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Wonderful chinrest-serious warning!

November 24, 2007 at 4:53 AM

It took me many years of pain to recognize that I am unable to use a shoulder rest. (Not subject to a pro or con debate. Just a personal fact.) Unfortunately that left me in a kind of no mans land until recognizing the next stage in the process which is making decisions about how much support the left hand is going to give the instrument. In my case, a lot, however that didn’t alter what is again a fact in my case that on the down shift a slight use of head weight is important. I refuse to say `Milstein does such and such…` just to prove a point ;) Concomitant with this understanding came recognition of the central role of chin rest Now that’s tricky for people with average necks like me. Most chinrests, including the Guarneri which I recommend to most of my students, are simply not high enough. Put all these factors together and one comes up with a slightly unstable platform to work from. Well, the collection of useless chinrests has built up slowly in my fridge, next to the toilet bowl and numerous other places. But finally, finally, browsing through Shar`S site I saw a slightly odd looking rest that seemed a little higher than average. So I bought it and now I am reborn. It is called the Berber and it really is the rest I have been waiting for all these years!!!! I can just touch it really lightly without any real head movement and all the annoying little areas of disturbance holding me back have just disappeared in the wind. I estimate something like a ten percent increase in technique. Not only shifting but completely relaxed vibrato which I can comfortably vary the speed of. If I wasn’t so macho I’d go out into the garden and sob in the tulips.
I predict this chinrest will be greatly in demand by non shoulder rest users the world over. It meets a need that the Guarneri and Teka at one end of the scale and SAS at the other just aren’t at. Wonderful.
However, I do feel obliged to post serious warning about this rest as it is currently being sold, with all due respect to the excellent services and care of Shar. The rest is clearly being manufactured and packed in India by non musicians (or even craftsman). First, the tool supplied for fitting is too long. This means if you just stick it in the holes as I did, assuming that the bend in the metal is enough to prevent the tip from going too far and gouging the instrument you would be wrong. It is a dangerous tool if you are not paying attention and should be changed by Shar as soon as possible! Second, the clamps are not screwed far enough into the holes. If you fit the rest as is then the pressure exerted by the feet will be directly on the body of the instrument and not the ribs. In my case, I took the bottom part of the clamps off and rotated them until they screwed more deeply into the rest itself. My choice was boxwood so this was easy. Would it be so easy with ebony? I don’t know? Is some of these rest wood so soft someone doing the same procedure actually cracks the chinrest? I don’t know. Finally, the cork on the foot is not cut in any way to adhere well to the instrument it seems shaped rather randomly and if I have time I will have to get a luthier to redo the corks so they actually sit well on the instrument. This is important!
So I would reiterate to all of you trying this wonderful new rest to be careful. And respectfully ask Shar to consider the points I have raised and address them before instruments are damaged and player s are going around with extremely poorly fitting chinrests.

From Daniel Stone
Posted on November 24, 2007 at 6:21 AM
"It took me many years of pain to recognize that I am unable to use a shoulder rest."

So do you know exactly what variables would make a shoulder rest good/bad for an individual? It seems unnecessary that it takes so long for everyone (including myself) to find the right set up. Personally I need a center mounted chinrest and shoulder rest with sponges on one side to keep my spine straight and the violin supported. I know a lot of people are happy with the Guarneri but with the cup so far to the left I can't understand how the neck could be in a natural position (assuming your head isn't growing out of your shoulder)?

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on November 24, 2007 at 7:15 AM
Daniel, the basic problem is use of the whole body not juts fiddlign arund with one specific area. That can cause relief in the short term until thing start to tighten up again. The oft quoted golden rul is taht the rest adpats to you and not vice versa. Unfortunatley if =you- are not in an optimal playing state this is not as eays as it sounds,
From Susan D
Posted on November 24, 2007 at 7:20 AM
Wonderful high chinrests are also made by SAS ( I can hold my violin comfortably on my collarbone, the head not moving from its natural position.

You're right Buri: normal chinrests are way too low for people with average length necks.

From Ray Randall
Posted on November 24, 2007 at 8:11 PM
How would that chinrest work with a shoulder rest?
From Tasha Miner
Posted on November 24, 2007 at 9:07 PM
I have used a Berber chinrest and liked it a lot. However, keep in mind this rest is considered a 1/2 & 1/2. That means that it works both over the tailpiece and almost like Kaufman style rests off to the side. It works best somewhere inbetween. If this is the perfect angle for you, then this tall rest is a true ergonomic blessing. I really like the comford shoulder rest with this chinrest, but you are locked in place with both.

Good luck! Congrats, Buri!

From Dave Osbun
Posted on November 27, 2007 at 6:09 PM
Thanks for the great review. I have tried playing without my shoulder rest and found it very difficult. I just placed my order with Shar for the Berber, so we'll see if it helps with my playing sans the shoulder rest. I know that many, many teachers say you shouldn't play with a shoulder rest, so hopefully this will work for me as well.


From Maeve O'Hara
Posted on November 27, 2007 at 8:26 PM
I've been using one of these for three years and love it too. I'm glad to see that other people are using it. :) Have you tried a sostenuto pad?
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on November 27, 2007 at 10:43 PM
Maeve, I tried the sostenuto. I think it is a very good pad. It is quite rigid and slim so it doesn`t damp the sound like a Gewa or Playionair. It is also placed very sensibly to act as a fulcrum between head and left hand. I reocmmend it to quite a few of my studnets. I can@T us eit myself. No matter how hard i try I suimply cannot have anything between violin and shoulder. No idea why...
Dave, hope the rest works out for you. One thing I try to keep in mind. I don`t like shoulder rests but I don`t think the `shouldn`t use` argument is a good one. Clearly they do work for a lot of people.;)

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