SHOULDER RESTInstruments: I've been trying out many shoulder rests such as the Golden Comford Cradle, Voce of Kun, and the original kun shoulder rests. Except, every one of them was disappointing... Does anybody have an idea which shoulder rest I should try next?
From Jamie Lee
From Michael SchallockAre you sure that you need a shoulder rest? Have you tried a simple pad of some sort? You may be expecting a shoulder rest to solve some problem with your left hand (or body) mechanics, or posture.
Posted on March 11, 2007 at 11:28 PM
On the other hand, most people do need some sort of pad or rest and I find serious problems with most commercial shoulder rests, too. Good luck.
From Stephen BrivatiGreetings,
Posted on March 11, 2007 at 11:37 PM
I think mabe it is worth keeping in mind two points:
1) The chin rest is a major factor. If you are trying rests but this is off then it is difficult. The safest all round chinrest is probably the Guarneri model. Do you know what this is? Any shop will be able to tell you and almost certainly have an example in stock.
2) The major rule of balancing the isnturment is that you get your body as it wihes ot be and then the isntrument adapts to you. You do not try and change your body to adapt to the instrument. It is a hrad thing to learn.
It is hard to suggest a shoulder rets or even whether or not you actually need one simply because we (well me anyway) don`t know your neck length. If you have no neck you don`t need a rest. In general I am not keen on rests but a friend of mine from Singapore sent me a photo of his head and neck which wa sso long I had no hesitation in recommending a Wolfe Forte Primo two Mac Burgers and a dead ferret as support. The ferret may have died as a result of nibbling the hamburgers. It is the people if the middle I suspect (halfway between no neck and long neck) that have the most trouble finding a set up in either direction.
From Nate Robinson"Except, every one of them was disappointing..."
Posted on March 12, 2007 at 03:04 AM
I agree completely :)
From Maura GeretyI have a relatively long neck, but I don't use a shoulder rest per se (one of those big clunky things that Mimi Zweig calls a "Brooklyn Bridge"). I use two of those little red cosmetic sponges held in place by a rubber band. I get the height I need by way of a fairly tall chinrest--I believe it's called the "Hollywood" model (go figure).
Posted on March 12, 2007 at 03:24 AM
I always found shoulder rests to be uncomfortable and restricting, with the current setup I feel much more free, balanced and relaxed. I recommend experimenting with different chinrests as well as different shoulder rests or lack thereof. (Keep in mind that a well-chosen chinrest can have a tremendous impact on the sound!)
From David DickersonHello, Jamie.
Posted on March 12, 2007 at 05:44 PM
I am a beginning adult violin student. The violin has been in my family for at least four generations (19th-century, German made) and was still in its original case when I got it!
I had the violin cleaned and revarnished, and the bow rehaired, although the luthier failed to notice that the bow was warped, so I am using a fiberglass bow because I cannot afford a wooden one.
In addition, I got a hard Bobelock case (because the instrument is priceless to me) and other accessories.
I ended up choosing a Muco shoulder rest, because of the low price, instead of a Wolf. Interestingly, the Muco has more padding than the Wolf.
If you have a luthier in your area, you might visit to try out various shoulder rests. (A reputable luthier will be glad to accommodate your request.)
I am not sure if I will stay with the Muco rest, but I decided to buy one of the least expensive shoulder rests that my luthier had, rather than buy an expensive Wolf rest, only to find that it did not work for me.
I do not know if the Muco rest came with instructions: I did not even get the box. I am still trying to ensure that I position the shoulder rest correctly (and I need one because of my neck length). I, however, have *no* idea if I am positioning the rest correctly (a topic for my next violin lesson), nor have I found any instructions for Muco shoulder rests on the Web.
There is a spectrum of prices for good shoulder rests, and the Muco is the most affordable my luthier had.
I hope that this message has been of some value, Jamie! Remember: I have had two violin lessons so far.
Finally, if anyone knows of any Web sites that provide instructions on the proper setup of a shoulder rest, I would appreciate your sharing any URL(s). I have not found a Web site for Muco, by the way.
From Kevin JangI hear good things about the Mach One rest.
Posted on March 12, 2007 at 06:53 PM
From Tom HolzmanYour best bet is to go your local luthier and try a bunch. I use the Playonair but have never been completely happy with any of them.
Posted on March 12, 2007 at 07:23 PM
From Maura GeretyI've heard some ridiculous stories about Playonairs springing leaks and flying off the violin and across the stage like a balloon. Does that ever actually happen?!
