My thoughts on how and why to play the violin without a shoulder rest

March 19, 2012 at 03:22 PM ·

Replies (72)

March 19, 2012 at 04:11 PM · LINK does not work.

March 19, 2012 at 04:19 PM · Hi Peter, you have to be logged into Facebook to see it. I'm working on posting the link on my website.

March 19, 2012 at 04:25 PM · I won't ever log into facebook I'm afraid.

March 19, 2012 at 04:37 PM · I just deleted the post and resubmitted it all in text.

March 19, 2012 at 07:14 PM · Thanks. I won`t log into Face book either ;)

Looking forward to the article.



March 19, 2012 at 08:33 PM · Yes, I, too, am curious to see what you have to say on this subject; so please copy and paste the article as text as soon as you can.

If the article is about your particular experience and findings, regarding why playing without a shoulder rest has proved to be better for you, as an individual player, then I don't have a problem with this. But if it's another one of those "if I can do it, so can you" pieces, then I will be less sympathetic. And my answer will be -- once again: I'm not you, and you're not me.

The SR debate, like the Suzuki debate, has no one-size-fits-all remedy. The needs and best interests of the individual player should have first consideration.

March 20, 2012 at 02:31 AM · I've posted a lot on this subject in the past, and after a long haitus will post just a bit about it again.

My approach is also to strongly advocate NOT to use a shoulder rest, while acknowledging that there are obviously many great players who do.

Non-resters should not feel superior because they don't use a rest, and resters should not look upon non-resters as almost aliens. I've seen both things.

My approach to the rest and some other issues is that less is often more - or at least to start with the least amount that can work comfortably and securely, rather than the most that can still work. For this reason I particularly object to the use of a shoulder rest being assumed as a default prodedure to start out with.

One thing really puzzles me. I have offered some colleagues a free lesson in how to go restless. Now if someone were to say to me "it's all very well that you play w.o. a rest, but I can show you how to do away with the chinrest as well, and still play comfortably and securely and do no harm to the violin, tailpiece, etc." I'd be a little skeptical but I'd say "show me what you got" and really mean it, and be curious and interested. Well, most colleagues have reacted to my offer as if we were both deep sea divers, and I'd offered to cut off their air supply! It's like "you can't make me, I won't do it, go away!" They can't explain their almost panicked feelings. Can anybody here?

If anyone is interested in my approach, please visit my website Go to "writings", then "Fundamentals of holding the violin".

A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words, and even pictures can go just so far. So for a limited time I am making the following offer to anybody: I will offer one free lesson in my home/studio in Brooklyn, NY in how to go restless. This will be a short, and not full-length lesson.

March 20, 2012 at 03:31 AM · I'll give you a free lesson in how to use a shoulder rest. Haha, did I just cut off your air?

March 20, 2012 at 07:26 AM · "I am making the following offer to anybody: I will offer one free lesson in my home/studio in Brooklyn, NY in how to go restless. This will be a short, and not full-length lesson."

Raphael - does that include the air fare too? In which case I'm on my way!! (wink)

I don't really understand the neurosis people have over these things. Use a rest if it works best, don't use one if that's the ideal answer. Whatever is comfortable and works for individual players.

I use a rest, but I can play without one, especially if I'm trying instruments or picking up someone else's fiddle without one.

Maybe this whole subject needs a rest ...

March 20, 2012 at 08:01 AM · I recently found the solution: insert a large plastic bag inside the violin and fill it with hydrogen. No weight, no rest needed.

Now you may want to invest in a tether to stop it, well, becoming a weather balloon - but you may also want to go tetherless...


March 20, 2012 at 08:14 AM · I have a much simpler solution, Elise.

A hook in the ceiling with a string hooked around the scroll. Great, and you can leave the fiddle hanging there whilst drawing a pint of best bitter.

March 20, 2012 at 08:39 AM · @Raphael : I am trying to address your question without provoking debate - the adverse response from people re not using the rest is quite understandable.

