best shoulder rest for long necks?

March 21, 2007 at 06:46 PM · Hi,

I was wondering if anyone knew of any particularly tall shoulder rests. I'm currently using the BonMusica rest, but I have a long neck and I have to bend it down when I causes a lot of pain in the back of my neck and my spine. I'm hoping that there's a shoulder rest out there that can adjust enough to fit me! Anyone know?

Thanks =)

Replies (36)

March 21, 2007 at 06:47 PM · You should throw your shoulder rest away, like Heifetz. It's the only way to play.

Kidding. We've had a number of traumatic Shoulder Rest Wars on this site, so I thought I'd throw that in for drama.

My Wolf Forte-Secondo gets pretty darned high. I've been happy with it. And the Mach 2, how high is that? It's wooden and solid; the Wolf on the other hand has a bit of give.

March 21, 2007 at 07:01 PM · I use the wooden Mach, but I put tall Kun legs on it. Hey, they happened to fit! The Mach is very solid and comfortable (for me), and it is very light.

More importantly, I use the tallest chinrest I could find, the 35 mm SAS/Viva La Musica.

March 21, 2007 at 07:12 PM · I have a long neck and play restless.

The plot thickens.

March 21, 2007 at 07:48 PM · I second the Secondo (Wolf Forte). It has an extension bit (sleeve, barrel, whatever) which can be inserted for those wanting an extra high rest.

March 21, 2007 at 08:48 PM · I agree with Anne that finding the right chinrest helps a lot -- I also use the 35 mm SAS. For the shoulder rest, I like the Wolf Forte Primo, which goes quite high.

One trick with the Bonmusica is that if you swap the feet of the rest, you can get a little extra height. (One of the screws is longer than the other.) Even so, the Bonmusica wasn't high enough for me on violin, although I use one for my viola.

Another thing that might help is to experiment with tilting the violin, which can fill up some of the space between your jaw and shoulder.

March 21, 2007 at 10:33 PM · Greetings,

Mullova has one heck of a swan neck. She uses the Wlof Forte Primo- at leats thats what it was called in my day. I think it goes highe rthan the secondo which is the curved one. Both exceleent rests.

Of course if you throw everythign away you b-will- play like Heifetz.

As he is currently performing....



March 22, 2007 at 12:43 AM · thank you so much! I'll be sure to check that one out.

March 22, 2007 at 12:25 PM · Hi,

We have found good success with two of my very long necked but, short with short arms, girls in my studio my using a WOLF shoulder rest combination with a TEKA chinrest (which is quite high, but curved and quite comfortable). Seems to work for them.

The SR debates to me are weird, because there are some many individual variables in playing that absolutes are hard to say. The only one though for me are these basics:

Your posture with or without SR should be good. You have to find a combination that works for you and helps have good posture & the least amount of tension (right chinrest and SR - or none if that works). AND, and very importantly - no matter what you use, your hand positions and geometry have to work and be natural. I find too many unnatural left hand positions in many a player who uses an SR which are at the root cause of pain later on as they create tensions that are detrimental.


March 22, 2007 at 02:32 PM · Hi,

I have been through 5 chin rests and numerous shoulder rests over the past year and a half trying to find the best set up. As a healthcare professional I did a lot of research and physiological assessment to determine the best fit. In the end I had a beautiful chin rest custom made by AA Chin Rests and I use a very small shoulder rest (Sostenuto available at Shar).

My teacher doesn't like shoulder rests, particularly the stiff ones because she believes they restrict movement. I didn't believe her at first and tried a couple. In the end, she was right.

The result of this long process is that I have no neck pain, no arm pain and much more freedom playing. It was worth the frustration and effort to get to the right place.

I hope this helps,


March 22, 2007 at 03:17 PM · I have made my own shoulder rest suited to how I hold and play the violin (see previous thread on second page). I asked myself why use a general rest that is made for the masses when (in one weekend) I might be able to fashion one for my specific needs?

