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Freedom regained -- with better-fitting chin rests

Jim Hastings

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Published: July 25, 2013 at 5:01 PM [UTC]

My experience bears out the wisdom of advice I've read on several times: If your setup is unsatisfactory, then, before adding or ditching a shoulder rest or changing to a different one, first consider the chin rest.

In summer 2005, when I first tried the Flesch flat chin rest, a popular model centered over the tailpiece, I liked it right away. In general, all seemed well these last 8 years; yet there was a subtle nagging feeling that something was a bit off. Since using the device didn't degrade my playing or cause discomfort, I largely ignored the feeling.

Then, in early May, one in-home session of comparing this model with two others I'd used before helped me pinpoint the problems: 1) The Flesch flat model was too tall for me. 2) It made me hold the instrument farther left than I wanted to. 3) It made me point the scroll farther left than I wanted to.

So what did I do? I detached the Flesch and substituted a Guarneri rest from my collection for comparison. That helped me hold the instrument a little more to the right and point the scroll more toward the front; but I no longer felt comfortable with this model, even when covering it with the Strad Pad, a detachable, washable chin rest cover.

Next I pulled out a vintage rest from my student days. It reminded me of the Teka medium -- same basic shape and size. On two fiddles, this one was too tall for me; but on the third fiddle, it worked great. I couldn't safely use it now; one bracket would no longer remain securely in place.

So I ordered a new Teka medium, which works great on this third fiddle. The other two instruments now have Dresden mediums, which are shorter.

What freedom regained -- not to mention the enhanced feeling of security. Indeed, sometimes it turns out that the old way was better after all. Oh -- what is that classic song -- "I Could Have Danced All Night"? Well, I don't know how to dance, but I felt as if I could have fiddled the night away -- out in the garage. Be assured that I didn't -- for three reasons: 1) I'm not a night person. 2) I try to be a good neighbor. 3) 4:40 AM -- rising time -- comes fast.

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