shoulder rests for short necks

March 25, 2007 at 07:49 PM · I've been searching for a new shoulder rest. I've been using one of those flat red rubbery sponges from Shar, and am feeling the need to have something a little more substantial. All of the Kun and Wolf are just too high for me, even when I lower them. And some of the flatter pillow like rests just muffle my violin's sound. Does anyone have any recommendations on what I could use?

Replies (11)

March 25, 2007 at 09:19 PM · You could try the PSR. It is a foam sort of shaped like a shoulder rest but it has a very low density foam that doesn't dampen the sound so much. Also don't attach the elastic band to both bouts, just to one. That way the foam isn't held so tightly to the back of the violin.

March 25, 2007 at 09:47 PM · I am experimenting with various shoulder rests. Currently I'm using a piece of 1" foam wedged between my collar bone and the back of the instrument. It is fairly comfortable and gives about the right spacing for my anatomy. I don't really care about a tiny impact on the tone, since most of my playing is in rowdy Irish sessions.

Over the last few months I have developed a shoulder pain that may be due to bringing the shoulder around to support the instrument. Maybe I need some kind of harness to keep the shoulder back. None of the various shoulder rests that I've tried seems to help this problem.

March 26, 2007 at 03:45 AM · Hi Catherine,

Have you tried a higher chinrest? I used shoulder rest for years and tried a number of shoulder rests but none seem to work for me. Kun is probably as low as one can get without going for something like playonair, which muffles the sound and shoots off easily. Recently I tried a higher central mounted chinrest instead and I adjusted the angle of the violin a bit. Immediately I could play shoulder rest free. The best part of this switch is that I don’t clench my jaw down as I used to do. This morning after reading another thread regarding chinrest and its effect on the sound, I took off the chin rest and played for 15 minutes without much difficulty. Although I did put the chinrest back on as I didn’t care for the direct contact of my chin with the tail piece, the fact I can play fine without neither shoulder rest nor chinrest is very telling: how deep the problem of my dependence on using the shoulder rest was! I believe now that the shoulder rest gave me the illusion that my violin is secure under my chin because I’ve got both chin and shoulder rests. This illusion in turn makes me to clench my chin each time the violin moves. Without the shoulder rest, I was instead forced to pay close attention to the balance of the violin: its relation to my shoulder, the position of my chin, the way my left arm holds, and how I stand or sit when I play, etc.

We shouldn't underestimate the importance of the shoulder rest issue and maybe this is why the topic is coming up again and again. You’ve probably seen them all, but I find following sites have helped me a great deal when I was struggling with this issue:


March 25, 2007 at 10:45 PM · Have you tried a very low not over the tailpiece chinrest with a KUN? I had severe neck- shoulder-left arm and hand problems because my chinrest was too high.

March 25, 2007 at 11:14 PM · Gary,

That's interesting. I'm sure you've got good reason believing so but just wondering how could a high chin rest cause the shoulder problem?

March 26, 2007 at 12:36 AM · I also have a short neck, and experimented with many high chinrest/sponge/etc etc combinations.. I found that removing the shoulder rest altogether altered my approach to the violin- I couldn't have it resting comfortably on my collar bone.. but that's just me. (and the wolf was almost good for a bit, until i realized it was eating away at the back of my instrument with its evil metal bit that sticks out.. and the kun has that weird high bit at one end that i found very uncomfortable)

have you tried the Mach One? I find that it gets low enough to make me feel comfortable, and the 'slant' or 'curve' of the shoulder rest is more horizontal than vertical so you never feel like there's something digging into your shoulder. it also allows you to move the violin freely, i find.

I'm using that with a guaneri chin rest and it's working quite well. just change the feet if you can- the kun feet fit perfectly on the mach one shoulder rest.

March 26, 2007 at 03:09 AM · One of my petite teenage students used the Ultra Light shoulder rest, until her neck grew, that is. The Ultra Light is wood, like the Mach, but much lower. I was very impressed with the design (it doesn't touch the back of the violin like a sponge), and it is the lowest shoulder rest I have ever seen. Shar sells it, but it is probably available from many other retail establishments.

March 26, 2007 at 04:22 AM · Yixi,

At the time of my injury I was using a custom SAS 22mm (as low as they could make one) but something about the combination of that chinrest and the KUN Bravo contributed to some pinched nerves. I can still remember the exact moment my neck and shoulder gave out. Anyway, I was out for six months, saw five doctors, including one who said my days as a violinist were over. After prayer, traction, a third chiropractor who adjusted the atlas, stretching, rest, and a very low chinrest I am doing fine. But I still have to stretch.

March 26, 2007 at 05:31 AM · Hi Gary,

I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve gone through. It must have been really awful. There are so many ways our body can go wrong… just have to keep watching out. Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s good now that you are fine and I hope you are playing the violin.

March 26, 2007 at 12:46 PM · Thanks for the help. I think I'm going to try the ultra light shoulder rest. Even though the picture on Shar doesn't really give a good idea of what it looks like.

Although those "Fiddle Friends" little sponges are just the right height, I feel silly ordering a kids product...

March 26, 2007 at 02:10 PM · Hi,

I too have a fairly short neck, but slightly slopping shoulder which forces me to use a rest (if not, I have to lift the shoulder at times - not the best).

I searched for years. At this point, I use a chinrest that I ordered from Charles Beare's shop in London called the Low Flesch (or low TEKA as it is called in North Am). With that, I have a KUN Bravo set to the lowest setting, with the feet in the most left side position, and as far left along the fiddle as possible. This is the best compromise that I have found for being relaxed and effecient and not doing anything unnatural. Plus, I get to the right playing geometry for my body which is primordial.

I think that in the end, you have to experiment for you. It may take a while, but is worth it. Check out the chinrests available on the Beare's website. Though expensive, many are models from the old Hill's catalog and are of very very very high quality. Expensive, but worth it.


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