Trying to find the right shoulder rest for violin

September 20, 2012 at 05:15 AM · Has anyone tried the Mach One shoulder rests, in wood for violin? How do they compare with the traditional Wolf and Kun shoulder rests?

Replies (36)

September 20, 2012 at 08:06 AM · If they fit your shoulder, good for you. Some people say that they improve the sound of their instruments. They tend to work well for very broad-shouldered people who prefer to hold the violin pointing out towards the left.

September 21, 2012 at 12:28 AM · It's very personal and you just have to try some. Kun is very popular. If you can fit the original Kun in your case, then don't get the collapsible one because it's just harder to deal with. I have made modifications to both my shoulder rest (a bit of extra padding wrapped around the tall side) and my chin rest (some wood shaved out where it was colliding with my jaw). These types of personalizations are perfectly legal!

September 21, 2012 at 03:27 AM · I have a Kun and I'm constantly repositioning it and tweaking it to no avail. I then bought a Bon Musica and that is the one that I am currently using. Even so, I still go through bouts of tweaking that but not as bad as the Kun. I am currently looking for a definate go-to shoulder rest and will probably try a Wolf in addition to any others. It's frustrating to say the least.

September 21, 2012 at 09:17 AM · I have tried a number of shoulder rests but the one I have settled on is one of the cheapest : The Artino maple shoulder rest. They only cost about $20 but I find them the most comfortable.

September 21, 2012 at 01:51 PM · I would encourage you to look for a violin shop that has a selection of both chinrests and shoulder rests to try out. Body shape, where in space you like the violin to be, and the cut and weight of your violin are all part of what will be comfortable and effective. I like to fit a shoulder rest to someone first, then match up a chinrest, but I haven't decided if that is crucial. Sue

September 21, 2012 at 04:42 PM · Hi,

For those who use shoulder rests, it is often a combination of chinrest and shoulder rest that one has to examine to find what suits oneself.

The Mach is an excellent rest, if it suits you. The people that I have known to use it usually prefer a side-mounted chinrest over a Guarneri type.

Like someone said, it is best to go to a shop and try various things. One thing to be aware of about the Mach, is that since they are handmade, they do tend to vary from rest to rest. It is best to try one in a shop and get the one you like if you go with that rest rather than order it on the internet.

Cheers and best of luck in your search!

January 19, 2013 at 12:25 AM · You could also go rest-less. Here's a video series I made on how to do it:

How to Play the Violin without a Shoulder Rest

Let me know what you think!

January 19, 2013 at 12:56 AM · Dont know about those. I really like Viva La Musica..

January 19, 2013 at 04:03 AM · The best one is the one which works for you. Comfort takes priority on violin. I personally use the Kun Voce and am very happy with the way it feels and with how light it is due to being made of carbon fiber. It keeps the timbre of the violin slightly brighter and clearer from my observations.

January 19, 2013 at 04:38 AM · I second the comment about the Mach One. I had one that I loved and lost, and subsequently wasn't able to find one that was quite the same. I ended up switching to a Viva La Musica, which I don't find quite right, unfortunately.

January 19, 2013 at 02:34 PM · From reading many of the responses on these forums in regards to shoulder rests I have come up with this allegory.

Shoulder rests are like underwear:

-There is no "best".

-It's important to find the pair that fits you well without causing pain or discomfort.

-And some prefer to go without...


January 20, 2013 at 09:35 PM · everyone is built differently. So it is a matter of trying out different shoulder rests.

I think a shoulder rest that is adaptable in angle, hight and placement works best.

I have a had a wolf for over 20 years. The same one, that is, so for the 30 bucks paid it lasted long!

I tried the Bon Musica, which is great, because it allows you to adapt it on all aspects. However it tends to place the violin more towards the left. However, the positioning is adaptable.

Good luck!

January 20, 2013 at 09:55 PM · Another important thing is to try different adjustment for each rest. By changing the angle of how the rest mounts across the body can have a significant change in how the violin rests while in use. Sometimes straight across, sometimes with the G string side further forward or back than the E string side can make a surprising difference.

February 1, 2013 at 11:42 AM · I use the SPECIAL KUN...I feel it very comfortable and very different than the Kun.Is very important to choose a chinrest wich be comfortable with the shoulder rest!

For try it with time you make ask a frind if he/she let you their shoulder rest!

February 2, 2013 at 02:50 PM · I love the one my violin teacher recommended to me, it never falls off and it is so comfortable. It's called the "Comford Violin Shoulder Cradle", and I get the Tall, because my neck is kind of long.

Yes, it is a bit of an investment, but 1) I don't think plastic vs. gold makes too much of a difference and 2) it's a wonderful shoulder rest.

Here is a link to the description on Shar:

February 3, 2013 at 10:38 AM · The best shoulder rest is NONE.

Ever seen the one Ivry Gitlis uses?

February 3, 2013 at 10:58 AM · I'm sorry, Gareth, the best SR for SOME people is NONE!

