With extended stay-at-home orders, musicians are struggling to practice for fear of disturbing roommates or family members now working from home. I’ve used several different practice mutes over the years and will be suggesting a few that I think work best depending on your instrument and the sound you are looking for.
How Does A Practice Mute Work
Practice mutes are basically some large mass clamped to the bridge to dampen and reduce vibrations, thus offering a muting effect. There are essentially two main effects that a practice mute produces. While at first the instrument may still seem rather loud, the mute cuts down considerably on projection. So if you are in a separate room or apartment, it is unlikely to be loud enough to be disturbing to the other occupants. The ringing qualities and extended overtones are significantly reduced producing a “dry” sound. These are mutes after all.
Recommended Practice Mutes
There are dozens of models on the market, but I’ve found the following mutes to offer a good balance between value, level of muting, and risk of use.
For violin/viola, I highly recommend the Artino practice mute. It offers a tremendous amount of muting with its metal core and hard rubber shell. The rubber protects the bridge and instrument from damage if it is accidentally knocked off. Provides a rather accurate sound, just at lower levels.
Fiddlershop.com carries these gold and nickel plated brass mutes. They offer the most amount of muting but the exposed metal may damage the bridge or instrument if it is knocked off. I only can recommend the metal practice mutes for violin or viola as they are less likely to fall off as the instrument is held in a horizontal position.
For cello, I can only recommend the ULTRA practice mute. It provides sufficient muting for cello without running the risk of falling off as this mute will fully sit on the bridge and maintain a low profile.
Practice mutes are probably some of the most underused accessory. Get one and never worry about disturbing those around you again.