Bring on the THUMP!
This really nicely made mute is a relatively new product, developed and hand-crafted by Nino Ocampo in the USA. Thanks to the creative spark of Nino, who is a bassist himself, we now have a wonderful mute that works on Electric Upright Basses and on regular acoustic uprights as well.
Designed for double bass and other stringed instruments, the NinoMute alters the instruments’ note envelope, smoothing out articulation and working to tame abrasive, dynamically inconsistent notes. The resulting tone is thumpier, darker, and more direct; highly effective in ensembles that call for a mellower sound. With a bow, the NinoMute’s focus provides emphasis on fundamental technique and can act as a kind of training aid, helping students develop their fingering while controlling sympathetic resonance and the grating scratch of rudimentary arco technique. The NinoMute expands significantly the timbre and dynamics of the acoustic bass, adding a professional range of colors to the instrument’s sonic palette.
It has little slits in the dense foam to straddle each string, usually placed right next to the bridge, and is therefore easy to put on and off. The soft materials and easy flexibility mean that there's no chance of damage to the strings or instrument.
On a double bass, it provides a nice dampering effect on the decay and sustain, and brings up the "thump" level quite noticeably. It's definitely more aggressive than a typical wire mute, Tourte mute, or ebony bridge mute. But it doesn't totally "deaden" the bass either, like a full-on practice mute would. I can imagine that folks playing Latin music styles like Salsa or Merengue, who might use a Baby Bass to get "that percussive, thumpy sound," should find the Ninomute very effective. It also really dials in a great sound when used in conjunction with a magnetic pickup like the Krivo - so if you're in a high-volume (feedback-prone) situation, a Krivo and this mute might be the ticket to better, feedback-free sound.
The mute really shines on an electric upright, too. Put this thing on an NS Design bass, and suddenly it's a whole new ball game. Even with the OEM "Contemporary" strings (which are purposely not designed to provide an "authentic" upright tone) -- with a Ninomute installed, the bass tone gets a LOT closer to what a player seeking a more portable alternative to their full-sized upright is going for.
Check out the video, below, to see what I'm talking about. This clip is using the stock strings on a brand new NS WAV4 bass, which also has limited EQ. It's like a magic spell - stick it on the bass and suddenly it's a lot more "authentic" sounding.
The XT "Extra Thump" model has a thicker foam contact point, and therefore a much stronger muting action. I don't recommend the XT model for electric uprights, as I find that it mutes too much. However, for a more extreme mute effect on an upright bass, you might prefer the XT model.
Available in 4 and 5-string versions, standard and "x-tra thump."
Four colors are available for the regular size mute: Natural, Black, Whiskey and Cognac. Note that color depictions on the website are approximate, and the mutes are made of naturally dyed leather, which means that minor color variations from mute to mute (and from photos on the website) are normal and expected.
WILL IT FIT YOUR BASS? Measure the STRING WIDTHS: The mutes have a little bit of flexibility with how wide your string spacing is, as the contact material is a dense closed cell foam that is "squishy" enough to accommodate a little variance. Here are the approximate string widths of each of the mute models; if your instrument is within about 1/16th of an inch (or about 2-3 mm), it should work for you (measure center of string to center of adjacent string).
- 4 String standard/XT model: 15/16" - 23.8mm
- 5 String standard/XT model: 7/8" - 22.2mm
- 4 String OmniBass model: 7/8" - 22.2mm
- 5 String OmniBass model: 5/8" - 15.9mm
IMPORTANT NOTE: Neither NinoMute model (standard or OmniMute) will fit the Ibanez UB804 electric upright bass. Despite its short (34") scale, it has a very wide string spacing at the bridge (30mm - which is over an inch). We're not sure why they spec'd the instrument with such a wide string spacing - that's wider than a typical 3/4 size upright (with a 41.5" scale!) so it's a weird choice. But since the NinoMutes are designed to fit the more common string spacing (closer to around 7/8"), they don't fit the wider string width on the Ibanez.
New Model for the OmniBass
The OmniMutes are a limited production item that Gollihur Music specially commissioned from Nino Ocampo, and you can have one in any color you want, as long as it's black. They are available in either 4 or 5 string models. There is no "XT" model OmniMute.
The standard sized Ninomutes don't fit the NS Design OmniBass; the string spacing is not compatible and it cannot be mounted without damage. I worked out the finer points with Nino on a few phone calls and emails, and I'm delighted to tell you that we now have a version specially made for the smaller OmniBass instrument. It's sized specifically for the instrument, and provides the same type of muting for the OmniBass as the larger model does for the full-sized EUB. Since it's a more specialized product, you can have it in any color you want - as long as it's black. And it's only available in the "standard" design (the X-tra Thump model would mute it to an dull thud).
But we've got 'em (because we helped develop them.)
Ninomute for NS Omni4
The mute works well in the lower register of the bass. However, if you find yourself playing past the '12th fret' position on the 1st string, it deadens it too much. I have been adjusting it to the point of nearly being off of the 1st string, but then it puts too much muting on the lower strings due to angle shift. It's great of you never venture up the neck. My goal was to get more of a thump and less of the electric bass guitar sound, so it would still have a little ring left in the upper registers. This it does not do well.
I received my Ninomute from Gollihur quickly and it performs exactly as described. Changes the tone just like in the videos and the whiskey color is a good match for my NS Design NXTa. Only issue I had was my own fault - I did not realize that I could have spent 5 more cents and received free shipping!
NinoMute For NS Design WAV 4
I've had my WAV 4 for about 10 year I guess. I keep it as a back up or if I need to get to a gig on my Vespa, I can strap it onto my back and go. But in my opinion, it's sound is barely passable as an upright in live settings. Sure, I've done some recording to get that "mwah" sound, but until now, it has not sounded like an upright bass to me, I currently have Labella 7710s on it. I've made plenty of my own mutes and none have had the effect that the Nino has. It helps to deliver a solid thump! It kills a lot of string overtones and really lets the instrument come alive. The one that I received is a little tight on my King Upright as I have cut the string spacing pretty wide, but when I put it on, it even cleans up the front-end of my (vegan)gut strings! Super easy to pop on and off of my NSD. Worth every penny. I'll be playing my NSD on a lot more gigs now. P.S. as always, Gollihur got this out to me almost as fast as I could order it. Thanks guys!
YES YES AND YES.
It's rare in life you come upon something that does EXACTLY what it's supposed to do ... well, here it is. This will give you a GUT like thump, on any strings you are playing. Also, a fantastic MWAH ELIMINATOR. I personally am a PC/non-mwah guy and this DELIVERS. Currently have it on some Ron Carter LaBella Black's, and man they are so close to gut. One of the obvious advantages of using this thing is that you can take it OFF so now you have two tonal palettes to mess with, more sustainy mwah, or more gutty thump. Brilliant concept, brilliantly executed, if you couldn't tell I am beyond hyped on this thing. 12/10
NINOMUTE FOR DOUBLE BASS AND ELECTRIC UPRIGHT
Brilliant invention. Used it to get that thump. Slightly deadens strings but still leaves a lot of clarity.