Thin Shoulder Pad Recommendations

October 18, 2011 at 12:28 AM ·

I'm looking for a thin shoulder pad right now....less than an inch thick or high is preferable. Any suggestions?


Replies (20)

October 18, 2011 at 03:21 AM ·


you are not strating the rest-debate because a pad is not a shoulder rest.

The simplest version is home made from foam.   Then their is somehting called Acousti Foam or similar which permits more vibration or somehting similar.   Then there are those small small black pads that have a leather strap which attaches to the end button. Used to be somewhat popular in britain. You can still buy them here in Japan  and the smalle rone is about an inch in depth.



October 18, 2011 at 05:50 AM ·

 the one Buri refers to is called 'Huber Pad' it's this one:

I also would recommend this one a lot, have tried it and it's great (though I don't use it as I personally cannot play with anything in between me and the violin), it will leave no patch on the violin (was worried whether it would but it doesn't) and so you don't need to use an elastic band:


October 18, 2011 at 11:55 AM ·

 I don't know if this is just a Chicago thing, but here I see a lot of round red cosmetic sponges (they're round, about 3" in diameter and 1/2" thick, some yucky flesh-like rubber). People paint rubber cement on one side and let that dry completely (several days, at least, I gather) and then stick it to the back of the violin, where it sticks without actually being glued. It's very common, and I have never seen varnish damage from one, though I won't go so far as to say it won't happen.

I think this is it:

I see a link to it on Jo's Shar page above, with the see-similar-things link, and the black pad from Shar is a fancier version of the same thing, using a small spot of "wall-wakers" adhesive on the center of the back instead of rubber cement.

October 18, 2011 at 01:23 PM ·

Round red sponges aren't just a Chicago thing.

Sally Beauty Supply sells a five-pack bag for $3.29.

Red makeup sponges are getting hard to find.  Recent makeup trends have moved from sponge to brush application.  Unfortunately, what was once a ubiquitous product is now a scarce one.  Stockpile while the stockpiling is good...


October 18, 2011 at 06:45 PM ·

 I use the Sostenuto Shoulder Pad for violin, and a red sponge for viola. No pressure, no pain--they work for me.

October 18, 2011 at 06:47 PM ·

 Michael's suggestion is a very good one.  Round/small cosmetic sponges are a much better option than a shoulder rest such as a Mach or Kun which throw everything out of position (tilting violin/elbow goes inwards etc.) mutes the violin's tone and takes away  the individuality of a player's sound by clamping the sides of the violin.  If you want to go from playing with a shoulder rest to using none, I'd recommend actually using these sponges as kind of an intermediary step before playing without one.   I used to use a rubber band to afix a round cosmetic sponge to the back (one end of the rubber band on the corner and the other on the end button).  This had minimal impact on muting the sound.  Sponges still do mute the tone slightly however, playing without a shoulder rest will give you optimal sound and positioning.

October 18, 2011 at 08:35 PM ·

 Thank you so much, everyone!!! I'd been told about the red cosmetic sponges before, but couldn't find them in any of the stores. I will probably buy several of these and give them a shot!

When I was looking at one of the ones on Shar, I saw a link for the "Perfect Violin Shoulder Rest." Obviously that's a little presumptuous, I think, but it did look interesting. Has anyone had any experience with it?

The link is

October 18, 2011 at 08:42 PM ·

 Oh, yeah. We keep something nearly identical in a bunch of different sizes and heights for kids renting violins. It works pretty well. The contour is like a Kun, but it's soft. Adults never seem to buy them, but I think it would work fine.

October 18, 2011 at 09:31 PM ·

 Erika, at the end its personal preference but I'd recommend the cosmetic sponge over the PSR (perfect shoulder rest) simply because the PSR is too similar to a shoulder rest (just softer). It is all down to 'why' one wants/needs a sponge. The cosmetic sponge will set  your violin free more than the PSR will.

October 18, 2011 at 10:11 PM ·

'When I was looking at one of the ones on Shar, I saw a link for the "Perfect Violin Shoulder Rest." Obviously that's a little presumptuous, I think, but it did look interesting. Has anyone had any experience with it?'