Rightly or wrongly, to many it would seem like you are trying to add complexity to a concept which is essentially simple. You need support for your instrument (which is either right or wrong in your mindset). Take the example of a young student who had problems supporting the instument, plus discomfort. His teacher recommended a shoulder rest - now twenty years later the same student is a top player, and has never looked back.

Why do you offer a free lesson in how to play restless? Is this in response to requests to learn to de-rest, because players feel uncomfortable, or want a better tone, etc, or is this an idea of yours that you think would improve something for for the player?

A simple question :)

March 20, 2012 at 10:17 AM · On the other hand you could come to my rest home and learn to play with a rest ... (wink)

You could say the rest is history ...

March 20, 2012 at 11:41 AM · @ Raphael and Jim,

I did give a half-hour on going restless at the last Fiddle Hell, mainly because several people had been talking about pain and tensions that they get in their neck and shoulder; one had a problem with the bow arm.

There was one chap who, when i told him what I was going to do wouldn't even come into the back room and listen. With a look of horror on his face, he said , "I use a rest! I won't be listening (or similar)". No interest even in finding out what I had to say and show.

And, no, Raphael, I have no idea why he was so terrified by the idea that I should talk about going restless. I wasn't tearing their rests off their fiddles.

No - it seems to be quite irrational.

March 20, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Recently I read a book published in 1910 by the violinist Honeyman. In it he recommends that players should really be using a chinrest! I am sure there were players at the time taking about the freedom of not using a chinrest...

Personally I play both with or without a shoulder rest as the mood takes me.... but I always use a chinrest.

Cheers Carlo

March 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM · Hahaha... "hope this will help". Not so likely on this topic. But I do love a Don Quixote approach to life, so go for it. I'm never giving up shoulder rests :) Sue

March 20, 2012 at 01:32 PM · So far, I'm getting a kick out of some responses to my post and offer! No, offering, to teach me how to use a rest does not cut off my air supply! In fact I spent years using different kinds of rests - so I've been on both sides of this fence. No, air fare is not included - not even subway fare! But maybe a free walking tour of Coney Island!

More seriously, I don't see how I'm adding a complexity; on the contrary I'm offering to reduce one moving part from the situation. Actually, I've rarely brought this up to colleagues on gigs. Usually the subject has come up when one would occasionally express displeasure with their rest - eg, it was not fitting right, would come off a lot, etc. And the usual reaction to my offer is a somewhat threatened "I can't play w.o. a rest" "Have you ever tried?" "No, but I just can't"

I'm not trying to convert the whole er, "restafarian" world! But there is a technique invovled, and it helps to be motivated and not to expect instant comfort and security with a new and very different approach to anything on the violin.

Meanwhile, God rest ye merry fiddlers!

March 20, 2012 at 01:35 PM · I was thrown in the deep end. Some years ago I was at a summer music school in Ireland when into the second day my chin rest broke. There was no violin dealer within about 50 miles, but one of the tutors, who didn't use a chin rest, showed me how to play comfortably and safely without one, and converted me on the spot (I don't use a shoulder rest anyway).

These days I use a chin rest most of the time for orchestral playing, and don't for folk music. For me it's a better sound, projection and feel, especially with an all-gut set up.

March 20, 2012 at 01:40 PM · I've a solution: - keep the chinrest and shoulder rest - but throw away the fiddle. That way you will never drop it or play wrong notes or have bad intonation!! Yippee!!!!

March 20, 2012 at 03:31 PM · Unfriggin' believable! The zombie topic, where the link to the original post doesn't even work, has started up the debate on the undead topic again. Arrrggggghhhhhhh! Garlic, a silver bullet, a crucifix, what will it take?

March 20, 2012 at 03:47 PM · @Peter. How do you attach the shoulder rest to the chinrest? And what do you do with the bow?

Cheers Carlo

March 20, 2012 at 09:22 PM · You do it by magic, and use the bow to swat flies, or unblock a drain. (Or you could stick the bow up a certain orrifice belonging to a certain person who does an uneccessary and unmusical job by waving his/her arms around a lot ...)

