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Mute rail and other quieting methods
#3039850 10/27/20 09:40 AM
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As I mentioned in another thread my neighbor has begun to complain to me about hearing my piano. I have been playing a grand for 20 years in the same room in my apartment and a vertical for 20 years before that and have only gotten three or four complaints but my neighbor is very upset. I only want to get a hybrid as a last resort since I love playing my M&H BB.

Does anyone have experience with mute rails? I listened to a demonstration of one online and it seemed to quiet the piano to an extreme where there wasn't much tone left. Can the volume when using the mute rail be adjusted at all? Does it basically insert something between the hammers and strings to mute the sound? Thanks.

Re: Mute rail and other quieting methods
pianoloverus #3039919 10/27/20 12:07 PM
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My new(ish) upright has one. I thought it would be nice to play quieter sometimes and not bother my husband. But...it's horrible. It's just a strip of felt that drops down between the hammers and the strings. It makes the piano sound SO bad. I find it completely unusable and haven't bothered with it since the first week. Maybe a thinner cloth would mute the sound without changing it so much...this is my only experience with it so far so I'm not sure if there are better options.


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Re: Mute rail and other quieting methods
pianoloverus #3039940 10/27/20 01:06 PM
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Isn't the mute rail just like using the 'practice pedal' on an upright? (Or the 'soft pedal' on cheap verticals, like the one I learnt on as a kid.)

Once engaged, all you get are dull thuds and something resembling a distant muffled piano sound. OK for learning the notes (assuming you can discern the actual pitch of each note) but useless for anything else.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Mute rail and other quieting methods
pianoloverus #3039952 10/27/20 01:35 PM
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I have a practice pedal. It is horrible. It sounds horrible and it feels horrible. It is practically useless for me unfortunately. I'd really rather not practice.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 10/27/20 01:35 PM.

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Re: Mute rail and other quieting methods
pianoloverus #3039967 10/27/20 02:23 PM
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Yes they call it a practice pedal. I think 'pointless pedal'...or 'pathetic pedal' is more appropriate.

Your description is spot-on bennevis. Dull thuds...distant muffled sound...even tinny somehow, as I recall. In short: it's gross.

And to think - when I was piano shopping, I thought the practice pedal was actually a positive 'feature.' Sigh. Sometimes I do regret not spending a little more and getting a piano with the sostenuto instead.


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Re: Mute rail and other quieting methods
pianoloverus #3039981 10/27/20 03:16 PM
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I'm generally surprised at the amount of people that would expect the practice pedal to still sound and feel good. It's really just for muted practice.

For the most part, I would still consider a mute rail more useful than a sostenuto pedal. I've never had cases where a sostenuto pedal would have been required. On the other hand, there's been countless late nights where I wanted to get a bit of short practice in and not disturb my sleeping wife, and in those cases, a mute pedal/rail is invaluable.

As to the original question though, it's definitely not for regular use. The sound is not good to say the least, the touch is slightly affected, and dynamic control is diminished and inconsistent. Pretty much everything that makes playing an acoustic piano enjoyable is negatively affected.

Re: Mute rail and other quieting methods
rkzhao #3039985 10/27/20 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by rkzhao
As to the original question though, it's definitely not for regular use. The sound is not good to say the least, the touch is slightly affected, and dynamic control is diminished and inconsistent. Pretty much everything that makes playing an acoustic piano enjoyable is negatively affected.
Why is the touch affected? Doesn't the mute rail just insert a piece of fabric between the hammers and strings?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/27/20 03:26 PM.
Re: Mute rail and other quieting methods
pianoloverus #3039986 10/27/20 03:27 PM
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I can feel the felt slightly when the hammer hits the string. It's not a significant effect but it can be noticeable.

Then again, it could just be in my head from the change in audio feedback.

Last edited by rkzhao; 10/27/20 03:29 PM.
Re: Mute rail and other quieting methods
pianoloverus #3039989 10/27/20 03:47 PM
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It's really muffled. It's only for learning the notes.

Previously when I lived in an apartment and practiced the violin, I worked out a deal with my neighbor that I would only practice 3pm-5pm. During that time I can let it rip without a care. At other times they won't hear a peep. It was good for my progress too. Because of the restriction, I really did practice a full 2 hours every day and was focused during the precious time.

Re: Mute rail and other quieting methods
rkzhao #3040030 10/27/20 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by rkzhao
I can feel the felt slightly when the hammer hits the string. It's not a significant effect but it can be noticeable.

Then again, it could just be in my head from the change in audio feedback.

I remembering feeling like it impacted the touch as well.

Doesn't it make sense that it would feel like the touch is impacted, though? Because the felt shortens the distance that the hammer travels, however so slightly.


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Re: Mute rail and other quieting methods
ShiroKuro #3040059 10/27/20 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
I remembering feeling like it impacted the touch as well.

Doesn't it make sense that it would feel like the touch is impacted, though? Because the felt shortens the distance that the hammer travels, however so slightly.
Since the hammer is in free flight before it hits the string I don't think shortening that distance would affect the feel.

Re: Mute rail and other quieting methods
pianoloverus #3040066 10/27/20 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
I remembering feeling like it impacted the touch as well.

Doesn't it make sense that it would feel like the touch is impacted, though? Because the felt shortens the distance that the hammer travels, however so slightly.
Since the hammer is in free flight before it hits the string I don't think shortening that distance would affect the feel.

Logically, I'm thinking the same, but I swear it feels like the action is just less crisp. I wonder if striking the felt instead of the string is affect how the hammer bounces back which then affects the feel of the key at the bottom of the key press.


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