Correlating Body Type with Shoulder and Chin Rests

March 5, 2011 at 11:05 PM ·

I'm taking a little survey to hopefully relate different  BODY TYPES with certain shoulder rests and chin rests. I would very much appreciate as much input as possible.

Please include some of the following information below that describes you. Add your own descriptors of necessary. (I'll compile it all later)

Very Tall, Tall, Medium height, short, very short.

Long arms, long fingers, short arms, short fingers, stubby or chubby fingers

Very thin, On the thin side, Normal, On the chubby side, very chubby (this is important!)

Long neck, normal neck, short neck

Square shoulders, average shoulders, broad shoulders, narrow shoulders, sloping shoulders

Then tell me what equipment you use currently and if you are happy with it. (including if you use NO shoulder rest)

Tell me what equipment you tried and hated.


Here's mine:

I'm quite short, 5'2", short neck, normal proportional arms and fingers, a tad bit chubby, short neck, narrow sloping shoulders. I currently use a Mach One with a Stuber chin rest and LOVE THEM. I tried Kun and liked it, tried center mounted and Guarnari chin rest and hated it, Bon Musica and hated it, Play-on-Air and hated it, Willy Wolf Secondo--hated it, some other aluminum frame suspension contraption--liked it but it was noisy on stage.

I will then try to compile these results into a spread sheet, because I really think we can nail this whole shoulder rest thing down and be able to recommend just a few of the BEST choices to students based on their build. (as opposed to hundreds of choices)




March 6, 2011 at 01:24 AM ·

Hi, good idea!

-Very thin, tall without beeing a giant (5'9), (122 pounds or 55 kilos) narrow and thin shoulders though not too slopy.  Extra long and thin neck.  Ultra light and delicate arms.  Very delicate hands.  Long slim fingers but narrow palm so the result is a little stretch gap even if I have long fingers. 

I use a Guarneri chinrest, play really on it (not on the center bar).  I made myself a cushion that holds with elastics that I put under my violin.  I do not cover my chinrest with anything.  I like my violin very tilt.  (possibly because of my long neck)   My violin touches to my collar bone in one point.  My goal was to adapt the restless method to my long neck and so far, it's the best setup.  (but I'm very original since usually, I noticed people like me all use rests combined with these tower chinrests for giraffe necks!)  I also noticed that not much professionnals are build like me : (     But that's another story! 

All the best for your survey

March 6, 2011 at 03:52 AM ·

I'm so glad you are doing this! 

I am reasonably tall, 5' 9'; medium arms and short fingers; normal; long neck; and have broad shoulders (that seem to slope a little, but I'm an hour-glass figure, so I don't know if I'm out of balance). 

I use a tall, center-mounted chinrest and a Wolf Secondo. I love my chinrest, but am not satisfied with my Wolf. I try to keep it as low as possible, but even then only feel okay some of the time. 

March 6, 2011 at 08:45 AM ·

I'm 7 foot 2 inches and have a 21 inch kneck, with very short 18 inch arms and my fingers are all the same length at 1.5 inches.

March 6, 2011 at 09:27 AM ·

What an excellent compilation project. I'm short 5'2 and have short arms, medium neck, short fingers, small hands. I am 115 pounds and fairly thin with average shoulders that used to slope forward but don't anymore thanks to Alexander technique. I use a center-mounted Flesch chin rest with no shoulder rest, just my bare skin, or when I'm wearing slippery fabric on my shoulders I use a chamois cloth! I am very happy with this set-up.

I hated the Guarneri/Kun set-up that I had for 9 years and didn't realize it was hurting me until I got ulnar nerve syndrome and tendinitis. I have also tried the coloured sponges, the make-up sponge and the wolf shoulder rest. The make-up sponges, like the red ones you get from Shar, were pretty good as well. 

March 6, 2011 at 01:20 PM ·

I guess I could be considered very short (5'-1").  I have short arms and fingers.  Alas! -- I'm very chubby!  I have a short neck, and broad shoulders.  I have two violins (a 4/4 and a 3/4) -- currently I'm using the 3/4 most of the time.

I tried using basic KUN shoulder rests on both violins.  I gave up on both of them -- with my short neck, I felt like I was being prepped for the guillotine!  I'm not using a shoulder rest at all now, and I'm very comfortable without one.

