The CBW - better than an SR? Better than none??

April 24, 2013 at 05:26 AM · This came up in the SR surprise topic: it turns out that several of us are already using these. As with most things violinistic, they have surely been used before - but there may be many how have never heard of them (I 'invented' it for myself).

My reason was that I went SR-less, which was a great improvement, but there was a problem: when supported solely by the collarbone the violin sat with a too 'flat' angle (along its midline relative to the floor). Thus, it was easy to play the E string but playing on the G was an effort. This meant I had to bring my L elbow far under the violin which caused tension - and, in essence, defeated the whole object of being SR-less.

Thus, my object was to raise the G string side of the violin which was achieved with a CBW. A short 'wedge' (I use a small piece of soft material rolled like a breakfast sausage and held together with an elastic band; Adrian described a wedge-shaped pad) is positioned very close to the rim of the violin, with one end about an inch to the left of the peg and the sausage extends at an gentle angle towards the midline. It can be held on by an elastic band from the peg to the G-bout. The object is to traverse the collarbone about 2/3rds of the way towards the shoulder. It functions very simply by propping up the G string side of the violin. However, as Eric mentioned, it can also serve as a rudimentary SR when needed. I no longer think about any down-shifts - the achilles heel of SR-less playing.

I have not added a picture because I think that anyone trying it should do so without pre-conceptions first because that may lead to more innovation...

So I took the liberty of dubbing the thing a CBW which is sufficiently different from SR that we can have good clean arguments about it.

I'd love to hear of more users and if anyone else tries it.

CORRECTION! I was measuring in my head, not a good thing - the wedge is at least 2 inches to the right of the pin. I was measuring from the chin rest support (because thats actually what my elastic is attached to.

Also, it may be better to use a wedge shape than a sausage - with the thick end toward the violin midline. Obviously diagrams are going to be necessary..


Replies (99)

April 24, 2013 at 10:22 AM · I've tried to search for CBWs (or rather their ilk) on but have not come up with a previous discussion. Anyone know of one?

April 24, 2013 at 11:31 AM · OK, this is different enough from the usual weekly new SR thread!

My philosophy is that less is more. Try the least amount that will give you comfort and security, rather than the most. I use a home made suede chin rest cover with a tiny amount of padding in the middle that goes on the collar bone. I use it as you might use a hankie. The collar bone is comfortable, the chin and throat are protected from the chin rest irritants - and with the slip-resistant suede, I use almost zero pressure in down-shifting.

April 24, 2013 at 11:36 AM · Hi Raphael :)

I don't quite understand - the chin rest is mostly above the violin :D the CBW would be below it - or do you mean a cover that extends from the chinrest to the underside?

April 24, 2013 at 12:06 PM · Here's a situation where 1 picture would be worth 1,000 words. My little invention, which I've dubbed my "concert shmatta" (Yiddish for "rag"!) is a piece of suede about 15" long and about 10" wide. Used like a hankie, it simultaneously goes over the chinrest and under the back of the violin. But here's the clever part. It's in 3 segments. The middle segment as an open pocket or sleeve, where you can insert just a bit of foam or anything else. I use 1/4" of foam. When you put it over the chin rest and under the back, that middle segment lands comfortably on the collar bone.

I keep it loose, rather than trying to attach it anywhere with a rubber band. The outer segments are intercahgeable. One will always cover the chinrest; one will always goe under the back of the fiddle, while the middle one always rests on the collar bone. That way, if I perspire, I can turn it around and over, giving me actually 4 surfaces to work with and alternate as necessary over the course of a gig.

Also, say in an orchestra gig, where the conductor is giving a long talk to the audience, and I want to put my fiddle on my lap. I put my "concert Shmatta" on my lap, under the fiddle, and it resists slipping off my lap. It's even good for adjusting a hot stand light - so it doubles as a pot holder!

Coming to think of it, you can see me using it in this video

April 24, 2013 at 02:41 PM · Raphael - I use the same cloth, it encloses the chinrest (held on by yet another elastic band - the advantage is then I can flip teh cloth or use the other end, giving me four uses before it needs washing). However, I had not thought of the pocket insert. Neat. You could keep a hankie in there too, maybe some eyeliner, lipstick, a bottle of water, hip flask....

Don. The whole point is to KEEP the collarbone contact - but its only necessary at the E string side of the violin. Other than major surgery (!) else you could not adjust the long-axis angle (to reach the G string, see above).

