As with any performance or practice session, there are times when you want to bring the house down with power and there are other times that call for a softer approach. Contrary to what its name suggests, a cello mute doesn't fully mute your instrument. A mute merely muffles the sound of your cello - lessening it to a pitch that is perfect for musical pieces that call for a quieter tone. They also come in handy for those moments when volume might not be so welcome (in an apartment building or condo, for example).
If the noise level in your living space is an issue, you can quickly correct the problem with a rubber practice mute. The String Centre Ultra Rubber Practice Mute for Cello provides a high level of muting without sacrificing any of your tone. It fits over the bridge of your cello and the further you push it down on the instrument, the more muted it gets. Another great option for a practice mute is the Otto Musica Cello Mute. This mute functions much in the same way that the String Center Rubber Mute does and has a metal core that's covered with rubber to protect the bridge of your instrument while retaining its bright, crisp sound.
Orchestral mutes are another common type. These mutes are designed to fit on the strings so that you can slide them on and off of the bridge - easily muting and unmuting the violin as required by the passage you're playing. The Glaesel Cello Tourte Mute conforms to the shape and curvature of your cello's bridge for better contact, greater muting power and a well-balanced sound. It installs in seconds and can be stored on your cello when not in use between the bridge and the tailpiece. This mute is small, inconspicuous and a great accessory to have in your cello case.
All cellists should own at least one practice and orchestral mute in their collection. They give you the versatility to play anywhere and to quickly change the tone of your cello when the music calls for it. So whether you choose a wire mute like the Glaesel GL-3802 Mute, an ebony model like the Glaesel GL-3816 Mute or something entirely different, you're adding an important piece of equipment to your cello's toolkit.