Keeping shoulder rest on violin 24x7

September 11, 2011 at 08:06 PM ·

I am a new student to the violin.  I've recently setup a string swing to hang my violin from the wall next to my practice stand. Makes it much easier to pick it up for 10 minutes or so for a quick run thru scales.  I have a Kun shoulder rest, and I'm leaving that on when it's hung up.  Is this bad for the violin?

Replies (21)

September 11, 2011 at 08:36 PM ·

 I'd actually dare to suggest that putting on/taking off the rest several times a day will cause more wear to the varnish than just leaving it on (can't think of any other detrimental effect...)

September 11, 2011 at 08:48 PM ·

Hi-Don't you think leaving it on so long will have a band-aid effect on the varnish when you do finally remove the shoulder rest? Rubber can sweat sometimes too if there's moisture in the air.



September 11, 2011 at 09:34 PM ·

 i have left my everest or kun shoulder rests on full time during christmas holidays when the temperature gets to 35 - 40 C and stinking humidity.  Becasue its holidays, theres no orchestra, no ensemble, at most it might be taken off for a trip to have a violin lesson, lucky if that happens more than twice in that 2 month period, oh and the new years eve party play along. and never had any problems with sticking or damage otherwise.  I cover the string swinger with a silk scarf when the violin is hanging, to keep dust and insects off it.

September 11, 2011 at 11:35 PM ·

 No shoulder rests come near my violins 24/7 365 days a year. :)

September 12, 2011 at 12:12 AM ·

So what you are saying Nate is that not even the little bit of your violin covered by the shoulder rest clips is protected from environmental wear... :p

I leave mine on all week and only take it off to go for a lesson or chamber music.  I agree with the above that the wear is from taking it on and off...

September 12, 2011 at 02:45 AM ·

This is a good question because the answer depends on several variables.  If your instrument has oil varnish and is rather new (say less than 2-3 years old) the varnish may still be tender and in that case I'd suggest removing the shoulder rest (gently) when not in use.  Also, plasticizers that evaporate from rubber or plastic 'feet' on the shoulder rest could damage certain types of varnish, especially on less expensive student instruments.  On the other hand, if the varnish is spirit based the likelihood is that the only effect of the shoulder rest would be from abrasion taking it off and on, so leaving it in place might be OK.  The other side of the question is what you do with the instrument when you're not playing.  The safest choice is usually to keep it in a closed case, which would require removing the shoulder rest.  Instruments left hanging or lying around are more susceptible to accidental damage.

September 12, 2011 at 03:05 AM ·

Can't argue with the folks that have experience doing this without any issues. I guess I have more a concern with leaving the fiddle out of the case I'm so used to packing it up when I'm not playing. If you have an out of the way place to leave it where it won't get banged or knocked around I guess that's fine too.


September 12, 2011 at 11:32 PM ·

My shoulder rest falls off often enough that I don't need to be concerned about the band-aid effect.  I've never noticed any damage to the varnish from the rubber feet on my Kun. 

September 12, 2011 at 11:39 PM ·

Thanks for all the great input! I've left it on for a few days now and will take it off tonight to packup for tomorrow's class - so the longest this is going to stay on will be 7 days. 

September 12, 2011 at 11:57 PM ·

The effect of the shoulder rest being attached to the instrument for long periods of time probably won't be an issue, if you keep the violin in the case. Please do that, unless you have another similarly protective option. That would be something like placing the violin in an enclosed cabinet, not hanging it on a string.

If you live alone, without kids, visitors, pets, or a direct sunlight path, it might be OK to set it on the piano. Not the couch. This advice stems from many years of doing repairs.

Some preposterous sounding damage scenarios? it's really not that uncommon for people to accidentally run over their violins with their cars. ;-) That's serious, not a joke.

September 13, 2011 at 09:22 AM ·

"If you live alone, without kids, visitors, pets, or a direct sunlight path, it might be OK to set it on the piano. Not the couch. This advice stems from many years of doing repairs.

Some preposterous sounding damage scenarios? it's really not that uncommon for people to accidentally run over their violins with their cars. ;-) That's serious, not a joke.

Absolutely right!! I was leaving a house after a chamber music session and we helped the cellist into the back seat of my colleagues car, as I suggested we give him a lift,  and then we got in, and  just started to move. There was something wrong so she stopped immediately, not having driven off fast anyway, thankfully.