Anything that takes the violin off your collarbone is simply wrong.

PS PLEASE see my correction above on the placement. If you put it where i originally said, just an inch left of hte centre pin it won't work; it should be about half way to the left edge, 2-3 inches from the centre pin. As said, my error was from thinking of the chinrest clip edge....

April 24, 2013 at 03:45 PM · Elise - lol!

Don - with my device there is almost no difference. Take 1/4" of foam, plus a suede skin. Add the natural weight of the violin and chin. It's almost like not using anything, but more comfortable.

April 24, 2013 at 06:26 PM · Don: I think you misunderstand. The object of the CBW is to make it easier to play without an SR.

If you use an SR the CBW is (most probably) irrelevant. But if you want to stop using an SR then keep reading!

April 24, 2013 at 06:56 PM · For pictures of my pad, just google "Poehland shoulder pad". Mine is the Gewa II equivalent.

In the photos, the wedge is pushed away from the edge to act more as substitue shoulder-rest.

I recommend it to children when they still at the chubby, round-shouldered stage, when even the smallest Kun gets painfully in the way.

Even when used as a CBW, the Poehland comes down slightly in front of the collar-bone, giving that ever-so-discreet ever-so-occasional support when turning pages, tightening bows, scratching one's nose etc.

But I have a terrible, shameful confession to make: for three-hour rehearsals I us a (very small letters) Kun Bravo, on a relaxed shoulder, with only the weight of my head to balance the viola see-saw fashion. Sorry to corrupt such a fine thread! Please forgive me, I'm not completely rotten..

April 24, 2013 at 07:20 PM · Does the poly pad that we use qualify as your CBW? It is almost perfect. Source:

After experimenting I could not find anything lighter. We just need to find chin rest and end button cover and my daughter will be fully satisfied.

April 24, 2013 at 08:16 PM · Elise, I used something like this when I was kid. It was approximately orange-slice shaped, as someone said in the last topic, and covered in royal purple velvet- tres magnifique. It had a leather strap running through it; the skinny end had a hole cut into it to fit around the endpin, and the fat end had a hole through which one jury-rigged a rubber band which went around a corner. The Poehland ones are almost identical. Comford and Playonair are more modern versions of this old theme.

At that dark and distant time, the thought was that they muffled the sound of the instrument, and that moving up to the Resonans was the best thing to do. I personally found them to be lacking in height, and less comfortable than other options, being of the giraffe build.

April 24, 2013 at 10:27 PM · Pavel - no.

the problem is that you have a pad in the way between the right top edge of the violin (under the E string to the right of the peg) and the chin. That means the violin can not sit (underline) directly on the collarbone where it belongs. Also the pad is WAY too large. We are talking about a sliver here. Third I suspect it is too compressible - that means it won't give you much more angle.

I think you are trying too hard to put something between the instrument and the player - as I see it we should be trying get as much air as possible there, without loosing mechanical control. But, as said, I think all the evidence suggests that we need that particular (below E string) collarbone contact.

April 24, 2013 at 11:15 PM · I just ordered a Poehland. I doubt it will be thick enough for my droopy shoulders, but I figured it was worth a shot.

April 24, 2013 at 11:18 PM · For anyone interested, mine is like the Polypad in shape but cut to 1/3 the size so it does not extend across the mid line, only needs one elastic and is a 100%, genuine, certified, fully guaranteed "wedge", designed to tilt the violin and give friction. I am considering cutting it in half again, lengthwise. Compressible is fine as I don't use it to hold up the violin and find (incredibly) that I agree with Menuhin's exhortation to create "space" between violin and shoulder.

I thought of doing something like Raphael but would need much more on top and the chamois I bought still smells of sheep!

April 25, 2013 at 12:26 AM · From Ms. Elizabeth Walfisch:

"** 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."

(Source: )

My addition:

You may start with a chamois leather square roughly 37x37 cm. or smaller, depending on personal built and preferences. Using wider elastics (like one to bind broccoli) around it will further help avoid slipping. Depending on a curvature of the belly, the wedge will nicely fill the gap under the bass bar side.

My experience is that the violin sounds way better than with the SR. Definitely better placement for right hand - I can sense subtle vibrations of the bow stick in my fingers on almost every single note (G, D and A strings)! The disadvantage is that left hand is busier supporting the violin, but to a significantly lesser extent then with no SR at all.

