Hill style and standard bracket style chinrest mounts

January 19, 2011 at 01:06 AM ·

 I just saw a violin with a Hill style center chinrest mount, and it looks quite nice.  I have always used a standard bracket.  What are the benefits of using a hill style mount?  Resonance, weight?  Comments appreciated!


Replies (22)

January 19, 2011 at 01:56 AM ·

Well I know this is not the sexiest question out there, but anybody? hello?

January 19, 2011 at 02:07 AM ·

None that I know of, other than those brackets look quite nice.

January 19, 2011 at 03:52 AM ·

 Comfort.  For some the side-bracket style fits better, for others, Hill.  Depends on where your bones are in relation to the violin.

Also, depends a lot on what was in vogue when the chinrest was bought (my 'gang' all went Hill just to be cool <does the adjective date me sufficiently?> and because it was thought to be more professional--kids, you know!).  

Smart people/experienced people use what works best for their violin, their neck/collar bone, and their wallet.

January 19, 2011 at 04:56 AM ·

I've tried them on two violins, and I can't get the violin comfortable. I think it may be body geometry rather than the chinrest.

January 19, 2011 at 05:19 AM ·

 I've tried both. I can't use the Hill style because it has a tendency to dig into my neck.

January 19, 2011 at 11:32 AM ·

With the Hill type the brackets can be adjusted independently in the case of differences in height of the the chinrest or ribs. But you can do that with normal brackets too...

I prefer normal brackets because they are much lighter, and weinght is an important confort aspect for the player's confort.


January 19, 2011 at 12:13 PM ·

Thanks everyone!  I just put on a new chinrest, rest like the sound was pinched, so I took it off, moved it just a bit, and I think it sounds fine now.  Darn violins and all the voodoo we go through to make them sound better.  I think I am going to stay with my standard bracket.  The Hill mount is sure pretty, but it does look like it could dig into your neck. 
I did find a cool little suede cover on the MachOne site that fits right over the mount...I think Strings Magazine featured this too....worth investigating...

January 19, 2011 at 01:18 PM ·

The position of the chinrest, the type of bracket used and how much is it tighted (or not) do have an impact in sound.


January 19, 2011 at 01:28 PM ·

I should have mentioned that on the Hill-style clamps, the two vertical turnbuckles aren't linked together on the bottom, so there are more options available for the location of the clamps on the chinrest if there are comfort problems, or structural concerns with the instrument.

By the way, as a general rule, only tighten the clamps as much as necessary to keep the chinrest from moving during use, including when the violin is unsupported by the hand. They can easily be tightened to the point where they become violin torture devices. ;-)

January 19, 2011 at 02:29 PM ·

"The position of the chinrest, the type of bracket used and how much is it tighted (or not) do have an impact in sound."

I agree.  I no longer use a chin rest on my folk fiddle, and the improvement in sound and projection is noticeable. See my post of Jan 18 on  http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=7814 for more discussion.

January 19, 2011 at 06:13 PM ·

I am always slightly terrified of turning those barrels (and use a very gentle hand).  Good advice! 

BTW the suede chin rest mount cover is online at Southwest Strings for $1.95.  Looks like a good idea for anyone with nickel allergies....

January 19, 2011 at 11:34 PM ·

Erica, I know what you mean. What I do is to tighten the barrels on the CR just so that it feels that a firm, but not heavy, tug would slide it off the violin without doing any damage either to it or the violin. In normal playing use it shouldn't come off. If you fit it like that you may be tempted to turn those barrels another half turn or so. DON'T!

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I don't use a CR on my folk violin – it's quite unnecessary and the tone and projection are improved without it – but I use one on my orchestral violin.  Post-Spohr music usually needs a CR because it can be even more challenging without one; but pre-Spohr is generally OK without a CR because the composers of that earlier period would naturally have written violin music that didn't need the chin rest that hadn't yet been invented (English and Irish folk fiddle, and others, come into this category).

When choosing a chin rest (admittedly now a rare event for me) I like to have one that has minimum contact with the violin's top table because the lower bass end of the table is one of the most vibrating parts of the violin. Clamp something on that vibrating structure and it's like having a permanent mute –  the number of violins in amateur orchestras I've seen in which the CR intrudes on the table by as much as quarter of an inch is legion. So I what I do is to fit the CR as close to the edge of the table as is reasonable and safe so that it sits on a dead zone of the table and has minimal effect on the table's vibrations. Fit it too tight, and the desired effect may be spoiled.

January 20, 2011 at 12:44 AM ·

At least two things I don't like about the Hill style:

They normally don't fit the fiddle very well without some bending and/or a lot of padding, particularly troubling on the top plate.

I find them harder to install on the instrument because of the lack of connection between lower clamps.

Obviously they are fine for some people and some instruments but after installing one set on a new rest I went back to the cheaper style and have an unused set in the drawer.

September 17, 2011 at 03:47 PM ·

 I have bought a 'very' nice chin rest a few months ago, expensive but worth it and extremely nice, hand made by 'Alexander Accessories' here in the UK.  I bought it from Beares in London.  

