Several composers use mutes in their works. One example is Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Overture. All string musicians start with mutes. You can hear this action in this YouTube video.
One more excellent example of the violin mute in use is in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2. Here, violinist David Fyodorovich Oistrakh, starts to play with no mute, but at around 6:15 minutes in he places a mute on the bridge. You can hear the difference in this video.
Here is our 2021 guide to best violin mutes:
- JSI Tourte Shaped mute for violin or viola
- JSI Round Tourte Style Mute for Violin and Small Viola
- Glaesel GL3834 Violin Ultra Practice Mute
- Alexi Strings Heavy Practice Mute for Violin or Viola – Metal
- JSI Wire Slide-On Violin Mute
- Finissima Violin Mute
What should you think about before buying a mute?
First of all, how easy is it to use? Can you quickly insert and remove the mute from the bridge of your violin?
Secondly, how does the mute affect the pitch and tone? Several experiments may be required to gauge which is the best mute for your needs.
Lastly, how does the mute look and feel? The aesthetics may not be the most crucial factor, but if you are uncomfortable with the mute in place, it will be heard in your playing.
Tourte Shaped mute for violin or viola
These mutes are a popular choice for either solo or orchestral playing. As they are made from rubber, these mutes will not cause string damage.
This device is an in-demand mute for both soloists and orchestral players. It is constructed of black rubber that will not damage your strings. A small tag makes these mutes easy to fit and remove. After use, you can hook the mute onto the A or D string ready for the next time. Its shape and size mean these mutes will have a less dampening effect than others.
Round Tourte Style Mute for Violin and Small Viola
The Tourte Round is another popular choice that is constructed from rubber to prevent string damage.
This mute is often used for orchestra playing due to its small size and ease of use. Similarly, it can be stored on the A or D string. And like the Tourte Shaped mute will also have less of a dampening effect.
Glaesel GL3834 Violin Ultra Practice Mute
If you wish to engage stealth mode to practice and not disturb others, this is the mute to buy. It’s a heavy-grade mute that will dampen your violin substantially and ideal for low volume practice.
Rather than fitting around the strings, this mute fits directly onto the bridge. So you will have to remove it entirely from the violin when not in use. Because of its heavy-duty dampening, the Ultra mute is unsuitable in a performance setting.
You can hear the difference the Ultra mute can make in this YouTube video and how to fit the more common mutes.
Alexi Strings Heavy Practice Mute for Violin or Viola – Metal
Similar to the Ultra, this mute works in much the same manner. The most noticeable difference is the resulting tone.
As it is made of metal, typically brass that has been chrome-plated, it is much heavier than a rubber mute. The sound, though heavily muted, retains a crisp tone.
This mute is more pleasing to the ears when you want to go into quiet practice mode.
Wire Slide-On Violin Mute
Sliding up the strings to the bridge like a Tourte mute, this mute model provides only a light muting effect. The Wire Slide-On is therefore ideal for muting while playing solo or in an orchestra.
However, due care is required when fitting this mute. Because of the spring mechanism, it is best not to engage the mute too heavily as this can damage your strings in the process.
Finissima Violin Mute
Violinists who are not averse to experimenting a little with varying tones may be interested in this mute. It gently slides up the strings to the bridge and can remain in place on the violin when not being used. This ability makes it the ideal choice for orchestral playing. Chiefly this is because there is no time-consuming need to remove the mute altogether from the violin, as is the case with other models.
As this mute only applies pressure to the top of the bridge, there is no loss of the overtones necessary to ensure a crisp and beautiful violin sound.
The late world-class violinist, Isaac Stern endorsed this mute, saying in 1997 that he was an enormous enthusiast of the Finissima Artist Mute. He claimed that he did not remove the mute from the first day he put it on his violin. He vowed that it would be a permanent addition to his performance accessories.
Stern called the mute an “extraordinarily wonderful” addition for all string players, particularly those playing in an orchestra. He noted that the muted sound quality was higher than any developed up to that point.
He continued that the Finissima Violin Mute’s speed, ease of use, and comfort made it the most natural accompaniment to good music-making he had witnessed.
If there’s one thing that’s crystal-clear, it is that every violinist should own a mute or two. Mutes are a crucial component of playing in an orchestra, whether you have attained that goal already or are striving towards orchestral playing.
If you want to win a few more friends in the world of string playing, it would be a wise move to have a few spare mutes in your violin case. After all, mutes are easily lost, so it’s handy to have some extra in case you or a friend are caught short.