March 20, 2012 at 09:24 PM · Lisa - I think you are in dangers of bursting a blood vessel. Just have a drink of something nice like wine or beer and calm down.

It's not a life and death issue - it's just about a bloody shoulder rest!!

March 20, 2012 at 09:43 PM · Or, just for fun, we could try a rest-orcism!

March 20, 2012 at 10:45 PM · I played viola without for some time, but with my build - long neck, broad but sloping shoulders, broad hands but short fingers - I just could not get proper finger action or vibrato on the C-string.

Not only do I need to fill the enormous space between the viola and my shoulder, but I need to tilt it 45° (laterally!).

I also wish to achieve a flexible,singing vibrato in the higher positions, and then my left thumb must move round the edge of the viola's shoulder, or even come on top to the edge of the fingerboard!

So my choice is entirely governed by the kind of tone and articulation that I wish to acheive.

I can even, sometimes, lift my head while playing and let the viola rest on the shoulder-rest and the left thumb.

I like to say that I don't hold my viola, I just "hold it up"!

March 20, 2012 at 11:53 PM · I'm a fat guy with no neck, and I will NEVER give up my shoulder rest. Deal with it.

March 21, 2012 at 02:25 AM · Marty - I thought the no-neckers were the big restless protagonists! Glad to have you on board...

I'm tall and long necked - and have to fill the gap either with a small cello or a violin with an SR... OTOH I combine a rest with using my collarbone - something the SR-less are very good at.

March 21, 2012 at 01:39 PM · "Recently I read a book published in 1910 by the violinist Honeyman."

I have "The Secrets of Violin Playing" by Honeyman. An interesting read.

March 21, 2012 at 03:14 PM · All these rest / rest-less discussions have now made me think slightly differently about the subject.

It hasn't changed my status as a rest-user, nor will it ever (although I might try Simon Fischer's personal setup, which is slightly different from mine), but it has made me realise just how much brain/body plasticity there is, in the combination of long-necked, rest users (giras) and very short-necked non-rest users (bobs) - plus the reverse scenario of both of those.

If you add to that the amount of players who ditched their rests after many years of happy comfortable playing, it does raise a few more questions, like, were they simply wrong all that time, if so, why? Or, are they going to be wrong from now on? Again, plasticity takes over.

Time will tell :)

March 21, 2012 at 04:51 PM · Well, you're right about the brain thing, a good experience would be to spread the word that chin rest also dampen the sound of the violin (which is true) and to see how many people junk their chin rest.

Btw, initially, violinist didn't use chin rest!

March 21, 2012 at 08:29 PM ·

March 21, 2012 at 08:30 PM · Yes, the clamping effect of my Kun bravo may lose me some tone, although it may be the 45° tilt which sends the sound away to the right.

But may I insist that my chinrest is hooked, not "held" by my jaw, and the viola is balanced, not clamped, on the shoulder-rest. I don't raise my shoulder at all, and I have no festering weal on my so-delicate old neck.

In my 30's, I knew everything; now in my 60's I know only the little that I know...

March 22, 2012 at 12:24 AM · Elise: "Marty - I thought the no-neckers were the big restless protagonists! Glad to have you on board."

Count me on board, too. I'm on the slender side, but I have a fairly short neck. Yet I prefer to use the SR. I've had the comparison. SR wins here.

Adrian: "Yes, the clamping effect of my Kun bravo may lose me some tone, although it may be the 45° tilt which sends the sound away to the right."

I have two of this model SR in my collection. The Kun regular -- I have the collapsible -- gives me less resonance than the Bravo, which gives me plenty; I don't use the regular anymore. In tests with and without the Bravo, no detectable difference here in tone and volume.

