If you’ve recently practiced with the mute, you might’ve noticed that your instrument sounds better all of a sudden. Needless to say, that probably left you scratching your head in search of an answer to the conundrum. For all we know, such pondering has led you here, to Music Gear Heads. You’ll be happy to know that you’ve come to the right place because today we’ll try to answer the following question: why does my violin sound better with a mute?
Okay, so what exactly does it mean to play with a mute? If that’s also a mystery to you – good. That’s because we’ll tackle that subject, too. Anyway, stay tuned for some useful information!
The main reason why your violin sounds a bit better with a mute is in the fact that the item in question softens & dampens the overtones. The actual noise that the mute dampens comes as a result of the bow being pulled across the strings. However, one shouldn’t practice frequently with a mute.
You’ll never find out why your violin is able to sound better with a mute by reading just the snippet. Therefore, read the whole thing!
Table of Contents
What are violin mutes?
Let’s tackle the basics first. That being said, it’s only natural to ask: what are violin mutes? Here’s a standard definition.
You’ll want to know that violin mutes are devices that you can attach to the bridge of your violin to dampen its sound. In other words, their mission is to “mute” the sound that’s coming from your instrument. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you’ll play in complete silence since that wouldn’t make much sense, right? Here’s the thing: mutes will only limit the vibrations of the violin bridge, preventing your trusty instrument from resonating and boosting the tone made by the strings.
Also, you’ll want to hear that there are several different types of items in question. Each of the types, of course, serves a specific purpose: for instance, it might be modifying the timber of the instrument or muting the sound as much as possible, or something else. Anyway, we’ll introduce you to the most standard types of violin mutes you’re able to find on the market.
What are the different types of violin mutes?
In this section, we’ll take some time to consider the different types of violin mutes. Anyway, we can differentiate between:
- Traditional violin mutes. Alright, so these babies attach to your violin’s bridge. They’re made from metal, rubber, or even – cork. It’s kinda obvious, but they’re the most popular type of violin mutes.
- Practice violin mutes. These ones are meant to dampen the volume of your instrument without changing your sound. Needless to say, this makes them the ideal option for practicing in places where you don’t want to disturb others, whether we’re talking about your roommates or neighbors, or whoever.
- Clip-on violin mutes. Now, these go on your instrument’s strings (and here’s why are they so expensive). How do they differ from the rest? Well, they’re less intrusive than the rest, and they’re easily removed once you finish the practice session.
- Magnetic mutes. Finally, magnetic mutes are the new kid on the block. In other words, they’ve appeared on the market just recently. Anyway, this type of mute uses magnets to attach to your instrument. As everything that’s new, they’re meant to be easy to use & easily removed. There’s no need to adjust your violin bridge.
Alright, now that we’ve taken care of the basics, let’s jump toward the main section and answer: why does my violin sound better with a mute?
Why does my violin sound better with a mute?
Okay, so some violinists have noticed their instrument somehow sounds better when they’re playing with a mute. Is that something strange or a normal occurrence? Let’s find out!
The reason why your violin sounds better with mute lies in the fact that the item in question dampens the overtones like the noise from the bow. To be precise, this noise that the mute dampens is actually a result of the bow being pulled across the strings. Anyway, with a mute – you get a clearer version of the note, a “purer” sound, so speak. Therefore, you get the idea that playing with a mute actually enhances your skill.
So, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, here’s what’s up: by constantly practicing with a mute, you won’t do yourself a favor. That’s because not a single violinist performs with a mute. A different scenario would be a bit on the absurd side, don’t you think? Anyway, it’s best that you practice in a manner that you perform (without the assistance of a violin mute).
Lastly, keep in mind that a violin mute negates far too many sounds that are absolutely natural & necessary to your playing. All in all: we suggest that you don’t use it frequently when practicing. Speaking of violin practice, here’s whether you should practice with a tuner.
So, now that we’ve dealt with the main issue, let’s tackle some related questions!
How do you practice violin quietly?
Besides using a practice mute (which is not the ideal device to practice without disturbing others), there are some other things you can do to practice your violin quietly. Here we’ll show you some of them.
#1 Practice with an electric violin
That’s right! An electric violin might be just the thing you need if you’ve got easily-agitated neighbors or roommates. An electric violin will enable you to practice your violin in the quietest of manners since you can simply plug your headphones into the instrument. That way, the sound you’ll make will be for your ears only. Keep in mind that your violin will need to possess a pre-amp built into it in order to be connected to the headphones.
#2 Soundproof your practice room
By soundproofing your practice room, you’ll not only prevent your next-door neighbors from constantly knocking on the walls, but you’ll also ensure that your room is safe from outside noise intrusion. A quiet room for practice sounds ideal. Here’s what you can do!
One of the things you can do to soundproof your practice room is to place some heavy objects (bookshelves, anyone?) between your practice space and the wall you share with other occupants or neighbors.
Here’s another suggestion: hang soundproof curtains over the doors and windows of your practice room. They’ll absorb much of the sounds and you won’t have to worry about it leaving your practice room. Additionally, you’re able to find a lot of different patterns and styles on the web, so they can match the atmosphere of your practice room.
Lastly, you could try installing acoustic panels on the wall you share with others or on each wall inside your practice room. They’re fairly easy to install and fantastic at insulating high or low frequencies. Our suggestion is that you soundproof the whole place instead of soundproofing a single shared wall.
#3 Use a silent violin
What’s a silent violin? Well, you’ll want to know that a silent violin is built to produce a quieter sound than a traditional violin. Here’s the thing: it doesn’t possess a resonating chamber. Therefore, with no body noise, you’ll only hear the sound of the bow on the strings. Let’s also mention that a silent violin allows you to connect headphones to it.
All in all: the best thing about this violin type is that you’re able to practice it quietly, while at the same time, you’re able to plug it into an amplifier for performances. However, they are a bit expensive. Speaking of costly instruments, here’s whether expensive guitars stay in tune better than cheaper models.
To reward your patience, we’ve prepared a bonus round of tips. Shall we see them?
What makes a cheap violin sound better?
Guess there’s no need to make an introduction here. Without further ado, let’s see how you can make your instrument sound better!
#1 Don’t hesitate to invest in quality strings
Here’s the thing: most cheap violins you’ll find on the market come with steel core strings that are actually great for beginners since they stay in tune quite easily. However, there’s a downside: they possess a tinny-sounding tone. Our suggestion is that you immediately switch to a set of new synthetic core strings. You’ll notice the difference in sound right away. There are many companies that make budget-friendly synthetic core strings like FIddlershp and their Fiddlerman violin strings.
#2 A different rosin on your bow, anyone?
Just like a new set of quality strings, better bow rosin might have a positive effect on the way your cheap violin sounds. Now, most string manufacturers sell bow rosin to match a specific string set’s tonal values. If the strings you’re sporting don’t have rosin made to go along with them, spend some extra money and upgrade your rosin. Scan the web to find a solution that fits your needs.
#3 Give your violin bow an upgrade
There’s probably no need to underline this, but a good violin bow doesn’t cost as much as a good violin. However, it does make a great difference in sound. Cheaper bows are usually heavier, they’ve got issues with balance, and are not crafted that well. A new bow will make things a lot easier on you and support you on your way to getting an improved sound from your instrument.
Also, if you’re a beginner, you’ll love our piece on how hard you should press violin strings.
Okay, folks, that’s about all on the subject of why is your violin able to sound much better with a mute. As always, we’ve also shown you some additional info closely tied to the main subject of the article. If you’re on the lookout for more tips on violin playing, you’ll want to visit this page.