Shar is an excellent company, but it's a business like anything else.  Calling it the 'perfect' shoulder rest is old-fashioned marketing.   :)

October 19, 2011 at 12:12 AM ·


Nate,  it`s a perfectly good product from a respectable company I suppose.   I have no objection to throwing words like perfetc around since nobody is going to take them too literally.  However,  there are other aspects of the description whoich I do object to.  First of al,  it`s not a -shoulder rest- by any means.  I know not everyone agrees with this position,  but I am very strict about keeping the distinction between a pad and a shoulder rest.  As I know you know,   the distinction profoundly affects approach and usage.  the whole psychology and theory behing -shoulder rests- is a fixed positon creating an immobile table that allows the arm to work freely without having to expend energy on `supporting` the violin in anyway shape or form.   I fundamentally disagree with this extremely attractive notion but think that irrespective of the conlusions one comes to it is a postion that should be articulated.  A pad on the other hand performs the function of mediation between this position and one of supproting the violin solely with the hand the latter of which I strongly advocate but take sa diffenret kind of approach,  attitude and technique. 

If this distinction is not kept clear then discussion and relevant advice for newbies becomes difficult and confusing.  I am not at all impressed with teahcers who do not understand or are unable to articulate tis distinction and the reasons behind it.

The othe raspect of the advert that raises my hackles is the words `helps the studnet find a corretc posture,` which is the most dangerous thinking possible.  The reverse is always true: one has posture and the violin adapts /is adapted to the body.  The slightest suggestion of the opposite is asking for trouble .

Nonthing like a bit of extremism early in the morning,;)



November 21, 2011 at 06:37 PM · A bit of a review here for those who might be looking for comparisons:

I just got one of the Artino pads mentioned in Jo Parker's post above (the second link) and comparing it to the red Walgreen cosmetic sponges: The Artino is much firmer, a little thicker, and has a much smoother texture next to the skin . Although part of my reason for getting it was that I really liked the idea of black (versus the red of the cosmetic sponge), the part that touches your collarbone is a medium gray that has a texture similar to suede. I got the larger of the two sizes - thinking that the smaller one would be much too small. I should have measured my red one. The large black one is about 1/2 inch larger in diameter than the red one; the small black one would have been about 1/4 inch smaller. They recommend that you not leave the Artino pad on the violin when you're not playing, and include a nonstick "magic pad" that you use to cover the sticky spot when the pad is off of the violin. The sticky spot is not nearly as sticky as the dried rubber cement on the cosmetic sponge is, but feels like it would be secure.

For someone who is looking for something a little firmer, a little thicker, and smoother next to the skin than the red cosmetic sponge, the Artino would be worth a try. If you're happy with the size of the cosmetic sponge, I'd suggest ordering the smaller (7cm) of the Artino pads.

November 22, 2011 at 03:29 AM · You can also take a look at the acoustifoam which comes in many different sizes and can be placed at different angles and has minimal contact with the violin.

November 22, 2011 at 07:16 AM · Head down to the auto shop and purchase a 'chamoise', fold it length wise to the desired thickness and then sling it over your shoulder, works a treat positioned under your shirt.

November 22, 2011 at 06:19 PM · for those having a hard time finding the cosmetic sponge, this might work and a lot cheaper..

November 22, 2011 at 06:41 PM · I have a friend who used to apply a layer of rubber cement to her red cosmetic sponge, leave it to dry overnight, then would stick it onto the bottom of her violin when she wanted to play.

It was extremely effective for her as a pad...any thoughts on the effect of (already set) rubber cement on the varnish?

November 22, 2011 at 07:19 PM · Sostenuto. Elegant black suede pad. Get the soft, not firm.

November 22, 2011 at 08:28 PM · Acoustifoam pads are amazing. Not inexpensive, but they sound good, deliver about 90% of the support you get from a Kun or conventional rest (with much more freedom of movement), and are available in a whole bunch of different thicknesses.

November 23, 2011 at 12:54 PM · Stephen's link in clickable form:


November 23, 2011 at 03:05 PM · Those who are using any form of shoulder "pads" must be careful that the material (foam, chamois, leather, blue velvet, rubber) does not contain any leachable plasticizer or surface treatment such as sizing compounds, processing aids, or mold release agents, as these could interact with the varnish of the violin. I propose testing these products scientifically by pressing the pad materials against the backs of some truly worthless violins for a few months and then seeing what damage, if any, has been done.

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