My 4/4 came to me with a small, shallow, oval, waffle-patterned plastic chin rest.  It always felt almost like a "why bother" -- didn't feel much security with it.  Several months ago I switched to an old Roth-Waller #3 rest that my luthier had kicking around, and I absolutely love it!  It feels very secure -- locks in under my jaw bone very nicely!  I don't feel like I'm going to launch my violin across the room when I shift down.  :)  The material it's made of reminds me of the "Bakolite" handles on old cookware -- very 1940's! 

My luthier only had one of the #3 Roth-Waller rests, so I went to a #2 (not as pronounced a "bump" to hook under my chin, but still plenty secure) for my 3/4 violin.  This violin came with a Guarneri rest.  The Guarneri was OK, but I much prefer the Roth-Waller.

March 6, 2011 at 01:58 PM ·

You might look for the DVD on fitting rests to players by Julie Lyon Liebermann, who already did this sort of thing, and posted here sometime last year asking for input. Sue

March 6, 2011 at 02:07 PM ·

I'm 5'8" with plenty of "insulation" on my frame. Average shoulders, not too broad. Very shy collarbone. Short stubby fingers. Average-to-short neck and arms. I currently use a Teka style chinrest of medium height, center mounted and over the tailpiece but overhangs slightly to the left. The chinrest is comfortable but I think it could use a bit more tilt. I've tried playing restless, and with a Kun style collapsible set at the lowest height. The shoulder rest is countoured nicely to my shoulder. I find more tension in my neck with the shoulder rest than without, but less security without the shoulder rest than with, so I find myself using it more often than not. I'm sure my setup needs more tweaking as it's not quite 100% there yet.

March 6, 2011 at 02:45 PM ·

5'-8", 170 lbs with biker legs (not overweight). average in all other respects. High kaufman side mounted chinrest. No shoulder rest.

March 6, 2011 at 02:53 PM ·

Hi, by reading the descriptions here one can have  good idea!

However perhaps it's always handy to have a visual image too.  That way, it takes 30 sec to tell "that person is very similar to that other person".  

If you want our pictures by email, perhaps many would send you one me included.   (ideally something that shows from toes to head and/or the setup...) 

Good luck in that survey

Peter 7"2 ???   If that's true...  you must hit the door frames quite often : )   Certainly no problems in these demoniac violin hand stretches lucky you! 

March 6, 2011 at 03:17 PM ·

I'm only joking Anne-Marie!!

I'm the perfect build (for the fiddle) at 5ft 9 inches with a normal kneck, longish arms and reasonably big hands. Can't understand why I still find it a bit difficult sometimes to play. I nearly broke my bow, E string and much more today getting really anoyed with the E string whistling all the time. The young ladies going past blame me!! Some days this dammned fiddle is really edgy and the E string B awful. I think I will have to bite the bullet and trade it in for a wooden one, to match my wooden playing.

I do use one of them Kun shoulder rests, only because it was about the cheapest. Don't have any problems with holding the ****** thing!! I've often got the scroll pointing at the ceiling!! If only my old teacher could see me now! (He can't as he's no longer with us).

March 6, 2011 at 03:25 PM ·

I think this is potentially 'dangerous' as open to 'misinterpretation' as what 'I' consider tall/short/medium or slim/chubby may be quite different to what someone else  thinks!

sticking to precise mesurements or photos like someone suggested is much more reliable!

For example I really believed I had a long neck for the past 4 years until very recently (2 months ago) someone told me I had a normal to short neck and told me I ought to throw away the shoulder rest and just use a thin sponge, now I play totally 'rest-less'!!!

I also believe I am severly overweight but apparently to most people I am just  'overweight' (or to some only slightly!) without the 'severly' bit!!

I also think I have normal hands/fingers but now have started to think I may have short fingers, am really confused!

so yes, in a nutshell I really don't think this is a good idea unless backed up by firm measurements, sorry.....just thinking here....

Also the chin rest choice is not just down to how tall you are and how 'chubby' you are but to your jaw type too, is it 'angular' or 'rounded', 'prominent' or 'receeding'?? and all this stuff for example....which again I wonder if that is open to 'misinterpretation'?

March 6, 2011 at 03:49 PM ·

Hi, I was sucpiscious it could hardly be possible Peter : )

is it me or there are a lot of 5"9 on this topic???

That must be a good height for the violin lol

Btw be proud co 5"9  we are the same heigh as Michael Jackson : = )  and also Jacqueline Du Pré in the classical world.  

