Let's get this out of the way. The Nordymute is two things at once.
It's the best way I've found to create vintage 60’s / motown bass tone (think James Jamerson, Bob Babbit, Carol Kaye) – that rhythmic, organic, thumpy tone that pushed many 60’s hits along like “Darling Dear” or “What’s goin’ on,”without resorting to palm muting.
It's also ridiculously expensive at $40!
But I am a sucker for a gadget so I went ahead and ordered one from Norstrand Audio and believe it or not, I am glad I did.
I've probably got three or four similar products laying around my studio. These sorts of mutes produce a tone similar to the felt (jazz bass) and later rubber mutes of that era's Precision and Jazz basses.
I like that sound - a lot. But so far, everything I have tried has been anywhere from downright garbage to not good enough. I did some research and found that many bass players have begrudgingly ponied up for the Norstrand Audio product and liked it. I probably spent nearly $40 buying useless crap that didn't work so I am writing this review to try to help you avoid my mistake. Just get this one and be done with it.
These versatile gadgets are a simple combination of a sponge mute with a wood covering, which work to provide the player with dark, staccato articulation, forwarded by the vehicle of a nostalgic vintage subtlety. The essence of the NordyMute's effect is akin to upright-like inhibition of resonance, a kind of execution of sustain - its body subject to an almost unnaturally fast decay. But what's especially significant about the NordyMute is the uniquely versatile quality it lends to the player's particular style. A lot of mutes will stunt playability, creating an awkward relationship in player to instrument intonation and articulation. In contrast, the NordyMute is designed for easy adjustment, giving the player modulating intonation and articulation instead of being stuck with one mode of mutability-of MUTE-ation.
This modulating quality comes from the mute's foam body pinching the strings, whereas most mutes push against them. To put it simply, pinch over push is what leaves the NordyMute's intonation without compromise.
It is available in multiple sizes. I got the 19 and it works on most of my basses. What I particularly like about it is that (after experimenting with it) I figured out how to vary the amount of mute by simply angling it and/or pushing it further down the strings. Want a little bit of sustain? Just barely install the mute over the strings and put it at a 45 degree angle. Want max mute? Just push it straight down onto the strings and you got it.
The thing is, it doesn't just turn the string into a THUD. You can still hear the intonation you are looking for. It's just muted.
Here are the basic specs:
Bass mute with a foam body and wood cover.
Available in Walnut, Maple, and Wenge
4,5 and 6 String Options
String spacing in most popular sizes
Handmade in sunny Redlands, California
I wish this product were $30 instead of $40, but that said, I think it's a worthwhile investment for those who want a quality mute that will last a lifetime and which will do the job without turning your tone into mud.