Berber chinrest. an amazing design

November 20, 2007 at 03:10 AM · I have recently switched to the center mounted, Berber-style chinrest. I will tell you, it is simply amazing, granted that it suits ur body and playing style.

I used to think that the shoulder rest was what would help make my violin position secure, but I tried many styles to no avail. Before this switch, I was playing with a Guarneri style chinrest and a mach1 shoulder rest. I never rested my head on the cup, instead locked my chin over the tail of the chinrest between teh end of the rest and the tailpiece. This is what was comfortable for me, but it was so insecure and I always knew it. When i would shift, my violin would fall in front of my body and into my hands. Anyone who plays with this sort of position will definitely benefit from this chinrest. Ive went thru numerous shoulder rests, each one only helping a little, but never curing the problem. The mach was what felt most comfertable, but I was never truly happy.

...Until one day when my teacher suggested I try a few center mounted chinrests. I ordered the two Flesch models and this interesting Berber model. The Flesch was too slippery and did not have a deep enough cup for me to lock my jaw into (something that i have become very accustomed to). I then try this berber model and it was amazing from the beginning.

At this point, I decided to ditch my mach becacuse its surface was much to slippery on my shoulder and went back to a standard foam padded kun. After a few hours of playing, I decided to go out on a limb and try out this chinrest without a shoulder rest. To my amazement, it was so easy to play without the contoured support of a shoulder rest. AT that point, i realized how restrictive those shoulder rests actually are. Granted it was a little uncomfortable playing without a shoulder rest because of the hard surface of the violin, I went around looking for my elastic attached suzuki sponge (back from the olden days) (all it is is this 2x6 inch sponge covered in liek black corduroy and has 2 elastic bands to attach to the instrument. no contours, nothing fancy. costs about a dollar). THIS COMBO WAS AMAZING! secure as a rock and so very very comfortable. I could wave my hands like a mad man and the violin was not going anywhere.

I now can FINALLY understand when my teacher says to free up my left hand and get rid of all that tension. It's amazing how much difference the shoulder rest can make. I strongly suggest this set up to anyone who is playing as I have previously described (guarneri, over tailpiece). i assure you it will change your life.



Replies (67)

November 20, 2007 at 02:01 AM · correction:

I now can FINALLY understand when my teacher says to free up my left hand and get rid of all that tension. It's amazing how much difference the CHIN REST can make. I strongly suggest this set up to anyone who is playing as I have previously described (guarneri, over tailpiece). i assure you it will change your life.

November 20, 2007 at 04:15 AM · Greetings,

well, myt Berber arrives to mororwso I will let you know,



November 24, 2007 at 03:01 AM · buri.

im interested to know what you think about this.


November 24, 2007 at 04:55 AM · Greetings,

Ian, see my blog...



November 28, 2007 at 05:55 PM · I also could never get used to the slipping around I felt with the Flesch model. I will order a Berber ... this could be the answer for me, too. I keep trying to go shoulder rest-less but it never quite happens (and for someone who played for years in a professional baroque group that is pretty bad, I admit!! I have a herniated disc in my neck so that was my excuse!)

I would really love to try centre mounted rests out on kids, but actually I have never seen any on eighth or quarter or even half violins. Does anyone know if they exist? I wonder if the effect would be to improve posture?

November 28, 2007 at 06:44 PM · I have ordered a Berber to try out - it comes tommorrow. I'll be very curious as I have played restless with a standard Guarneri rest plus Strad Pad and no shoulder rest, but I have a long neck and would love the extra security this rest seems to promise. I really appreciate all the information this board generates.

November 30, 2007 at 05:01 PM · Well, as always each situation (violin and player) is different. The Berber arrived and it was comfortable, high, and worked well with or without a Strad Pad. Unfortunately the sound using the over the tailpiece chinrest was dramatically less open, clear, and ringing than using my sidemounted rest. The difference was fairly startling - both to myself, playing while holding the violin at my waist so as to get a truer sound, and to a nearbye violinist who was listening curiously. I know that generally the over-the-tailpiece rests are considered to be tonally superior (and better for the structural health of the instrument) but for my particular violin the opposite holds true.

November 30, 2007 at 09:51 PM · My Berber arrived yesterday. Like Buri, I found that screwing the posts further into the rest (mine is ebony and I had no problems doing this) allowed the corked clamp portion of the rest to contact only the reinforced edges of the violin and not dampen the motion of the top and bottom plates in any perceptible way. After a few minutes to adjust, I've concluded that this is the chinrest for me as well (I play without a shoulder rest and have a long neck). It feels far more secure than with my previous Strad-style rest and my instrument is even more resonant with this setup, no doubt aided by mounting it correctly. So thanks to Ian and Buri for bringing the Berber design to my attention.