I went there one day as I started playing with no shoulder rest back in January and a chin rest that 'really' suited me became then a very important accessory for me.  I tried a few and I found this particular one to be the answer to all my problems! The whole of my left body was now 'liberated' (arm and hand) and it was like magic, vibrato improvements, intonation improvements overnight! Anyway, this is 'the chin rest' for me, am really really happy with it :)

BUT it has 'hill clamps' which are extremely pretty don't get me wrong.....BUT (again) the clamp on the side nearer to the tail piece keeps 'hopping' on and off my collarbone when I play and it 'hurts'!!! Not only it hurts, as it would 'hop on and off' on my collarbone at random while I play, it would often 'catch me by surprise' and make me 'startle/jump' and then I make mistakes in my play!

I 'don't' like using cloths/sponges, I have tried, really 'really' tried for weeks and weeks I and just cannot get used to them, they either make me feel hot and sweaty or I just feel disconnected from my violin (call me fussy but I just cannot adjust, have tried different things).

Out of desperation I contacted the man who produces these chin rests as I resorted to take the chin rest 'off' and replaced it with a Gewa Berber (which now gave me technique problems...grrrrrr).

I explained to him the predicament I was in and asked him if there was a way I could have the 'traditional' clamp on the chin rest as this was not hurting my collarbone.  Unfortunately the current chin rest cannot be modified to allow this, but he is now kindly manufacturing some 'modified' Hill clamps for me which have rounded/smoothed out edges and which will not cause me a problem anymore!! 

He said that in 30 years of making chin rests he has never had anyone telling him they had this problem!  I am surprised at hearing this, maybe none of his customers play without a shoulder rest or maybe if they do they place their violin on top of their jackets or maybe they use a cloth (I play with a blouse with top button undone or t-shirt but the violin is always resting on my bare skin).

I did say to him I've always been the trouble maker since the day I was born LOL ;)


September 17, 2011 at 11:59 PM ·

I grew up playing a center chin rest with traditional steel mounts, and no shoulder rest.  I know what Jo is talking about with regard to the chin rest mount hopping around on your collarbone, as I have a permanent bony nodule there now (I use a shoulder rest now, with a Kaufmann chin rest that I reshaped in my shop to fit my jaw).  If you don't like cloths and sponges, one way to cushion it just a bit is with a little strip of adhesive moleskin or leather along the bottom metal plate of the mount.  (By the way you can line a chinrest with that stuff too, but it takes getting used to the feel of it.)

September 18, 2011 at 01:41 AM ·

 It's not too uncommon for players to be bothered by Hill clamps--they are large and sharp edged. Though the Hill clamps are sexier, the musicians I've dealt with aren't as impressed by them as I am, and haven't minded switching to the old-fashioned bar type. I guess ergonomics trump looks, as they should, if there's a conflict.

September 18, 2011 at 03:30 AM ·

Just ordered a Flat Flesch (centered) chin rest with gold Hill mounts as my violin currently has a side chin rest with the same gold Hill mounts but it doesn't work for me anatomically speaking. The Hill mounts aren't an issue for me though.

September 18, 2011 at 12:25 PM ·

Like Lyle, I've found the Hill style a little harder to install, w.o. any particular advantage.

@David - violin torture devices, eh? I used to try comfy pillows to coax a confession from my violins. but oddly, it never worked! :-)

September 18, 2011 at 12:59 PM ·

 As a follow-up to my previous post, has any (published) proper research been carried out on the effects that various types of chin rest and their positioning may have on the tone of the violin? Historically (and today) violins were designed, made and tested for their playing and tonal properties without considering possible later add-ons such as chin rests and shoulder rests. To my mind it seems that anything attached to the violin will have an adverse effect on the tone, but it would be good to have it confirmed scientifically.

September 18, 2011 at 01:11 PM ·

I've heard of research being done, but don't know that it would be useful to a musician. The effect of a chinrest on sound varies according to the particular instrument and chinrest, the location of the chinrest, and the tightness of the clamps, so it largely comes down to experimenting.

Most violins are perceived  to sound better with a chinrest, but that's probably in part because that's the sound we're most accustomed to.

September 18, 2011 at 01:34 PM ·

 Trevor, the best thing to do is do your own experiments. There are a couple of differently-active regions down where the tailpiece connects, and side or center mounted chinrests sound definitely different, but it makes a difference what your particular violin is doing and what changes you perceive would be advantageous. Side-mount chinrests can be very sensitive to their precise position, too--I once had a violist tell me I hadn't put his back in the right place, by the way it was responding, and when I checked, the dent was 1mm over from where I had it! He said he'd figured out, long ago, exactly where it was best.

September 18, 2011 at 09:32 PM ·

 Trevor, I can only say 'my violin' definitely sounds better with a centre mounted chin rest and is louder too, however my technique 'suffers' when I use the chin rest not suited to me....and the chin rest which best suits me is mounted on the left.. 

Having said this....I never asked an audience, it is 'just me' noticing these differences.....

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