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Where Purchased: Mike's Mutes Website
I purchased a Mike's Mute after seeing one of a similar design in use. I was somewhat unhappy with the Gold Tone mute I had purchased when I took up the five string, it didn't reduce the volume enough to be called a "mute".
However, Mike's is very successful on that score: it dramatically reduces the level by twice the the Gold Tone (which constantly shifts, sags, falls off, and de-fuzzes black material onto the instrument). With the new mute, my resonated banjo is now very quiet - more than enough. I can now practice without fear of disturbing neighbors on the other side of my walls.
My only minor complaint, which I can easily rectify, is that the bolts that the knobs screw into are made of plastic. There may be a technical reason, but those mutes of a similar design that I have seen before were of all metal construction. And so, I am a little less confident of the mute's durability than I otherwise would have been. Admittedly, I have not contacted Mike's Mutes to ask why plastic is used instead of steel or brass, and there may yet be a valid reason for it.
I may simply replace the bolts with "Home Depot" equivalents when they eventually wear out or get cross threaded.
Mike's Mutes contacted me today and explained that nylon screws improve the tonal quality of a muted instrument: "I wanted to address your concern about the nylon screws I use on my mutes. I've tried metal screws like the other mute you saw but it added a harshness to the sound. Also the nylon adds a flexibility between the top and legs of the mute which prevents string buzz. One of the major problems the the other mute. In the time I've been producing mutes there has only been one broken bolt that I happily replaced. In that case the mute was dropped.
If you do replace the screws I would be interested in hearing the results. The screw is a 6-32 X 1 1/2 and is available at Lowes or Home Depot."
Overall Rating: 10
'G string intonation' 42 min
'Gold Tone OB-150' 3 hrs