One thing I noticed is that soloists I saw live were almost all shorter than what I though except Vadim Repin who is as tall as what we see on TV.    So one must be careful with what we see on TV.  (Maybe sometimes, the image is stretched)


March 6, 2011 at 04:26 PM ·

I'm a 16 year-old guy and 5'9" to 5'10" (depending on who's measuring me) with long fingers and I guess long or average arms. I'm thin, but not underweight and have a long neck. I'm not quite sure what kind of shoulders I have, so I'm going to choose square; they are neither sloping nor particularly muscular.

I play with a Kun Bravo because I find the fit on the shoulder very natural. I use an over-the-tailpiece chin rest and I'm pretty sure it is a Guarneri style. With that said, I have never really experimented with trying different chin rests, only a few shoulder rests. For me, this set up feels pretty natural while still keeping me from straining. I get muscle fatigue occassionally, however I contribute this more to tension or problems with my technique rather than my set up. I think Paganini No.5 really taught me to relax even in very fast, difficult passages, so it has been better. Good luck with your results!

March 6, 2011 at 08:03 PM ·

175 cm tall and of pretty average weight  for that height (66 kilos).  I have pretty average width sloping shoulders.  My arms and fingers are fairly long considering my height, but are probably average for men.  My neck is also on the long side. 


I use no shoulder rest and a fairly high chin rest (one I had made for me).  I do go back and forth with a cosmetic sponge.  

In the past I've tried the Kun, Wolf, VLA, Sostenuto, and Comford Shoulder Rests.  Of those Sostenuto is my favorite by far, but is a too high and pushes the violin away from my neck when I use it.

Comford was comfortable at the time, but I'm sure now that it was the cause of the popping in my left shoulder (the beginnings of tendonitis?).  I tried it again a while after giving it up and I realized it didn't actually fit that well, it was just much better than any of the others I had tried.  

March 6, 2011 at 10:10 PM ·


I have an unusual body type/configuration, so for me finding something that works has been a life long challenge.  I have devoted enormous thought to this topic and my challenges/struggles help me in helping students overcome their issues faster than I could ever have!  I probably have tried everything there is...

At this point, I have something that works.  I am 175cm but 84 kilograms, so very heavy built but not fat.  I have fairly short arms (or rather a long forearm short upper arm), a short index finger but long pinky.  I have a shorter neck but a strangely shaped collarbone that is quite low.  I have sloping shoulders but I don't really have room for a shoulder rest, though I used one for a long time.  I now play a violin modeled on a long pattern Strad with a Teka Continental model chinrest made for me by Alexander Accessories (the chinrest is a work of art!), no shoulder rest and this is the closest I have come to finding some that really works for me.


March 7, 2011 at 12:18 AM ·

I'm very short (5'0"), on the thin side, and I play a 4/4 violin.  Right now, I'm using a Kun shoulder rest with a Guarneri chinrest.  I have used a Kaufman chinrest, but found that I was tilting my head too much. 

March 7, 2011 at 01:31 AM ·

 I'm 5' 2" on the chubby side after hibernating over the winter ;)  I play a 16" viola - my fingers can barely wrap around the scroll with my arm fully extended.  My neck is short to average (about 3" from jaw to collarbone),  narrow and slightly sloping shoulders, fairly long fingers for my size.  

I use a Stuber CR with a sponge near the tail piece to build a little more height there (a Teka would probably work better).  I use a Viva la Musica SR adjusted to its lowest point on the left (still too high) and adjusted to about 2" on the right with a sponge - more for traction than anything else.  

I'm still not satisfied with this arrangement, but so far it is the most comfortable.  

March 7, 2011 at 04:29 PM ·

Holy Cow, Everyone! We certainly have plenty of variety!!!

Sue Bechler-- Thanks for the suggestion about Julie Lyon-Liebermann's  DVD. I'll check it out for sure. No use re-inventing the wheel!

Still, I plan to sort this information in hopes of narrowing down the options, and possibly spotting a pattern.

I love the idea of photos and also the idea of exact measurements. Let me take some time to view what Liebermann has done, and then I'll know exactly how to proceed.

I like the idea John Cadd had about the "cycle chart"...wouldn't it be cool if violinists and violists had a similar tool! Hmmmmm......

I would like to continue receiving feedback, because even with the "wide possibility of misinterpretation", I'm still getting a ballpark idea from your descriptions. 