December 27, 2007 at 03:40 PM · My Berber arrived for Christmas!!! ... and so far so good, playing without shoulder-rest is now much more comfortable... and no more slipping around. Although I don't think I'll ever be totally rest-less , I do like to practice without... and this chin rest is good for me both ways!!!!

December 27, 2007 at 06:26 PM · I just bought one, and so far it feels comfortable. As per Buri's blog, I put strips of moleskin on the parts that clamp to the violin, so there's no damage to the instrument.


December 27, 2007 at 07:04 PM · I, too, ordered a Berber after reading about other's esxperiences. I have used several different shoulder rests over the years in an attempt to get to the most comfortable playing position. All of that fell by the wayside once I tried the Berber chin rest. It has made an immediate and huge difference in my comfort level. I love it.

I did not have the sound difference problem noticed by another violinist so I am completely happy with my choice to make the change. I currently use a shoulder rest that is a copy of the Menuhin rest and it works great with the Berber.

December 27, 2007 at 07:11 PM · After checking Stephen Brivati's blog about the Berber I gave it another shot - following his advice about adjusting the rest so it sits closer to the edge. I also took a box cutter and thinned away the excess cork which projected over the instrument top so that it only contacted along the edge. I must say these small adjustments made a profound difference - if anything the Berber now allows the instrument to ring even more than my previous rest.

I am still not sure if I will stick with it - I am so used to completely balancing the violin with my left hand that the extra support the Berber provides tempts me to actively rely on my chin with pressure. But I do notice a greater sense of security and comfort - its well worth trying! (even more than once)

December 27, 2007 at 09:42 PM · I went to look at a Berber...and discovered I already have one! Nice little chinrest - though not the most elegant-looking.

December 28, 2007 at 06:16 AM · Greetings,

yes. Almost as ugly as me and my long lost Swedish offspring but twice a s handy...



December 29, 2007 at 01:32 AM · The Berber Chinrest does not really contribute to the looks of a fine violin;but who cares,just as long as you can utilize it.

The Berber does detriment the visualization of a great violin.

I admire streamlined finishes to an instrument and the addition of a Berber diminishes the visual appeal to --- at least the player involved.

For me,the violin itself is an art form--from the finest of woods and is to be cherished for the detail of the maker and its sound and beauty,as a work of art---hand made by an artisan of the highest degree.

Berber chinrests do not belong in the formula to represent artisanship of the maker.Berber chinrests deregulate the lines of the violin,making the violin less pleasing to ones eye.

Of course,no one in the audience would notice---but you--as a player would notice,every time you snatched your violin from its case that it appeared asymetrical.

I would not have one on my violin.

Sometimes,I look at my ax more than I play it and when I gaze--I want to see a piece of art in wood with all of the beauty involved.

To espy and be visually confronted with a Berber chinrest could become detrimental to the gestalt.

But then,my opinions are just mere and probably not to be heeded.

December 29, 2007 at 08:41 AM · My violin also sounds much better with my Berber than my side mounted rest .... does anyone know why this is??

January 2, 2008 at 09:44 PM · I just tried a Berber on my violin and all of a sudden my violin is secure, in the correct position, and I can fully relax my left hand/thumb. This is how I should have been playing all along! I tried a Flesch earlier and it just isn't as secure.

I noticed on the Johnson String instrument site they call it a Berber/Ohrenform chinrest. Not sure if it's the same since I got it from Shar.

January 2, 2008 at 10:13 PM · I just bought a berber and love it too. I use a little bit of cork underneath, and it's perfect. BTW, if you want to buy cork, go to JoAnn fabrics. (no, I don't own JoAnn fabrics stock)

I also bought my berber from Shar.

January 3, 2008 at 09:14 AM · Ohrenform means ear-shaped. Guess it makes sense...

January 12, 2008 at 10:09 PM · I tried this too. It is indeed life-changing. I do not know whether this is a new design, but I wish I had found it or a similar one when I started... what a waste of time. Beginners should be able to find a few guidelines about chinrests, so they do not waste time like I did looking for something that never quite works. I tried so many shoulder rests... I do not know about those who support the violin with the left hand (I wish I could do it), but for those who hold the violin high up on the shoulder, this is it.

January 12, 2008 at 10:24 PM · Thanks Ian, I just got my Berber from Shar after reading your post, and am now able to play without a shoulder rest for the first time! More people should know about these.

