Every violinist needs a violin mute. It is an accessory that suppresses the instrument, so you can practice without disturbing people around you. Plus, you can play with other musicians in the same room once you attach the mute.
Music tutors recommend having several mutes and switch them on your violin, depending on the degree of muting you need. They differ in shape and material, plus many well-known brands offer their designs of customized devices. I will help you pick out among 13 types of violin mutes available on the market.
How to Choose the Violin Mute?
The mute is an essential part of equipment for any string musician. Many composers have especially emphasized sequences played with or without this accessory marked con sordini and senza sordini.
Namely, the player needs to squeeze the violin in some parts of the composition for other instruments to come to the fore. The violin mute is also instrumental if you practice in your apartment and don’t wish to disturb neighbors.
Nowadays, you can find plenty of violin mutes in different shapes, colors, and materials. Some models are specially designed for rehearsal or playing in an orchestra. You can also find those intended for kids with printed motifs from popular cartoons.
When choosing the mute for your instrument, you need to pay attention to three things:
- It is necessary to set or remove the mute from time to time while playing. So, you need the mute that you can attach quickly and effortlessly.
- The quality mute dampens the sound to a greater or lesser extent but doesn’t modify it. If the violin sounds unnatural when you play con sirdini sections, choose another type of mute.
- Pick out the mute whose look suits you. You can have the device you prefer while practicing in privacy, but you need a professional-looking and discreet model for performances.
Types of Violin Mutes
1. Tourte Shaped Violin/Viola Mute
Both professional musicians and amateurs like to use this mute, which bears the name of the famous French bow maker, François Xavier Tourte. You can get it very cheaply for $1 to $5.
This model is light and easy-to-use, so you can quickly take it off the violin bridge when needed. Since it is made of rubber, it won’t damage the strings. However, you can’t mollify the sound as much as you can by using some other models.
2. Tourte Round Violin Mute
Tourte violin mute comes in the round shape with two holes, so players commonly refer to this model as a two-hole mute. It is popular with the orchestra violinists because of its small size and secure attachment.
Although it is made of rubber, this model is not too light. Its weight softens the violin’s sound, so it produces duller tones immediately after attaching.
3. Brass Violin Practice Mute
The metal mute is useful for practicing scales and intonation because it almost wholly mutes and modifies the natural violin’s sound. That is why this type is not handy for serious performances.
Besides, the metal mute doesn’t stand firmly on the bridge like a rubber model, and there is a risk it slides and damages the strings. Plus, it can interfere with the bow movements and ruin the interpretation.
4. Spector Super Sensitive Violin Mute
In the mass of different violin mutes, The Spector super sensitive model stands out as the design of the famous violinist Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fred Spector.
This model is trendy among professional musicians because it can quickly mute particular strings. You can slide it until succeeding to keep down your instrument the way it suits you the most. When you don’t need a mute, you can place it between the A and D strings without interfering with playing.
5. Fiddlerman Iron Violin Practice Mute
In general, it is the mute designed for exercise since it significantly reduces the volume of the violin sound. Thanks to the rubber layer covering the iron core, you can attach it firmly without the fear of damaging the strings.
Plus, this type of practice mute is versatile because you can adjust it to the violin bridge’s thickness. That way, you will manage to damper the sound to the minimum and keep the violin’s natural soft tone at the same time.
6. Ultra-Violin Practice Mute
Unlike most other models, this type of violin mute rests over a complete violin bridge. This feature allows it almost wholly to muffle the violin. Music students often use it in the practice room.
Keep in mind that this model is actually a massive piece of rubber, and it shouldn’t stand on a violin when not in use. That’s why it is impractical to use this model during a performance. Musicians often have it just in case, for rehearsals in a hotel room before the central performance.
7. Ultra-Five Prong Rubber Mute
This massive mute is a lightweight item despite its size. It is almost impossible to use it during performances, but it is widely accepted among musicians for rehearsal. That is one of the most effective mufflers on the market since it can reduce the volume of tones by up to 50%.
In practice, that means you can practice with this mute without disturbing other family members or neighbors. However, those who use it agree that the parts of the composition marked with forte are almost impossible to play without removing this rubber.
8. Finissima Violin Mute
If you want to place the mute on the violin without the necessity of taking it off during the performance, the Finissima model is the right choice. Once set, you can slide it and test the moderation of different strings.
Since it doesn’t put pressure on the whole violin bridge, the sound is softer and more natural than with other mutes. The best recommendation for this model comes from the famous violinist Issac Stern who didn’t remove it off his violin since the first time he attached it.
9. Slide-On Violin Mute
The brass and steel are the main materials used for this type of mute, but they are covered with a layer of rubber to avoid damage to the strings. Many fiddlers use this slide model because it allows for a wide range of tones even though the volume is significantly reduced.
Keep in mind that the intensity of the slide mute damping is moderate, so they are not suitable for exercise in every environment. Some models are also made of wire, but they come with a spring mechanism that can ruin the springs if handled carelessly.
10. Leather Mute
In the 80s, a Canadian musician, Marcel Saint-Cyr, who used leather mutes for years, discovered that they were no longer produced. He refused to switch to rubber alternatives and founded a company that provides the leather mutes for all stringed instruments. This brand also includes engraving custom decorative motifs on the mute at the customer’s request.
The unique design of the leather mute allows the player to choose between two methods of sound dampening. If a violinist places it on the bridge, it will soften the volume just as any regular model. However, if he or she decides to play half a muted manner with the mezzo-piano effect, it will be necessary to slide the mute up, so it only touches the bridge.
11. Caterpillar Shaped Practice Mutes
This model is an excellent sample of modern 3D synthetic mutes that are increasingly popular nowadays. It has the shape of the caterpillar, which is highly practical because its segments force the minimal pressure on the wire.
You can also find 3D mutes in the form of a prism, disk, or dual type. This type of mutes belongs to practice models. That means it significantly attenuates the sound and reduces the quality of overtones without limiting bow movements.
12. Heifetz Violin Mute
This design was created in the 1950s, especially for the Russian violinist Jascha Heifetz. Once a player places a dumper on the violin, he can move it up and down to determine the dampening degree. The metal part of the mute creates pressure on the strings.
However, this model is not suitable for exercise since it can’t mutter sound enough, even with the strongest pressure. Its primary role is to be used at symphony concerts when other instruments need to come to the fore.
13. Bech Magnetic Mute
What sets this model apart from others is the magnet that holds it on the violin tail while the pianist plays senza sordini sequences. That way, you don’t have to look for the mute in the violin box or risk leaving it aside and forgetting.
In addition to the magnet, this mute also contains a thick layer of quality rubber, which prevents it from slipping or damaging the strings. Even though it is not as strong mutter as other models, you can use it for both rehearsals and performances.
The violin mute is essential for every musician. There are many types of this accessory, which differ in material, degree of sound compression, and design. Which model you choose depends on your preferences and whether you need it for rehearsals or performances.