Thank you so far, everyone. (even the 7'2 smart-aleck!)    ---Lora

March 7, 2011 at 09:56 PM ·

John, that makes me think about what I read (I think it was in the Soviet Master book?) about changing setups overtime.  The cloths you wear (Summer, winter, thicker, thinner etc) + important physical changes (young vs old, thin vs fatter etc) will affect the setup and possibly need a new one. 

I suspect that's why Laura asks about what we use now at our height and our present dimesions.  Not what we used in the past (except if we tell her how we were different back then than now)


March 8, 2011 at 03:22 PM ·


I'm skinny, small, barely 5feet.  Play viola 15".  No chin rest only a sponge.  I have no neck.

Very small hand.  Round shoulder. I have a Kunt shoulder rest. I am not really happy with the shoulder rest, it then to fall often.

I hope it helps.

March 8, 2011 at 04:32 PM ·


This is unbelievably timely, as I've been struggling with the fit of my violin ever since picking it back up. I've also linked all of my shoulder tension to years of playing an ill-fitting violin setup ...

I stand 5'8" and weigh 190 lbs -- simultaneously forged by P90X and too much avocado/jalapeno dip. I have broader shoulders and average length arms/fingers. My neck is longer than the model's ideal, as is my head size (.. big ..) and torso-to-leg proportions (.. way off ..)

I grew up playing with a Guarneri chinrest and older Wolf shoulder rest adjusted a bit higher than midway. Unbeknownst to me, I was shrugging my shoulders to secure a hold on my violin -- something I do, even today, especially when I'm at the computer or driving.

Since returning to the violin (.. now in my forties ..), I've learned that the distance from violin-to- chin is just as important as the distance from shoulder-to-violin. Accordingly, I found a 'lifted' Guarneri chinest that positions my chin 2" above the violin -- roughly twice as high as with a standard Guarneri chinrest.

I've been playing around with different shoulder rests -- my current stable includes a Mach One (not quite tall enough) and a Viva La Musica (perfect when maxed out). As I do like that 'locked in' feel, I'm tempted to spring for a Bon Musica - which I understand has a lot of height adjustment - or one of the new Mach One Hooks.

As an aside, I did try a Flesch-style chinrest with hump, as these are a bit taller in stock configuration than the Guarneri. Moving my chin over to the center of the violin mucked up my bow arm, so I ended up going back to the good 'ole Guarneri.


March 9, 2011 at 01:30 PM ·

If you're intending to get a new shoulder rest and/or chin rest I think the proper test is not how it feels in the dealer's store, or even trying it out in the comfort of your practice room at home, but the intense workout of a three hour orchestral rehearsal under a hard conductor. If you're still comfortable at the end of that rehearsal and there are no after-effects, then you've got the right setup.

December 20, 2013 at 05:03 PM · Hi,this is a really interesting project!

I am really short, about 5'1". I am on the thin side,especially in my upper body. My neck is long, and my arms are short (but pretty much proportional to my height). My fingers are short and I am not sure but I think they are chubby (I had a violin teacher tell me that my fingertips are fat for such a small person :) ). I am not sure about my shoulders, I think they are average or on the narrow side.

Currently I am using a centered chin rest, Flesch model no hump, and the standard KUN shoulder rest, which I place pretty high on the instrument (and even on both sides). I feel pain in my neck when playing, but I also had a cervical problem for a couple of years, which I wasn't sure if it was related to my violin playing, or to other factors.

Best luck with your survey!

December 20, 2013 at 05:11 PM · This is an interesting survey to find a correlation between these, might I recommend a survey website such as surveymonkey to make your life a bit easier? haha


Long arms, long fingers

On the thin side (not anorexic skinny but lean)

Long neck

broad shoulders

The only equipment I use is my side mounted Kaufman chin rest.

December 20, 2013 at 05:41 PM · Tallish (6 feet), slender (160 lbs), long arms, sloping shoulders, fairly long neck, pretty muscular for my weight, and generally highly flexible. While I've gone back and forth over the years between no shoulder rest and a Kun standard, my set-up for the last couple of years has been just sponge, held on by a rubber band. This may be a surprise given my build! I do use a fairly high chin rest, but for me the secret seems to be not so much filling the space between shoulder and jaw as letting the violin rest on the shoulder while keeping my head up as much as possible.

December 20, 2013 at 11:23 PM · A 3-2011 thread; but three other members replied today, so I'll add:

- Average height -- 5'-10".

