Wittner chin rests sound different

March 20, 2008 at 03:35 PM · I just fitted a centre-mounted Wittner chin rest, having used a flesch centre-mounted one before. My violin sounds quite different, it seems to have more volume and be more sonorous. I think I like the change in sound, but Im not so sure! I wonder if I am imagining things. Has anyone else noticed this?

Replies (24)

March 20, 2008 at 06:00 PM · Everything you change in a violin probably will cause a change in the sound. Perhaps the new one is lighter, or not too tightly attached to the instrument.

March 21, 2008 at 05:17 PM · I'm experimenting now with side-mounted Wittner. Although the shape is better then Dresden (that I've been using before) it gives my violin shallow, plastic sound - and I don't like it... I need something made of wood :). But this is only me:). Greetings

March 21, 2008 at 07:18 PM · I agree with the post above: when I put the Wittner center-mount on my violin I *hated* the sound! It was really hollow and plastic-y, and even my students noticed it. I still have one on my viola but that's just because I haven't played my viola lately! I'm sticking with the Morawetz--it isn't quite as center-mounted but feels just fine.

March 28, 2008 at 02:02 PM · After more playing, I've gone off the sound of the Wittner, and am back to using my flesch! Interesting how it can change the sound so much.

March 31, 2008 at 07:29 PM · The lighter Wittner chin rest is less likely to constrict the violin's vibrations (I think!)

April 1, 2008 at 04:34 AM · I'll say what I always say: Make sure the sound is actually changing out in the room, not just at your ears. In my extensive tests (recording the changes) I could find no significant difference in sound using any chinrest, and I probably tried 15 types on several violins each.

It is certainly possible that some rest will make a real difference, but unlikely.

The main difference is due to A: A different coupling to your chin bone, and B: a different oriention of the violin to your ears.

It could even be that some rest makes it easier for you to play, thus resulting in a slightly improved tone. That, of course, would be a real benefit and not something to be dismissed.

If your students say they hear a difference, it is probably psychological. Play both ways fo them again, but have them face the opposit wall, so they can't see which is which. That's still not a double-blind test, as you will know which is which (and as any scientist knows, even THAT can skew the results) but it's a simple way to get more objective.

If you still find that some rest improves the sound, I sure would like to know.

March 31, 2008 at 09:13 PM · I still believe that the Wittner chinrest significantly changed the tone of my violin. After I put one on, I had a student ask me "what's wrong with your violin? It sounds really weird!" and she didn't know that I had a different rest at all! It really did make the sound hollow and plastic. I'm sticking with my Morawetz!

In a similar vein, can you all hear a difference between the different types of wood? My daughter switched from an ebony to a rosewood rest and said the violin sounded louder--and she's only 13 and certainly not a connoisseur of minute acoustic differentiations!

March 31, 2008 at 11:29 PM · Changing the chinrest weight, location, or clamping pressure will alter the way the entire instrument moves or vibrates.

Some violins are very sensitive to this, others less so.

The same is true of shoulder rests.

April 1, 2008 at 01:37 AM · Anytime a chinrest puts pressure on the table outside of the end block you can potentially change the sound. The best method is to have the smallest contact points on the upper and lower clamps of the chinrest. Sometimes this means cutting wood off the chinrest feet to narrow the contact point and effectively placing the clamping pressure on the end block alone.

You can also remove the old cork and just add thumb tack sized cork to one small spot(s) on the clamp to lesson the footprint. 2 on top, one on the bottom.

Many chinrests are way too big where they clamp the instrument and need to be carved.

AP

April 1, 2008 at 09:33 AM · I thought people were being extreme when they said the chin rest made a difference in the sound, until I tried switching to a Guarneri style chin rest. My violin turned to crap right then and there. No matter how comfortable it felt, I couldn't leave it on because it sounded so bad.

Chin rests do make a difference!

April 1, 2008 at 10:57 PM · I recently tried a Wittner center-mount for my viola, and the immeadiate second I drew my bow across the strings my viola sounded plastic instead of his lush, velvety sound. So I switched to a Flesch center-mount.

I don't really like chinrest made from synthetic material. I haven't tried the Wolf chin rest, but I have heard many reviews agianst it.

August 8, 2010 at 07:26 PM ·

 I see that this is an older conversation string, but I thought I'd respond anyway. I got a Wittner chin rest that sits just to the side and over the tailpiece and I LOVE it! For people like me with short necks who also don't like to use shoulder rests (to feel the vibrations), this is the perfect rest. It allows the player to slant the instrument down slightly in what I think is a more natural position, and guess what? My shoulder ache and neck tension are gone! I have noticed no change in the sound of the viola, at all. 

