Mutes decrease the volume and alter the tone of an acoustic instrument. Violin mutes are typically purely functional, but violins are works of art. We set out to design a mute worthy of companionship with even the most exquisite violin.
This product interfaces with the bridge on the violin. In order to ensure a proper fit with this component, we started by studying the geometry of various bridges and captured this digitally. We created our design variations using this armature to explore forms that we knew would fit.
For a mute to function, it must dampen the vibrational energy created by the strings. The bridge is the component on the violin that transfers this energy to the resonant body that projects these vibrations into the air as sound. Placing a weight on the bridge acts to absorb and dampen this energy before it becomes sound. We started physical prototyping using 3D printing early to determine the fit and function of our designs.
We selected three different material finishes to offer our different aesthetic options and price points. Brass was selected as the base material for its density, flexibility, castability and electro-platability. We decided to utilize a low-volume production method that uses a combination of additive manufacturing, casting, polishing and plating.
Initial user testing indicated that professional violin players need to quickly engage and disengage the mute while playing. To facilitate this, we developed a holster accessory that securely holds the mute and attaches to a portion of the violin that doesn't affect the sound and is easy to access while playing. The design of this holster was refined using iterations of 3D printing.
To meet this need as quickly as possible, we designed and fabricated a four-cavity mold to cast this holster accessory in silicone rubber.