- Slender -- about 155 #.

- Average-length arms: 34".

- Medium-size hands -- S-M-L-XL-XXL.

- Average-length fingers.

- Fairly short neck.

- Broad shoulders.


- Low-set Dresden side-mounted CR on two fiddles.

- Teka medium side-mounted CR on third fiddle. Can't work with anything taller.

- Strad Pad on each CR -- Velcro attachment.

- Kun Bravo SR with each fiddle -- oriented SW-NE on instrument back. Set at lowest point on shoulder side; midway on chest side.

Previously tried Guarneri and Flesch flat CRs; Kun regular collapsible SR; Wolf SR. Can't say I hated any of these; but found out that the current setup, with adjustments given above, suited me better.

Side note: I can't play with SR and jacket at the same time -- excessive bulk; neck too short. Had played restless from childhood till 18-19 y/o. Ditched the jacket at 19-20 y/o.

December 21, 2013 at 10:17 AM · Here we go:

6ft tall (well I used to be!), slim (in places..) long neck, broad but sloping shoulders, square hands but short fingers. A brain the size of a walnut, or so I'm told.


- A tilted fiddle (30° for the violin, 45° for the viola) so I can vibrate freely with my cute pinky on the low strings; my right eye looks straight down the lowest string;

- a highly customized Teka-style chinrest, tip of chin roughly over the tailpiece;

- a Kun shoulder rest with long screws, some distance from the collar-bone, so that my head weight balances the instrument see-saw fashion.

- special large-lensed middle-distance glasses!


No raised shoulder, no tight jaw, no neck pains (except when sharing a desk), free vibrato available on all strings with all fingers; free-ish head movements.


Edit: When I play restless (for fun, or to show I can) I have no contact at all between my shoulder and the instrument, just collar-bone and left hand. Then my left thumb must come under the viola neck if I want something approaching an expressive vibrato. And no high positions, since above the 7th position, my thumb has to circumnavigate the upper bout, or even slide up the side of the fingerboard..

December 21, 2013 at 12:00 PM · You may find our article, "Chinrest Choices Based on Jaw Type", to be helpful. It was published in the Feb. 2007 issue of the American String Teacher. A copy of the article can be found in the resources section of our website:

Also, I recommend Paul Rolland's book, The Teaching of Action in String Playing. The chapters titled "Establishing the Violin Hold" and "Principles of Left Hand and Finger action" are invaluable.

December 28, 2013 at 04:06 AM · Hello,

I have read the article, and it is really helpful!

I would like to ask a question about Paul Rolland's book. I found the chapter about setup very interesting. I was wondering about his recommendations for chin rests based on the individual's body type: he does not mention the centered chin rest (one of the chin rests is mounted over the tailpiece, but the cup is slightly to the left). Is this because the centered chin rests like the Flesch model were not popular on the market in the 1970s, or because he disapproved of them?

Also, I was wondering why he advised against shoulder rests for children. He states that "large shoulder pads like for adults" should not be used for children. Is it because fractional-sized shoulder rests were not popular in the 1970s, or they were, but he was concerned about children developing tension patterns because of shoulder rests?

Thank you very much,


December 28, 2013 at 09:38 AM · With small children, I have found the various makes of rigid rest much too high: the maker has reduced the width of te "adult" model, but with no consideration at all for childrens' morphology. I use foam with elastic bands.

Children start with very sloping shoulders, which then become squarer, so they actually need less foam, not more, as they grow.

Gangly adolescents (and gangly adults..)are another matter!

December 28, 2013 at 03:28 PM · I forgot to mention something about equipment that I've used in the past and it didn't work for me. I had a long-term problem with tendinitis in my left hand. So I thought to get the Happy Nex, the sling that helps you support the violin. At first it seemed helpful, but then it was somewhat uncomfortable. I was taking Alexander Technique lessons back then, and I showed it to my teacher. She said it puts weight in a wrong place, which was an area around my lower cervical spine on the right side. I was feeling pain in that place. I stopped using it, and I have developed some problems with my cervical spine, but I am not sure it was from this, since they persisted long after I had stopped using it and I also did a lot of

typing with a poor posture.

Also, the "Impressionist" didn't work for me.

December 29, 2013 at 09:47 PM · I see the original post was a long time ago, but I think this is still an interesting topic.