Oddly enough, it wasn't very difficult. I had all the parts from the 10 or so different ones I've tried over the years. I am very happy with the result, and as stated in the previous thread, I don't have to replace it every 6 months due to the padding tearing at the corners. Get some wood and shape it into what you feel is comfortable for a base. Find a long legged rest to steal the hardware from, counter sink some machine screw treads to hold the legs to the base, and add something to keep it from slipping - two years and still holding strong!

Shoulder rest pics

March 22, 2007 at 03:45 PM · I worked with a teacher who has a very long neck and she used the Bon Musica which is quite a contraption but which clearly served quite well. As for the old debate that since Heifetz didn't use a shoulder rest no one should--balderdash. You use the tools that enable you to play the best you can--if you get to a level where you can give ip the rest so be it. For myself I use the rest at the lowest possible position--primarily to cushion my collarbone which is just too painful without the rest. Not using a rest will not turn me into Heifetz nor will it turn anyone else into Heifetz--nor should it. Oistrakh used a sponge and a Polhland rest at times--he always sounded like Oistrakh. The shoulder rest is a tool--simply that. If it helps you play easier--use it!

March 24, 2007 at 04:48 AM · I have a very long neck, too. I sometimes use a Bon Musica shoulder rest which I have customized by bending and tweaking it a bit. My favorite, though, is the Comford shoulder cradle ( It comes in a variety of heights, and I use the highest one. In addition to the height and shape, I find that the feel produced by the type and thickness of foam and its solid backing are very important.

March 24, 2007 at 02:19 PM · "As for the old debate that since Heifetz didn't use a shoulder rest no one should--balderdash."

Jay, I think you are referring indirectly to what I said in a previous thread and you really misquote what I was saying completely. My admiration for Heifetz has nothing to do with the reason I dislike the shoulder rest. I cited examples of studies showing how the natural ring of the instrument is diminished by a shoulder rest. I have heard violinists that use rests compared to ones that do not in the same setting, and it appears, the ones without the shoulder rests have larger sounds. I just don't buy into the shoulder rest thing, if Guarneri and Stradivari had known that these things would be placed on the back of their instruments, do you really think they would've built their instruments the same way? I also don't believe the general human body has changed so much in the last 50 or so years (when these shoulder rests began to come on the market) making the shoulder rest a necessity. Players did fine for 200 years without them..

March 24, 2007 at 02:25 PM ·

March 24, 2007 at 02:43 PM · I have a fairly long neck. I bought a Wolf Segundo for $20. It is 3 inches maximum. It worked well, until I realized that I didn't really need it that high. In fact, I keep it at about 2 inches now. If you have a long neck, the best thing you can do (before going out and buying an expensive shoulder rest), is to make sure the violin is positioned more on the shoulder than on the chest, as that can easily mean the difference in an inch or two.

March 25, 2007 at 09:01 AM · oh, haha, you'd really like the BONMUSICA shoulder rest... i paid 40 dollars for mine... but it's perfect for me. my teacher sometimes ask if it restrains me from movement sometimes... it may look like it does but i can move quite freely.

March 25, 2007 at 03:17 PM · I watched one of Zukerman's masterclasses - he recommended (if you are going to use a pad or shoulder rest) to not use anything like the Kun because it tilts the instrument and does not allow for the player to change the angle of the instrument in relation to the string one is playing on. According to him there should be 4 different levels or angles the instrument should move, and most stiff rests like the Kun do not allow this range of movement. A small piece of sponge or foam rubber does. I agree with Zukerman completely on this!

March 25, 2007 at 04:49 PM · I'm suspicious of sponges, Play-on-air cushions, and anything else that makes contact with the back of the instrument.

March 25, 2007 at 07:36 PM · Well the shoulder rest does just that, the feet of the rest clamp the ribs. Violins vibrate out from the center in addition to up. If you are worried about the back plate of the instrument being dampened by a sponge you can put a piece of foam rubber like Stern, Rosand, or Zukerman do in your shirt or jacket. When you have a stiff thing placed on the back of the instrument such as the kun a)the violin will be tilted at the angle of the rest b) the violin will not rest on the collarbone c) you won't be able to manuever the instrument as freely (as Zukerman described) d)the elbow will not be under the instrument causing a considerably weaker vibrato.