Have a Happy wedging!

April 25, 2013 at 01:36 AM · @Smiley:"I just ordered a Poehland. I doubt it will be thick enough for my droopy shoulders, but I figured it was worth a shot. "


Smiley, don't you realize the Poehland is the gateway rest? Next thing you know you'll have your vioin hoisted up with scaffolding that would make a steeple jack blush. Just say "no".

To the OP, I have dallied with Artino Magic Pad a bit. Not sure what I think of it. I think the contact area is a bit small and tends to accentuate the violin rocking when held instead of helping to stabilize it.

April 25, 2013 at 02:01 AM · Smiley - be sure that it is a genuine Winne ile poohland wedge, with a piglet piecrust edge - and not one of those convoluted (and non-functional, Eyore--murky meadow creations...

April 25, 2013 at 09:50 AM · Hi,

Adrian, where is the GEWA available? I have looked for it, but can't seem to find it available in North America.


April 25, 2013 at 11:50 AM · Christian: A GEWA CBW? Thats just too many letters... :p

April 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM · Seraphim, Chill out dude. It's not like I'm a Jedi turning to the dark side. It's just a shoulder pad. :-)

Elise, the one I ordered was just a boring plain one. Where can I get one with Winnie the Pooh on it?

Seriously though, the problem with all theses fixtures affixed to the violin is they usually affect the sound of the instrument. Even the chin rest can ruin the sound of a great instrument. The best place to have padding is not on the instrument, but on the shoulder. Then the contact with the instrument would be reduced -- there would be occasional contact with the instrument rather than clamps, rubber bands, what not strangling the violin.

April 25, 2013 at 12:31 PM · Smiley - its the same principle whether on the instrument or shoulder. The advantage of the instrument is that its easier to position it accurately - but one could probably design a pad that was positioned directly on the upper CB. This would have two advantages: first, as you say, leaving the instrument to be an instrument ;) and second by allowing more freedom of movement.

The disadvantage, unless you want to wear a bare-shouldered outfit, is that you loose the benefit of choosing the 'grippyness' of the wedge material. However, the chinrest cloth (as described by Raphael and elsewhere) can serve that function by itself.

I'll take a look....

April 25, 2013 at 09:07 PM · It sounds a lot like the sostenuto shoulder rest that Shar used to sell. I think it is discontinued unfortunately...

April 25, 2013 at 09:15 PM · Joseph - that does look close. There's a picture of one here:

so maybe its still available somewhere...

April 25, 2013 at 10:52 PM · And here is the GEWA wedge that Christian and Adrian were talking about obliquely. I'm sure they've had a good laugh... :P

Its a curious shape though - I'd love to see if it works in the way discussed above. Not sure if it would interfere with collar bone contact on the opposite side.

Anyone here used one? Seems they are only available in Europe.

April 26, 2013 at 01:26 AM · Hi Elise,

There are two versions of the GEWA the IIa being the higher one. I have tried the lower one on a colleague's violin and found it to be quite comfortable - at least so I remember. It is softer and more flexible than a Poehland and quite low. An interesting alternative for someone looking for a different kind of support than that provided by most bar-shaped shoulder rests.

It does indeed seem to be no longer available in North America. Adrian, any idea on how one could be ordered from Europe?


April 26, 2013 at 01:34 AM · I found them at two suppliers - low price E11 - butthe shipping was E38! so I did not go through with it...

Maybe we have the collective power to get Shar to order them :D

There are three sizes, the two you mention which vary in height, and a small one for >3/4 violins.

April 26, 2013 at 03:15 AM · The Gewa wedge pictured is very much like the Poeland pad - and I do consider it to be a shoulder pad - though we can quible about exactly at what point something is a rest, a pad or a wedge. Oistrakh and Grumiaux used similar devices. But if someone has found the technique of basically going restless* and just wants the most minimal cushioning on the collar bone and a slip-resistant surface a la my device, it looks like the commercial device that comes closest is the SHAR "Kinder Chinder". I just looked at it online at the SHAR site, but don't know how to transfer the photos here. Maybe someone else can?

Some people have also gone with thin cosmetic sponges. Held by a rubber band between the end button and the lower bass side corner, you can place it anywhere along the length of the rubber band.

Again, to be as much at one with the violin as you can and have free leverage etc., try the least that will work, rather than the most.