Me: female, medium height, slim, long arms

Neck: fairly short

Shoulders: Not very wide, very little slope

Jaw - I glanced through the articles on and based on their photos of bony, in-between, and fleshy jaws, I would say mine is in-between.


Over-the-tailpiece models are uncomfortably tall for me, and I don't like to hold my violin that high on the shoulder.

A flat rest, e.g. the Kaufmann, feels like it's cutting into my jaw. I prefer the chinrest to be slightly angled so that it's lower at the G-string side. However, I don't want a very thick hump on the e-string side; those tend to pull the violin farther around the front than I like.

I am currently using a Flat Baron chinrest from Dov Schmidt. It is not truly flat; it is slightly more sloped than my Kaufmann. I'm not sure yet if it's going to be my long-term solution but for now, at least, it's the best of the half-dozen or so rests I have on hand.


Bar-type shoulder rests such as Kun or Wolf are too tall. Since my shoulders have very little slope, if I use one of these and try to put the end of the violin on my collarbone, the scroll points way up in the air.

I can't manage balancing the violin on collarbone and hand only as advocated by some members. I think my collarbone just isn't prominent enough or isn't the right shape; the violin wiggles too much. I need a third point of contact on my shoulder for stability.

I am currently using a homemade pad of rubbery shelf/drawer liner which is folded into a shape and thickness that feels comfortable. This is firmer than a sponge but more flexible than a Kun-type rest.

December 30, 2013 at 02:36 PM · Emanuela,

Paul Rolland came from a school of teaching that was developed by Bartok's friend Imre Waldbauer and a student of Waldbauer named Dezso Rados. Rolland studied under both of these performer/teachers. I believe that the noted teacher Kato Havas was also a Waldbauer student.

The underlying principles in Rolland's teaching were the importance of balanced posture, and the need for free movement, utilizing the body as it is designed to move and provide support.

Towards the end of his career, Rolland advocated fitting the instrument to the player based on the length and flexibility of the left arm and the size of the left hand. This approach determines where the instrument rests on the collarbone; the direction of the scroll; and where the jaw comes down in relation to the tailpiece.

You can find instructions for fitting the instrument to the player on our website ( Go to the Fitting Kit Directions on the homepage.

I'm not sure when the center mounted Flat Flesch chin rest was introduced, but quite often I find that the fractional versions are too tall for younger players necks, especially boys, who often have shorter necks than girls. You can see when the setup height is too great because the player is tilting the head towards the right shoulder as if he/she is pouring water out the right ear. Also, the instrument often squirts away from the neck, which requires that the player reach forward with the head -- a very dangerous posture.

As you noted, there weren't too many fractional chin rests and shoulder rests in Rolland's day. As a rule, he avoided recommending rigid shoulder rests because of the extra height and because the player would often try to fit his/her body to the shoulder rest contour. This could lead to unwanted tension and an instrument position that did not fit the left arm and hand.

Personally, I am happy to work with a player who really needs a rigid shoulder rest (such as Kun, Mach One, etc.) as long as the shoulder rest can be properly fitted to the player; provides proper support from the sternum side; enables the player to balance the instrument rather than clench it; and allows for free movement of the left arm and head. Also, the shoulder rest should not raise the instrument so high as to require a higher bow arm and it should not tilt the instrument (especially violins) to more than a 30 degree angle. I usually do a lot of retrofitting to these rests to get them to fit.

Two other things:

First, I'm not sure of the value of studying "body types" if you are referring to somatology. A graduate student at Indiana University named Liz Dinwiddie put on a presentation about this subject last year at the American String Teachers Assn. National Conference. I don't think she was able to find a predictable chin rest/shoulder rest fitting pattern based on soma types. You might want to try to contact her to see if she has made any progress since the presentation. Meanwhile, I have found that neck height, jaw shape, arm length, and hand size are very useful predictors for finding a comfortable set up.

Second, for M.L. Scott, I have found that the instrument wobble to which you referred is often the result of not using sufficient head weight. This very different from bearing down on the chin rest using neck and shoulder muscles and takes a while to learn to do. It it also requires a chin rest of insufficient height and shape. I'd be happy to send you, or anyone else, a Head Weight Etude, which will also help you keep your left shoulder down. Please contact me through the website.

January 6, 2014 at 07:51 PM · You might want to try the Violinist in Balance website.

They have done a lot of the research already. They also mention which considerations apply for given body types. For me, understanding the principles involved helped me quickly zero in on the fit issues I was having.