March 27, 2007 at 01:52 PM · I have tried virtually all the available shoulder rests (although my neck is not all that long) and it is my experience that different shoulder rests serve me on different of my violins - to the extent that i actually have a separate shoulder rest for each violin with a mark to identify the matching violin.

Also the chinrest should first be selected to perfectly match the players jaw and allow the violin to rest comfortably between the jaw and the collarbone.

I played without a shoulder rest until I was 35 years old (that's a tad over 30 years of playing that way) because i was brainwashed by all my short-necked violin teachers. But when I started using shoulder rests I found they were helpful to stabilize my vibrato and increase its variety.

I find the Wolf Secondo generally best for me (I don't need the "forte"), but on one violin, the Bon Musica works even better for me, and on one the new Kun Voce.

It is also important to experiment with the angle of the shoulder rest across the back of the violin. I notice that most people place the rest perpendicular to the violin's axis, but for me it works best at the maximum diagonal angle I can get, with the shoulder end as close as possible to the C-bout.

I also find it can be helpful (for me) to get the chinrest as far to the left as possible to minimize twisting of my left wrist. (It may be relevent that I have very long arms.)

To me, all these factors bear upon the optimization of a shoulder rest.


March 27, 2007 at 02:17 PM · Yes Nate...James Ehnes uses a Kun and has one of the most beautiful vibrato ever...and the violin does rest on the collar bone...not on the shoulder...And Hilary Hahn uses a shoulder rest also... and the violin rests on her collar bone...I played myself without a shoulder rest and I do not believe in is the result that counts !

August 13, 2008 at 10:16 PM · fyi Shar has restocked the Berber. I bought one recently and it clears the tail piece.

Ifshin has the Zitsman. They tell me the early batch they received did not clear the tailpiece. For their new stock, they had the manufacturer correct the problem.

August 13, 2008 at 11:48 PM ·

August 13, 2008 at 11:48 PM ·

August 14, 2008 at 02:38 AM · Here is what I did...I went to a good violin shop, and got my chin rest raised about 3/4 in to 1 in. Its very comfortable, and I still have room for a shoulder rest. Before I got this I had severe back and shoulder pain and it all went away once I started using it.



August 14, 2008 at 02:56 AM · I had the same problem.

Try the Wolf Forte-Secondo. It's adjustable to any height, any angle and width.

It really helps

August 17, 2008 at 09:04 AM · Shoulder rests for long necks are a red herring.

If the violin rests on the collarbone, with a simple wedge to tilt it towards the bow if desired, the chinrest is much more important for long necks, filling the space between violin and jaw. The highest SAS chinrest works brilliantly for me.

A high shoulder rest could, of course, raise the violin above your collarbone. But then both arms would need to work harder to reach the higher violin, and you wouldn't get the solid and secure feeling of having the violin resting on the collarbone.

Also, shoulder rests add extra weight and mine have always tended to pull the violin away from my body. Worse than that: with a shoulder rest my left shoulder is no longer completely relaxed and free to move. It becomes fixed, trying to secure the violin.

Without the shoulder rest, my violin weighs almost nothing and just sits snugly on my collarbone. My left shoulder is relaxed and free. I've played like this for years now, and it's been a huge improvement (after having to revise my descending shifting technique to ensure the thumb went ahead, as Simon Fisher recommends anyway).

Of course, all my music friends do use shoulder rests and seem perfectly happy, so I'm probably nuts.

August 17, 2008 at 10:03 AM · I agree with Susan D


August 17, 2008 at 04:19 PM · It seems to me that it's six of one, half dozen of the other. If you use a high chin rest, it is still an appliance that has been attached to the violin to allow increase comfort. Same for the shoulder rest.

Seeing is that neither of these appliances were around when violins were first designed, then it shouldn't matter. We're all, except for a few baroque purists, using appliances to create a more comfortable hold.

