions of what make/model of mute to buy?

I have an Otto Musica Artino violin mute. It is a substantial metal block covered with rubber. Weighty and dampens volume well, soft on the outside so it won’t mark your bridge or gouge your instrument if you have a lapse of carefulness. It does sit high on the bridge though, so if you tend to check your point of contact visually it is an obstruction.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 08/11/2020:  04:23:36


I practice with a smooth dowel rod.. just loud enough for me to hear myself..

Johnbow - Posted - 08/11/2020:  06:30:50


quote:

Originally posted by TuneWeaver

I practice with a smooth dowel rod.. just loud enough for me to hear myself..






Are you serious?  I'd like to hear more about this. Did you create a "frog" at the end - or some other grip?  Is it a hardwood dowel?  i would imagine the tone is quite muted indeed.  Sounds interesting.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 08/11/2020:  07:05:02


quote:

Originally posted by Johnbow

quote:

Originally posted by TuneWeaver

I practice with a smooth dowel rod.. just loud enough for me to hear myself..






Are you serious?  I'd like to hear more about this. Did you create a "frog" at the end - or some other grip?  Is it a hardwood dowel?  i would imagine the tone is quite muted indeed.  Sounds interesting.






There is no magic to it.. I prefer a 1/4 inch Hardwood dowel.. no frog.. If it picks up a little rosin from the strings and starts making too much sound, I just wipe it off well.  Just to work out fingering, sometimes I just use a pencil..!!   I suppose that if you play with Thumb Under Frog, then tape a block of wood to the dowel.. NOTHING is a substitute for a real bow.. I would not recommend using a dowel for long term practice.. You could pick up some bad pressure habits. IMO..

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 08/11/2020:  10:49:09


The rubber and metal practice mutes work well. The metal is quieter as it adds more mass, but it does distort the sound and feel more as well. If you get one, please be very careful—they put very bad dents into tops if they slip off.

If you want something that’s more advanced, the Wiessmeyer & Son Catrpilr practice mutes are a great option for about the same price. They give a clearer sight line and they’re engineered to lower volume but not distort overtones. The use of 3-D printing technology allows them to do something interesting things. I have heard very good things about their Prizma orchestral mutes from customers.

BanjoBrad - Posted - 08/11/2020:  11:43:37


quote:

Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

We live in a very small house and it seems impossible to play ANY instrument quietly in here...lol. I do use the cheap rubber mutes on the fiddles and try to go outside or somewhere as far from where I'm gonna be a nuisance with it as possible. Banjo is really the worst, though...my banjo is really loud...keeps me from playing it enough...don't like to be so loud. I guess if your house is big enough you could find a far off room with doors...that's another problem here...there's no inside doors to speak of either.  It's just hard to practice without bothering somebody else.






Peggy - try stuffing the head of the banjo.  I imagine you play an open-back, since you're not BGy.  You can stuff as much rag as needed between the dowel stick and the bridge and cut down on the volume quite a bit.  I personally like the way my Chuck Lee sounds with a lint-free dust rag folded and fit there, cuts volume, provides some of the "thunk" I prefer from my playing.  More rags, more muting.

BanjoBrad - Posted - 08/11/2020:  11:45:43


My fiddle get used with 2 of those 2-string rubber mutes, and a wire mute behind the bridge as a normal matter. If I need to cut down more, I have a rubber and a heavy metal mute that fit over the bridge that I use for a bit more or quite-a-bit more muting.

Johnbow - Posted - 08/11/2020:  13:56:40


quote:

Originally posted by TuneWeaver

quote:

Originally posted by Johnbow

quote:

Originally posted by TuneWeaver

I practice with a smooth dowel rod.. just loud enough for me to hear myself..






Are you serious?  I'd like to hear more about this. Did you create a "frog" at the end - or some other grip?  Is it a hardwood dowel?  i would imagine the tone is quite muted indeed.  Sounds interesting.






There is no magic to it.. I prefer a 1/4 inch Hardwood dowel.. no frog.. If it picks up a little rosin from the strings and starts making too much sound, I just wipe it off well.  Just to work out fingering, sometimes I just use a pencil..!!   I suppose that if you play with Thumb Under Frog, then tape a block of wood to the dowel.. NOTHING is a substitute for a real bow.. I would not recommend using a dowel for long term practice.. You could pick up some bad pressure habits. IMO..






I do on occasion have need to play quietly.  I like this approach because it doesn't involve using a mute (which I detest), but rather the dowel rod is in essence a less efficient bow - one that won't grab the strings as well.  Now you got me thinking there must be lots of different bow substitutes.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 08/11/2020:  14:19:31


quote:

Originally posted by Johnbow

quote:

Originally posted by TuneWeaver

quote:

Originally posted by Johnbow

quote:

Originally posted by TuneWeaver

I practice with a smooth dowel rod.. just loud enough for me to hear myself..






