April 12, 2010 at 1:27 AM
I have struggled with my setup for years. I've tried nearly every shoulder rest under the sun, no shoulder rest, every way of holding a viola possible while still being able to play it, a few different chin-rests and no-chin rest at all.
This weekend, I figured I'd spend a day down at the local shop and try every chin-rest they had to see if I could finally find a setup that worked. I knew I didn't like the Strad or Guaneri style which are both way to high on the left side. I've tried the Kaufman style which had too little support on the right. The luthier at the shop had me try a few different styles and watched while I tried them out. He then said he thought he knew what was right for me and pulled a chin-rest out of a bin and put in on my viola: Stuber - low on the left and high on the right.
I had a few hours to take it home and try it out while my violin was being worked on for some minor issues. I had to re-adjust my shoulder-rest slightly a few times, but found the right formula. The difference was shocking. I wasn't clamping down with my chin to hold my viola in place while shifting down or vibrating in lower positions. My left had had miraculously become free of tension. Surprisingly, my vibrato became wider, maybe too wide.
When I went back to the shop to pick up the violin, the luthier asked how the chin-rest worked out after a few hours of practice. It was all I could do to not give him a big bear-hug. I feel like a new violist.
Aw, heck, give the guy a bear hug, and take him some cookies this week too. He just made a huge difference in something that means so much to you, and he deserves to know how much you appreciate his problem-solving.
Congratulations...it is indeed incredible when the proper match is found
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