August 8, 2010 at 10:52 PM ·

It probably sounds better because it is lighter in weight than most ebony chin rests.

August 9, 2010 at 02:20 AM ·

 I use a wittner side-mount and haven't really noticed a change of sound.  Is the center mount touching your tail piece?

September 7, 2012 at 01:06 PM · I have used wooden centre mounted chin rests (Flesch) and they always touch the tailpiece. There is not enough space in the 'tunnel' . Does the same problem exist with the Wittner centre mounted chin rest or is there plenty of room for the tailpiece ?

September 7, 2012 at 04:10 PM · I had my luthier make room for the tailpiece on the center-mounts I've used (first Berber, now Flesch--flat). That's one major advantage those have over Wittner; plastic can't be shaped as wood can.

As far as sound changes...I notice it under ear, because the ear is in a different relation to the f-hole, but no one who has heard me play before/after found any change.

September 7, 2012 at 04:41 PM · The wooden Flesch chinrest I have does not have enough timber to make the tunnel any deeper. It is too thin to remove any more wood. Perhaps this is exceptional and other makers have thicker chinrests enabling some wood to be removed from the tunnel.

I am trying my chinrest again now by raising the height using pads of cork added to the existing cork.

September 7, 2012 at 04:56 PM · And to demonstrate yet another change in sound (whether objective or subjective?) remove both chinrest and shoulder rest. Tip: hold the violin with your chin on the treble side of the tailpiece - it can be held thus very lightly with no effort.

September 7, 2012 at 05:52 PM · As already mentioned, the size and shape of contact points and their location seem to have the biggest impact on sound.

Another factors are: material used, shape and total mass of the chin rest. From my experience, side mounted (left of the tail piece) ones tend to suppress higher frequencies.

I am using Guarneri Gilkes made by Alexander accessories. Their clamps are simply the best, with a firm hold, the least of contact and the best fit. The only challenge is their distribution and dealership policy. Because of high demand they claim not to have anything in stock. There is no way to try different models before one buys. And they are pricey too.

September 8, 2012 at 12:39 AM · @ Brian. I investigated my chinrests; and I misspoke. In both cases the chinrest was raised and the tunnel widened (more than deepened). It works, is all I can say.

September 8, 2012 at 05:07 AM · Marjory : yes, I thought so. Somebody should tell these manufacturers that they need to make the Flesch chinrests higher ie. put more wood on the 'feet' of the chinrest. I think a full half inch would be a good start.

September 15, 2012 at 03:26 AM · Check out the chin rest to make sure it does not touch any part of the tail peace, particularly when holding the violin in place. If the pressure of your chin and shoulder causes the chin rest to contact the tail piece you will change the pitch of the strings and wonder why a string or strings are out of tune.

September 15, 2012 at 12:17 PM · When using a chinrest there should never be that amount of pressure applied to it. No wonder some players have tension and neck problems! For me, the optimal design for a "chinrest" is that it should stop the violin from pulling away from the chin; in other words, it is an anchor that should never require dowward pressure from the chin. From this point of view it seems irrelevant whether the rest is centre- or side-mounted.

September 18, 2012 at 01:10 PM · I SUFFERED FROM THE 'HOW DO I GET COMFORTABLE 'SCENARIO UNTIL I SAW A UTUBE SERIES FROM A COLLEGE GROUP HAVING PROBLEMS ....WITH INSTRUEMENT SET UP....A DOZEN PEOPLE [MAJORS-NOT 1ST YEAR STUDENTS] WITH PHYSICAL PROBLEMS THAT INHIBITED THEIR PRACTICE-PLAYING ABILITIES..

THE PROF. ANALYZED ERGONOMICS AND 'FITTED ' CHIN RESTS AND SHOULDER RESTS TO INDIVIDUAL..(i've totally lost the utube link;try 'fitting chin and shoulder rests to work' ..in search box)

I SWITCHED TO A CENTER CHIN REST--STD HEIGHT-BUT SLIGHTLY CANTED DOWNWARD TOWARD BRIDGE,ALLOWING ALMOST EFFORTLESS 'CHIN-HOLD'..AND A 'BONMUSICA ' SHOULDER REST..(THEY ARE REMARKABLY ADJUSTABLE-'FORMABLE'-STRETCHABLE/CANTABLE)..WITH ITS CLINGY FOAM...

...ANDRE RIEU, PERFORMER, USES NO SHOULDER REST AND HAS A LONG NECK ! (MAYBE PADDED SHOULDERS ?)

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