August 8, 2010 at 01:15 PM ·


I've been trying to go shoulder-rest-less lately (no, not starting this discussion here). It works pretty well so far, but after practising for a couple of hours, my collarbone where the violin rests, starts hurting and you can see a light red stain there.

I've realised it's exactly the bottom of the metal clamps of the chin rest where my violin is resting on my collarbone (when I was using a SR, my violin wasn't really touching my collarbone at all). Using clothes/towels/chamois didn't help much.

Anyone else having the same problems? Advice? 

Oh, and I'm pretty sure I'm not clamping my head down on my violin (except maybe for down-shifts and very intense vibratos).



Replies (21)

August 8, 2010 at 02:07 PM ·

Oh gosh, not this can of worms again! You really are brave! lol

I hope you find a solution, that sounds painful. You won't like my solution so I won't even mention it! :oP

August 8, 2010 at 03:38 PM ·

I was having the same problem until I started using John Cadd's invention.  He doesn't have a name for it and it is not really a shoulder rest, so I've been calling it the "Cadd Pad."  It covers the collar bone, so offers a thin layer of protection that solves the achy collar bone issue.

Another suggestion is to try a thin cosmetic sponge (usually red in color) affixed over the chin rest clamp with a rubber band.  You can get them at Sally Beauty Supply, or if there isn't a retail store near you, you can find them on-line.  That is what I was using for about 8 months before going to the Cadd Pad, and although it helped a lot, I still had an achy collar bone.

I will probably start a new thread on this.  NOT whether one should use a SR, but rather, the issues with going restless and differences in technique between SR and non-SR playing. I'll try to get the thread going in the next week or two. 


August 8, 2010 at 04:48 PM · I use a device called a Shoulder Pet - sort of a rectangular bean bag made of suede and filled with quinoa. It is divided into two pods separated by a sewn-in seam. I simply drape it over the base of neck/shoulder and across collar bone. It nicely takes care of any collar bone soreness or irritation. I discovered it long ago on Google it for pix and info (no affiliation, just a satisfied customer). Remarkably, there is minimal dampening of sound/resonance.

August 8, 2010 at 04:58 PM ·

Lets see ,  measure the height between your collar bone and chin(right side),without the violin and head leveled.You can do this measurement with a ruler and a pencil. Then measure the height from collar bone to chin with violin placed. If you have the correct set-up  there should be no difference to -1/4 inch.IMO.   The larger the gap(from leveled head to chinrest) = more head weight .If  you are using the wrong chinrest and the gap is more than an inch ,your head is going to come forward adding more pressure.

Hmmm, I wound what works best to fill in this gap???HMM??

August 8, 2010 at 06:51 PM ·

 I believe this may have a simple solution.

Don't push up as hard using the left hand.  You're supposed to hold the violin a little with the left hand, but don't push up.  By pusingin up, you lever the violin against the chin and end up pushing the violin down on your collar bone... So relax and lower your left hand a bit and maybe that will help.

Not sure if that's the problem for you but it's a maybe...

August 8, 2010 at 07:32 PM ·

I made myself a cushion that holds with elastic. In some ways quite similar to John Cadd's invention but much thicker because I have a long neck.   It puts a good angle and the weight of the violin is divided by two. A little bit of its weight is on my collar bone but the rest of its weight is on the contact point between the cushion and my neck/shoulder area. 

Good luck!  I know pain is really no fun and I had a lot too in my process. Wish you that it will all go away and never come back again!



August 8, 2010 at 08:07 PM ·

It is maybe a problem more related to the chin rest you are using. The big flat ones made by the Hills ( Heifetz-Milstein and Szeryng used these) are simply the best...Go for a video of Milstein on youtube...He does lift his head and then drops it on the chin rest ...The weight of the head in itself is more than sufficient...if you feel tense in the neck,it means that something is wrong. The balance with natural weight of the head and the entire left arm ( which should be close as possible of your left side, in the most natural position to avoid the exagerated swing of the elbow) is called must feel that symbiose as much as possible when playing...

August 8, 2010 at 08:54 PM ·

Oistrakh used a sponge under his violin, so did Stern.  According to my teacher Sevcik had a similar method.  Maybe that will give you the protection you need.  Or you could use Mr. Cad's collar.

August 8, 2010 at 10:35 PM ·

A lot of the violinist mentioned above have short necks, their posture is going to be better than someone with a larger neck who doesn't use any support .If you watch Micheal Rabin ,who seems to have a larger neck then the others, suffers with his poor posture.His poor posture starts with his head leaning down into the fiddle ,he then uses the wrong chinrest ,his chin is over his tail piece not the left side of his violin.Because his head is too forward he ends up lowering his elbow to much.Now instead of leaning into the violin, he is bending to the  left at the waist causing his hips to move out to the right. Awful posture that will cause major lower back problems, all related to not having the proper chin support.