January 13, 2008 at 03:01 AM · I've been using a Flesch chinrest for years, and now a lot of my students use a Flesch or a Berber. It is a radical difference from the chinrests located on the left side. I can see in my students what some of you have described: The violin stays in place without discomfort. Starting from there, it's much easier to learn and do the basic tasks on the violin.

January 13, 2008 at 02:54 PM · It is not working for us. Is there anything that one should be mindful in changing from a guernari model to a Berber? Thank you.


January 13, 2008 at 03:08 PM · I use a Wittner center-mounted chinrest. I'm curious to know how different the Berber is. Does anyone one have experience with both?

January 14, 2008 at 02:26 AM · Mike, I use a Berber chin rest but I also tried both of the Wittner's (the side mount and the center). I liked the center mount Wittner very much, but the Berber was even better for me. However, my daughter is now using the full size center mount Wittner on her 1/2 size violin and she loves that set up. She doesn't use a shoulder rest with it because it's high enough for her.

I would say the center mount Wittner and the Berber fit very closely. The difference being the Berber has the higher 'ridge' that you can hook your jaw onto. It's all a matter of personal preference.

I forgot to mention that I tried 10-12 chin rests from Johnson's and Shar, and the two that I kept were the Berber's and the Wittner center mount. Also, the Berber model from Shar is just a tad bit different from the Berber model that Johnson's sells so I would suggest buying one from each company if you want to try the Berber.

January 14, 2008 at 02:33 PM · Teresa-your vln may sound different to you because it is now at a different place below your ear. Ask someone to listen to you play with each style of rest for an opinion. // That is interesting that Shar's and Johnson's versions are shaped a little differently. I now have 5 or 6 Guarneri rests in my kit, since each has a slightly different cup and edge (where the cup stops and the flat area heads towards the tailpiece.) Each one feels a little different; I'm starting to figure out which one to head for when I student tries one, basically likes it, but "not quite." Sue

January 14, 2008 at 06:33 PM · I've been playing with my Berber (from Johnson) for 2 weeks, and I love it! It's wonderful playing with a rest that's shaped like the human face, and not like someone's idea of what a rest ought to look like. I was able to lower my Wolf shoulder rest to the lowest possible position, as well as get rid of my gelpad.

The Berber design comes in different heights and degrees of cup-depth, so I'd suggest trying out several at a dealer if possible. The first one I tried at the Johnson store didn't fit over my tailpiece, but the second, higher one, did.

Unlike Megan, Buri, and Joe, I think mine looks great, too! Maybe because I got one in rosewood that matches my rather dark-colored instument.

January 14, 2008 at 10:43 PM · Greetings

`beauty is in the eye of the bowholder.`



January 15, 2008 at 02:02 PM · Is there much of a difference between the Berber and the Flesch style rest?

January 15, 2008 at 10:21 PM · The Flesch and the Berber are both higher than many other chin rest styles. I found the Flesch to be comfortable but not quite what I was looking for.

The best thing to do is order a bunch of chin rests and try them all out on your violin. When I phoned both Shar and Johnson's I asked specifically for chin rests that were higher than normal, did not care if they were side mount or center that I wanted to try as many as possible. The shipping wasn't expensive at all and I got to try all the chin rests together so it made the process go much faster.

January 15, 2008 at 10:29 PM · Greetings,

>Is there much of a difference between the Berber and the Flesch style rest?

Yes. You just have to try them.



January 15, 2008 at 11:00 PM · Shar's website now shows that the chinrest is out of stock.

January 17, 2008 at 11:49 PM · I think I got the last one–I ordered one in boxwood on the 14th, 3 day shipping option but it got here in 2 days which is nice.

I see what everyone means about the fit–the bottom is dead flat and almost square to the mounting hardware, perfect for a violin with no scoop. ;-)

As to the look, I suspect one could trim some of the projecting 'lobes' once you know how much of the rest you actually touch with your jaw.

January 18, 2008 at 03:28 AM · with such a high rising rest,does it fit comfortably within your violin case__will the lid close ?

January 19, 2008 at 03:45 AM · Closing the lid has not been a problem for me - I have a Continental case from Shar (American Case Co.)

January 19, 2008 at 07:26 AM · Greetings,

I cut an ear shaped hole in mine.



January 21, 2008 at 10:21 AM · Another place to purchase the Berber (eleven options) if it's identical to the Ohrenform chin rests.