Messrs Gitlis, Heifetz, Perlman etc. can hold their violins between chin and shoulder when necessary (unless their videos are fakes!) but some of us simply cannot!

However, it is vital to find a comfortable chinrest without the SR, and only then try several dozens of SRs with many different adjustments. The best setup is one you are hardly aware of, and which increases the sense of freedom..

February 3, 2013 at 12:57 PM · Here we go again: "SR Wars 2013"

February 3, 2013 at 02:06 PM · Not really.

No war.

If you don't have one of these things, there's no arguments.

Funnily I believe Szerying had a long neck and lots of things far from ideal.

Must be something unique to our friend Jacques (T), I suppose this need to grow a short neck and throw away all the comfort.

February 3, 2013 at 06:23 PM · "If you don't have one of these things, there's no arguments."

Sorry Garret, it should say "if you don't need one of these things.."

I forgot my SR (violin, this time) for a 4-hour orchestral rehearsal today: I "managed", and it stimulated my left hand, but there were things I couldn't do as well as usual. Every single one of my fellow violinists and violist were using one.

Why are those who don't feel the need for a SR so damned sarcastic about those who do!

February 3, 2013 at 07:02 PM · Just love it when Ivry comes out with "U heard of bridge over the river Kwai?".

"This is the bridge over the river KWATSCH".


February 3, 2013 at 08:21 PM · Szeryng did not have a long neck. I am looking at him now.

February 3, 2013 at 09:48 PM · I'm with you, Adrian - I don't see why some people care so much whether strangers on the internet use a shoulder rest or not.

I don't have a problem with people stating what equipment does or doesn't work for them, or explaining why or how they learned to use (or not use) a shoulder rest, but I don't see why some people act like it's a crime to use a shoulder rest.

February 3, 2013 at 10:33 PM · It is not so easy to teach thousands of students and ensure that their posture adapts to their change in physical size as they grow, and make use of the available technology (chinrests, shoulder rests, foam/sponges, etc.) to seek out an optimal position for *long-term* playing health.

Anyone who claims that SR's are completely unnecessary simply hasn't taught enough students in the wide age and ability range that exists in the present day to comprehend the diversity in body types that exist. I have a student who is 6'6" with a not-insignificant distance between his collarbone and jawbone, and not a single company makes a chinrest that is four inches high. What the heck is he supposed to do, not play the instrument he wants to play?

FYI, I don't use a SR, and have not for well over a decade after learning to reorganize my physical approach to violin. I however, have a physique that lends itself well to not using one. I can't say that for every student that I work with.

February 3, 2013 at 11:41 PM · Hi Gene,

What kind of physique lends itself to not using SR? And when is SR essential? Hard core non resters would claim that EVERYONE can learn to play sans SR. I'm not convinced that is true but it is an interesting point of discussion. I would love to hear your opinion in the matter.

February 4, 2013 at 12:04 AM · Good Hi Gene is essential. (sorry)

"I have a student who is 6'6" with a not-insignificant distance between his collarbone and jawbone, and not a single company makes a chinrest that is four inches high. What the heck is he supposed to do, not play the instrument he wants to play?"

Know the feeling! What was his/your solution?

February 4, 2013 at 01:28 AM · > What kind of physique lends itself to not using SR?

When the height of the violin plus the chinrest fills the space between the top of the collarbone and the bottom edge of the jaw. The huge advantage here is that even with a fairly high chinrest (like SAS) the instrument itself is still at the lowest possible position relative to the bow arm.

I do notice that among my colleagues who play without an SR, we don't all do it the same way though. Some have a pretty even 50/50 balance between using the left arm/chin to hold up the instrument, whereas some of us who have better anatomically fitting chinrests don't have to work as hard since the violin practically holds up itself due to the lever action of the jawbone acting downwards on the violin against the fixed point of the collarbone.

> And when is SR essential?

There are many players for whom the height of the violin plus a chinrest is not sufficient to provide enough "hold" on the instrument to permit the left hand to share the balance of keeping the instrument up. In this case (like for my really tall student), the solution is a combination of finding a decently high chinrest and then a shoulder rest to fill the remaining gap to prevent a droop in the posture.

Personally, I don't like really high shoulder rests because making the instrument higher (particular for viola) physically puts the point of contact of the bow/string where one has to reach up to get to it. It's much easier if it's level with the arm, so start fitting with a chinrest, then work down to an SR if necessary.

I'm not sure what to say to the hardcore non-SR advocates. Sometimes comfort wins over during the fourth hour of an opera or musical rehearsal.

> Good Hi Gene is essential. (sorry)

Haha, you shouldn't apologize, that's actually great advice. :) Wood, being a natural substance isn't solid...depending on the species, it's more or less porous and can collect all sorts of stuff over time from sweat, dirt, bacteria, etc. Going restless in particular, I'd recommend using a thin cloth or other covering to act as a barrier between your skin and the chinrest if you aren't using a composite (like the Wittner ones). It's easy to wash a cloth...a nasty old chinrest, not so much.

