This humble accessory can be used for more than tuning. Make sure to keep your favorite clean mutes in your tuning kit, and keep a few on hand for the dirty jobs, too. Here are a few ways to use a wedge mute to aid your work in the field.
Pedal lift assistant
When you need to engage the pedals without using your feet, insert one or two mutes in the back, under the pedal heel.
Suggestions for when to use this technique:
Setting the height of the damper up-stop rail.
Observing the fore/aft position of a sostenuto rod in relation to the underlever tabs.
Voicing the hammers between the strings in the shift position.
MIND THE GAP
To create clearance for tools and repairs, first take down a little tension on both of the neighboring strings, raise the dampers, then gently splay the strings with two mutes to increase the space between strings.
This is helpful when:
Accessing the damper guide rail installed in the piano.
Working on the tenor bridge and strings situated below the bass strings.
Inserting and removing objects between strings for prepared piano set up and tear down.
Use an upside-down mute to bridge the gap between the tenor strings.
INSTALL A GRAND LYRE
Getting the trapwork out of your way makes grand pedal lyre removal and installation much easier.
Wedge a mute between the shift iron and its guide block.
Place a mute between the damper lever and the bottom of the piano or L- shaped pin.
Place mutes between the sostenuto lever and the bottom of the piano.
Leave no trace
A felt mute erases soft chalk from wood surfaces and removes dirt and debris from other felt surfaces.
Gently erase your chalk markings from the keys and the top of the key up-stop rail.
Use a felt mute on the felt-lined key up-stop rail and the key cover without tearing the wool fibers.
A final thought
You have choices when it comes to buying wedge mutes. I like felt mutes because they tend to stay in place between strings. If I need to shape the tip, or size my mutes with a scissor, I can do that. When my felt mutes become too flexible, I dip them in a hammer lacquer solution to make them rigid again.
I hope you find even more uses for your mighty mute in the future!
By Kate Redding, RPT