January 21, 2008 at 10:01 AM ·

February 5, 2008 at 06:34 PM · After reading the exuberant posts here I placed an order with Shar. Like many of you I haven't had much luck with shoulder rests and other violinistic contraptions so hopefully this will make the difference I'm looking for.

February 5, 2008 at 06:41 PM · Chuck, let us know how it goes.

February 5, 2008 at 06:44 PM · Hi Ray, ever since I joined this site I've been prone to sporadic, uncontrolled fits of enthusiasm. I'm sure Shar doesn't mind it one bit.

BTW I'll definitely keep you posted.

February 5, 2008 at 07:08 PM · In my ongoing quest for the perfect setup (which at this point is going to be horizontal, in a box) I ordered Berber, Zitsman, and SAS chinrests from Johnson. I figured anything I didn't like I can keep on hand for students to try. Unfortunately, both the Berber and the Zitsman have such a shallow hump that they touch the tailpiece! So, in order to try them out without getting an awful, hollow tone, I will have to alter them. I'm going to put some cork on them (temporarily) and then see how it goes. If I like one, I can get the instrument repair guy to add a bit of wood, as the added cork will eventually compress. Anyone else have problems with too low a hump?

I *think* I'll like the Berber...eventually.

February 5, 2008 at 08:13 PM · The berber, thankfully, had enough clearance for my tailpice. I wouldn't rave that its made a hughe difference in comfort fro me, but it is better than anything else I tried.

I nearly lost my mind in the couple of weeks before it arrived though (long way to Australia) - I'd taken off the teka, replaced it with first a centre mounted which nearly crippled me in one afternoon, then spend the best part of a day stuffing around with the full size centre+side model from my cruddy 4/4, trying to make it fit on the 3/4 that I play. And that hit the tailpiece all the time. Slipped off. wriggled out of position.

Anyway, now I'm with the berber plus anything I can find to cover the hardware (cause I've got delicate little princess skin), plus I've been able to go back to my old little 3/4 kun shoulder rest. the chinrest was fine straight out of the box, none of the difficulties that Buri had. The key might well have added to the scratches on the ribs of my violin, but considering my temper tantrums the week before, when I was using some long pointy metal probe thingy, it was kind of hard to see if the scratches were new or from that unfortunate episode.

I've tried and retried without a shoulder rest, but just don't feel like there's any future in it for me.

February 5, 2008 at 10:31 PM · Greetings,

Zitsman?!!!!!!if they want to sell it in Britain they will have to change the name.



February 8, 2008 at 02:09 PM · Hi Kristine,

Yes, I had the same problem with this Berber chin rest : It touches the tailpiece and pushes it down, which leads me to believe that it was poorly designed (shallow hump); however, I tried it on another violin with a Wittner tailpiece (with built in tuners) and here the Berber doesn't touch it, so probably this hint could be helpful for you. By the way, I am not terrible crazy about it and don't like its looks either.

February 8, 2008 at 02:37 PM · Well, I had the repair guy build up the feet with about 3 mm of strong cork, and also plane the underside of the chinrest to clear the tailpiece. (No returning it now...) It fits on the violin now, so now the test begins. I'm not completely blown away by how comfortable I am, but nothing's screaming in pain either. I wish the Wittner hypoallergenic chinrest didn't get such a weird, hollow sound on my violin; I loved the feel of that one. Sigh.

February 10, 2008 at 05:45 AM · Are the ohberform chinrests the same as berber? It seems that some places have them labeled either/or but look somewhat different. Shar has been out of rosewood for a while now and They said it would be a month before more came in. Does anyone know anywhere else in the states that might sell the berber in rosewood for violin? Would you mind PMing me a site or picture? Thanks and sorry for the hassle.

February 11, 2008 at 03:09 AM · I think the Berber is the same as the Ohrenform. See the following link:

I got mine from Johnson Strings. Now that I've had the underside planed a bit to clear my tailpiece, I *really* like it. I'm using that with just a little bitty Sostenuto sponge-y shoulder pad, and am quite comfortable. For now...

July 18, 2010 at 11:10 PM ·

I am going to order a Berber, a Zitsman, and one that I just saw called a Pritska...(I currently use a Guarneri and I end up touching the tailpiece with my chin, and the edge of the chinrest fitting pushes into my collarbone.)  I tried the Flat Flesch, but it's a little too centered for me, athough the marks on my collarbone disappeared.

I am hoping that one of the 3 above will do it...I think the Pritska looks beautiful.  I have no heard anyone mention it though.


July 19, 2010 at 02:14 AM ·

 Anyone living in Seville?

