Menuhin Shield

February 28, 2012 at 02:32 AM · I've been looking for a Menuhin Shield mute for a good couple years now, after a teacher of mine told me to try my best to acquire one for use in orchestral and solo repertoire, but all of the sources I've found on the internet seem to be completely out of stock of them. Does anybody know where to find these things anymore?

I used to use Finissima and Spector mutes, which worked well until I had my bridge shaved slightly to correct the problem of my strings sinking into my bridge; now they have almost no effect on the sound. I've been having to use a round Tourte mute instead, which I am really not happy with but it's the only thing that works with any practicality right now.

Replies (41)

February 28, 2012 at 04:54 PM · A few shops have them stockpiled, and sell them for rather high prices. It might take a bit of leverage to get them to sell them to you even in that case...

I managed to find a couple some years ago, and guard them zealously. :P

I can't imagine though, that this mute would be so difficult to duplicate, if there was enough interest by a manufacturer? I wonder if the design of it is patented?

February 29, 2012 at 04:28 AM · There is an online shop that sells them, but the price is a bit silly for a mute. They're almost as rare as diamonds these days.

I've never actually seen one myself. They're pretty much in the same category as unicorns for me. :(

February 29, 2012 at 05:55 AM · They come in two colors:

Anyone have a friend in manufacturing that wants to produce a similar product? :)

February 29, 2012 at 05:35 PM · A quick Google threw up a source of these mutes near where I live in the UK. Maybe tomorrow I'll track down more.

http://adxserver2.com/acatalog/Violin_Mutes.html

I am surprised there's a problem getting them in the USA - they are as easy to use as the "Tourte" model and the added weight makes them more effective plus they grip the strings so don't rattle.

EDIT: - I see that Momoko Takahashi and I found the same site. Sorry that I failed to check before posting. That Alan Gregory shop is near where I live but I didn't ask yet if they really do have any of these mutes. My usual dealer does not, and thinks he cannot get any now.

March 1, 2012 at 11:22 PM · Orfeo Strings HK seem to have them. They probably can ship it to you. Good luck!

Cheers,

Akiko

March 2, 2012 at 02:58 AM · I contacted Orfeo strings a while back (I did a pretty extensive Google search a couple months ago) and they said that they had run out of Menuhin shield mutes a long time ago.

March 2, 2012 at 10:15 AM · Just got reply from Orfeo Strings. No, it's no longer available. Sorry.

March 2, 2012 at 03:04 PM · Just got a reply from the Alan Gregory shop, cited twice above, and they too don't have these any more and will now correct their website.

PS it looks as if a "Spector" mute might be a good substitute for a "Menuhin". Designed by Fred Spector, it presumably has the convenience of a "Tourte" mute but without that annoying rattle, but I see you tried one already. I never saw one of these. I still have my old "Menuhin".

PPS according to this, (http://www.rebf.org/documents/Instrument_Care.pdf) one should NEVER use a shield mute ! Cannot think why, except that kids might knock over the bridge !!

March 4, 2012 at 09:22 AM · Well, the shield mute SOUNDS great, but you have to be careful taking it on and off. I've seen more than one person chip the top of their bridge off, and or drop it on the instrument and have it slide around, scratching the varnish when they remove it.

For those who just want to jam it on and off and don't want to exercise the caution necessary, there are those cheap rubber ones.

March 17, 2012 at 10:21 PM · Just ordered a "Polly mute" from NSA music supplies... this seems to look like a promising substitute. I'll post a review once I get it.

March 17, 2012 at 10:42 PM · I await your response

March 18, 2012 at 08:05 PM · I have used the Menuhin mute in the past. I found it changed the pitch of the D & A strings when in place on the bridge. This was a very minor but noticeable raising of pitch. It also changed the tone of the violin when resting behind the bridge by slightly dulling the high frequency response of the violin.

In my opinion the mute that changes the tone least, when not in use, is the Beck magnetic. The single hole Tourte mute is also good in this regard.

Cheers Carlo

March 18, 2012 at 08:39 PM · That would only be the case if the distance between your strings behind the bridge did not fall in the range that allows the mute to "float" there. I know some players have strings that are so close together that the Menuhin mute pushes them apart and affects the tuning/sound; in this case they can't use this mute design.