*for my technique of going restless, go to my website Go to "writings" then "fundamentals".

April 26, 2013 at 11:28 AM · Hi,

Elise, the GEWA II quite a bit lower than the IIa and slightly different.

I don't know if the image thing will work integrated in the post.


April 26, 2013 at 01:19 PM · I bet Raphael's "concert Shmatta" has an additional use, and that is, to wipe away the tears after witnessing some crazy conductor's antics.

Regarding SR's - I just see mine as a bridge over troubled water ...

April 26, 2013 at 01:25 PM · Elise, thanks for the photo of the Gewa.

It can be slid nearer the edge than on the photo, if you don't want it on the shoulder at all. Tilting the fiddle for G-string access is very common, and does not hamper collar bone contact on the treble side.

But I still need to re-tighten my bow, push up my glasses etc.,sometimes.. I used the pad for minimal shoulder contact when needed, quite different from my Kun Bravo, which rests on the straight part of the collarbone over a low and relaxed shoulder; but I am not trying to "sell" my "see-saw" mode that I describe above: I still raise the viola off the shoulder when I feel like it.

The "tilt" should start with the chinrest...

April 26, 2013 at 03:57 PM · Adrian: "The "tilt" should start with the chinrest..."

Hang on, how so? To my mind the tilt is set by the contact of the violin with whats underneath it and holding it up. Can you get a tilt just with the chinrest? If so please delete everything above :D

April 26, 2013 at 06:12 PM · Elise, I mean that the chinrest should permit the desired slant by its shape and height before filling in the resulting gaps under the violin with wedges, sponges, small furry animals, or whatever.

April 26, 2013 at 06:36 PM · You can have the rest, but please don't take away my furry animal...

Actually its a thought. Few chinrest angles are adjustable - I have an SAS but its really uncomfortable and I don't really need all that height.

I might play with putting some cork under one side to tip it a bit....

hmmm maybe a new topic coming up.... :p

April 26, 2013 at 07:13 PM · Peter - lol! Actually, re the "Concert Shmatta" and conductors, it would be best used to cover my eyes to begin with, and not have to see them at all!

April 26, 2013 at 10:45 PM · By extraordinary coincidence, I dropped into my local violin shop and mentioned the GEWA - he said he was just waiting for a shipment to come in of both (the full sized) sizes. Apparently some veteran violinists had asked about them!

Thus, I will give you a personal report... :)

April 27, 2013 at 12:55 AM · Hi Elise,

Which shop is this, if this is not too indiscreet?


April 27, 2013 at 01:04 AM · FWIW, and as stated elsewhere, I agree with Adrian, alas perfect chin rest fitting (so far) seems an elusive so many other things....

April 27, 2013 at 11:50 AM · Hi,

Eric, I found mine by ordering one from Alexander Accessories. You might want to check them out (there is a website). They are practical and works of art.


April 27, 2013 at 12:29 PM · Yes, they are superb!

I use mostly the Teka type, or the Strad; I find the very popular Guanerius model unusable - in fact I notice that very many users put their chins over the tailpiece, ignoring the plateau bit entirely.

To return to the "tilt", in both my prefered models, I make two changes:

- I cut a wedge-shaped sliver from under the left side, and glue it under the right side: tilt!

- I carve away the excruciating rim towards the left end of the "cup" to allow my delicate and ancient jawbone somewhere to snuggle. I see that Alexander & Co do this on their Guanerius Kinked model, so it's too late to take out a patent!

My improvements are a great success with my colleagues. I can even play on the low strings without a SR.... (If I feel like it!)

P.S. Elise, I appreciate this thread where practical problems are met with practical solutions solutions rather than opinionated assertions.

April 27, 2013 at 12:34 PM · Christian - not at all, I'm sure they would love a little advertising:

The Sound post, Toronto

Pleased to do so since its also where my violin came from and they have been very supportive.

April 27, 2013 at 12:38 PM · Adrian: "I find the very popular Guanerius model unusable - in fact I notice that very many users put their chins over the tailpiece, ignoring the plateau bit entirely."

then you must wonder why they are so popular - I mean if htey are non-functional.

the answer (I use one) is that a chin-rest is a misnomer; its really a jaw-rest. If you position your jaw over the flat bit your chin hangs over the tail piece. The great part of that is that you can get a bit of traction on the edge that helps in (SR-less) down-shifts. I've tried a number of chinrests and this works the best thus far. But I would love to get a custom designed one - but first I have to refine my preferred hold so that I don't buy the wrong thing.