Just my two cents. (stirring the pot);)

August 17, 2008 at 07:10 PM · I'm not going to stir the pot about whether a shoulder rest should be used or not, but I'll say that I personally play without one. I gave it up a couple of years ago, but always had neck pain problems stemming from a standard height chinrest. I discovered Frisch and Denig custom chinrests at the ASTA convention in Detroit 2 years ago, and haven't looked back. I use their 25mm Donaldson style rosewood model - I think it cost around $50. It has solved the drooping scroll problems and the left hand tension problems I had been fighting since I gave up the shoulder rest. This is just my two cents, but it worked for me - maybe it's the solution for you if paired with either no shoulder rest, or a reasonably low one...I used a Kun Bravo (the wooden one) for a while before I gave it up entirely. I hope this helps!

August 17, 2008 at 09:47 PM · Hi Matt,

How do you vibrate without a shoulder rest?

August 22, 2008 at 03:59 AM · Since Matt hasn't responded, here's how I do it: Since the violin is comfortably held between collarbone and jaw (using the high chin rest), vibrato is no problem at all. I just need a very flexible thumb joint, so that the thumb holds the violin neck while my hand moves around. But that's no different from having a shoulder rest, is it?

November 9, 2009 at 07:22 AM ·

You can try my Everest Shoulder Rest with the optional extra-long feet (FL-4X).  Find them on my website

November 9, 2009 at 10:07 PM ·

Hi, I hope you will find something but if ever you don't (sorry v.commers for reapeating the same thing on each shoulder rest thread.  I must be so tiresome : ) you can always try without a rest but with some support you make yourself. In the past, many many violinists took whatever they found (foam, little cushions that hold with elastic, fold towels, sewed pads after coats etc) also it was often hide under their coat so we think (innocently) they play with nothing at all...  The best thing for me was making a little cushion with mini contact point on the back plate of my violin. The whole thing stays with elastic. Since I have a long neck, it is thick so I put it black to not have it too "flashy".  The violin leans, in one point, on my collar bone and my violin has quite of an angle since I like it like this. (but you fix the angle you want and put a cushion that fits).   It's not perfect but the best thing yet... Can also put many layers of foam (the hight you want) cut in the shape of your chinrest on your chinrest.  I had this for a while and it added much height but I let it aside since it was too tight fit.    But I'm not an advocate for sr or not. just anything that works is find.

Really good luck!!! Hope you'll find something for you!


November 18, 2009 at 10:46 PM ·

I agree with the post above that recommends getting a taller chinrest.  I have sold chinrests as high as 38mm and many teachers are now recommending taller chinrests even for shorter necked players so that the arm/shoulder position is not so high.  Different manufacturers carry higher chinrests, I get the highest from Arcos Brasil so any shopthat carries their bows can order them, but in order for them to be that high they need to be a side mount model (Kaufman, Tekka, Morowitz, etc.)

January 13, 2010 at 02:27 AM ·

  Hi Andrew,

I just happened upon this thread again, and realized I never responded to your question...sorry for the significant delay!  Like Susan B said, because the violin is held partially between the chin and collarbone with the raised chin rest, the left hand isn't much more than a movable vertical support (at least, from the posture perspective).  I'm not able to comfortably hold the fiddle up without the left hand being on the fiddle, but then again for most of us when in violin playing do we ever need to not have our left hand at least a little bit under the neck?...


Because there is always some semblance of a cradle for the neck of the instrument in the "v" between the thumb and the base of the first finger, the hand is free to move and vibrate just as you would with a shoulder rest (so long as you don't squeeze the neck), the difference being you now have more freedom of vertical motion.  It is actually easier, for me at least, because you can lift the scroll higher as you shift without the tendancy to lean the neck and raise the shoulder in order to keep the "comfortable" geometry between the neck, the violin, and the shoulder rest - less motions = less resistance = less tension = smoother, more relaxed vibrato...  The only problem with this approach I've seen is with a student of mine with very small hands - when she shifts anywhere above about the 8th position, she has to bring her thumb along the side of the fingerboard in order to reach, so the vertical support is lost...for this reason, she still uses a shoulder rest, so she can support the fiddle even without the left thumb  being present in some capacity under the neck.  For most of us though, that can keep the thumb at least a little bit under the neck even when we're playing in the stratosphere, it's no problem to support the fiddle, or vibrate, especially if the scroll is high enough, and the left elbow is properly positioned...


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