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Practicing Fiddle Quietly

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Aug 9, 2020 - 9:46:57 PM
1296 posts since 7/26/2015

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

Aug 10, 2020 - 12:24:14 AM
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2625 posts since 9/13/2009

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

Aug 10, 2020 - 4:52:34 AM
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carlb

USA

2253 posts since 2/2/2008

Aug 10, 2020 - 8:17:45 AM

Viper

USA

228 posts since 1/6/2011

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.

Aug 10, 2020 - 8:36:35 AM

Mobob

USA

139 posts since 10/1/2009

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

Aug 10, 2020 - 10:03:29 AM

11262 posts since 9/23/2009

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

Aug 10, 2020 - 10:28:09 AM
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193 posts since 6/11/2019

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.

Aug 10, 2020 - 11:10:22 AM
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11262 posts since 9/23/2009

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

Aug 10, 2020 - 1:18:24 PM

1296 posts since 7/26/2015

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.


Aug 10, 2020 - 1:37:17 PM

DougD

USA

9768 posts since 12/2/2007
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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.

Aug 10, 2020 - 5:41:07 PM

bf

USA

8 posts since 12/25/2016

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.

Aug 11, 2020 - 4:23:36 AM

8716 posts since 3/19/2009

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

Aug 11, 2020 - 6:30:50 AM

89 posts since 6/8/2020

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.

Aug 11, 2020 - 7:05:02 AM

8716 posts since 3/19/2009

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..

Aug 11, 2020 - 10:49:09 AM

198 posts since 3/1/2020

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.

Aug 11, 2020 - 11:43:37 AM
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3047 posts since 6/21/2007

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.

Aug 11, 2020 - 11:45:43 AM

3047 posts since 6/21/2007

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.

Aug 11, 2020 - 1:56:40 PM

89 posts since 6/8/2020

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.

Aug 11, 2020 - 2:19:31 PM

8716 posts since 3/19/2009

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!!!

Aug 12, 2020 - 3:09:35 PM

Peghead

USA

1578 posts since 1/21/2009

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.

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