Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

40
Fiddle Lovers Online


Discussion Forum

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

 All Forums
 Playing the Fiddle
 Playing Advice
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Mutes and watching the bow (For absolute beginner)


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/54965

AndyW - Posted - 03/24/2021:  01:16:01


Hi everyone. I live in an apartment, and when I bought my fiddle I also purchased a heavy metal mute to save my neighbours and partners ears. It does a great job of cutting down the volume.

The trouble I am finding is that I cannot see the bow on the strings. My bowing seems (going by sound) fine on the G and D strings, but on the A and E strings (particularly the A) things sometimes(but not always) get extremely squealy and scratchy.

Will watching the bow on the strings help me sort out these squeals/scratches. Ie will ditching the mute help me cure them. (If the general answer is yes then will just a few minutes sans mute each practice do the job so as not to annoy the neighbours too much.)

Woodcutter - Posted - 03/24/2021:  03:20:09


First, try playing the 4 strings without a mute --- does the same thing happen? If so it could be a set-up issue or a change in your bowing on A and E relative to G and D (perhaps spending some time playing while looking in a mirror will detect any changes).

When I first started I had similar concerns about the neighbors. Some suggestions. Try to find the area in the apartment where it's least likely it will effect them --- perhaps in a bedroom or bathroom. Are there any other places you could practice; e.g., in a laundry room? Have you talked to the neighbors about it? Perhaps they don't even notice. Or perhaps you could arrange a certain time window so they would at least know you would be done after an hour or whatever.

I'm not a big fan of heavy mutes and IMO a better option is to work on how quietly you can play and still get a good quality sound.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 03/24/2021:  04:05:32


Try one of these mutes. They manage to calm down a violins volume without completely killing the tone. You can also see over them without a problem.  R/westmusic.com/band-orchestra/o...KcZ_D_BwE

pmiller510 - Posted - 03/24/2021:  05:13:28


I would not recommend a mute at all as you are starting out. I did and came to regret it. It definitely allows you to practice more quietly but it affected my understanding of the tone I was producing. A mute caused me to think my tone was better than it was so I didn't work on improving my bowing to get good tone in the first years. The mute made me sound fine when at home practicing, but out in the real world it was harsh and scratchy. I didn't improve my tone until I got a few lessons on bowing and bow hold from an experienced fiddler and quit practicing with a mute. Possibly the problem could be avoided if you are working with an instructor (which I did not) or even just being aware of the potential problem. Anyway, that has been my experience; for what it's worth.

AndyW - Posted - 03/24/2021:  09:51:38


Well just had a practice session. The A and E were hit and miss as usual. Took the mute off and straightaway the sound is sooo much better compared to with the mute. (I've only ever played with the mute on so far). It's pretty loud with that mute off tho, and even hanging pegs off the side of the bridge didn't really quieten things down noticeably.

So I it's just the effect of the mute. Thinking about it, the mute doesn't sit quite right on the bridge, it is tight at one side and not the other (due to the slope/curve of the bridge making the top thinner at one side I imagine) and that might have something to do with it. The mute seems to be in 2 halves attached by some screws so I might be able to disassemble and shim the centre with thin cardboard and hopefully it will sit on the bridge a bit better.

If I can't get the mute working properly I'll just have to quit using it and accept I will be annoying my neighbours a bit.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 03/24/2021:  19:22:58


Looking down at the bow while you’re playing can help you make sure the bow isn’t sliding out of position, but watching your playing in a mirror is better. Every practice room should have a decent mirror. It’s the most underrated tool.

fiddlewood - Posted - 03/24/2021:  20:55:19


Part of playing an instrument is being able to control the dynamics (volume). I suggest, as others have, learning to play quietly and learning your neighbors schedule somewhat.

AndyW - Posted - 03/25/2021:  01:00:29


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

Looking down at the bow while you’re playing can help you make sure the bow isn’t sliding out of position, but watching your playing in a mirror is better. Every practice room should have a decent mirror. It’s the most underrated tool.






Unfortunately we have no large mirrors anywhere.  The irony is last year we were meant to have wardrobes (closets??) delivered which would have been helpful with some large mirrors on the front, but the delivery company couldn't get the order right.