March 18, 2012 at 08:49 PM · @Gene. I don't think that is the reason for the change in pitch. The mute has a lip that fits over the bridge (when in use) which projects very slightly onto the string. This shortens the string length of the D&A strings, raising the pitch when the mute is in place.

Cheers Carlo

March 18, 2012 at 11:08 PM · Why on earth would anyone buy a mute that changes the pitch of their strings? I say give me the old fashioned three-pronged rosewood thing. Buy by the dozen, though, because they're easily lost and even more easily shared.

March 19, 2012 at 12:11 AM · I have a friend in orchestra that claimed that they got theirs from Kamimoto Strings in San Jose, California a few years back.

I tried it out on their violin once, and I have to say that the muting effect is just right for my taste, but I noticed that the windings on their strings were pretty damaged and worn as a result of placing the mute in the inactive position.

March 19, 2012 at 06:48 PM · I guess your mileage may vary. I've not had any pitch issues as a result of using the Menuhin mute on both my violin and viola.

I could see though, if the strings have cut into the bridge (and reduced the contact angle), it could then cause some issues with this mute.

March 23, 2012 at 02:34 AM · The "Polly mute" is quite good, I got mine from NSA music supplies. It's probably the best I've tried (and I've tried all but a few of the ones that are currently commercially available), muting the sound but not making it sound pinched; the overtones are still allowed to ring freely.

March 28, 2012 at 03:19 AM · Polly Mutes are great in that they seem to affect the sound of the instrument the least of any mute I've ever used when they are off the bridge. The main reason for this is that they are soft and do not rattle like so many others, especially the Beck magnetic once they are a few years old. Polly Mutes do not however mute the sound of an instrument a great deal and may disappoint some players as a result.

July 13, 2013 at 06:03 PM · I used to have a Menuhin shield mute many years ago, and I have been searching for another one for many years. It has been my favorite over the years....warm sound, excellent amount of muting, still allows the strings to vibrate. IMHO, the brass circle adds a very nice amount of resonance, while the rest of the mute does what it is supposed to do.

Unfortunately, the owners of the company (and the patent) passed away several years ago, and nobody kept the company open. There is a patent on this mute, which is why nobody has made any copies of these. I went on an international search for one of these, but all of the shops I tried had sold out of them long before.

There really is no difficulty with having them on the instrument. It is not something that you take off and put on the violin, rather something that sits on the strings behind the bridge. I don't know why anyone would say not to ever use one. As with all mutes, you have to be careful how hard you push it forward. Other than that, I can't imagine how people would have chipped the tops of their instruments or their bridges.

I have been using the Spector mute for several years now and am quite happy with it. It has a good tone and works easily and quietly. I do miss my shield mute, however.........

September 17, 2013 at 02:24 PM · I've started making a mute influenced by the Menuhin Shield mute - very similar sound and similar to use. You can see more details here: Swan violin mute - I use it on both my violin and viola.

September 17, 2013 at 02:26 PM · Sorry I seem to have botched that link. Try this:

Swan violin mute

Think I left out the quotes.

September 17, 2013 at 03:49 PM · Amy, I wonder if the Menuhin Mute patent you referred to is still in force, bearing in mind that the life of a patent is normally no more than 20 years from the date of filing of the application. It may be worth checking with the USPTO, or on-line if you have the patent number and the name of the patentee.

September 17, 2013 at 04:58 PM · Mark, your first link for the Swan Mute was the one that worked, not your second, you goose!

September 17, 2013 at 09:29 PM · Mark, that looks fantastic! I just put in an order for one.

September 17, 2013 at 11:21 PM · Mark, it loosk great, can't wait to get my hands on one to try it! Do you ship to the US?

October 4, 2013 at 12:10 AM · On the basis of this discussion I ordered a Swan Mute from Mark and I am very pleased with it. I hope to purchase additional ones for the other violins I play so it will always be "on."