Posted on March 12, 2007 at 07:43 PM
From Yixi ZhangMaura,
Posted on March 12, 2007 at 08:14 PM
I can see this happening, not when playing but as soon as one finishes playing and the violin is off the shoulder. I tried this shoulder rest and it happened to me a few times like that (not on stage, fortunately!) It is basically an air bag attached with somewhat stiff elastic bands which tightly grab onto the edge of violin. There’s a lot of tension stretched out both side of the air bag when it is on the violin so it really can take off like a balloon if one elastic end slips off the violin.
This one also muffles the sound the most among all the other ones I tried. I’m currently using the Menuhin style one that I got from Shar called “Maestro Shoulder Rest.” Not the best but better than Kun and Wolf. I tried sponges but I got shoulder pain. I’m still hoping to be rest free but I don’t know if my neck is designed for that. There are 5” between my jaw bone and collar bone. Any suggestion?
From Stephen BrivatiGreetings,
Posted on March 12, 2007 at 08:35 PM
yes it happens,
From Tom HolzmanMaura - you have to be a bit careful. Every once in awhile, if I hold my violin the wrong way so that I am pushing it toward the end of the violin, it will fall off. However, I have never had it fly across the stage or spring a leak. The good news is that the amount of air you put in it is adjustable, so you can fine tune it to your needs.
Posted on March 12, 2007 at 08:40 PM
From James FlanaganMaura - Please explain how a chin rest can have a large effect on the sound? Seems like having the clamp only touch the edge of the instrument would cause minimal impact on the sound. Is there something that I'm missing?
Posted on March 13, 2007 at 12:55 AM
On the other hand, I can see that having an ill-fitting chin rest would affect the player's comfort and posture. Which would certainly affect the sound in the long run.
From Ron GorthuisHi David:
Posted on March 13, 2007 at 01:57 AM
Say, I have a MUCO too! Never thought I would find anyone with another MUCO. I bought mine in China, and I think it is a Taiwan brand. The only adjustments to be made are the positon of the posts and heights. I have mine set so the rest rides high on my shoulder, but the violin is lower. The bottom post is set to high, to reduce the angle of the violin. I find it better than most.
I second the opinions about chin rest. I tried a few of the standards, before I met Ms K Abhuel, a luthier from Cremona. She custom makes chin rests, and has her own design. For me, its very comfortable. Her violins are excellent too, but I can't afford one yet.
From Hope PaolottoI used to use a playonair about 7 years ago and had problems with it popping off all the time. I then switched to a kun bravo. I find the bravo to be ok, much better than traditional kun rests and stronger. Another one you might want to try is the bonmusica. It is very odd looking, and conforms to each persons individual shoulder. The sides and bendable and the main part of the rest is adjustable. I used one for a little while and then went back to my bravo. The one thing I didn't like about the bonmusica was how much it squeezed the violin. It seemed to mute the sound quite a bit. But everyone's everything is so different.
Posted on March 13, 2007 at 02:45 AM
From Samantha SteltingHello all. I personally played on a shoulder rest for quite a while until one of my teacher's finally convinced me to try a sponge for a week...then I never went back. It definitely takes some getting used to because without the shoulder rest you don't have as much stability, but you also don't have the "brooklyn bridge" on your shoulder either. I also know a violinist that uses nothing but a taller chinrest and I have to say that playing her fiddle is quite comfortable! (she also has a very long neck by the way).
Posted on March 13, 2007 at 03:04 AM
So I'm an advocate for trying to play without the shoulder rest and try the red sponge...if you look hard enough you can find the thicker ones too. I also have seen sponges that have some fishing wire threaded through them with a rubber band attached to one end so that you don't have to constantly worry about breaking an over streached rubber band.
Hope this helps!
From Patrick HuHow long of a neck is considered to be criteria for using a shoulder rest?
Posted on March 13, 2007 at 03:25 AM
Anyway, I used a foam sponge ever since i was 7 and i recently went under a huge overall with my setup and my current teacher put me on a standard kun shoulder rest...the tone of the violin is different (darker almost), but in terms of loudness and projection, it's still pretty good...also, my friend at NEC who is currently studying under Miriam Fried was converted to a shoulder rest to relieve tension in her neck...
From Stephen BrivatiGreetings,
Posted on March 13, 2007 at 05:55 AM
>How long of a neck is considered to be criteria for using a shoulder rest?
Yes, definitley. Flesch said this and put it in writing in his book the Art of Violin playing.
From Anne HorvathFor a really low shoulder rest, one of my teen students tried the "Ultra Light". It is very comfortable, and yes, very light.
Posted on March 13, 2007 at 01:46 PM
I used a Playonair back in the 80s, until my neck grew longer. It was forever popping off.
