V.com weekend vote: Do you have a violin hickey?

March 3, 2012, 3:19 PM · Oh yeah, sure, right, that's from your violin…

But it is! We fiddle players know that lots of practice makes you play well, but it also gives you a little red spot on your neck. As a teenager, this was kind of a badge of honor. After 35 years of playing the fiddle, it's turned into a pretty good scar on my neck!

My husband wanted to make the vote, "Have you ever had to have medical treatment for your violin hickey?"

Oh, eeeewwwwwwhhh! But the answer is yes, several times!

So here is the anonymous poll, and you can decide whether or not you'd like to comment!:


March 3, 2012 at 10:03 PM · I only know people that use center chin rests to have them.

March 3, 2012 at 09:57 PM · This makes me giggle. For years, whenever I have practiced, my husband, child, and few friends have always poked fun at the mark on my collarbone.

As one who really only plays for personal enjoyment rather than with an orchestra, I never knew other people have experienced this. Two of my close friends who also play have experienced it but I always assumed it was because of how tightly they were holding on to their instrument. I thought I had one only because I have a short neck, therefore when I play, the violin presses very hard onto my collarbone. It literally leaves an impression in my skin for days. Thank goodness I don't bruise easily or this might be a parmenent condition for me.

Thank you for this article. It put a smile on my face.

March 3, 2012 at 10:34 PM · No shoulder rest no hickey--at least for me.

March 3, 2012 at 11:09 PM · I voted no, which puts me in the minority -- 42-58 with 84 votes -- at this writing.

BTW, I use the above-mentioned center chin rest and shoulder rest. But I also use a Strad Pad on the chin rest, which gives me a nice secure feeling of traction without gripping hard -- and it covers the chin rest clamps.

March 3, 2012 at 11:41 PM · Hmm. I don't use a center chinrest, and I have marks on my collarbone as well as my neck. (They have indeed led to some awkward moments with family, friends and teachers...luckily my hair is long enough to hide them.)

March 4, 2012 at 12:39 AM · Technically, I have a viola hickey, not a violin hickey, though it is more of a patch of reddish dry skin more than a hickey.

March 4, 2012 at 01:58 AM · I don't know if it's the style of my chin rest (it's a Roth-Waller #2), the fact that I don't use a shoulder rest, or a combination thereof -- I've never had a "violin hickey".

March 4, 2012 at 02:27 AM · Yes, and I call it "the Mark of the Covenant."

I use a Kaufmann chin rest which I've carved to fit me exactly, and a Kun shoulder rest. Whether I use a "chin comforter" (that is a thin foam pad that is cut to fit exactly on the Kaufmann, you can get them for other popular models also) or not does not seem to matter. In the summer when my neck is more irritated from shaving it tends to flare up more.

When I was a kid I had a center chin rest and no shoulder rest, and I had the Mark then too. At that time the metal part of my chin rest dug into my collar bone and now I've got a noticeable permanent lump on my collar bone from it.

March 4, 2012 at 03:31 AM · I don't have a middle chin rest but have had the infamous violin hickey since a young age. Most of the time it just looks like a scar but can flame up and get quite red and painful. I can get a red mark from my Kun shoulder rest on my collarbone but that is never permanent and goes away after a few hours. My neck is scarred for life, unfortunately! I know a lady in our orchestra who has had surgery a few times to take her hickey out. I don't think I'd ever do that ...

March 4, 2012 at 05:33 AM · How long did it take for you to get a hickey? Not that I'd like to have it, but I have been playing for two and 3/4 years (approx. 1.5 hrs/day) and I do use a shoulder rest, yet I don't have it. I am wondering whether it's because I haven't been playing long enough.

March 4, 2012 at 11:09 AM · @Joyce, it's the dynamics of your individual anatomy and equipment. I think it would have appeared by now. Just count yourself lucky.

@Karis, I can't imagine having surgery for it. I've heard of hot compresses though.

March 4, 2012 at 12:06 PM · first comment on v.com! I've got that mark aswell its a mark of talent that we all possess, well in my opion so to say lol

March 4, 2012 at 12:35 PM · I grew a beard and now the mark is gone forever. I am very pleased with my beard thank you very much. Beard beard beard.

March 4, 2012 at 01:10 PM · I had one in high school, but I don't now. Between then and now I took time off and it healed, and it doesn't seem to have come back. Between then and now I also changed shoulder rests (but still use one), changed to a more center-mounted Ohrenform chin rest, and bought a new violin.

March 4, 2012 at 01:20 PM · I have had one since I was a teenager and it has never gone away. However now it is dark and not too visable.

March 4, 2012 at 01:30 PM · This has come up before, but anyway, NO hickey on me. All you need to do is cover the chinrest with any kind of soft comfortable material, and you won't get one. If you see one on me, it's because one of my crazy fans and groupies...

OK, seriously, what I use in lieu of a hankie and/or shoulder rest is my own invention: a segmented piece of suede leather. It goes both over the chinrest and under the back of the violin as a hankie would, but the suede provides a slip-resistant surface. The middle segment has a pocket in which I put a very thin piece of foam and that segment lies on my collar bone.

Here's a funny and true story. Many years ago in the early days of MTV, I was hired along with a number of other violinists to back up Tony Bennet in a commercial for MTV. The makeup girl couldn't understand why so many of us had hickies, and thought it might be some knid of cult membership sign! Someone eventually explained it to her.

Kristian - you're right, but I don't thnk that would work for too many women - and gladly so!

March 4, 2012 at 01:46 PM · Sadly yes. I actually find the Strad Pads to be less comfortable than the wood chin rest, so I switched my chin rest to a Teka.

March 4, 2012 at 05:17 PM · I've had one for years, but I've noticed that since switching my hardware to a hill style (rather than standard) gold plated chinrest bracket, it's got better. The skin texture at that spot on my neck has changed over the years, probably will be like that forever, but I've noticed far less obvious irritation since I switched. Now there's just the matter of clearing up the collarbone 'hickey'.

edit: I have a 'dresden' style side rest on my viola.

March 5, 2012 at 08:25 AM · This was a badge of honor when I was young, indeed. I had one but I noticed that since I changed the chin rest and grew beard it got better, thou I can still see it, but it's not that intence.

March 5, 2012 at 12:24 PM · I had one when I was at university, and for several years thereafter, but I've switched my hold (farther left) and chin rest (center & HIGHER), and now it's just a memory. Balance, for me, was the key.

March 5, 2012 at 01:03 PM · I have begun to get one again. (I think it was always there).

I have recently been using a hankerchief over the chin rest and also taking my chin off the chin rest a lot of the time, and things seem to be better. Of course it could be an old love bite ... but now in my venerable old age I don't get so many ladies queing at the door for a quick one ... (Lesson that is ...)

March 5, 2012 at 02:20 PM · I don't have one. My violin chin rest is in the center, and my viola is off to the side.

--Ann Marie

March 5, 2012 at 08:01 PM · When I was a (medical) student, several people in the student orchestra had one. We called it the ulcus violini, in mock Latin. Somehow I never got one.

March 7, 2012 at 12:13 AM · Not sure if this has been mentioned, but the reason I and most people I know who have violin hickeys all use a hill style endpin with a gold,bone, or ebony tip. I once had a gold pin and took it out because it would aggravate the hickey and make it itchy.

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