Andy

October 4, 2013 at 05:25 AM · Mr. Andrew, how you would characterize the tone on and off (but still on the strings, of course) vs Spector style mutes? The latter is all I use, but am willing to try a Swan if the tone without the mute on is actually better (and since I was curious about the Menuhin, which I would have acquired would it have been in production.)

Thanks for your opinions as usual.

October 7, 2013 at 04:02 PM · @Andrew as well

How long did yours take to get here? I too ordered one of his mutes because of his thread and seeing how were almost neighbors (San Leandro, CA) there isnt much of a difference in distance.

I wonder how big of an influx of orders Mark has received from when he posted his mute link! Seems like a lot of us are curious about trying his mutes.

EDIT: Thanks Andy for getting back to me, but of course the day I asked is the day it came in the mail! funny how that works.

October 8, 2013 at 08:02 PM · i got the mute a almost 2 weeks ago. i'll leave a detailed review to more experienced users, but what I have been constantly observing is that it raises the pitch of the A and D string. after i put in on, I have to retune down a few notches and retune up when i take it off. I reckon that the distance between the lip of the mute and its groves is a bit too small and it gently lifts the strings when it's on. i'm curious if it's only an isolated problem or if other users have it.

October 9, 2013 at 12:33 AM · My Swan mute arrived within a week of ordering (from UK to northern Calif). I too have been using Spector mutes for the past few years.

I use the Swan mute without placing it over the top of the bridge. I have found that as I slide the mute toward the bridge it dampens the sound very nicely and consistently. I have written to mark about getting some more of them and he has sold out the initial batch of that type. There is another type and I will be getting a few of them to see if they work the same way - apparently they attach to the string afterlength less tightly. I'll let you know if they work the same way.

P.S. (Jan 14, 2014) The new ones work as well for me. Sorry about the delay in getting back to this thred.

Andy

October 10, 2013 at 06:04 PM · Quick question to anyone who bought the swan mute, has anyone's brass(?) disk gotten loose?

Yesterday I was playing with it off the bridge and I got a that terrible noise when somethings loose and noticed the disk almost came off. No worries though, just pushed it back in and all is well. Is that disk supposed to be glued in there?

October 11, 2013 at 06:50 AM · the disk seems glued. mine is still going strong.

December 22, 2013 at 07:52 PM · There are 4 Menuhin Style Shields left. If you have interest search on ebay for item: 261350551354

December 22, 2013 at 08:29 PM · It looks like that eBay listing goes to mutes that claim to be "Menuhin Style". Are these the Swan mutes or has another company jumped on the bandwagon to manufacture a clone? Or are these the original mute designs being re-manufactured?

December 22, 2013 at 09:12 PM · Looks like they're manufacturing a new mute similar to the old one, at a fairly reasonable cost too.

January 14, 2014 at 05:28 PM · Someone in London has now remanufactured these, see link. They are a little spendy (MAP about $23), but consider this: the guy had to settle the patent, reverse engineer and develop the product, and he's not exactly making 10,000 units/hour in China and selling by the gross. We carry them in our shop. Alpine mute website: http://thealpinemuteco.com/

January 14, 2014 at 06:36 PM · Not an unreasonable price at all, that sounds great!

I'll have to direct everyone here in South OC asking about them up to you in Costa Mesa. ;)

January 14, 2014 at 09:01 PM · "settle the patent"

Dan, what did you mean by this? I looked up patents related to Menuhin (not necessarily with his name as an inventor, but related to mutes or violins) on the uspto site some time back, and found 2 or 3. All had expired decades ago. I can't recall the details, and I can't be bothered redoing the work. But no one needs bother about any patent on the original mute. If someone has patented an improvement in the last 20 years, ok, but there's nothing to stop anyone copying the original.

Do the mutes you are talking about have a patent mark on them? This is not required, but it's standard practice as it entitles the patentee to certain extra damages. Also, it's illegal in the US to sell something with a patent number printed on it that is not currently valid.

February 5, 2014 at 12:01 PM · I got some junk mail from The Violin Channel, which, (among other things), says that they are selling the Menuhin Shields.

http://www.theviolinchannelstore.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=menuhin

February 5, 2014 at 01:26 PM · I found this:

http://thealpinemuteco.com

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