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Old 07-06-2007, 12:39 PM
Jasper Bos Jasper Bos is offline
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Default practice mute and silent practice

Hi,

I would like to start up a thread on how to practice without rattling your neighbours teeth. I read on the internet various options for rubber practice mutes etc, but was wondering what everybody here uses.

I will start myself, if i practice with the bow later at nigth (say after 9 pm) i won't use my regular upright, but switch to electric upright instead. However, this is inconvenient, since my regular upright speaks much faster with the bow. For palying pizzicato, i just put a pillow or two under my endpin and play very soft.

cheers,

Jasper
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Old 05-23-2008, 11:54 AM
Martin Byrne Martin Byrne is offline
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I have an old handmade Brass mute that my Luthier had in the back of his shop. As far as we know, its made from an old world war 1 shell casing and has to be seen and heard to be believed. it looks like a knuckle duster with extra bits on and because of its weight, it really shuts the bass down when placed on the bridge.
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Old 08-10-2008, 05:59 PM
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Ray C. Parrish Ray C. Parrish is offline
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Default Might not be enough....

This might not be enough but when I was playing in orchestra's as a kid, sitting up late night practicing, I would just put a big block of foam up under the strings against the bridge.

Last edited by Ray C. Parrish; 08-10-2008 at 05:59 PM. Reason: missed a comma LOL
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Old 08-11-2008, 02:44 PM
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When I was in school I used to have a small diameter (about 2" dia x 3/4" thick), very heavy steel disc with a slot machined into it. Sort of a small, circular "C" clamp, similar to some that machinists use for setup, but heavier and made just to be a bass mute.

One side of the slot was padded with cork, and there was a padded thumbscrew, tapped into the circular body, that tightened against the bridge. The whole thing was essentially a small, very heavy clamp that didn't vibrate.

Looked sort of like the old Pac Man character from the 80's. The bridge top went into the slot, you tightened the thumbscrew, presto, nearly silent bass. Black anodized, knurled thumbscrew...nicely made.

I gave it away in a fit of generosity and have never found another one. Oh well. If anyone sees one of these, buy it.

I can't even remember where I bought it. Now I use the "Ultra" practice mute, which is not so good, compared to my old mute; the "Ultra" vibrates loose, doesn't mute that well, but is, of course, better than nothing.
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Old 08-13-2008, 11:19 AM
Nick Skelton Nick Skelton is offline
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Default Practise mute.

In my small appartment here(Jakarta) I set about getting a practise rig as last year my chops, as meagre as they were all but disappeared without a bass. Firstly I chose an appartment with the room to bee used on the corner of the building (no shared walls). Next went out and purchased a small piece of foam backed carpet as an offcut. Folded this in four. (four layers thick). Bass endpin sits on that. Brought an ultra mute back with me from US and a Coda Grunberger carbon fiber bow. Lastly set off to get a bass. I had already scoped out that the cost of a plywood bass here would be less than the airline shipping fee, and in the end dragged home a Chinese plywood bass for the princely sum of $400-00. Don't know the make but it was way better than the Cremona that stood next to it in the rack, and played quite well. Pretty much the same quality as the european Lisle bass I started off on. Serviceable tuners and a surprisingly good bag. It has no adjusters though. The shop (the only stockist of basses in town that anyone could direct me to) also sold sporting goods (good selection of golf clubs and treadmills), and high dollar Gibson guitars.
The end result has been that the sound in the room has been pretty good, with no complaints from the neighbours or the building magement. I don't fancy my chances with arco at fff, but for everything else it is serviceable.
I realise that the selection of an appartment is impractical for most, but I feel the folded up carpet, with both the damping and the mass, prevents transmission of some of the bass frequency energy through the floor.
The bass when fitted with a pick up would be great for the high volme blues gigs I used to do back in the USA.
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Old 08-14-2008, 02:24 PM
carlopetro carlopetro is offline
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Default Pics

Can any of you guys post some pics of these mutes?
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Old 09-11-2008, 12:28 PM
Nick Skelton Nick Skelton is offline
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Default Mute Pictures

I am having some camera issues right now but the mute came from Bob Gollihur and there is a picture on his accesory page.
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Old 07-09-2012, 05:37 AM
Bryan Leinwand Bryan Leinwand is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Swanson View Post
When I was in school I used to have a small diameter (about 2" dia x 3/4" thick), very heavy steel disc with a slot machined into it. Sort of a small, circular "C" clamp, similar to some that machinists use for setup, but heavier and made just to be a bass mute.