I will be moving to a new house in a few months (which will help solve the neighbour problem), and will ensure that decorating it out includes hanging a couple of big mirrors in rooms where I might practice.

Cyndy - Posted - 03/27/2021:  20:59:04


A reflection in a window works great. And video can be a good way to check out how the bowing is going, too.

I’ve been playing for more than ten years and I am a habitual watcher of where the bow is on the strings. If I were doing things over, I think I would focus on how it feels to move the arm and wrist and fingers effectively, and either play with my eyes closed or play gazing out at whatever was taking my fancy at the moment. I don’t think watching the contact point necessarily hinders my playing, but I don’t think it helps it either. :)

ChickenMan - Posted - 03/28/2021:  05:25:02


The only mirror (and interior door) is in my bathroom. Guess where I practiced a lot in the beginning. ??



You should practice looong slow bows while you're looking in the mirror, keeping the bow in the sweet spot and perpendicular to the strings for maximum tone. 

DougD - Posted - 03/28/2021:  08:51:08


Andy, I'm not sure a heavy metal mute is the best choice. In addition to blocking your view, eventually it may fall off and mar your instrument, especially if it doesn't fit well. Have you tried rubber mutes like the Tourte style? There was also a recent discussiin here of a new mute that looks interesting: fiddlehangout.com/topic/54891

danieljtb - Posted - 03/28/2021:  19:43:16


amazon.com/Catrpilr-Practice-M...07S1CMZJ8



 



I find this mute does a good job ehile msintaining a good tone and a low profile



 



cstapilr mute

AndyW - Posted - 03/30/2021:  11:00:46


Just to update. I have stopped using the heavy mute, and started playing with some pegs hanging off the bridge. It doesn't mute anywhere near as much but at least I'm making an effort. (I'm considering ordering one of those catrpilr mutes, but would have to order from US as not available in UK so lots of postage).



I think I really do need to see the bow on the strings to help me not only keep straight but prevent me 'twisting' the bow and to keep all the hairs on the strings.



Maybe when I've improved some and gotten over the initial beginner stage I will be able to start using the mute again and make things a bit more peaceful for those around me.


Edited by - AndyW on 03/30/2021 11:02:26

ChickenMan - Posted - 03/30/2021:  12:49:52


"twisting" can be helpful if you are finding the bow creeps towards the fingerboard - twisting so you're more on the edge near the fingerboard can provide the tiny leverage needed. It is also a way to alter tone and volume to a degree.

AndyW - Posted - 03/30/2021:  23:56:30


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

"twisting" can be helpful if you are finding the bow creeps towards the fingerboard - twisting so you're more on the edge near the fingerboard can provide the tiny leverage needed. It is also a way to alter tone and volume to a degree.






Thanks.  I guess that's even more reason to be able to see the bow and be able to control exactly what it's doing.  Also tried bowing two strings last night as it looks like I'll need that for tuning and drones at some point. Again, something where I need to physically see the bow in order to learn.

DougD - Posted - 03/31/2021:  02:06:27


I think the catrpilr mute is a relatively new product so its not surprising its not available in the UK. But what about rubber mutes like the Tourte or Ultra? They're only a few dollars. sharmusic.com/Accessories/Mute...-Mute.axd
If you scroll the photos on that page you"ll find a video of different types of mutes that might be helpful.

ChickenMan - Posted - 03/31/2021:  06:46:33


quote:

Originally posted by AndyW

quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

"twisting" can be helpful if you are finding the bow creeps towards the fingerboard - twisting so you're more on the edge near the fingerboard can provide the tiny leverage needed. It is also a way to alter tone and volume to a degree.






Thanks.  I guess that's even more reason to be able to see the bow and be able to control exactly what it's doing.  Also tried bowing two strings last night as it looks like I'll need that for tuning and drones at some point. Again, something where I need to physically see the bow in order to learn.






You need your ears more than your eyes for all that is fiddling, including and especially two strings at once. The one thing (two really) that requires looking, in the beginning, is keeping the bow in the sweet spot and bowing perpendicular to the strings, and a mirror is the best way to ingrain that into your playing. Turn out the lights sometimes and "see" that you don't need your eyes. The sooner you realize that the sooner you can move on to the other minutia that fiddling entails. 

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.046875