Mutes for bridge-sensitive instruments

March 17, 2019, 3:43 PM · About a year ago, I lost my original Menuhin Shield mute, which I loved, and replaced it with the white model of the Alpine Mute.

I've never really been satisfied with any mute I've used on this violin, though, which is sensitive to the tiniest deflections of bridge replacement, and whose resonance is essentially totally killed when you put a mute on the bridge.

Anyone have a suggestion for a lightweight, easy-to-use mute that is suitable for orchestra as well as solo playing that requires a mute, and that provides muting color without killing the sound?

(My teacher had me try a dollar bill, which is probably actually the most acceptable thing I've tried, but obviously not suitable for performance.)


Replies (5)

Edited: March 17, 2019, 4:04 PM · Have you tried the WMute? Not cheap, but it might work well for you.
March 17, 2019, 4:14 PM · Lydia,
If you still lived in the SF Bay Area, I would loan you my partitioned polyethylene box containing over two dozen different violin mutes. There's something to like about almost all of them, and things to dislike about some of them. That box is a valuable asset. But sorry, you moved.

Anyway, I recently got a couple of the new Weissmeyer 3-position mutes, and I like them a lot. They are clones of the 3-position leather mutes that Weissmeyer has made for years, but they're made with 3D printing technology. I have the leather ones too, and I like the new plastic ones better, I think they'll be more durable, they cost less, and you can have them in a range of colors.

The design allows you to rest the mute on your afterlengths, and slide it up to the bridge for a more subtle effect, or you can place it on top of the bridge for greater effect.

March 17, 2019, 4:39 PM · The Wiessmeyer mutes are awesome, but they are at their best when on the bridge, and they do put a ferocious block on the sound. In a good way, but if you don’t want that, then...

That said, I would try their regular leather mute for elegant tone, and the single-hole Tourte/viol mute for practical orchestra work. I think the latter has some mechanism that allows you to slide it up next to the bridge but not on top. You might even be able to rig that up with the leather one. I hate that kind of thing, so have never used it. But it is worth a try, and when you do put it on top of the bridge, it lets a very clean sound through. Part of that is leaving the after length undisturbed. It is just twice as effective as the cheap rubber Tourtes.

March 17, 2019, 5:18 PM · I'm not sure if I got your point, but think I had a similar feeling about my own violin. After trying several models including the Alpine, what worked best for me was thinning down an ordinary Tourte model to just a little bit more than half thickness. It has lost about 40% of its overall mass that way. Now the tonal color changes with the mute on, but it doesn't sound muffled and still keeps a nice overtone spectrum.
Although it's a minor surgery, I killed one before figuring out how to do it, but since it's not worth a fortune...
March 17, 2019, 5:19 PM · I have been using a 5 cm piece of 6 mm OD plastic tubing for years. Works a charm. For the SI-unit impaired a 2" piece of 1/4" tubing should work just as well. ;)

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