One side of the slot was padded with cork, and there was a padded thumbscrew, tapped into the circular body, that tightened against the bridge. The whole thing was essentially a small, very heavy clamp that didn't vibrate.

Looked sort of like the old Pac Man character from the 80's. The bridge top went into the slot, you tightened the thumbscrew, presto, nearly silent bass. Black anodized, knurled thumbscrew...nicely made.

I gave it away in a fit of generosity and have never found another one. Oh well. If anyone sees one of these, buy it.

I can't even remember where I bought it. Now I use the "Ultra" practice mute, which is not so good, compared to my old mute; the "Ultra" vibrates loose, doesn't mute that well, but is, of course, better than nothing.

I have that exact mute. I bought it from Fantoni in N.Y. in the late 70's.
I'll dig it out and post a picture when I get a chance.
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  #9  
Old 07-09-2012, 05:49 AM
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Thumbs up Fantoni?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Leinwand View Post
I have that exact mute. I bought it from Fantoni in N.Y. in the late 70's.
I'll dig it out and post a picture when I get a chance.
Fantoni was my Mentor. I think I have one of them too. It's circular, black coloured steel with a round headed screw with a white plastic tip that touches the bridge on one side and the steel of the open jaw on the other. Weighs close to a pound by feel as I've never really weighed it. Maybe I will.

That practice mute cuts at least half the volume off of the bass. One of my basses though was so powerful that from the basement where I practice (when I have a bass at home) woke up my wife two floors up in the bedroom on the other side of the house. Still, the other basses I have had home were on the dead-silent side with this mute on.

So did you go to Fantoni's at 130 w.42nd or his last address at 140 w. 42nd, the next building over where Biase is now?
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Old 07-10-2012, 12:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua phelps View Post
That's insane, I'd like to try it. Hey ken on the subject of mutes I know they make ebony "performance mutes" & my question is when would you use this?
When would you see an Ebony mute? When it says con sordino (or something else depending on the language) and a guy pulls one out of his pocket to put it on because there is no place to put it like with the other rubber or Sihon type mutes that slide on the after lengths of the strings.

I have the brass/steel/clear tube Sihon mute from about 1966. It still works. I also have a rubber Tourte mute as well as a back up. One guy in an Orchestra I play in on occasion uses the ebony mute. He is the busiest guy in the section when mutes go on and off the bridge.

As far as the old steel mute we mentioned above, I got mine from Fantoni in the early 1970s. I would have to ask Biase who has the shop now since around '75 or so if he knows the availability of these.

Maybe I'll bring it in, weigh it and take some pictures as well to post.
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  #11  
Old 07-14-2012, 08:03 AM
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Thomas Erickson Thomas Erickson is offline
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I'm interested in those mutes; I saw one that sounds similar years ago and have never seen them for sale, at least that I noticed anyway.
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  #12  
Old 08-05-2012, 06:03 AM
Bryan Leinwand Bryan Leinwand is offline
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Biase is still around? so long ago I cant remember the adress.

You forgot the cork on the other side. great mute.
Btw, I used to live a block away from you. 7 east 14th street.
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  #13  
Old 08-06-2012, 01:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Leinwand View Post
Biase is still around? so long ago I cant remember the address.

You forgot the cork on the other side. great mute.
Btw, I used to live a block away from you. 7 east 14th street.
Yes, Paul Biase is still around. We call each other on occasion when basses come up and we have questions for each other about them. The address is (message me if you need it) the same building he has always been in. He changed rooms in the building some 20ish years ago but he's still there.