As mentioned above, I am on the slender side with a fairly short neck. I have to set the SR on almost the very lowest position on the shoulder side. On the chest side, I go to the mid-way setting. This keeps the instrument nearly level for me -- only a slight rightward tilt. Also, looking at the back of the instrument, where you attach the device, I orient it from SW to NE -- this seems to fit my individual build best.

Additionally, about resonance: I went from left-mounted to center-mounted chin rests about 7 years ago on all three of my fiddles. This definitely has opened up the sound and volume still more -- in fact, depending on instrument and string combo, I sometimes make light use of earplugs. Strong sounds, close up, I find quite uncomfortable -- and annoying.

March 22, 2012 at 01:10 AM · FWIW,

I think this is a perfectly legitimate topic. Violin is perhaps one of the most UN-ergonomic instruments to play. The issue of using a shoulder rest or not can make the difference between being comfortable or not. Some do better with SR, some do better without. The problem occurs when people make the claim that one way is better than the other, or that there is a right way and a wrong way.

For the most part, I think the OP has some good observations. But the training wheel comment is certainly a bit over the top. Try telling Hilary Hahn to take off her training wheels.

March 22, 2012 at 01:38 AM · Smiley (hi BTW ;)) its like moths to a light, we know it will injure us but its sooo attractive..

And you are of course, right: depending who you are, the SR is an evil, a necessary evil, a necessity, a relief and a life-saver - why wouldn't we talk about it? It does astonish me how people can get so dogmatic about it - we should at least recognize that there are different objective: the last iota of tone that might be essential for the Bruch G slow movement to one player doesn't matter a hill of beans to another if she can't hold the plank up long enough to actually get through the first movement ....

March 22, 2012 at 02:06 AM · I simply cannot play without a shoulder rest. When I first started playing the violin, I had no SR, but playing became painful very quickly. I am rather thin, so it became painful on my collar bone, as mine is a little more apparent than on most people. I can't play or practice for more than 10 minutes without a shoulder rest.

In addition, I actually think the violin resonates more with the shoulder rest than without. I also fit in with the long neck crowd.

March 22, 2012 at 02:07 AM · I need to come out of the closet, I'm a bi rest/non-rest user. Love to practice without one at home when noone is looking, but put it on in public.

March 22, 2012 at 02:30 AM · Yes, the training wheels comment is over the top. I've heard it before -- it seems to be common property these days among rest-less proponents.

And the analogy breaks down right away. As I mentioned in the other thread:

"Training wheels, typically, are devices that little riders start with but then drop; while the SR, if any, typically comes later, not at the beginning. And the 3-wheeler and 2-wheeler are usually -- though not necessarily -- two different bikes; whereas the violin is still the same instrument with or without the SR."

March 22, 2012 at 02:44 AM · There are some fascinating issues here. For example, what is "facebook?"

March 22, 2012 at 08:58 AM · "I need to come out of the closet, I'm a bi rest/non-rest user. Love to practice without one at home when noone is looking, but put it on in public."

A bit like underwear then ...

March 22, 2012 at 09:37 AM · Peter LOL! Actually you nailed it - an SR really IS violin underwear.

I wonder if the resless crowd would change its mind if it came in pink satin with frills and...

March 22, 2012 at 10:44 AM · Mine IS in pink satin with frills and... and I have two bows, one in my hair, and the other is the one I nail that gritty sound with ... (I'm not joking, this morning it is gritty ...)

March 22, 2012 at 12:20 PM · I started playing with a shoulder rest and learned how to hold the violin without much tension (still with some tension, but it's getting better).

Playing without a rest is possible but a lot harder for me, things like shifting into another position or vibrato are almost impossible then.

I would very much like to read the article (not via facebook) but there is no link at all. I will keep playing with the shoulder rest but nevertheless I am interested in how to do it without one.

March 22, 2012 at 01:01 PM · Kristian R.: "I would very much like to read the article (not via facebook) but there is no link at all."

The OP pasted it as text at the top of his alternative thread instead of using a link. Click here -- you'll find the article at the very top.

March 22, 2012 at 01:02 PM · Duplicate post -- deleted. Already replied to KR, above.