You can gues what happened. She had put her fiddle down by the side of the car, helped with the cello, and forgotten. Luckily we managed to lift the car enough to get the fiddle out, and apart from the bridge having moved slightly, a new setup was all that was needed. It scared the **** out of her and me.

And the violin was a Panormo ...

September 13, 2011 at 10:44 AM ·


there are only two possible reasons for a decent SR to fall off. It's not set up properly (this should be fixed asap), or you play with tension and wrong posture. This has to be fixed.

It's a common thing among beginners that the SR falls off. It never occurs with experienced players, unless they are distracted or in a bad condition. If a player  gets a sense for the condition of his arms/shoulders (to feel if he is relaxed or not) it won't happen any more.

September 13, 2011 at 01:12 PM ·

I've always felt that that constant force of a SR, squeezing the lower bout, can't possibly be doing a fiddle any good - so when the spirits have conspired to force me to need a shoulder rest (not so much these days), I do not leave it on the fiddle unless I'm going to continue to play in a few minutes.


September 13, 2011 at 07:28 PM ·

How much clamping force is enough to keep a shoulder rest from falling off? How tight does it need to be?

And I have played with a rest before, had it shift around and fall off while I was playing, and I was not clamping down on the instrument. The problem is I tend to move the instrument around just a little bit while playing, especially when shifting to higher positions. I eventually became tired of re-adjusting the SR and/or picking it up off the floor.


September 13, 2011 at 11:47 PM ·


I doubt if leaving a rest on will cause much in the way of damage.

However,  at risk of offending the original poster,  although his question was perfectly reasonable,  I think there is another issue here.

As I said in a recent blog,  I am really tired of people not being taught the most basic rules of maintenence and -care- of the instrument.  And yes,  it doe s appear to need to be taught.  I also find that people have a tendency to ignore my strongly worded and strict approach to caring for the isntrument,  right up unitl to the point where it gets damaged.

Like it or not,  leaving one`s insturment out of the case when not in use is a stupid habit and I choose that word intentionally.  In this case,  one gets into the habit of leaving the rest on and then one day one puts the insturment in the case,  closes the lid just a little bit too firmly and `bang,@!   Damaged instrument.

In the same way one is cultivating the mindset of `oh it`s ok to leave the isntrument on my chair during rehearsal.`  Or `Oh ,  iTs okay to leave the instrument in the the open case because it is on a table.  Yes,  Hugh Bean did put his Guarneri in the middle of a closed grand piano during a session and have an overhead light fitting drop on it.  No bs.   As for people leaving the instrument in an open case on the floor like mutant sheep because everyone else is doing it,  yes,  I have seen someone step backwards and put their foor through someone`s instrument.  It@s not pleasant.

So please get it right.  You are either playing the instrument or it is in the case,  the case is shut and its in a secure place. Ther e is no other option that counts for less than basic disrespect for the instrument.



September 14, 2011 at 10:36 AM ·

I think that context can mean that it is ok not to be in the case.  I have a string swinger in a corner of my bedroom, no one goes to that corner except me - the only thing in that corner is the dresser that stores my music, and the violin.  We don't have kids running around, the cat sleeps on the bed and looks at itself in the mirror on the dresser, but doesn't go via the violin corner, and the violin is covered when it is hanging.  I think if people can be sure of the environment, its safe, it doesn't have to be stupid..  Luthiers don't store all their instruments in cases, violin shops don't store their instruments in cases...

maybe the whole damn world is stupid.

I agree otherwise ; )

September 14, 2011 at 11:04 AM ·


and what are you going to do if your house is hit by a meteorite. Then you will feel real stupid......

Oh yes,  the other one I saw.  put the violin down in an open case and watch the overloaded music stand deposit its contents onto the violin.  new bridge- very- expensive.



September 14, 2011 at 07:44 PM ·

I remember the trick we used to do in school of hanging the violin on the music stand by its scroll and laying the bow across behind it. :)

September 14, 2011 at 10:10 PM ·

....didn't think of that .....  I don't think my violin case is proofed against meteorites.  Should I be getting that built into my musafia case, I could probably pay it off by 2050. 

September 15, 2011 at 04:08 AM ·


also keep in mind that a lutheirs shops is,  techncially speaking,  a large violin case.



September 15, 2011 at 10:38 AM ·

Also keep in mind that in larger shops, the expensive instruments are normally kept in a vault.

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