April 27, 2013 at 12:48 PM · Hi Christian,

I've seen them and they are indeed beautiful (and tempting!) but two issues are not being sure what will be best (having just recently ditched the dreaded $100 Kun Bravo SR-shhh! in favor of a $1 piece of foam) and expecting the need for something quite tall, which won't fit in a run of the mill case. Currently I use a thick foam pad placed on top of a Teka. I am awaiting a Kréddle, which at very least should enable me to explore possibilities and may even solve it.

April 27, 2013 at 01:58 PM · Elise, I have always prefered the notion of "jaw-rest", but I simply find the Guanerius does't fit my own jaw, which needs to cross the "lip" of the rest around halfway between the tailpiece and the end of the "plateau". Hence my carving session. I just noticed that many Guanerius users point their heads straight down the violin, ans so their jaws don't really use the plateau at all.

My Teka is a high model, tilted and carved such that the contact is spread over a larger area, so no sore spots, and no gripping.

April 27, 2013 at 02:00 PM · Hi,

Elise: thank you for the information. When they do receive them, please let us know what you think.

Eric: Alexander Accessories makes a Teka Continental Giraffe model for people with longer necks which might be worth checking out of their website if the Teka works for you but you need added height.

And yes, I am appreciating very much the shape of this discussion as well!


Edit: I think that the popularity of the Guarneri may have to do with the potential of allowing for a large number of chin placements which may offer more possibilities for those trying to work out a conjoined effort between chinrest and shoulder rest.

April 28, 2013 at 09:42 AM · The University of Utrecht have been continuing their work on ergonomic playing - they are now 4 years into the project and are just about to announce their latest result, at a high-school in England which has been collaborating with them. You could contact them if you are interested in attending the seminar. You can see their new shoulder-wedge thingie here...

April 28, 2013 at 11:21 AM · Geoff - interesting to see how this pans out. I note that thier boomerang contacts both ends of the collarbone - that would take the instrument off the bone entirely. I'm not sure if thats a good thing violinistially since then you can't have the advantage of feeling the resonance directly.

I've been exploring rotating the CBW so that it, wait for it, is not on the CB at all! It lies in the groove in a line from the neck down the shoulder to end just behind the SB. The reason for this is that I adjusted the angle of my chin rest (as discussed above) and this has helped the violin angle but a bit of padding is still necessary. Seems to be working fine for now...

April 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM · Elise,

I'm pretty sure they advocate placing the fiddle on the collarbone.

I think the boomerang is designed to be "worn" a bit farther down the shoulder, to stabalise the pitch of the fiddle, as you are looking for. Seems to me it would be pretty easy to bodge one of these together to experiment with, using some foam, some plastic and some Copydex. Or perhaps you could substitute felt for the plastic - that would seat it well on your clothing.

April 28, 2013 at 12:23 PM · Just foam :-).

Been waiting years for the equilibrio already. Finally gave up.

April 28, 2013 at 09:36 PM · On the subject of chin rest: It seems the Kréddle is imminent.

April 29, 2013 at 12:26 AM · Yes, I just filled out the shipping form for my Kreddle. I am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

April 29, 2013 at 01:42 AM · I haven't seen this one yet - we want a writeup here tho :)

April 29, 2013 at 07:29 AM · I've filled my fiddle with a special gas so it floats on its own - no need for any support - and I'm thinking of filling myself with the same gas so I can float above everyone and play heavenly musak.

No rude comments now ... (the other alternative is to eat 500 prunes).

April 29, 2013 at 09:36 AM · OK Peter - let's call your bluff. Please report back on the effects off the 500 prunes...

April 29, 2013 at 09:42 AM · Caused a major run on the £ and Thames Water are looking for the blockage ...

April 29, 2013 at 01:52 PM · Thank you Geoff!

April 30, 2013 at 11:01 PM · To return to the thread (!), the photos of the Kreddle are interesting. But it is still spoon shaped: I should still need to file down the near left edge, or maybe the left end if I turned it a little, anti-clockwise. Anyone tried it yet?

April 30, 2013 at 11:19 PM · The Kreddle has not shipped yet as far as I know. I am waiting to get one. I will certainly review it when it arrives

May 1, 2013 at 01:38 AM · Is it made of wood? If not it will be difficult to file...