March 22, 2012 at 01:15 PM · I guess it's a great topic, but the self-righteousness that develops--on both sides of the argument--gets a bit tiring.

My physical therapist says that, for me, a sr is now necessary to help alleviate djd in my shoulders. Looking at it strictly from a physiological point of view, she said she thought very few people could play well/safely for a long time (i.e., years, not hours) without some sort of support, but she ALSO said she doesn't know everything. I like that kind of attitude.

March 23, 2012 at 12:45 AM · Based on the shear number of posts on this topic, I think it is safe to say that playing the violin comfortably is not an easy feat. The OP is perfectly correct in his conclusion that playing without SR is better (for him). And others are also perfectly right to conclude that an SR is essential. Both sides are right; it all depends on who you are and your individual physique and technique. But ultimately, what is most interesting and relevant are the specific reasons why one way may be better than the other for any given person, or more specifically, the advantages and disadvantages of playing with SR vs without.

I personally gave up using SR a few years ago. For me, the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. I started a thread a while back discussing the issues I faced in converting to the rest-less camp. It was not an easy change to make, at least not for me. In a way, I envy those that are able to use SR and stay tension free. One day, I may try to go back to using an SR, but for now, I am not able to do it without introducing a lot of tension in my left side and in my playing.

March 23, 2012 at 04:09 AM · After that shoulder-rest-as-underwear comment, I was expecting a limerick. Oh Buri, where are you when we need you?

Just today I was watching Joshua Bell playing something on YouTube and I saw that he was using a shoulder rest. His tone does not appear to suffer.

March 23, 2012 at 12:56 PM · Thank you Jim, got it. The article actually does not state anything that is new to me. It's simply what I already tried already, out of curiosity. In the end the success will mainly be determined by how much time you spend practicing without the shoulder rest and how used you get to playing this way.

I will talk about it with my teacher - I do not want to stop using the shoulder rest but I want to hear what she has to say about it. Every single musician I know (either playing the violin or the viola) uses a chin rest. Maybe it really is more comfortable in the end, even though I doubt it right now.

March 26, 2012 at 10:49 AM · I think I see the reason for the divide between SR users and non SR users.

The non SR users usually have a flexibility in their relationship to "holding" the fiddle. Because they have complete freedom to move the fiddle into any position and angle they mostly (although some such as Sophie Mutter are rigid non SR holders) do hold the fiddle loosly and can move it around willy nilly.

On the other hand, SR users can also have this flexibility as well as long as they do not clamp the chin and head firmly on the fiddle. You should be able to have complete freedom of movement up and down, and sideways even when using a shoulder rest, if you lift your chin off the instrument for 90% of the time. Look at Oistrakh and others, even without an SR they can almost let the fiddle float. This is the secret.

So in the end the shoulder rest makes no difference - and I believe the sound is as good using one too. I see people using pads and cloths and this must be more detrimental to the sound than any SR.

March 26, 2012 at 10:24 PM · Rubbish!

March 27, 2012 at 12:22 AM · I think Oistrakh used a Poehland pad, the round one. I remember seeing a couple videos where he turned around and there some sort of pad on the instrument. I assumed it was the Poehland pad.

March 27, 2012 at 02:31 AM · Queery: whenever The SR Issue comes up a comment is always made about entrenchment 'on both sides of the SR issue'? I don't think thats true: I've ever read a statement by an SR user that one should simply not play a violin without one. However, the other case....

March 27, 2012 at 07:26 AM · Elise - you have actually made a good point there about SR users - I've never heard one say that the violin should never be played unless a shouder rest is used. On the other hand, the other camp of non SR users do try and dictate. Maybe they should lay off and give us all a rest ... (That's a deliberate pun).