February 4, 2013 at 03:19 AM · I don't think it is possible to hold the violin with chin rest and collar bone only. The violin must contact the shoulder at some point. If not, it would take a tremendous amount of force on the chin rest to keep the violin up.

For me when playing restless, it is not possible to keep the violin up without using my left hand. My shoulders are too droopy.

So for someone with my physique, long neck and droopy shoulders, not particularly well suited for playing restless, I think it boils down to whether or not it is necessary to be able to support the instrument without the left hand. I have adapted, but there are definite advantages to being able to keep the violin up without the left hand. Certainly, shifting is easier.

I have been playing restless for over two years now and am much more relaxed, but at the same time SR does make some things a lot easier. There are advantages on both sides. My hope is to go back to a SR one day without reintroducing tension but right now, I am not able to do it.

February 4, 2013 at 04:15 AM · > I don't think it is possible to hold the

> violin with chin rest and collar bone only.

I agree, I use my left hand to hold up the violin, and in my experience the shifting is actually *easier* because of the contact with the violin body. :)

> The violin must contact the shoulder

> at some point.

When I play, my violin usually only contacts my collarbone, jawbone, and left hand. When I rotate the violin to the left in order to get a more horizontal bow approach to the E string, the bottom bout sometimes grazes the edge of my shoulder.

My wife (who is an excellent violinist) and considerably smaller than me, usually plays with an SR but can play without one. When she does, she positions the instrument more over her shoulder.

I think the answer here is, I probably hold my instrument further out in front than you do, which explains our difference in postures. :) Even among the non-SR players there are a variety of approaches...

February 4, 2013 at 06:45 PM · To answer the original question, (!) I have tried the Mach-1. The wooden version is certainly more aesthetic than other shoulder rests: nice smooth curves echoing those of the violin. (Ca. 90€ for viola!)

It is fairly "anatomical": the part on the shoulder is horizontal, while the end leaning in front of the collar-bone is more inclined. This is precisely the way I used to twist my Forte Primo (violin) and Secondo (viola) rests, till I was hardly aware of them.

I didn't buy it because the "shoulder" end curves inwards and conflicts with my prominent collar-bone, while the "chest" end curves away from my flat (man's) chest; for my bony frame, I would have it the other way! Damn! I should have taken out a patent before saying that..

If it suits your anatomy, it's perfect: you will hardly feel it's there. I ended up with the Kun Bravo.

February 5, 2013 at 02:42 PM · We shouldn't have to ban shoulder rests ... just military-style "assault" shoulder rests.

February 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM · We shouldn't have to ban shoulder rests ... just military-style "assault" shoulder rests.

The shoulder rest lobby is too powerful. It will never pass.

February 9, 2013 at 06:26 AM · Re SR pro versus SR con: What no one has mentioned so far is the fact that many musicians put a shoulder pad under their clothes. I have seen Perlman put a pad under his jacket many times. Anne Akiko Myers slipped a small pad or cloth under her violin, and had another small, flesh colored pad just under her dress. I suspect that some who "don't use a SR" are in fact using a pad.

On another note: the most comfortable SR I ever used was an old Wolf. That style - a lightweight frame consisting of very thin Aluminum tubes, the long axis of which were spring loaded, had a strap of rubber running end to end. It was like a trampoline - lots of give, but it never depresssed all the way to the violin. Super comfortable, but height not adjustable. Very simple (expensive at the time), and sadly, apparently, no longer made. So when my strap of rubber goes, I will switch to my Bon Musica full time. Does anyone remember this old Wolf shoulder rest, or know where to get parts for it?

February 15, 2013 at 12:46 AM · There are many advantages to playing without a shoulder rest, if and only if you do not raise your shoulder. To do this two issues must be addressed: how do you keep the violin from slipping? and how do you shift downward (upward isn't a problem). I have addressed both, with photos and exercises in an e-book:

February 15, 2013 at 02:35 AM · Perhaps we should split the thread into

"how to read Christopher's book without a Kindle"

in order to learn

"how to Play the Violin without a Shoulder Rest?"

Now back to the original question:

2 days ago I borrowed the original Mach One (wooden model) from a friend who recently went rest-less and I can't stop playing! The sound of my violin is much, much better than with plastic Kun collapsible. The only challenge I see is similar to one I had with Bon Musica shoulder rest: it fits too well, so the left shoulder can easily become partially immobilized if the left foot is installed too far. (I assume it is even worse with the new "hooked" model.)

The second issue is the height of the left screw - standard is too long, and the wooden base is already tall enough. This could probably be solved easily. No final verdict so far; stay tuned and I will update the thread in a week or so.

February 21, 2013 at 02:29 PM · An update on Mach One. My first impression was correct:

1. sound is great

2. comfort - not so great

I am still considering to buy it and modify the left overhang. If the hooked edge is removed following the curvature, it would be more movable and not wrapped around the shoulder.

On a side note, the specially designed (and patented) feet seem to help a lot with the sound; when mounted to my standard Kun (luckily the screws are the same), it sounds better that with it's original feet! So the Kun users can order the feet only and keep using their favourite and improved shoulder rest. Neat.

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