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String Mutes?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by LegChai, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. LegChai


    Dec 7, 2011
    I know that a lot of old basses used to come stock with some sort of string dampening contraption and that most players don't like them and take them off.

    Does anybody here have experience with actually using them on a bass. How do you like it? What are they good for? Do they interact differently with different types of strings (roundwounds, flatwounds, tapewounds)? Are there any good recorded examples of string mutes in action?

    Does anyone make string mutes that I could add to my 80s Fender Jazz Bass Special?

  2. LegChai


    Dec 7, 2011
    Bump bumpity bump bump...

    ...bump bump.

    (Sung to the tune of "Shave & A Haircut")
  3. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Do a search. There has been a lot of discussion on string mutes. Lots of people like myself just use a piece of dense weather stripping foam underneath the strings at the bridge. Good for flats or rounds, but best IMO on flats.
  4. Foamy


    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    Scrunci hair tie. I think I spelled it correctly. Pronounced scrunchy. Get them at Target, WalMart, etc. put it on over the headstock. When you need it, slide it over the nut Good luck.
  5. xepher2792


    Oct 7, 2011
    Ventura CA
    Wouldn't the hair tie only mute when playing open notes?
    I know in another thread somebody posted a link to a device that you could attach under your strings and it would give you the option to raise and lower the mutes.
    You should be able to find it through some searching.

    Edit: Found it http://www.bassmute.com/bassmute/bm_mainframe.html
    Somebody was saying they were having trouble contacting him, I don't know if they ever did but it's worth a shot
  6. LegChai


    Dec 7, 2011
    Hey. Thanks for the response. I have been prowling around the boards here, and I have found some useful info since I originally posted. This has resulted in me currently having some sponge jammed under my strings at the bridge. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that James Jamerson and Carol Kaye both used this method. I think mine needs a little work (better foam, sharper cutting instrument), but I have noticed a little more "thunk" in the sound.

    Since my initial post, I've found a lot of threads with people who seem to already know about muting recommending different methods, but I was trying to actually get some opinions on whether people like them, why they're typically removed from bassed, how well they work, are there problems with them I should know about, etc. I am primarily a guitarist, and I'm just now starting to get more into bass. I'm gradually playing more like a bassist and less like a guitar player who happens to be holding a bass, and I've started chasing a particular sound. But I'm still ignorant about a lot of things that are sort of exclusive to the realm of bass guitars.

    So if anyone wants to post their person opinions and experience with string mutes, that would be incredibly useful.

    Thanks, and happy whatever-you-celebrate!
  7. I've been using the BassMute from The Netherlands on my MIM Jazz V (I have not been able to reach the company lately however). I love it for a lot of things; using a pick while using the mutes means I can pick wherever I wish (instead of having to use my palm on the bridge). I can get something closer to the sound of an upright bass (CLOSER, not "convincing").

    When you use mutes, remember that there's a balance (or a compromise?) to be achieved; the farther away from the bridge you mute, the sharper your notes will sound, and the closer to the bridge you mute, the less "muting" will actually happen, since the strings don't vibrate as much at the bridge. So not-too-close and not-too-snug would be a good starting point.
  8. Don't get into a technical dither about this. Take a chunk of weatherstripping foam and slide it between the body and the strings.

    I still have the original foam from the bridge cover on my '63P and that's all it was - a strip of foam about 3/4 of an inch wide glued on the underside of the bridge cover, pressing on the strings. It didn't press all that hard.
  9. fourfinger

    fourfinger Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2003
    Central Ohio
    To upgrade from the sponge, you might try experimenting with the firmest large-hole (lots of air) foam rubber you can find in varying thicknesses. I am using the foam from inside an EV Microphone box. It works better on some basses than others because I can't vary the thickness and width easily.

    I would love to get the original mute assembly for my MM Cutlass II (just like Sabre) bridge; the pressure of the foam can be adjusted using thumbscrews for each string. Too much pressure, and the sustain drops out; too little and it does no good; Goldiloks just-right and the sustain (mostly) remains but the overtones are gone.
  10. I wouldn't, except that I need to have the ability to switch from muted to unmuted quickly (hence the need/desire for the BassMute), and I don't want to dink with it every time I go for the muted sound. So I had to come up with a strategy for finding the sound I wanted. Granted, it's pretty much common sense and physics, but sometimes it's good to see that printed in front of you...
  11. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    I cut four pieces of dense foam to fit underneath the strings, close to the bridge. As each string has its own piece of foam, interaction via the foam doesn't occur. I used them a lot when I was still learning. Nowadays I only use them occasionally, to make the d'Addario Chromes sound a little more dull.
  12. Bassplayer222


    Jul 21, 2011
    I want to know where to get a rickenbacker style mute
  13. I haven't used the bassmute, but why not? I have used the P with foam, and I have a Univox with a flip-up mute that just puts a rubber strip against the strings. The bassmute can be flipped on and off, so it ought to work.

    It really boils down to a very simple principle: touch the strings with something flexible that damps vibration.

    Carole King used a fabric strip woven through the strings. Leo used foam strips. Univox, Gibson and others have had various kinds of flip-on or slide-on mutes.
  14. Well DUUUU!!
    The guy who said to use a Scrunchi at the nut obviously only plays open notes.
    So all four would be dampened, unless that is, he has a five
  15. dmk


    Jan 8, 2005
    San Diego, CA
    I use them on my Fender '58 CS Precision and on my Classic Stingray. They get rid of some of the annoying overtones that you don't realize are there unless you're using mutes. The foam under the bridge cover of the Precision does decrease the sustain somewhat, but the Stingray mutes can be adjusted to get just the right amount of thump, but not lose sustain. As you can tell, I'm a big fan of mutes.
  16. I have an Epiphone Rivoli that does the same thing. Big fan. :)

    I wish I could find another BassMute! The company won't respond to emails or phone calls...
  17. jj4001


    Dec 27, 2010
    Providence, RI
    I just got a new Rick with the string mute intact. The one I've been beating on for years didn't come to me with foam in there.

    All I can say is wow. It's opened up so many possibilities. After messing around with it, it seems like I have to exert so much less energy on muting the overtones with my hands. This is gonna be so helpful playing music that has plenty of space in it.
  18. Came stock on my 4001 Ric. It does eliminate the need for muting, but it also eliminates all of your sustain, in doing so. Some Ric owners are removing the dampener and installing a third pick-up in it's place. I'm not aware of an off-the-shelf Ric type dampener. The weatherstripping foam would seem to be a good solution to me, so long as you cut and place it nicely - doesn't seem it would be too unsightly. I do like the idea of the hair tie over the nut, though. It wouldn't kill your sustain, but it would stop open strings from ringing. Seems to me this could be a good fix for more complex stuff, when you just don't have enough digits to mute and play at the same time. I'm going to try it.
    DEMS854 likes this.
  19. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    I have tried about everything, and finally settled on a silk scarf slid under the strings. It only takes about 10 seconds to slide it under, and about 1/4 second to take it back out, and it mutes as well as Carol Kaye's felt did, but not quite as well as Jamerson's sponge did. It is, however, a ton more versatile.
  20. Here's a shot of the bridge and mute on the Univox...the lever is on the top side of the bridge, and the mute is the black strip of rubber in front of the bridge. (I had this as my computer desktop for a while and this is a screen grab.)


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