How to prevent violin from slipping while playing without shoulder rest?

March 26, 2013 at 04:22 PM · hi all!

Been experimenting playing without shoulder rest and while I really enjoy the freedom and better contact with body i find it bit insecure when shifting positions sometimes (the violin slips slightly on the shoulder), any recommendation on cloth/materials I can put between the shoulder and violin to provide some traction/security without marking the violin?


Replies (24)

March 26, 2013 at 05:03 PM · This is controversial, I guess, but my luthier told me it's fine to use blu-tac on varnish. I did a cautious test, and found there was no problem.

So what I've done is cut out a small oblong of rough felt and stuck it to the metal of my chin-rest bracket. It pads my shoulder from the bracket, and seems to give enough traction to hold the fiddle in place with very light pressure from the jaw. I haven't had to touch it for months - stays in place nicely.

March 26, 2013 at 05:14 PM · I had a stand partner at one point who used a piece of shelf/drawer liner, sort of a plastic-y matt stuff, seemed to work fine for him. Otherwise chamois from the auto department works well, ime.

March 26, 2013 at 05:17 PM · a small, rectangular piece of chamois folded over the chin-rest and tucked underneath works for me. too much covering the top will sap some of the sound.

March 26, 2013 at 06:24 PM · You need nothing on your shoulder if you wish to play restless. If your violin is in contact with your shoulder AT ALL. You are doing it incorrectly. The violin is balanced on the collar bone and held with the LEFT hand.

Cheers Carlo

March 26, 2013 at 07:30 PM · "You need nothing on your shoulder if you wish to play restless. If your violin is in contact with your shoulder AT ALL. You are doing it incorrectly. The violin is balanced on the collar bone and held with the LEFT hand."

It appears the poster was asking what to do in the case that the contact point at your collarbone is slippery? Rather common occurrence when wearing shirts while playing.

March 26, 2013 at 08:18 PM · You might want to do what I did - go to your hardware and drugstore shops (or whatever the equivalent is where you are) and buy several washcloths. I compared many for their comfort and grip and found one - an artificial (it was much better than the real thing) chamois that has a slighly sticky texture.

I cut a long wide strip - about 3/4 the width of the violin - and, just as Bill did above, laid it one end over the chinrest with the rest reflected under the violin and towards the fingerboard. I then used one elastic band to enclose the chinrest. With this arrangement the chinrest itself is covered, providing a bit of traction there and the contact of the violin with the collarbone too. And also any contact that might occur with the shoulder. Despite what the purist say, sometimes this will happen - in particular if you wear a padded jacket or if you want to tune your violin while under the chin. With me it happens at other times too but I regard this as part of the flexibility of playing SR less. You CAN make contact with the shoulder if that is necessary. The important point I think is that you don't become dependent on this - I think Carlos is right that the only required contact is the collarbone and hand.

March 26, 2013 at 09:37 PM · Seraphim, he clearly states " between the shoulder and the violin". Again I want to point out that I'm not saying that SR- less is better but rather that I would like the poster to understand how to hold the violin when not using a SR.

The best way to learn is to pay "chin off" for a while and getting one's left hand to support the violin.

Cheers Carlo

March 26, 2013 at 11:42 PM · Not all of us have collarbones that are sufficient to support the violin, even when using the left hand to hold up the violin. If I try to balance the violin on just my collarbone and hand, it wiggles like crazy. I need a point of contact somewhere one my shoulder, not so much for support as for balance.

I use the kind of shelf/drawer liner stuff Amber mentioned. I got it at a drugstore. It's cheap and you can cut or fold it to the size you need.

March 27, 2013 at 03:03 AM · I play with a shoulder-rest these days, but when I was younger, I played restless, with chamois used to provide grip. So I second everybody's recommendation of chamois. You can secure it with a rubber band if need be.