I now use a maple Mach One, with Kun legs. There is a difference between the plastic and wood Machs. The plastic Mach is smaller in scale, and for me, not as comfortable.
From Sue BechlerHi, I am one teacher who typically spends the first lesson with any student watching them play and adjusting their gear. And keeps asking students to notice what they feel at various touchpoints, continuing to adjust as needed. I have a collection of chinrests and shoulder rests, and have gradually developed a sense of what may work for a particular body build. What is also really important is to determine where each player likes the violin in relation to line of vision & dominant eye, length of arms, and flexibility in the shoulders and back for both arms, also body shape and overall frame - a much bigger undertaking than considering mainly length of neck, but a crucial process, in my opinion. Maybe you folks who feel as though you continually struggle with this can find somebody like me ;) Sue
Posted on March 13, 2007 at 02:09 PM
From Christopher BurndrettFor the flatter type (my preference) I used the Viva La Musica back when they were made of wood. Because I wear my violin more on my collar bone than my shoulder, I ended up carving my own customized shoulder rest from a block of maple that was a botched neck blank. I also became tired of purchasing a new shoulder rest every 6 months when the padding tore off.
Posted on March 13, 2007 at 05:59 PM
From Michael SchallockI'm afraid that I must respectfully disagree with the statements regarding long necks needing higher shoulder rests.
Posted on March 13, 2007 at 06:42 PM
I think that the violin should rest firmly on the collarbone or a little piece of chamois leather covering the collarbone area. The distance from the collarbone to the place on the jaw that contacts the chinrest, ie neck height should be adjusted with the chinrest height, not the shoulder rest.
With the violin held in a comfortable playing position by the left hand and jaw note the little space between the back of the violin and the area between the top of the player's shoulder extending down a little towards the chest. This space needs to be filled with some sort of non-slippery padding, like a foam pad or a small fairly flat shoulder rest.
I think: collarbone to jaw determines chinrest height and back of violin to shoulder area determines shoulder rest or pad thickness.
From Patrick HuHey Buri,
Posted on March 15, 2007 at 06:40 AM
you didn't technically answer my question...or maybe i should have been more clear. How long is a neck in terms of measurement (in centimeters for Buri and the rest of you outside the u.s.) too long for a violinist to play without a shoulder rest?
Very interesting point about Primrose...when Mrs. Primrose came to hawaii after mr. primrose's death, she began teaching here at my high school music department...anyway, from the very beginning she would always say, No Shoulder Rest! that's how I became accustomed to playing without a SR.
When I play without my Shoulder Rest, my sound is totally "opened up". It's projects better and the sound is much more clear...but then again, even with the should rest (i've tested), the projection from my violin is only a fraction muffled...
I guess the real answer to the question lies in the individual's point of view. For me, I truly believe that the violin was made to be played without a shoulder rest...then again, I can actually play comfortably with or without one.
From Christopher BurndrettFor kicks - I put some pics of my custom made shoulder rest up on yahoo. See pictures here
Posted on March 15, 2007 at 02:56 PM
From Michael SchallockChristopher, your rest is very flat and I think that is good. It allows the violin to move around and not be fixed rigidly to the player's body.
Posted on March 15, 2007 at 06:03 PM
From Christopher BurndrettThank you!
Posted on March 15, 2007 at 06:10 PM
That was my greatest inspiration for making my own. Most shoulder rest have quite a pronounced curvature to them - and the adjustable ones tend to have "feet" that eventually dig into the ribs of the instrument. I made this one 2 or 3 years ago and all I have to do is change the rubber bands on occasion (to keep it from slipping around on fabric.)
From Jamie LeeThanks everyone...I will, hopefully, try every advice.
Posted on March 15, 2007 at 09:39 PM
From howard vandersluis(aside to) Buri,
Posted on March 17, 2007 at 04:09 AM
You can't really use Emil as an example, since he holds the violin up with his shrunken third arm and the weight of his protruding tongue spilling out onto the violin just below the f-hole.
Seriously though Jamie, if no shoulder pads are working, then either your neck is REALLY short or something needs adjusting in your posture/set up.
From Stephen BrivatiGreetings
Posted on March 17, 2007 at 04:33 AM
>You can't really use Emil as an example, since he holds the violin up with his shrunken third arm and the weight of his protruding tongue spilling out onto the violin just below the f-hole.
Oh. He`s already mastered AT then? Perhaps he`s ready to learn how to use his second tongue via the Feldenkreis system?
From Emil ChudnovskyI'm just flattered that my tongue is reputed to go out that far. I'll make sure to tell Robin next time she licks her own nose clean. (on the other hand, considering the source, p'raps I'll just keep my trap shut.)