February 20, 2014 at 07:59 PM · I am 5.4 pretty square shoulders, long neck, proportional arm length, average hands/fingers. Plyed on 7/8 violin for a long time, finally stepped to 4/4 was adult. i use a Bon Musica since about a year and it made a world of difference! in the good way!

No idea what chin rest i use, but will show you in our next lesson!

Success with the project!


February 21, 2014 at 02:45 AM · I guess I'll add to this, seeing as I have had posture issues.

I'm 5'10", 210lbs. (Average build.) I have broad shoulders and large trapezii. I use a BonMusica shoulder rest.

February 21, 2014 at 10:16 PM · I'm 6'0", not a particularly long neck or reach, but somewhat shorter legs than most people my height. I use a modified Kaufmann chin rest (carved out the left side) and a Kun shoulder rest that has the chest side wrapped with a black sock bound by one of those blue rubber bands that you get with shrink-wrapped broccoli. And gear pegs.

February 22, 2014 at 01:22 AM · This has been an insightful thread for me. I had not idea that professionals had the same issues I have with a comfortable shoulder and chin rest.

I am also glad to read that the weight of the chin does not always enough.

My goal is to play in higher positions. You all have give some good advice by just relating your own experiences.

February 22, 2014 at 07:00 PM ·

February 22, 2014 at 08:10 PM · 1.78 m height (5'10")

Long arms

82 kg

Neck quite long

Broad shoulders

Berber chinrest, raised 1 cm

No shoulder rest

42 cm viola

37 cm string lenght

February 23, 2014 at 09:20 AM · Interesting project!

Here is me:

I'm 5'11", last weighed at 172 lbs, broad shoulders, relatively long arms, average neck length. I was a college athlete plagued by shoulder problems that I wasn't expecting to be partially linked to my violin playing setup, which was an insanely uncomfortable Strad chinrest and an improperly-adjusted Kun shoulder rest that didn't hug my shoulder the right way.

With advice from my violin teacher at the time and my physical therapist, I started using the Wittner chinrest, which was more centered and coincidentally hypoallergenic. I slapped on a Stradpad for added comfort and ditched the shoulder rest for a square makeup sponge. I realized that before, I had been clenching my (broader) shoulders to compensate for bad support. This setup made for more freedom and released the tension that I always had. I have been on this setup ever since and would not hesitate to recommend it.

Looking forward to the results!

February 23, 2014 at 08:44 PM · I am 1,57 m and have short, broad fingers. average weight and my neck is medium length, for my posture. I play a 7/8 violin and a 4/4 extra thick violin wearing 11" viola strings, because I think I m too short built to muster a viola. I have invested quite some time and money into a good set-up, for I was quickly experiencing strain and pain when i started to play, at age 40. I ordered Mach one, Kun, Arc Verona, Wolf and Bonmusica shoulder rests and some 9 different chinrests, to pick out what worked best for me. From the Violinist in Balance website I had gathered that the chinrest should meet the chin at a slight nod of the head, and I tried to achieve this by ordering raised chinrests along with regular ones. From trial and error, I learned that this 'nodding' that is spoken of should not require rasing the chin beforehand.

So i now have Bonmusica shoulder rests on both instruments, for I like the reassuring feeling that my violin is securely in place. A Wittner Augsburg with a strad pad on the viola (both feet at 0mm raise); a SAS 28mm chinrest on the violin, but I modified the SAS by carving out the front ridge at the left side under my cheekbone and lowering it by some 6 millimeters. The lowering process took a few weeks, a millimeter at a time, and it continued until I could finally put down the violin after playing without experiencing pain at the right hand side of my neck :-)

February 23, 2014 at 10:17 PM · I am 5' 5.5" tall, slim build. I have a long neck for my height, and have a rounded but quite prominent jawline. My shoulders also slope considerably downwards (and inwards ever so slightly, but this is not so much of a problem). I have experimented at length with chin rest and shoulder rest combinations.

I am still not 100% happy with my combination on my main violin but it is nonetheless EXTREMELY comfortable for me and miles better than anything else I have tried. I have a Schmidt chin rest, which is like a Teka, but slightly higher and with a larger surface area. It also has a deeper cup and less of a sharp ridge where the edge of the chin rest meets the violin, increasing the comfort. Previously I have used Teka and Kaufman models; I found the Teka fine but the ridge dug into my jaw too much. The Kaufman was far too flat and the ridge was also too prominent, even with a Strad Pad. With this Schmidt I no longer need a Strad Pad. I have found chin rests that mount over the centre of the instrument to actually sound worse on my violin! Additionally the Wittner chin rest, while comfortable, made my violin sound a bit hollow.

