Everyone knows what a ‘mute’ is used for but few realise the selection of mutes available to the instrumental string player. For images, please click here.
A mute then is a small accessory that attaches to the bridge of an instrument and works by dampening the sound. There two classes of mute, a ‘practice’ mute which makes the sound very quiet so as to not upset the neighbours, and a ‘orchestral’ mute for situations where this is demanded by the score of many classical pieces. Some commonly used mute which are designated (P) for very quiet practice mutes, and (O) for orchestral mutes:
Tourte (O) This mute comes as a shaped or round pattern and is very popular, easily to fit and inexpensive. They are made out of rubber, and simply slipped over the bridge. When not in use, the mute is stored back near the tailpiece, hooked on to the D and A. Glaesel is a similar mute and the Moustro is a novel variation of the Tourte.
Bech magnetic (O) Popular tourte- shaped mute which has a magnetic backing. When not in use it is slipped back to the tailpiece where a metallic clip keeps it firmly in place
Trident mute (O) Shaped like trident and made of ebony, the trident slips over the centre of bridge very easily and quickly. Problem is it can get lost easily too!
Professional Practice mute (P) This is a great mute to use when you want to play quietly without disturbing the neighbours. It is made of nickel-plated brass and quite heavy, so produces a very muted sound, but still clear and crisp. The Artino is very similar but with a rubber coating.
Ultra practice mute (P) Another good practice mute, made of solid rubber to thoroughly dampen the sound, so that you do not disturb your neighbours.
Tonwolf mute (P) an old design which is still popular. Made of nickel and shaped trident-like it is a very effective practice mute which does not affect the instruments intonation. It apparently also suppresses ‘wolf’ notes!
Alpine mute for Violin (O) now available once more. Menuhin style mute with and insert which effectively mutes without altering intonation
Roth Sihon (O/P) damping. The Roth Sihon is a wire mute with rubber coating -it stays on the instrument and slides up to the bridge when needed or down to the tailpiece when not required.