How to make a foam shoulder rest?

October 2, 2011 at 09:31 PM ·

I've found that if I use a hand towel instead of the Kun shoulder rest that I was given when I purchased my first violin, it seems more comfortable and the violin sounds more like a violin even in my beginner hands.

I'm wondering if anyone has made their own foam shoulder rest and how it was done. I see them for sale on various websites but I am thin (family genetics) with a long neck. I would need something a bit taller (or thicker) than the commercial foam shoulder restsĀ I see for sale.

I'll go to a couple of stores today and look for some foam that might work as well as larger, durable rubber bands. Any insight and information that would assist in creating my own foam shoulder rest would be highly appreciated.

Replies (7)

October 2, 2011 at 10:50 PM ·

Never mind. This is pretty straightforward and I shouldn't have wasted the site's bandwidth with this question. I was just thinking there was something special about the way one creates or positions a foam rest but I think it's more of an individual matter.

As far as making one, I believe an eight year old could do it.

October 2, 2011 at 11:24 PM ·

I joined the foam rubber club due to anatomical problems (genetics indeed!) I have stooping shoulders and no patented shoulder rest works for me. I would not recommend looking for a foam rest per se, but maybe you can do what I do. I was tempted to have a casting made of my collar bone shoulder area and fabricate a foam rubber rest but found a much easier way to use foam rubber.  Although I am a man and a pensioner as well, I bought that woman’s garment that looks like the top half of a T-shirt. A suitable piece of foam rubber is slipped underneath the left shoulder strap. It stays nicely put. Any garment that is made of about 84% nylon and 16% spandex has the required elasticity to cling to the body and keep the foam in place will do. Experiment with foam density. Cut to shape, foam in layers if necessary can be stitched into its own little pillow case. The entire purpose of a shoulder rest is to prevent the shoulder lifting high when it holds the violin.  

Foam rubber shoulder rests are indeed more comfortable than fixed Wolf or Kuhn rests. I also find that it is easier to ‘tilt’ the violin laterally using foam rubber.  I suggest you watch the video: “From Mao to Mozart” featuring Isaac Stern; he discusses the foam rest with the Chinese. 20 years later he revisited China and once again foam rests were recommended by him.

October 3, 2011 at 04:33 AM ·

 I've cut various types of foam into various thicknesses, with reasonable success.  Then I saw on a Brit. website a pic. of the Huber pad--three segments of various-thickness foam, bought a set and have been perfectly happy.  The foam's denser than anything I met with here, and the three (really five, depending on how creative one is) variations possible with the different segments meet the needs of both vln and vla and my entire wardrobe, from tee-shirts to thick sweaters.  

October 3, 2011 at 01:01 PM ·

Tony, seen way goofier questions here & elsewhere, believe me. There actually is a fair amount of info that is relevant to making foam rests :)  Don't use kitchen sponges that have the holey surface (kinda' like Swiss cheese.) They pick up moisture from the air and will stick to & mess up the back of your violin. Packing foam from things like computer boxes works well. If you want to do a lot fo shaping, an electric knife works surprisingly well. Cutting foam with long-blade sharp scissors works, but if you're shaving bit by bit, the waste sticks to the blades, your hands & clothes. There's a sponge rest out there made of something like memory foam, but I've yet to find anyone who didn't think it felt gross. Using two rubber bands (or ponytail bands) to attach your sponge rest is often better than one, since two keep the sponge from swiveling, and let you get the whole thing to stay close to the lower bout. Look at some pics of "Perfect Shoulder Rest" for ideas on how to shape your foam block. Sue      

October 3, 2011 at 03:52 PM ·

 Apropos of elastic bands--I bought long ones at Staples--perfect length, and no knot in the middle.  They come in colors, but not black, alas.

October 4, 2011 at 01:59 AM ·

Thank you for all of the replies. I hadn't realized that the local music stores sold these foam shoulder pads for less than what I paid for the foam padding I purchased yesterday. Just broke down and bought a commercial foam shoulder rest for $5 today. Tried to fashion one myself but it didn't turn out to my liking.

October 4, 2011 at 03:48 AM ·


there is a scene in from Mozart to mao (or is the other way round) in which Isac Stern produces a piece of foam from underhis jacket and says somehting to the effect thta this is a greta secret.  He claims thta he took a load of foam over with him to give to the Chinese students.  There is no need to over compicate this one alythough the question is actually a good one. Simple find some plarge pieces of foam and cut them down to the height and width that works for you.  Males can slip it unde ra jacket or shirt.  Women have more trouble with this and sometimes attach it to the instrument with an elastic band or just give up.



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