On the Mute, yes, that thin cork padding on the lower mouth of the mute. I was just practising and went from no mute to my rubber Torte mute to the old Steel disc practice mute. The practice mute cut all the lows out of the bass whereas the Tourte just thinned it a bit using the Marconcini bass (aka Scallopini) that I am practising on in the evenings at home to break it back in. The restoration was completed a bit more than a year ago and it's hardly been played on since. With the Tourte mute on it, I think I hear the sound getting pushed back into the bass rather than projecting outwards. That's probably not what's happening but when I use a mute on a bass, it seems smoother and deeper or rather, less highs/treble. The Steel mute takes the bass frequencies away. Just the opposite.
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Old 08-06-2012, 09:51 AM
Eric Hochberg Eric Hochberg is offline
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As I'm getting ready to move into a condo, this discussion is timely for me. Please let us know if you find an available similar mute to the steel one you use, Ken.

Also, if anyone has suggestions for other remedies to keep peace with neighbors, such as decoupling the endpin from the floor, etc. Wondering if a small platform raised with 4 small spikes might help (or will the same energy just go into the floor through the spikes)?

Thanks!

EDIT found some interesting ideas on decoupling here and here.
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Last edited by Eric Hochberg; 08-06-2012 at 10:19 AM.
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  #15  
Old 08-06-2012, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Hochberg View Post
As I'm getting ready to move into a condo, this discussion is timely for me. Please let us know if you find an available similar mute to the steel one you use, Ken.

Also, if anyone has suggestions for other remedies to keep peace with neighbors, such as decoupling the endpin from the floor, etc. Wondering if a small platform raised with 4 small spikes might help (or will the same energy just go into the floor through the spikes)?

Thanks!

EDIT found some interesting ideas on decoupling here and here.
The steel mute I have is basically a pretty looking C-clamp. Try a C-clamp on see what happens. The smaller/heavier the better.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
The steel mute I have is basically a pretty looking C-clamp. Try a C-clamp on see what happens. The smaller/heavier the better.
As I wrote above, I used to have what sounds like one of those Fantoni mutes, back in the late '70's. Gave it to a friend, for reasons I can't recall, and haven't been able to find another one, since.

I have tried c-clamps, since, but none of the ones I have tried are both small enough and heavy enough. Sure wish I could get one of those again.

My "Ultra" practice mute is OK, but it is louder than the Fantoni was and if you really wail, after awhile, it does vibrate loose. Suddenly, you are playing at full throttle. Not so good...
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Last edited by Eric Swanson; 08-10-2012 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 05-18-2016, 04:24 PM
John Cubbage John Cubbage is offline
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A practice mute can be made of any heavy metal and attached to the bridge usually between the strings. David Walter used to have a large practice mute made of solid brass. I once made a few from two 1/4 inch thick aluminum plates with a 1/4 inch thick brass plate in between. It worked O.K. for what it was. I used it for practicing while in motel rooms. One mute went to Dwyght Bryan, Assistant Principal Bass of the Mexico State Orchestra.

I knew Andre Fantoni from back in the late '60s and '70s when he was at #130 and then #140 W. 42 St. NYC. I was told Fantoni retired and moved back to Bologna, Italy. Mr. Fantoni did excellent repairs and re-haired bows very well. He knew a lot of bassists and helped me locate two of my basses, one from Sam Coscia, and one from Mario Polisi through John Schaeffer. Mr. Fantoni was a fine gentleman who enjoyed taking his wife to Metropolitan Opera performances.

Paul Biase joined with Fantoni (1974?) and later took over the shop when Fantoni retired. Paul had been a bassist with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. When he took a leave of absence to work on basses, they got me to be a long term sub for his spot in the bass section (1974). In the late 1970s Paul did a fine repair and adjustments on my P. Pallotta 1790.

- Dr. C.

Last edited by John Cubbage; 05-25-2016 at 11:52 AM. Reason: spelling
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