Are you serious?  I'd like to hear more about this. Did you create a "frog" at the end - or some other grip?  Is it a hardwood dowel?  i would imagine the tone is quite muted indeed.  Sounds interesting.






There is no magic to it.. I prefer a 1/4 inch Hardwood dowel.. no frog.. If it picks up a little rosin from the strings and starts making too much sound, I just wipe it off well.  Just to work out fingering, sometimes I just use a pencil..!!   I suppose that if you play with Thumb Under Frog, then tape a block of wood to the dowel.. NOTHING is a substitute for a real bow.. I would not recommend using a dowel for long term practice.. You could pick up some bad pressure habits. IMO..






I do on occasion have need to play quietly.  I like this approach because it doesn't involve using a mute (which I detest), but rather the dowel rod is in essence a less efficient bow - one that won't grab the strings as well.  Now you got me thinking there must be lots of different bow substitutes.






For an Old Time fiddler like me a pencil works just as well.. I usually only use short bowstrokes!!!



 

Peghead - Posted - 08/12/2020:  15:09:35


In some ways it's harder to do, but it's good practice, kind of like riding a bicycle really slowly. There is a minimal volume required for intonation feedback plus the absence of wide overtones and sympathetic vibration. Also, at the tip of the bow string crossing motions are expanded.

chas5131 - Posted - 10/31/2020:  15:50:58


Have a Yamaha YEV 4 string I use for quiet practice. I usually don't plug it in. When I do I use headphones from a small Yamaha amp.

donRamon - Posted - 10/31/2020:  20:25:14


I heard somewhere that sort of bow substitute is what Paganini used to practice, so if it was good enough for him...

Swing - Posted - 11/01/2020:  05:45:45


If I have to practice quietly I just turn my hearing aids down...works for me

Play Happy

Swing

Mitch Reed - Posted - 01/08/2021:  10:32:01


Check this out: youtube.com/watch?v=Ms5pUWMv4oA
Lots of tips to help you practice quietly.

goatberry_jam - Posted - 01/20/2021:  21:00:25







For an Old Time fiddler like me a pencil works just as well.. I usually only use short bowstrokes!!!



 






I'm intrigued by this. You draw the strings with a pencil? Which way does the eraser point?



I would guess this can be hard on the strings!

fiddlewood - Posted - 01/20/2021:  22:58:27


I usually simply play quieter.

Studying on the dynamics I want is as much of my practice as other aspects of any piece or technique.

For myself, I've found that using crutches doesn't help my advancement as much as actually learning the skill...mileage may vary...

TuneWeaver - Posted - 01/21/2021:  05:39:50


quote:

Originally posted by goatberry_jam






For an Old Time fiddler like me a pencil works just as well.. I usually only use short bowstrokes!!!



 






I'm intrigued by this. You draw the strings with a pencil? Which way does the eraser point?



I would guess this can be hard on the strings!






Just pretend that the pencil is a tiny bow.. The paint on the pencil won't let the strings make much noise ..I use a pencil often when I want to work out finger/bowing patterns where sound is not the important thing.  When I want to work on sound, naturally, I'll wait until I can use a real bow......I don't always have a bow by my computer so if I'm looking at music online, I'll just grab Anything for a moment to get the issue done.



 

indianajones - Posted - 01/21/2021:  14:12:23


I'm gonna throw this out there as an junior fiddler; I have an old bow that most of the time makes almost no sound. It makes enough that I can hear the notes but my wife can only hear a little string noise if she is in the same room. I should call it my wife bow maybe. Sometimes it will make a kinda irritating squeaky sound if the humidity is right. Of course I never rosin it and clean the rosin off my strings if its squeaking. Works for me... and her

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 01/21/2021:  14:22:34


quote:

Originally posted by indianajones

I'm gonna throw this out there as an junior fiddler; I have an old bow that most of the time makes almost no sound. It makes enough that I can hear the notes but my wife can only hear a little string noise if she is in the same room. I should call it my wife bow maybe. Sometimes it will make a kinda irritating squeaky sound if the humidity is right. Of course I never rosin it and clean the rosin off my strings if its squeaking. Works for me... and her






My cheap, thrown-in-with-a-fiddle-purchase bow does indeed draw considerably less volume from the fiddle than my better bows.  A bow with next-to-no rosin quiets the fiddle down, too.  But if you don't use any rosin at all, chances are decent you'll only generate squeaks and hisses.

indianajones - Posted - 01/21/2021:  14:45:06


I was hesitant to post this because I don't know why this bow is quiet. As I said, sometimes it does squeak but it is very old. I wonder if the hairs are worn out and smooth?

ChickenMan - Posted - 01/22/2021:  03:42:46


quote:

Originally posted by indianajones

I was hesitant to post this because I don't know why this bow is quiet. As I said, sometimes it does squeak but it is very old. I wonder if the hairs are worn out and smooth?






Or if it is dirty. It only takes one dirty hand to create a silent spot on a bow, and if it is dirty enough, that will soon transfer to the whole length. 