March 27, 2012 at 09:26 AM · What Elise says is absolutely true. This issue is not an equation at all. It's more common for the anti-SR people to want to dictate how EVERYONE should play and the SR people just want to be left in peace and not be preached at. Personally, I'm on neither side of the fence. Sometimes I use one and sometimes I don't. It depends on how I feel or if I've remembered to bring it with me. What I wonder is this: if the anti-SR people are so secure with the way they're doing it then why do they keep bringing this up again and again?

March 27, 2012 at 10:56 AM · John - you remind me of people who are trying to proove that coffee is bad for you. If there is one stimulant drink that has been tested for safety more than any other (by actually being consumed) its coffee. Sure someone is going to get hives or drive off the road or an anxiety attack but 300000000000 drinks without a consistent effect is a negative in my book.

If using a SR gives you a physical problem then either fix or change the SR or get rid of it - its not for you. There is no evidence that a majority of SR users will end up with 'SR disorder' so please just take the chip off your shoulder (hehe - Peter, I just one-upped you) ...

March 27, 2012 at 11:17 AM · I rest my case, and I've been resting my shoulder all morning even though I've been practising like mad, having to learn a few quartet parts.

Like the rest of you that use a rest, I don't have any problem with that. Like the rest of you who don't use a rest, I don't have a problem with that either.

So there!! Yarboo ...

March 29, 2012 at 12:25 AM · Using a shoulder rest does promote clenching with the shoulder and chin. That is why some people (not all) develop tension problems and soreness in the neck and shoulder. One way to eliminate the clenching reflex is to remove the shoulder rest. Once the shoulder rest is gone, there is nothing to clench, therefore, one is forced NOT to. I believe many of the anti-SR proponents went from clenchers to non-clenchers when ditching the SR. I am one of them.

The fallacy of the hard core anti-resters is the assumption that all people are clenchers, therefore all people would benefit by ditching their shoulder rest. It is apparent from these discussions that there are plenty of people who play with SR, and do not suffer from tension issues. If it ain't broke, ....

Regarding the degradation in sound. I do notice that my violin sounds better without SR. It only stands to reason, the more stuff we clamp on to a fiddle, the more it will dampen the sound. But IMO, I think the dampening effect is negligible in most cases. Any sound difference is most noticeable under ear, but at a distance, the audience will never know the difference.

March 29, 2012 at 12:36 AM · Smiley - is a part of that sound effect a greater ease to move your ear to the F hole? Thats what I found when I tried playing SR-less (yes I confess, I did once, I'm sorry, I won't do it again.. ((little ironic humour ;)) )...

March 29, 2012 at 12:53 AM · Although it is noteworthy that I've seen anti-SR individuals clench without the SR, because they were schooled that this was "the right way" to play, but were never taught how to properly do it. Thus I knew a young guy who used to criticize everybody else that was using a SR, and he had this sad, horrible violin playing position (to this day, I am told) in which he makes up for the lack of shoulder rest/pad support by clenching the violin with a raised, tense shoulder (he would be wise to read this thread one day-his problem is not that he plays without a rest, but that he's stubborn, and not going about it effectively.)

In short, one can hold the violin equally improperly, both with or without a shoulder rest-the important thing is that whichever way is used, it works the best for the particular individual, and that the violin is properly held, without any unintended tension.

March 29, 2012 at 11:31 AM · I don't use a SR but with reference to Elise's last comment I've experimented with a SR that I hadn't used for many years and found, when using it, that it was a little more difficult to reach the far end of the fingerboard. I do know that on my other violin where I don't use a CR it is easier to reach the end of the fingerboard than if I do use a CR.

But then perhaps all this is just due to my physical makeup.

[edit added 29/3/2012]: I suppose a logical consequence of what I've just written is, that as far as I am concerned, the more bits and pieces (SR,CR) there are on my violin then there is an inhibition of my left arm (and hand).

I don't raise my left shoulder, or clamp with my chin; my teacher got these faults out of my system within a few weeks of starting lessons - posture is all (Alexander Technique was mentioned, and still is).

March 29, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Having the left shoulder higher is a killer. It completely wrecks the whole left hand and kills the vibrato.

It's not something to wear with pride.

