Make Your Own Recorder Mute - and Recycle too!
by Anne Delong


Lately when I've been practising those tricky high notes on my alto recorder, my long-suffering husband Dan had been getting a rather pained look on his face. Recorders have a rather small range in volume - mine is from loud to a little louder.

I decided to find out if there was any way to play more quietly, and I came across Dr. Carl Dolmetsch's advice on the creation of a "mute". Here's the URL:

He describes how to cut a small strip of stiff paper the width of the window of the recorder (or less for partial mute), fold over about 1/4 of the length of it, and insert it into the window.

I tried this, and it worked perfectly! A wide strip killed the sound completely, and a narrower one just cut down the volume.

BUT - If you play the recorder, you will know that the inside of this instrument is no place for paper; about five minutes later it was all soggy. The fold wouldn't stay folded, and the paper fell out.

I considered using a piece of "bubble pack" plastic (heaven knows there's enough of it around), but it's quite stiff, and I have read many warnings about not scratching or dinting the lip of the window.

Then, while cleaning out my computer desk, I found the perfect material. I was about to throw away some old 5 1/4 floppy diskettes when I noticed the smooth soft plastic material. Each is one piece of plastic folded over and crimped at the factory to make the disk casing.

I cut several wedge-shaped strips of different widths from a couple of diskettes, starting at the folded-over edge. I pulled off the soft inner padding and threw away the inner disk. I cut one of the two sides of each one a little shorter than the width of the inside of the barrel of the recorder.

Now when I put one of these into the window, it stays nicely in place. The plastic is too soft to damage the recorder, the fold stays in, and it won't get soggy. Best of all, since the material was going to be thrown out anyway, it cost nothing.

If you think that there aren't hundreds of thousands of these old disks in people's closets, basements and attics, you are definitely overestimating the organizational skills of the typical middle-aged computer hobbyist.

A 5 1/4 inch floppy with strips cut out.

The finished mutes - make several;
they're small.

A mute installed in the recorder.

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