Edited by - ChickenMan on 01/22/2021 03:42:59

indianajones - Posted - 01/22/2021:  05:51:32


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

quote:

Originally posted by indianajones

I was hesitant to post this because I don't know why this bow is quiet. As I said, sometimes it does squeak but it is very old. I wonder if the hairs are worn out and smooth?






Or if it is dirty. It only takes one dirty hand to create a silent spot on a bow, and if it is dirty enough, that will soon transfer to the whole length.






I have never cleaned it.  Maybe oil from skin?  I think there might be some disagreement about the horse hairs wearing out.  In any case, it works for me to practice quietly without losing the feel of the bow or dinking with mutes.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 01/22/2021:  12:57:18


quote:

Originally posted by indianajones

 I wonder if the hairs are worn out and smooth?






No, that's a myth.



Rosin sticks to hair because of a bond forming between the 2. 

As Chickenman stated, dirt and oils get in the way of bonding ability.



edit to add: One of the problems with over rosining, the nature of rosin, sticky  attraction... also attracts dirt, and any particulates in the air, creates a bit of layers of dirt/rosin, which makes cyclical trying to add new rosin to, or on top of that. As long as there is still plenty of hair, and they are not stretched, gentle cleaning works fine to restore.


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 01/22/2021 13:08:04

jacroom - Posted - 03/14/2021:  17:52:59


I just tried the poor man's mute. A clothes pin. It really cut the volume of my fiddle. Then I put a clothes pin on either side of the bridge. Wow. One or two clothes pins is all a fella would ever need ifin you gotta use a mute.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 03/14/2021:  19:31:43


When I said that I use a pencil for quiet play I meant that I use it for working out bowing direction on tunes I'm trying to learn.. bow length is not as important at that time as is bow direction and getting slurs figured out. Sound is also not very important to me when my focus is 100% on bow usage... Once that is done and my wife is not in the area... I'll switch to a long dowel rod or to a real bow..

fiddlerjoebob - Posted - 03/15/2021:  05:56:53


I understand the need for a fiddle mute; I have a small rubber one, and I now have a cheap electric fiddle for those occasions I where I feel I need to play quietly.

But this thread compels me to add that, finding a regular opportunity to set the sound of your fiddle completely free is liberating, and, I think, essential to developing as a fiddler...especially when starting out. For myself, I never really got the hang of playing the fiddle until I found a place where I could play unimpeded by the notion that other people could hear me, be bothered by or be judging my playing. Once I found that place of solitude, I could play freely, boldy and loudly, a constant experiment in cause and effect of the bow, and I could be fully engaged in that unharnessed sound wherever it took me. I know those early solo sessions would have been sonicly uncomfortable for others, but were essential for my development. I still enjoy finding such places for quality solo time. Mutes have a place in a fiddle case, but don't forget to set your fiddle, and yourself, free!

DougBrock - Posted - 03/15/2021:  09:41:33


quote:

Originally posted by fiddlerjoebob

I understand the need for a fiddle mute; I have a small rubber one, and I now have a cheap electric fiddle for those occasions I where I feel I need to play quietly.



But this thread compels me to add that, finding a regular opportunity to set the sound of your fiddle completely free is liberating, and, I think, essential to developing as a fiddler...especially when starting out. For myself, I never really got the hang of playing the fiddle until I found a place where I could play unimpeded by the notion that other people could hear me, be bothered by or be judging my playing. Once I found that place of solitude, I could play freely, boldy and loudly, a constant experiment in cause and effect of the bow, and I could be fully engaged in that unharnessed sound wherever it took me. I know those early solo sessions would have been sonicly uncomfortable for others, but were essential for my development. I still enjoy finding such places for quality solo time. Mutes have a place in a fiddle case, but don't forget to set your fiddle, and yourself, free!






It's really beautiful when a bow and violin work properly together to create a big wonderful resonant tone. I'm finding that a big part of learning intonation is learning to hear when other strings resonate sympathetically. The resulting sound is bigger than if your finger position is off just a tiny bit, but you probably couldn't get the full effect if you were playing very quietly or with mutes.


Edited by - DougBrock on 03/15/2021 09:42:27

farmerjones - Posted - 03/15/2021:  11:51:01


I don't recommend mutes or playing quietly to early beginners. Playing quietly takes relatively advanced technique. One needs to go out in the woods or woodshed and make your peace with the fiddle. You can't work on tone development impeded. Just find some place where you can go and make as much racket as you need.

That being said, I have used clothespins in hotel rooms.

AndyW - Posted - 03/17/2021:  08:12:37


Since I live in an apartment, I bought a heavy metal rubber covered mute to go with my fiddle. I find it quietens the fiddle down to a level below that of my stuffed banjo.

As an absolute beginner it does annoy me though that it gets in the way of me seeing the bow relative to the bridge. I did try pegs (having found they work on a banjo), but they didn't really quieten things down compared to the mute, so I'm just having to go by sound to tell me if my bow is ok.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

5.078125E-02