I wonder what he could have used that thou not name



August 8, 2010 at 10:42 PM ·

Charles: I do not believe in the short long neck issue, This is always coming back and on... Many famous violinists had long neck and still played without a shouder rest...Neveu -Milstein- Szigeti -Hirshorn- Kogan  all my teachers and many friends...ect. ect.

August 8, 2010 at 11:02 PM ·

Well thats find Mark

So if Mr. Rabin's was alive today ,what would say to him to help improve his posture.How would you correct this forward movement of the head, how would you release the tension from the necks muscles?

August 8, 2010 at 11:50 PM ·

I do not think that the young Michael Rabin was tense... Many hold the violin the way he did...Francescatti, Joseph Hassid. If you are tense from the neck ,it blocks the entire freedom of  playing...

August 8, 2010 at 11:53 PM ·

The chin has to be over the tail piece: it is a golden rule...But you do not press on it and the violin kept in the middle

August 9, 2010 at 12:01 AM ·

I had the same problem in my first month or so but honestly, I don't know what I did to make it stop hurting. I let my sister have a try at holding the violin, the first thing she notices is that the collarbone is getting hurt. It couldn't either be:
1)Getting used to it (no pain at all) - probably something beginner guitarists experience with their left hand. I know how that feels :D
2)Finding another position that works
I didn't switch my setup at all by the way.
I remember I tried holding and playing a cheap electric violin, it was uncomfortable but I got used to it. When I got my own violin again, it was HEAVENLY. Can't describe how comfortable that was. Anyway, perhaps my collarbone is just not all that sensitive now than the way it was before I started playing the violin.


August 9, 2010 at 12:21 AM ·

It started with a simple red stain, and now we have the opportunity to "correct" Michael Rabin's posture... Promising discussion!

About the sore collarbone, I think ( it was so for me, at least) the spot where the clamp lies  can become callous after a while, so it's not such a big problem. What did help me also was using a chinrest designed by Prof. Varga, specially for restless players, with smooth-edged inferior clamps, to avoid the "hard corners" of the usual clamps irritating the skin over the collarbone. For instance, trying to use a minimal amount of chin / head weight on the chin rest also helps. Just my 2 cents...

And (can't help if Michael Rabin were still alive, I would probably ask him for an autograph, make a comment like the one of Milstein ( "the guy who played so wonderful violin") I always liked so much and maybe, if he had time for it, ask him how (only as an example...) come Francescatti could play a whole injury-free life long, with his chin even more over the tailpiece and his head even more "forward"...  


August 9, 2010 at 12:38 AM ·

Read this Mark and wake up !!!

The way I look at it is any bending of the neck is wrong As soon as you lower the neck more than a 1/2 inch you are going to create tension.

As for the chin resting  on the tail piece ,buy a chin rest that supports this hold.I don't understand why violinist insist on placing their chins on a narrow wooden bar     2:14

I see this all the time . Buy a chin rest that goes over the tail piece ,you will be surprised how comfortable it is



August 9, 2010 at 09:45 AM ·

John ... My lips are sealed :oP

But, I am interested in trying out your "Cadd Pad"!

August 9, 2010 at 11:43 AM ·

I do not feel any tension, do not have any chin-mark and have a good posture since I do practice olympic wrestling and swimming since youth... When I play, I use all my body and have learned about not being tense since childhood. I really do not understand why you insist on saying that Rabin posture is wrong. Have you looked at Heifetz or Szeryng, all on the left! Wish I could play like them. Good posture for me = freedom. What is good for one,maybe not for another...

My chinrest is over the tail piece ( in fact, I never touch it) and they do exist since Kresiler's era. The Hills and the violinists of the time were really good to improve things... Chin rest like the one used by Mutter might be the solution for others...

BTW...I do not hold the violin at all like S.C. or M.G. and my posture is like the guy on the right, all the time...and alike Lisa, I do strecht and am always aware to correct anything wrong in a posture that is not erect, what ever I do, cleaning, eating, in sports and when I sleep or even dream!!!  I never play more than 3 hours a day, some are able to do 5, because there is no need to for my modest needs.

To be completely honest, I should mention that I have wide shoulders, and that my collar bone is strong and prominent... It was that way when I was a young boy... it is easier to rest the violin on it than for others. And when you have wide shoulders ( Kreisler, Neveu were alike), it is easier also to hold the violin inside, below the left shoulder, right at the center and angled toward the ground. My head is kept straight and my violin high, and I always keep both arms close to my body, like Oistrach or Kreisler. But I do not play as well, because I am not as talented...

August 9, 2010 at 06:34 PM ·

Aw don't be so modest! lol

Most of us are not virtuosos ;o)

August 10, 2010 at 04:49 PM ·

Wow, thank you for the quick responds and the advice!

August 10, 2010 at 05:24 PM ·

I had same issue, but when I switched to playing baroque violin with no chinrest, I was fine. Try removing the chinrest completely, and use a soft folded leather chamois for a while. "Real" chamois only, not the synthetic ones, as they do not grip as well.

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