March 29, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Smiley,

I am fairly comfortable with or without a rest, although I use one. But my violin DEFINITELY sounds better with a rest, hands down. If it didn't I might go back to the Sosenuto pad again. I think it's funny that we can't all agree, in general, that this is all very personal (not that you were saying that...I was just thinking about the sound of your violin vs. mine...)

March 29, 2012 at 03:51 PM · Elise,

Actually, when I took off the SR, I didn't even notice a difference in sound. It is only after playing for quite some time without SR, that if I put one on, I can hear the difference. But as I said, the difference is not dramatic, and no one besides myself would ever notice.


I agree completely. Bad technique is still bad technique, with or without shoulder rest.


Whatever floats your boat. You won't get any objections from me. But, perhaps the pad was dampening the sound even more than the SR? Try playing the violin bare (e.g., No SR, No chin rest), and see how the sound compares. Every fiddle reacts differently to having things clamped to it. My fiddle definitely sounds better with a side mounted chin rest vs center mount, but it sounds best with nothing at all. If your fiddle sounds better with SR, then it is the exception rather than the norm. Either that, or it just alters the sound in a way that suits your personal taste. If you ever make it out to the DC area, I would love to try it both ways to see if I have the same impression.

March 29, 2012 at 04:20 PM · Smiley "Try playing the violin bare."

Please don't encourage beautiful young ladies to play in the nude, they might catch a cold ... (wink)!!!

March 29, 2012 at 04:51 PM · I wonder how long these threads would be if there wasn't a 100 post limit -- it might get into the thousands. I have no objection to attractive ladies playing the violin bare. I actually prefer it. [Wife whacks Smiley on side of head].

March 29, 2012 at 11:50 PM · I like John's idea of the DC - this topic does seem to start over from the top frequently!

It's amazing to me that some people care so much whether strangers on the internet use a shoulder rest or not.

March 30, 2012 at 01:31 AM · Hi Smiley,

The "test" was with it bare. I was deciding between rests, and went "bare" between just to check it out. Just not as good. But I TOTALLY know that it's personal. Maybe if/when I upgrade my violin someday I'll check it out without...


March 30, 2012 at 01:34 AM · My violin is not the end all be-all violin. It is not super deep in tone, but it rings nicely and and is sweet. The SR just helps it to sound out a bit...and much more so with my new wooden VLM. Without is was just duller and had less ring. Believe me, if it was better without, I'd figure out how to play without! But, I am comfortable with my set-up and fussed over it for a long while to get comfy!

March 30, 2012 at 02:21 AM · Erica,

I still find it strange that SR would help the sound. Did you check the seams on your violin? Perhaps there is an open seam and the SR helps hold it closed? If you tap the violin around the edges, it should sound solid all around, like a thumping noise. If there is an open seam, you will hear a crisper sound there, like two pieces of wood hitting each other. At any rate, as long as you are happy with the sound and are comfortable with the setup, that is all that matters.

March 30, 2012 at 08:55 PM · Is this a subject that anyone has ever studied systematically - eg. with evidence from tests of what instruments sound like played with and without - rather than just opinion?

(For what it's worth, I play with a shoulder-rest - I left it in a rehearsal venue and and played without it for a week, which I found really helpful in highlighting some issues with my shifting technique, but find it much easier on the whole with than without...)

March 30, 2012 at 11:57 PM · Smiley,

I promise all the seams are closed. :) There is just more resonance with the rest than without it, and the VLM wood was the best sounding of all. I am not an awesome player, but I love to fuss with strings and set-up, and this just was the best sound I could get. The VLM feet do not touch much of the wood btw...could be why. I will test it again tonight, just to be sure. My daughter is saving money for a Baroque violin, so believe me, I am all for the restless crowd...I think there are lots of "right" ways to set-up...

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

ArmSymphony AI Violin Competition
ArmSymphony AI Violin Competition

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program Business Directory Business Directory

AVIVA Young Artist Program

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine