Looking for a substitute for the chin rest

July 27, 2010 at 10:25 PM ·

By misfortune, I got a cyst under my chin, after which I was forced to give up the chin rest. I opted for letting the cyst stay as it is rather than letting a surgeon cut me up to see what happens. I don't regret my choice, as it hardly bothers, but I definitely can't tolerate the pressure my wooden chin rest causes (it is quite large, for the left side). However, two things do bother me:

1. A good percentage of volume and tone is affected by the pressure of the chin right on the violin.

2. I have a long neck, and thus I have to turn my head much further, what causes discomfort at some point, and may eventually lead to other consequences later on. I do use a shoulder rest made specifically for me, but it does not keep the violin that high.

What possible alternatives I might try? Is there anything like a very flat and soft chin rest?

Replies (20)

July 27, 2010 at 11:00 PM ·

 Here's a photo of a chinrest that I've had for a while: http://www.contemporaryviola.com/images/chinrest02.png made by Wolf. I've never seen another one exactly like it - someone said it might have been a prototype, but it's made of a synthetic fabric glued to a thick flexible sheet over a frame so it's  softer than a wood rest and is also designed to move a little. The amount of movement desired can be adjusted. The fabric has compressed over time but I'd never go back to a wood rest.

July 28, 2010 at 02:23 AM ·

I experimented once and took my chinrest off - and I have to agree that it, quite surprisingly, negatively affects volume and even overtones in a very strong way. Unfortunately, I haven't found a way around it yet, same as you..

July 28, 2010 at 02:33 AM ·

Chin-rests can be modified considerably.  They can have most of their mass removed, for instance, if that is your concern (and that does make a difference).

They can also be customized for a better fit.  It is probable that a chin-rest could be modified to leave room for your cyst, one way or another.

July 28, 2010 at 02:38 AM ·


July 28, 2010 at 08:08 AM ·

 "It hardly bothers, but I definitely can't  tolerate the pressure".

This means that it does bother you  and I think you are asking the wrong question. The first priority should be to have the cyst cleared up, by surgical or other means as soon as possible. Otherwise try the cello in the mean time if there is nothing wrong with your knees.

July 29, 2010 at 05:01 AM ·

I am not asking a solution for the cyst. That I did in another post several years ago, in which several people agreed that the risks of surgery can be worse than the cyst.


I do have one of those happynex like stuffs, and I acknowledge that it is an option I would use in extreme cases, but I have not been able to fully adjust to it, as it the keeps the violin in a different angle and I feel a lack of security that the chin grip gives, particularly to play virtuoso repertoire that demands flying up and down up to the end of the fingerboard.

July 29, 2010 at 10:09 AM ·

Growing a bushy beard might help to tolerate a soft chin rest. 

July 29, 2010 at 11:37 AM ·

Best to go and get the cyst excised...that way it'll be all cleared....it's not a major procedure and could most likely be done in the Doctors rooms...that's the best solution, ..a little discomfort for a couple of weeks then you'll never look back...

July 29, 2010 at 11:45 PM ·

 I know you said you're not asking for a solution for the cyst itself but what you're asking is basically how to play the violin securely (including virtuoso repertoire) without using your jawbone to hold the violin.  To which I answer that I've never seen it done.  You already have a happynex and you didn't care for it.  This brings us back to the point you apparently want to avoid, which is: why are you attached to keeping the cyst?  I don't know who told you the risk isn't worth it but unless there's something extreme that you're not telling us you're looking at a very simple, low-risk outpatient procedure.  

July 30, 2010 at 09:42 AM ·

 It seems there is something more to the cyst than Rick is willing to divulge and that it has become a sore point with him.

July 31, 2010 at 09:01 AM ·

Would a small flat chinrest help? I have several from old violins. You may have one if it would make playing possible for you.

July 31, 2010 at 02:42 PM ·

Very kind of you, but I am thousands of kilometers from Holland, too far to try your chin rests. My idea was just to collect some suggestions about possible options and perhaps unusual chin rests, but it seems that some people here are more interested in digging  my health issues...

Without a chin rest only the tip of my chin presses the violin, skipping the cyst. If I could get a chin rest that would allow me to keep only this kind of contact, I would be satisfied and let my cyst rest in peace.

July 31, 2010 at 02:55 PM ·

I found them on old violins, my guess is that luthiers and dealers closer to you may have them. I could send you a picture of some to get an idea of what I mean. They are really small

July 31, 2010 at 03:40 PM ·

That would be very helpful. Better if you post the pics right here on this thread so that others may also benefit. If possible, put them on the violin so that we may have the exact idea of the size.

July 31, 2010 at 03:57 PM ·

I am not so good at this, how do I add a picture?

July 31, 2010 at 06:35 PM ·

1. Save the pic somewhere in your computer.

2. In the panel above the field for posting a reply there is an icon looking like the sun over the hills. Click on it.

3. Click on 'Browse server'.

4. Click on 'Browse...' and select the pic.

5. Click on 'upload'.



July 31, 2010 at 09:05 PM ·

not on my pc unfortunately, something says no..

August 1, 2010 at 03:55 AM ·

In this case, I will be glad if you e-mail them to me.

August 1, 2010 at 05:32 AM ·

There seem to be two major aspects to this discussion; the cyst, and the chinrest.

For the cyst, I have had cysts (albeit not on my face) that I had for years. My previous physician was very disinclined to remove them, and he seemed to indicate that it was better to leave them. I changed physicians, partially because I was starting to not agree with the very conservative level of advice I was getting from my previous physician. I do not say it was wrong, I felt I wanted something more proactive.

My new physician was a bit more aggressive in treatments.
I had the two cysts removed, and I am much happier; there were no problems. This may not be typical, but it worked for me.

Second, if the cyst is in an uncomfortable place on the chinrest, I would suggest having a chinrest milled to match what you need. Start with a good basic chinrest, and if it is a wood surface, it may be completely possible to have the surface reshaped to match what will work for you. It may fit the rest of your face, with a significant indent for your cyst.
NOTE: I would avoid compressing the cyst; that could aggravate any other issues you have with it.

September 23, 2010 at 12:11 AM ·


I posted a topic "Make a Customized Chinrest Cushion Yourself" in health days ago. Please read it. I think you can make a special shaped cushion to avoid contacting the cyst.


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