For my shoulder rest, I use an Everest shoulder rest. I have tried going restless but my shoulders slope too much for this to be a feasible option, and my collarbone is far too far down my neck for even the highest of chin rests. The Everest is great - it has good grip on the instrument and feels very secure and well-built, and the contours match my figure better than other rests. I find that occasionally my violin slips forward a bit when I shift downwards; I think this is partly because the foam of the rest is not rotatable like the Kun or Wolf Forte Secondo and on the Everest it is tilted slightly too far forward towards the body of the instrument. Having said that, this is only a minor issue and could well be related to my left hand technique. I have tried the Kun but found the pad far too stiff and unforgiving; also it does not have nearly enough grip on my instrument. I have similar problems with the Wolf Forte Secondo; additionally I find that the pad is too thick and rotates when I shift positions, even after I have tightened the screws all the way. I could not get on with the Bon Musica as much as I tried since again the grip of the rest was an issue and when it fell off I felt like I was gripping with my teeth. However, it was much more height adjustable than all the rests above. Since my chin rest is high enough now, the range of heights of the rest is less of a problem, but the Everest has enough for me.

February 23, 2014 at 11:16 PM · Another exhumation to no particular advantage. I think the final posts back in March 2011 should have settled it all.

1. You can't know until you try (for both both chin and shoulder rests)


2. Your choice will probably change over time - and with changes in instrument.

I think I should know after playing for 75 years, having tried most shoulder rests and at many chin rest styles.

While major differences in body dimensions will have an affect on choices of these two accessories, the final "best fit" will come down to millimeter differences.

When you get down to the fine details, it's not just the style of chinrest, but who made it and where and when - because these things have changed over the years as production has moved west and east from Europe. And for shoulder rests it comes down to the precise way it is mounted on the instrument.


February 25, 2014 at 02:13 AM · For fun.

I am 5'4" (166cm)

I'm thin. (50kg/110 i thin enough to be called thin?)

I just discovered yesterday that my neck is not short, my violin instructor told me that. But my neck is not too long.

I have proportional length arm. Uhmm....wait the minute...i think my arm is kinda long!

I have thin, long fingers and the tops of all of my fingers are pointing up, even in relaxed position. But i can bend them easily of course

I have an average shoulder. shoulder is not's almost square.

I use berber chinrest without shoulder rest. Sometime i use cosmetic pad.

I am more comfortable with pads / shoulder cushions than shoulder rest

All shoulder rests are too high for me except VLM Diamond.

I have tried a lot of chinrests and the second chinrest that fits me besides the berber is Strobel chinrest.

You can't ask me what SR i have used and hated. You'll get a long list. I have bought almost all of SR that are available on the market.

I am happy with my current setup but i am willing to try out SAS chinrest and Kreddle chinrest.

February 25, 2014 at 12:01 PM · The comments here are causing me to consider some customizing of my chin and shoulder rest using thin foam normally used in kayak outfitting. This foam in closed cell and can be shaped with a metal sanding material called Dragon Skin. The foam has adhesive on one side otherwise it would need to be glued in place.

I have built up the shoulder side of the shoulder rest to make the instrument angle better for playing g string.

Today I have thinking about putting foam on the chin rest to accommodate my chin profile.

March 14, 2014 at 05:08 PM · I play viola, so I don't know if my input will be helpful or not. The weight/size of the instrument no doubt contributes to my set up, but perhaps not entirely.

5'6", normal weight (going by US standards... within a healthy BMI), normal limb length, long fingers, slightly sloping shoulders, long neck. My set up: 16" viola with a bon musica rest (not entirely happy with it... I have to fiddle with it a lot to to get it to feel secure... possibly due to the shoulder sloping) and something called an "Edu" chin rest. Last year I bought 8 or 9 chin rests off of Shar that seemed to be suited to the just-left-of-the-tailpiece position I prefer and kept the one that was most comfortable... it made a night-and-day difference in my playing, allows me to play for a couple of hours without discomfort, and lets me finally hold the viola with stability. Why was it better than the berber, dresden, teka, flesch, morawetz, etc? Beats me. It just was.

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