May 1, 2013 at 10:24 PM · I received the Poehland (Poohland) the other day and while it does add tilt to the instrument, it messes up my setup and also affects the sound of my instrument. I've come to realize, my violin is very fickle about having things attached to it. So everyone can relax, I'm not turning back to the dark side -- still rest-less for the time being.

May 2, 2013 at 11:50 AM · I just searched the poohland pad - it looks identical to the GEWA. Anyone know which came first?

Also, I really don't think we should discuss CBWs as SRs. The principle is totally different and the violin remains freely mobile. Put it this way, one could achieve the same ends by attaching the CBW to the shoulder instead of the violin - I don't think a shoulder=attached SR would work. But boy, does that tax the imagination!

May 2, 2013 at 01:02 PM · Does not a foam pad inside the jacket count as attatching the SR to the shoulder? Or are not those whose shoulders are square (or fleshy) enough to provide (albeit occasional) support, using a built-in, natural SR? In both cases, freedom of movement remains possible (unlike the case of the ultra-anatomical Kun, Mach 1 etc.)

Hey we're getting near a minefield, so back to the Tilt, the CBW, and the drawing-board!

May 2, 2013 at 01:56 PM · I think not adrian - least I've never read anyone that thought an SR was anything other than a shelf that attaches to the violin and sits on the, would you believe it, shouler.

I guess you could try to make a case the others were the same but I think that would probably have the same outome as stepping on a nuclear bomb that was hidden in the minefield...

CWBs are cute, in fashion, cuddly and like kittens - look at the names: poehland, play-on-air, Otto, . SRs on the other hand, appear to be dogs - sometimes raging man-eating dogs. They are decidely agressive and macho - Mach 1, Wolf, Everest, Kun..

May 2, 2013 at 03:56 PM · Hi,

Elise, I have tried the GEWA and the Poehland and they are totally different. They may look similar, but they feel much different.

The main difference between the pads vs shoulder rests are that the pads touch the collarbone/shoulder area only whereas the shoulder rests have contact on both sides of the instrument and extend to the players chest. It is this last attribute which makes a huge difference for some people.


May 2, 2013 at 07:19 PM · Elise, I was going to mutter something about Feminine Logic, but perhaps I should refrain..

Judging by the examples in my posession, the Gewa wedge is much softer than the Poehland, and allows me to express my more feminine side..

But I do find that protected by my snarling Kun, I can cuddle the sounds better..

Christian, I agree, the added "chest" contact is what attracts me to a SR for long sessions; although I lose some mobility in the shoulder, I avoid any gripping by the jaw, and enjoy the added freedom for my left hand.

May 2, 2013 at 08:29 PM · Adrian: thanks. For intangibles such as music I think 'feminine logic' (whatever that is ;) ;) ) is far better suited than that linear variety.

By the way, most of the truly great minds I know think by identifying the answer and then working back to the question using 'linear logic'. How they get to the answer is, well, by what would probably be feminine logic...

May 3, 2013 at 01:09 AM · From Adrian Heath

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 01:02 PM

Does not a foam pad inside the jacket count as attatching the SR to the shoulder?

Adrian - no, that does not count. By definition, if it's not attached, it's not attached. Some of the most vociferous distinguished SR opponents, such as Stern and Rosand, used foam under their suits or shirts. And a pad is not a rest, even if it is attached. What I think of as a rest is a basically hard device that attaches at the sides of the violin and tends to lock it into place at one basic angle - i.e. Kun, Everest, etc. etc. Of course with new inventions coming out all the time they may not all conform to my basic definition. A pad would be foam, a sponge, etc. I'd consider Playonair somewhat in-between, but closer to a pad. What we're calling a wedge here is thinner padding. My "Concert Shmatta" is basically a suede chinrest cover that provides really minimal but very effective cushioning to the collar bone.

As I type this, I feel myself being pulled inexorably into the black hole SR vortex that apparently lies at the heart of the galaxy. So just before being dashed to pieces, or possibly emerging into a new galaxy, I feel constrained to repeat, as I hoped I wouldn't, a few of my basic ideas on the subject:

1. I strongly recommend not using an SR as I've defined it - when done with an effective technique for doing so.

2. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean that I think that it's some kind of evil thing, and truly many fabulous players use them, including some personal favorites such as Hahn and Ehnes. When someone plays like that, who cares? If using one, or jumping up and down and spitting chicklets gave me half of their technique, so be it.

