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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Mutes...I get it now.


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/54774

doryman - Posted - 02/19/2021:  18:14:03


I've been playing the fiddle for about a year now and I have access to two fiddles, neither of which are all that much to write home about. One is a decent student rental fiddle from the local shop and the other one is one of those ubiquitous circa 1940s fiddles that came out Germany and surroundings that I picked up on craigslist for a couple hundred dollars. With both of these fiddles, I like the sound much bettet WITH a mute. It take a little of the harsh edge off, especially the E string, dampens some unpleasant (at least to my ear) overtone thing going on, and makes the fiddle sound much more pleasing.



There has been much discussion about mutes here, and I've read a lot of those threads. Somebody recently said something to the effect of, "If you like the sound of your fiddle more with the mute on than off, maybe it's just that you don't really like the sound of your fiddle." Well, today I bought a new-for-me fiddle from a friend. It's another old German fiddle, much better quality than anything I own, with a sweet sound. I really wasn't expecting to buy it but I was stunned by how much better it sounded than anything I owned. I guess I've been playing long enough to know the difference now. It has a nice clear G string and sweet sounding E. It even sound pretty in the third position, not that I play up there too much at this point. When I brought it home, I slapped on my mute, mostly from force of habit and, much to my shock, it did NOT sound better. Much of that sweetness and clarity was gone. I like it MUCH better without the mute.



So I guess the moral is, when you have a fiddle that doesn't sound all that great, a mute is nice because it makes it sound "not all that great" quieter.


Edited by - doryman on 02/19/2021 18:15:02

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 02/19/2021:  20:05:56


Congratulations on your new fiddle! Always fun to get a new addition. "I promise it's the last one..."

Big slab of rubber mute is good while doing annoying repetitive exercises that I'm sure my wife doesn't enjoy hearing. The drawback is it hides some imperfections in tone that I would like to be able to identify and correct.

Enjoy your new instrument!

kragerin - Posted - 02/19/2021:  20:44:04


Congratulations on your new fiddle!
I'm trying again on my fiddle after having lain it aside for a few years. It's not an easy instrument if you're used to frets. I am making some progress.
As to mutes, I try to practice at the other end of the house and learned the benefit of using the mute when I got tired of dodging my wife's house shoes.

DougBrock - Posted - 02/19/2021:  21:14:24


Mutes are interesting accessories!

I’ve been trying different mutes - a heavy rubber one, a heavy brass one, and two different kinds of small orchestral mutes (Tourte). For me, it was wasn’t a concern of bothering anybody (only wife is at home with me these days, and I live in a house so nobody behind a floor or wall ceiling to be annoyed); it was an effort to take some of the wear and tear off my hearing, having a loud instrument so close to my ear.

The heavy mutes do too much to the sound and I wouldn’t use them unless I was on a trip somewhere. The orchestral mutes are less impactful on tone, but also not as quiet.

I have one violin that is the loudest, but it has the best tone, so I alternate it with other quieter violins, including a Yamaha electric violin and a Glasser Carbon violin (I just got the Glasser today and my first impression of the tone and volume was that it sounded sort of like playing with one of the orchestral mutes.).

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 02/19/2021:  22:38:10


Congrats on the new fiddle! It's a true pleasure when you get a good one. You'll want to play it constantly. You'll get more comfortable. You'll get more flexible and adventurous about what genres & styles you want to tackle. And oh yes, you'll be able to sit on your front porch and play without quite as much embarrassment.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 02/20/2021:  04:56:40


Congrats on your new fiddle! Hope you enjoy playing that.

I find that mutes not only dampen the sound generally, but for me they also suppress the squeaks and squalks I have fought to avoid ... so, sometimes they sound better with the mute until the squeaks leave the scene. Anyway, sounds like you got a fiddle you will love to play, and congrats on that again!

doryman - Posted - 02/20/2021:  08:25:32


quote:

Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

Congrats on the new fiddle! It's a true pleasure when you get a good one. You'll want to play it constantly. You'll get more comfortable. You'll get more flexible and adventurous about what genres & styles you want to tackle. And oh yes, you'll be able to sit on your front porch and play without quite as much embarrassment.






Yes...I can't put the dang thing down!  Also, if I embarrassed easily, I would not have started the fiddle at the age of 60!  

LukeF - Posted - 02/20/2021:  10:13:37


I have a very loud fiddle so I use a mute to lower the volume in order to protect my ears. I gotta believe that the loud volume might cause long term damage to my hearing.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 02/20/2021:  10:41:38


quote:

Originally posted by LukeF

I have a very loud fiddle so I use a mute to lower the volume in order to protect my ears. I gotta believe that the loud volume might cause long term damage to my hearing.






Which reminds me wink...for twenty years we had a large weekly jam in a small room with at least ten people... Once, a musician brought in a db meter and he said that the sound level was a loud as a rock concert, but at the high note lever rather than the low like rock concerts!! ...No wonder I need hearing aids.....

DougD - Posted - 02/20/2021:  11:57:38


A lot of people used to use this type of mute: sharmusic.com/Accessories/Mute...-Mute.axd
I don't know if they're still popular or not. They don't so much deaden the sound as just "take the edge off."

Mobob - Posted - 02/20/2021:  12:25:04


If your main concern is protecting your hearing, I find a flexible foam ear plug in the left ear helps a lot, does more than you might guess without distorting pitch. Good luck.

doryman - Posted - 02/20/2021:  16:04:46


quote:

Originally posted by LukeF

I have a very loud fiddle so I use a mute to lower the volume in order to protect my ears. I gotta believe that the loud volume might cause long term damage to my hearing.






Yes, I agree.  I will continue to use my mute for this exact reason...but it's nice to know that when I take it off, my fiddle will better rather than worse.

BarryPSV - Posted - 03/18/2021:  16:37:14


quote:

Originally posted by Mobob

If your main concern is protecting your hearing, I find a flexible foam ear plug in the left ear helps a lot, does more than you might guess without distorting pitch. Good luck.






Got to a agree with this. I am kinda paranoid about protecting my ears in all kinds of situations, and that includes when I am playing. I too have taken to wearing foam earplugs. However I do think I must have weird ears because it took me a while to find a pair that I was happy with. I ended up buying one of these sample packs - zoomhealth.co.uk/mens-earplugs...ple-pack/ as it contained a load of different types. Eventually, from that pack,  I found a pair that were comfortable enough to wear without irritating my ears. I guess it all comes own to personal preference and trial and error. smiley

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 03/19/2021:  18:33:58


quote:

Originally posted by DougD

A lot of people used to use this type of mute: sharmusic.com/Accessories/Mute...-Mute.axd

I don't know if they're still popular or not. They don't so much deaden the sound as just "take the edge off."






They aren't very popular anymore. They never sounded as good as the older ebony mutes; the advantage was that they were harder to lose. When the Tourte rubber mutes came out, the slide-on mutes faded away from popularity pretty quickly. They worked acceptably but tended to ruin strings. 

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