The NordyMute is a great add-on to most any bass. Players looking for an old-school Motown vibe or a pseudo-upright tone will be quite pleased with what this mute can deliver.
The mutes are made out of exotic and domestic hardwoods (Maple, Walnut, Wenge and Rosewood) and fitted with a high quality foam. They are sharp looking and laser-etched with the mute's string spacing and the Nordstrand logo.
STRING SPACING AT THE BRIDGE:
When purchasing a NordyMute, a player needs to get a mute that is correct for their bass's bridge spacing.
HOW TO MEASURE STRING SPACING AT THE BRIDGE:
Measuring the string spacing at the bridge is pretty easy. You'll need a ruler, tape measure or micrometer. Most desk rulers have metric measurement, and that is typically what I grab to get the numbers. Below, I will explain/show how to do this for a four string bass:
- Start with an intonated bass
- Lay a ruler across the strings at the bridge so that it is perpendicular to the to the lie of the strings (or center line of the bass)
- Position the ruler so that you are measuring directly over the G string saddle
- Measure from the center of the G string to the center of the E string
- Do not tilt the ruler to measure from the G saddle to the E saddle. The ruler will be over the G saddle but in front of the E saddle, if your intonation is setup correctly
- Divide that measurement by 3 (we have 3 spaces on a 4 string bass)
- The result is your bridge spacing
Tip: Rather than starting your measurement from the end of your ruler, choose a round number on your ruler some distance in from the edge to get more acccurate results. Below I use the 50mm and the 1" marks to start my measurement. I can then set the ruler on the strings without it tipping off the edge.
Metric measurement = 57mm from G to E strings (19mm Bridge Spacing)
Imperial measurement = 2.25" from G to E strings (19mm Bridge Spacing)
Some quick measurement guides:
4 String - If your total string spacing (measured from G to E) is:
57mm (2.25"), then you need a mute for 19mm spacing.
60mm (2.36"), then you need a mute for 20mm spacing. This is a common size for vintage instruments
5 String - If your total string spacing (measured from G to B) is:
72.8mm (2.87"), then you need a mute for 18.2mm spacing. This is a common Fender® size. If you have a Fender®, still take the measurement.
76mm (3"), then you need a mute for 19mm spacing.
80mm (3.15"), then you need a mute for 20mm spacing
Some bridges are more compatible than others with the NordyMute. Let's take a look at 3 different Hipshot designs that largely represent the bulk of bridge styles as it pertains to fitting the mute.
1 - Hipshot Vintage Style
2 - Hipshot A Style
3 - Hipshot B Style
1 - The first bridge, which is Hipshot's Vintage Style Bridge, is the most common bridge style. The majority of basses on the market today have a bridge that shares the qualities that we are concerned with - there are no sidewalls between the saddles or at the edges of the bridge plate. This type of bridge is easily compatible with the NordyMute.
2 - Bridges that have sidewalls on the outside of the bridge AND in between the saddles (as found on Hipshot A Style Bass Bridge pictured above) hamper the mute from being positioned close enough to the saddles. Typically, we can't slide the mute back far enough. These bridges are not compatible with the NordyMute. *A caveat is necessary here: If your bridge has been mounted in a way that positions the G saddle very forward (immediately at the front edge of the baseplate), the mute may work fine.
3 - If a bridge has sidewalls at the outside perimeter of the bridge, but not in between the saddles (as found on Hipshot B Style or Gotoh 303 bridges), there is a fairly easy fix - We can trim down the outside edge of the foam on the bridge to allow the mute to clear the sidewalls of the bridge as shown in the following picture.
POSITIONING THE NORDYMUTE:
To get the most out of the mute, it should be located quite close to the exact string spacing of the mute as mentioned above. Positioning the mute too far from the bridge will give too much muting and can even pinch the strings out of tune. Start by sliding the mute right up to the saddles. Move it closer to the neck a bit and then back to saddles while playing to get a feel for the mute's affect in different locations. There is some allowable movement towards the neck...but pay attention to tuning and an over-pinching of the strings.
In a general way, the mute works how one would expect: Push it on only a little bit, the muting will be light. Pushing it further down so that the strings sit closer to the wood of the mute gives more muting.
*Note: It may be tempting to use a smaller spaced NordyMute on a bass with wider spacing. I tried using my 19mm mute on a P Bass® that has 20mm bridge spacing. To correctly position the mute for the spacing, I had to mount it up near the pickup. The tone was unusable…weird harmonics and nothing for real tone. It operated better at the bridge, but was overly thuddy since the mute was squeezing the strings too tightly. The bass with 20mm bridge spacing needs a 20mm mute.
BRIDGE MOUNTING & SETUP ISSUEs:
Saddles not equidistant - Most bass bridges are manufactured so that the spacing between adjacent saddles is identical across the whole bridge. There are a small percentage of bridges that have laterally movable spacing however, and sometimes a builder or player will adjust the saddles. This is commonly done to account for a misalignment of the strings with the pole pieces. This isn't an error, but rather an accommodation for the variations in pole piece spacing on various pickups.
If a saddle has been moved too far off the normal (centered) spacing location, that particular string won't mute in the same way as the other strings. It runs the risk of being more dampened, because the mute's slot will not line up correctly and likely have to squeeze onto the string un-naturaly.
Bridge intonation screws stick out too far - When a bass manufacturer positions the bridge too far forward on the body of an instrument, the saddles will need to be pulled far back onto the plate of the bridge. This leaves the intonation screws sticking out quite far on the front of the saddles.If those screws are too far forward, they will affect the NordyMute's ability to sit close to the ideal string spacing, which is typically right in front of the saddles (specically the G or C string saddle). This problem is fairly rare - if the screws stick out 2,3,or 4mm, it is not an issue.
The solution to dealing with intonation screws is pretty easy and quick work for a tech. Simply grinding the intonation screw length down to a more appropriate length will do the trick.
MY QUICK REVIEW & SUMMARY OF THE NORDYMUTE
I think this mute is excellent. I like that it can be fitted for light or heavy-handed muting.
It can be mounted to your bass extremely quickly, and can also be removed extremely quickly. This is great for both gigs and rehearsals as well as practice at home. Since it sits on the top side of the strings, it tends to be functionally quicker to mount than jamming foam under your strings, and is a less permanent alteration to your bass than some other mutes on the market.
An unavoidable downside to this kind of design is that certain bridges aren't easily compatible, as mentioned above. Hipshot A style bridges, ABM 3D and some other bridges that have sidewalls in between the saddles are not a good fit for the mute. Other bridges which have outer sidewalls, such as the Hipshot B style or Gotoh 303, require a modification. For those bridges, I think it is worth a go - and that is what I do on my main bass, a P style bass with a Hipshot B style bridge.
To be honest, I was a late 'convert' to using the mute. Carey had designed this and had it out on the market for a while before I took some time with the mute. Now, I will occasionally practice daily for a week or two without ever taking the mute off my bass.