Posted on March 17, 2007 at 04:41 AM
From Alex CarterI saw one of those carbon fiber Kun ones today, wow that's high speed and low drag.
Posted on March 17, 2007 at 05:48 AM
From Yixi ZhangI think I’ve finally made it – playing without a shoulder rest! I changed into a center mounted chin rest that has no hump and my violin sits on my collarbone and shoulder very comfortably. I don’t need to raise my left shoulder but jut keep the shoulder and elbow in towards the center of my body. And I don’t even need a sponge! My back is more open and head is free to move or lift up when I’m playing. The violin is at a different angle than I used to have it with the shoulder rest so I have to readjust my bowing. I do find the sound it makes is better without a rest, as the sound does go through my collarbone and shoulder bone. It is a very good feeling!
Posted on March 18, 2007 at 12:36 AM
Jamie, I used Kun for years, then I tried wolf, playonair, mastro and various sponges. In the end, you'll say to yourself, enough is enough. I start to try different chinrests instead, and one day, eureka! Just listen to your body and keep trying.
From Mili Leitner
Posted on November 18, 2009 at 08:42 AM
Try not using one at all!
From David Sanderson
Posted on November 18, 2009 at 03:49 PM
Once again: http://www.violinistinbalance.nl/
Systematic experimentation with chin, shoulder rests, plus Alexander Technique, focused on players experiencing discomfort. Shows just how variable the whole process can be, and the range of solutions that is possible.
From Sara McDowell
Posted on November 19, 2009 at 03:58 AM
I'm sort of in the same boat, so to speak. I've just finished trying many different chinrests and many different shoulder rests and every conceivable combination of these. I think I have an average neck, but I have droopy shoulders
Chinrests in my test were: Kaufman, Berber/Ohrenform, Flesch Flat, SAS, Teka, and Zitsman.
Shoulder rests in my test were: Viva La Musica (both the plastic and the expensive "Diamond" model), Comford Cradle, BonMusica, Resonans Medium, Mach One (plastic), Wolf Forte Primo, Everest and Kun Bravo.
The closest to coming to a combination I like is the Zitsman chinrest with the BonMusica shoulder rest, though I have to add a small piece of folded chamois to the bottom/chest section of the shoulder rest to make it feel more secure.
What I'm looking for is stability. Although several of the shoulder rests were comfortable, I found that the instrument would eventually begin to slip or slide from my collar bone/shoulder area. I am an adult beginner with only 6 lessons under my belt, although I have a lifetime of background in music. I am having difficulty breaking the habit of gradually grasping the instrument, to where I eventually have an extremely tense left hand. Extreme stability on my shoulder helps me release my "death grip" left hand without worrying that my violin will slip at the top/shoulder side. This is what works for me. I realize most people don't care for this rigidness. Perhaps, when I become more proficient, I will not care for the rigidness, either. But it seems to help a great deal now.
The Zitsman/Comford Cradle came in #2 place. I spent a great deal of time trying each combo and documenting my own findings for my own helpfulness.
So, for now, I think I've found a combo I can live with. I just needed to see what else was there that may have worked better. I wish the BonMusica had thicker padding, though, like the Wolf. Or I wish I could find a piece of material that will grip my clothing better so that I could place a piece at the top of the SR to "lock" it in place better. Any ideas?
Thanks for listening...
From Smiley Hsu
Posted on November 19, 2009 at 11:08 PM
>Perhaps, when I become more proficient, I will not care for the rigidness, either. But it seems to help a great deal now.
I would recommend you address this sooner rather than later. The longer you continue the death grip as you call it, the harder it will be to change down the road. I am struggling with some tension problems of my own, and after years of playing, I can attest that change is difficult.
From Heather Donnelly
Posted on November 20, 2009 at 09:54 AM
I use a Wolf Forte Secondo shoulder rest, set up as in this video: http://www.magicposture.com/. After reading this I've found this made holding the violin so much easier. It makes perfect sense, too. What he does is show you how to mold the shoulder rest to your body perfectly. Instructions are here: http://magicposture.com/instructional_video/MAGICPOSTURE2.html
From Sara McDowell
Posted on November 20, 2009 at 03:06 PM
Thank you, Smiley. I appreciate your personal insight, and I am trying hard to recognize the increasing tension as it occurs. Sometimes I don't notice it until after the tension has morphed into "death grip." Then I attempt to immediately stop, take a deep breathe and relax my hand. And it usually sneaks up on me when I am trying to concentrate on other things; i.e., notes, bow technique, slurs. As a beginner -- so much for my poor brain to remember!
p.s. Smiley, I so thoroughly enjoyed the posts regarding your search for a new instrument. I read the entire thread last night!!