March 27, 2013 at 03:39 AM · It might not be quite the answer that you are looking for but you need a chin rest with a 'lip' which helps the jaw hold the instrument in place on things like descending shifts and stop the kind of movement you are talking about. I know that there used to be a "Varga" chin rest which he designed specifically for playing without a shoulder rest. This had a pronounced edge on it but I don't think these are still available. I think Gewa used to manufacture them. The "Guarneri" model also has such a lip to it. I don't know if these are still around. I think there was some kind of discussion about the "Varga" chin rest on this site at one stage.

March 27, 2013 at 12:30 PM · John: "makeup? Face cream? Powder? Hickey ointment ? Sweat? Pathogens?"

Perhaps its time for your yearly face wash John? :)

One good thing about a cloth/chamois is that you can reverse it and wash it. I cycle two for exactly that reason. Hard to do with the chinrest itself...

March 27, 2013 at 12:50 PM · You could always try superglue, I bet that would hold out for a whole recital ...

March 27, 2013 at 01:25 PM · Here are a few tips from

Elizabeth Wallfisch

In particular:

"** To make wedge: Take one square of chamois leather,

Fold, to make triangle, fold again to make another, and then another...Finally, roll last smallest triangle, longer corner to longer corner, tightly fasten with rubber band around the final result. Adjustable to all heights,widths,and size of person, comfort of individual."

[end of quote]

You can use a rubber band to secure the wedge on the belly of the violin by attaching one side to the button, the other to the lower edge of the c bout on the bass bar side. She does not say where does the wedge point to.... I found that the thicker part should be closer to the edge; experiment to find the best position.

March 27, 2013 at 01:57 PM · I use a sponge (secured with an elastic). It protects my collar bone and provides a bit of friction. I tried quite a few, and the red cosmetic sponges (available at Shar) work best...

Constantly mucking about with a cloth, as some members of our orchestra do...would drive me batty...

March 27, 2013 at 04:01 PM · "Let`s face it ,it`s time Elastic Bands got a bashing .

Why stop at the poor old shoulder rests? The folding and faffing around with horse blankets has had it too easy as well "


Let me begin the bashing:

To all rubber band users

March 27, 2013 at 04:07 PM · The accursed rubber band is ruining classical music!

Shocking evidence found here!

March 27, 2013 at 10:57 PM · Carlo, I think I just might have said this before, but:

- In my restless years, I did just as you say: no shoulder contact at all..Chamois is fine!

- Every single one of my restless friends use shoulder contact very often (although they say they don't!). They are very good players. Why can't you admit this? It's silly, and irritating!

March 27, 2013 at 11:23 PM · Ok, it's time to come clean. I use Velcro. I have superglued one part to the violin and the other over my collar bone. If you are going to try this it is worth checking in an inconspicuous place to see if you have a reaction to the glue.

Cheers Carlo

March 28, 2013 at 12:55 AM · WRONG!

The proper way to utilize Velcro is to glue one piece to your chinrest and then grow a bushy thick beard.

Once you lightly touch your jaw to the chinrest it will be firmly fastened for as long as you like.

March 28, 2013 at 01:20 AM · So seraphim - you're saying women can't play the violin, right? Or, I'll rephrase (to deprive you of the thrill), women without beards can't play the violin???

[see, there is one thing worse than an SR topic - a sexual discrimination SR topic...]

March 28, 2013 at 03:10 AM · What a hot and sexy discussion.....

March 28, 2013 at 05:19 AM · Superglue is definitely not the thing.

Self adhesive velcro dots. Now that's the business. that, and testosterone tablets.

March 28, 2013 at 05:23 AM · There's nothing sexier than a bearded woman playing the violin bareback.

March 28, 2013 at 01:59 PM · "So seraphim - you're saying women can't play the violin, right? Or, I'll rephrase (to deprive you of the thrill), women without beards can't play the violin???

[see, there is one thing worse than an SR topic - a sexual discrimination SR topic...]"

Hey, I don't make the rules....If you want to go out and grow a beard, by all means, please do!

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