July 19, 2010 at 02:14 AM ·

Agreed- Berber and an acoustifoam pad below ( not a full fledged shoulder rest) worked for me. The contour of cup and size seems to fit a lot of different jaw and chin types.

July 19, 2010 at 05:28 AM ·

 it's a great chin-rest but lately noticed that the guarnieri is better for me.

I don't know how the guarnieri metal clamp ends up on your collarbone but the Flesch  doesn't don't they both have a clamp under the tailpiece? (in the same place? the ones my shop sells do anyway)

July 19, 2010 at 08:27 AM ·

I'm currently using a flat flesch. It is much better than the side-mounted Guarneri, but I'm having problems gripping the violin. I think i'll try the Berber next :)

July 20, 2010 at 03:38 PM ·


"I don't know how the guarnieri metal clamp ends up on your collarbone but the Flesch  doesn't don't they both have a clamp under the tailpiece? (in the same place? the ones my shop sells do anyway)"

The left side of the metal fitting sits right on my collarbone with the Guarneri.  The Flesch is centered the same, but because the violin then is moved "up" higher on my shoulder with the centered chinrest position, the violin comes "off" my collarbone just enough to not PRESS into it (and just rests lightly).  I have become more aware that I am adapting to the Guarneri than having the rest hold me where I naturally want to be.  Seems like the Berber has many fans!  Priska and Berber on order....

We violinists are fussy creatures, aren't we?  : )

July 20, 2010 at 05:47 PM ·

 Erica: thank you for explaining that! I didn't think of the solution that it's because the violin ends up in a different 'position' in relation to your body because of the centred chin rest, it does indeed LOL that is the reason why the Guarnieri to me is preferable than the Berber :) 

thank you

July 22, 2010 at 09:52 PM · think I am going to love it, but having the same problem, the rest hits the tailpiece on the "scroll" side of the tailpiece so I can't tighten it down.  Better to add some cork or plane the rest.  CRUD!  Suggestions appreciated!

July 22, 2010 at 10:35 PM ·

Erica, that is always the problem with the center mounted chin rest, add a cork pad, will do, but it will raise it up obviously, you know the mm's in chin rest and so on, on the violin, its always kinda a big deal. If you lower the bridge, it will cost you the sound, you don't want to to do that. Wait for the Priska, if stil not it, then maybe you can try SAS or Wolf Maestro.

Chin rest and any other thing with regards to violin are always a personnal thing.

July 22, 2010 at 11:08 PM ·

 yes I had to place 2 extra thin layers of cork under each 'leg' of the rest to raise it enough for it to have 'good clearance' from the tailpiece. You need good clearance or it may still touch whilst you play as the pressure from your chin will push it down a millimeter or so...

July 23, 2010 at 12:37 AM ·

I ordered a 2nd one from Shar, because they said they have heard this before, but not with their model which is designed to their specifications.  So we shall see.  The Priska is on indefinite backorder.  I will re-post when Shar berber model comes.  : )

July 23, 2010 at 12:38 AM ·

Jo: where do you get the cork and do you glue it to the old cork that was on there?  I am hoping to NOT have to do this however....

July 23, 2010 at 01:55 PM ·

I put thin slices of wine bottle cork under the rest just to see how it would be and I like it!  Waiting for 2nd one to arrive and hoping it will work unmodified.  If I have to modify, I will....

September 30, 2010 at 02:50 AM ·

January 8, 2011 at 01:39 AM ·

The Shar model is a little bigger and prettier I think.  I LOVE it!  Except I seem to be allergic to the rosewood and need to order it in Ebony!  Yikes!

(Did need a little cork under the feet...easy to do)

January 8, 2011 at 05:19 PM ·

Is straighter bowing a common side-effect of switching chin rests? I've had problems with straight bowing and yesterday I pretended I had a center-mount chin rest. My bowing turned totally straight. Would a center-mount chin rest help me, or was it something else that inadvertently changed in my setup?

January 8, 2011 at 10:19 PM ·

Yes , 'Ive have found it is easier for my students to play  with straight bowing when the violin is held at a 45* degree angle with  the chin over the tail piece.Chin rest that are to the right of the tail piece will generally put the violin hold at a 60 to 90* angle ,making it more of a challenge to keep the bow parallel with the bridge.I use the Berber chin rest and I highly recommend it.

January 8, 2011 at 10:56 PM ·

I've never used a chin rest, but get a tired and sore neck when I play more than an hour.  I don't have the grip I used to either... Think I'd be a candidate for these chin rests?


January 21, 2012 at 04:31 PM · My Berber arrived just the other day. I think I may try ditching my SR now... jury is still out.

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