From Sara McDowell
Posted on November 20, 2009 at 03:21 PM
As an addition: Yesterday, I realized that, even with my as-perfect-for-me-as-I-can-muster arrangement, my instrument was slipping. I figured out that it was due to the clothing I was wearing. I had on a thin sweater over a cotton blouse. The sweater was slip-sliding over the top of the blouse as I would move. So I quickly stopped at a drug store and purchased a package of little clear gel cushions which come 2 in a package and are made to put inside shoes at the ball of the foot. Very nonslip texture. I put one under my sweater on my shoulder area, between the sweater and blouse, and I was very happy at the extra grip it provided. Inexpensive, too!
From Royce Faina
Posted on November 20, 2009 at 03:54 PM
Put into practice now what you wish to accomplish tomorrow.
From Hiroshi Watanabe
Posted on November 20, 2009 at 05:07 PM
I have a unique idea about holding instrument confertably ,and it is very good idea.
The name is MagiPad, it will be solve every dificulties holding and playing the Violin.
Once visit my H.P., will you ?
Inventer Hiroshi Tokyo
From Geoff Caplan
Posted on November 22, 2009 at 03:11 PM
In case you miss it on Hiroshi's site (it's not very obvious) here is a link to a video review of his invention. Looks interesting!
From Christopher Payne
Posted on November 22, 2009 at 07:12 PM
Bon Musica is another worth considering. Some people swear by them (like me), some people can't get on with them - it's so personal.
From Andres Sender
Posted on November 22, 2009 at 07:28 PM
I had run into Hiroshi's site a week or two ago. Excellent idea which will help a lot of people I think as a sort of 'in between' option for those who want the best of both worlds. Kind of on the hand-crafted end of the price scale though. :-)
From Hiroshi Watanabe
Posted on December 15, 2009 at 07:07 AM
Violin should not clump, delicate and easy change its sound.nothing is the best but Magipad is better solution holding your Violin in right posture.
Excuse,An ugly place your blog.
Shame for ignorance.
From Tobias Seyb
Posted on December 16, 2009 at 09:56 AM
Now, what is this?
I do not understand a single sentence in this posting. Maybe it's just my bad english skills, or is it googlish instead of english?
From jason lu
Posted on December 16, 2009 at 10:37 AM
Sometimes, in a little-all amateur musicians, but people are seated at the discretion of expensive parts and strings, and such use is "waste of money" that's gotten to are many. Theoretical technical parts properly that is to be installed.
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From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 16, 2009 at 11:07 AM
I didn`t understand it either. I think some very technical comentary is being fed through an instant translator. Probably the same one that does my spellign for me at the weekends...
From Sara McDowell
Posted on December 18, 2009 at 04:36 PM
Yikes! That gave me a headache just trying to read a couple of sentences!
From John Picard
Posted on December 18, 2009 at 05:05 PM
Hiroshi definitely is onto something with Magipad - it's a great idea. In a nutshell its like any old round sponge but spliced in half. One round half goes under your shirt or jacket, the other sits on top. A super strong magnet makes the two sides stick solidly together through the shirt thus doing away with rubber bands etc to fasten the pad to the fiddle. Its a snap also to vary the pad position to whereever is more comfortable. Neat !
From Elaine Dowling
Posted on December 20, 2009 at 11:35 PM
I was going to suggest trying a big sponge. Pick something thick enough you can smush it down to size. Then, look at what parts of the sponge you use and how you use it to help you pick your next rest -- or, just stay with the sponge.
From Hiroshi Watanabe
Posted on December 21, 2009 at 03:18 PM
Yes Jon Picard,
Thank you very much of your good advice for MagiPad.
by the way ,
I am looking some good shiop in America.
MagiPad can be change someday holding the Violin.
Give me your advice,will you ?
From Tasha Miner
Posted on December 22, 2009 at 02:49 AM
I'm sold on the Everest.
From Julie Lieberman
Posted on February 13, 2010 at 04:57 PM
I am looking for photographs of fiddlers/violinists/violists' solutions to the chin-rest/shoulder-rest set-up. Original solutions or typical ones. Please send the photo by email to email@example.com with your name and the name of the chin-rest and shoulder-rest you use (or if no SR or CR).
Photo must be taken... by person standing slightly to your right from a stool or chair height vantage point, so that we can see your shoulder and chin-rest with the instrument resting on your shoulder, but with your head lifted up slightly so that you don't cover the chin-rest.Then a 2nd photo with your chin/jaw in place that shows your left hand as well.
Smiling as he spoke, Steinhardt offered his suggestions with clarity and appeal, in language both efficient and richly meaningful.
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