Unless you are a seasoned violinist, there is a good chance you have never heard of a violin mute. However, this little device can work wonders when it comes to your violin game.
Below you will discover exactly what a violin mute is, what it is used for, as well as the top 6 violin mutes for anyone who is aspiring to play this instrument.
Let’s jump right in….
A violin mute is a small accessory that is placed on the bridge of the violin. Generally speaking, the mute is made out of rubber.
However, as long as the vibrations of the bridge are dampened, any type of material will do.
As the name clearly implies, a violin mute lessens the intensity of the sound coming from the violin.
It is actually very common for composers to use violin mutes in their music. Take for instance the Overture to Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev. In the very beginning of the piece, if you listen closely enough, you can tell all the stringed instruments have mutes on them.
Take a listen to it here. www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgUI1J3_qyQ Make sure you pay close attention to how the instruments sound in the very beginning.
Another great piece to listen to is Violin Concerto No. 2. In the beginning of the piece there are no mutes being used. However, as the piece progresses, there are various locations throughout that you can hear a mute begin used.
In particular, mutes are used right around the 6:15 mark. Listen closely and you will notice a big difference in the sound.
You can listen to Violin Concerto No. 2 here. www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKfMA_Vctu8.
What To Look For When Choosing a Mute
When choosing a mute, there are three important factors you should look for. The first one is ease of use.
As you are playing the violin, you need to be able to slide the mute in place, as well as remove it, as quickly as possible.
If the mute is difficult to remove, you won’t be able to play the song the right way.
The second thing you want to look for is the quality of sound. Pay close attention to how the mute affects the sound of your instrument.
If the quality of sound is adversely affected, that means you need to get a different mute.
And last but not least is the aesthetics. Yes, the look of your mute is important. Not as important as ease of use and sound quality, but still important in its own right.
The look and feel of your mute will determine how comfortable you are using it. If you aren’t comfortable with your accessories it will show up in your performance.
Top Six Types of Violin Mutes For The Aspiring Violinist
Now that you understand what a mute is and what its used for, let’s go a little deeper and review the top six violin mutes for aspiring violinists.
- Tourte Shaped Violin/Viola Mute
- Tourte Round Violin Mute
- Ultra Violin Practice Mute
- Metal Violin Practice Mute
- Wire Slide-On Violin Mute
- Finissima Violin Mute
If you are a solo player, or you play in an orchestra, this is a great mute to have in your arsenal. It's made out of black rubber which means you never have to worry about it damaging your strings.
The small nub located at the top of the mute makes it very easy to use, and remove, the mute from the bridge.
When you are not using the mute, you can simply hook it onto the D or A string. This means you never have to take it off the instrument.
Unlike most mutes, this one doesn’t dampen the sound as much as other models. This is in large part due to its shape and size.
This particular mute, as well as the one we just reviewed, are two of the most popular mutes currently on the market.
And just like the Tourte Shaped Violin/Viola Mute, this mute is made out of black rubber which protects the strings from being damaged.
This model is more commonly used in orchestra settings because it is small and very easy to slide into place.
Similar to the mute above, when the Tourte Round is not in use it can be left on the instrument between the A and D strings.
The size and shape of this mute means it does not dampen the sound like other models do.
This mute can best be described as tough and heavy duty. If you are looking for a mute that can drastically dampen the sound, this is the one you want.
It is perfect for those who practice in an apartment, or any space where they do not wish to disturb the people around them.
While this mute is made out of black rubber, it does not have a hook like the previous two models. It instead fits entirely over the bridge.
This means, when the mute is not engaged, it must be removed from the violin. Because the mute has to be completely removed, the Ultra is not recommended for performance settings.
It is best for practice sessions when you can’t make a lot of noise. This is the type of mute you would choose out of necessity and not desire.
To hear the difference between the Tourte and the Ultra, check out this video. www.youtube.com/watch?v=637ttC5hwTo.
This mute pretty much works the exact same way as the Ultra Violin Practice Mute we just reviewed.
There is however one big difference, and that is the tone.
This mute is made out of metal which means the sound can be very muted.
If you want to maintain a clear sound, without disturbing anyone in your home, this mute will help you do that.
As the name states, this mute slides up to the bridge. And because it slides up the bridge, instead of over the bridge, the sound is only muted a little.
This makes it the ideal mute for both orchestra and solo settings.
Be careful with this mute as it uses a spring mechanism to slide up and down the bridge.
If you are too aggressive when sliding the mute, you run the risk of damaging the strings.
The Finissima Violin Mute is perfect for those who enjoy experimenting with different tones. It easily slides up the bridge and can be left on the violin when it is not being used.
This makes it a great option for anyone who plays in an orchestra.
The great thing about the Finissima Violin Mute is that it only puts pressure on the top of the bridge.
Because of this, the overtones that are needed to make beautiful sounds do not get muted. This means you have a lot of freedom to experiment and create something that has never been heard before.
Our Final Thoughts
For the most part, all mutes do the same thing. They help dampen the sound when necessary for certain parts of a composition.
No matter your current skill level, you should always have at least one mute with you at all times. Especially if you play in an orchestra.
And being that mutes tend to easily get misplaced, you might want to purchase several just to be safe.