3. I would, however, ask SR users to honestly answer this question: if - IF - you found a way to play just as comfortably and securely - if somewhat differently - w.o. the SR, would you still prefer to keep it on? Now I'd ask non-resters the mirror question - if you could find a way to play just as comfortably and securely with an SR would you still prefer not to use one? Clearly less is more - IF less really works. Having been on both sides of this fence at different times in my life I know from personal experience that there's a greater level of oneness with the violin, freedom of movement and a more open tone w.o. a SR, all things being equal. It's a more organic feel. Imagine riding 10 mph on a bike with or w.o. training wheels. It's the same 10 mph - or is it? No, it's not for everybody. But I believe that with the right technique and motivation, many more could learn to play restless than they might think. Not everyone can go completely bare-back, like Anne Sophie Mutter. There are degrees. And when it works, less is more. Which brings us back to the basic subject of this thread.

But it's too late for me. The vortex beckons. Save yourselves!

May 3, 2013 at 01:47 AM · well put raphael. The painful reality is that the violin was designed to be a violin - not, it seems, an object suspended over the left side of a human with free, and yet controlled movement.

Which brings us to the next question - why not? Is it that the violin is caught in the impass of design for sound and design for ergonomics? And that that force us to adapt the human to the instrument and not the other way round?

I don't think I've ever read a comment that stated adding an SR actually improved the sound*. Thus, all modifications seem to be some sort of compromise.

Come to think of it, has anyone had a sound post adjustment with the SR in place and while the violin was on the shoulder? Perhaps thats a real possibility....

May 3, 2013 at 08:52 AM · Thank you Raphael for this clear and undogmatic post!

This is the first thread of its kind I have seen which actually considers some of the practical problems of holding the violin, (which, after all, is of vital importance) and some genuine and creative solutions.

- Security an comfort: a well-adapted chinrest and a Concert Schmatta;

- easy access to all strings: Collar-bone Wedge;

- occasional support from the shoulder: soft pads attached to the shoulder or to the violin (or simply having square shoulders!)

P.S. Just for the record, I actually dislike the vibrations through my collar-bone: I want to hear my tone through my ears only; then I am less shocked when I hear myself recorded!

P.P.S."I don't think I've ever read a comment that stated adding an SR actually improved the sound.." My SR may not improve the sound of my instruments, but it does improve the sound of my playing!

May 3, 2013 at 11:57 AM · Raphael,

In other words, the SR is a singularity at the center of the vcom universe around which all things revolve and are eventually sucked into complete annihilation. Nothing can escape.

May 3, 2013 at 12:34 PM · SR=Schwarzschild Radius; as close as you can go without disappearing forever.

(and incidentally Schwarzschild=Black Shield or plate)

May 3, 2013 at 02:51 PM · Actually Smiley, Bertrand Russel's 'lady-in-the-audience' was wrong. Apparently its NOT turtles all the way down. At the bottom is an SR...

May 3, 2013 at 03:07 PM · Only for the "antis", not for the open-minded!

May 3, 2013 at 03:26 PM · I don't think the 'pro's would object to the SR being the core of the universe...

May 3, 2013 at 05:30 PM · Being the "closed minded" person that I am, I can think of two things that get sucked into the SR chasm -- your jaw bone and your left shoulder. It is an invisible force like gravity that is ever present and unavoidable.

May 3, 2013 at 06:45 PM · Excuse me, but the "chasm", "black hole", "vortex" etc. references were invented by the "antis". I thought we were in a thread of "nons"!

May 4, 2013 at 03:41 AM · Yes, you're all right to a certain extent! But as I get sucked in cl..r the .ignal ..s ..reaking up. And for some reason I .ind myself wondering if bats eat cats or cats eat bats...

Uh oh...I see it...the's a giant monolithic shoulder rest...surrounded somehow by haunting m.sic of Ligeti!


[Here the narrative breaks off, and people can speculate about whether RK actually said "aaarrrggghhh!" wrote it, or perhaps was dictating!]

May 4, 2013 at 09:12 AM · Baaaaack to the subject.......(yeah, sorry for spoiling the party and all),

.... those Gewa and Poeland pads are awfully similar to the wedge shape i ended up with when I modeled the 'thing' out of crayola model magic. which makes me think that those guys are on to something. I am desperate to get something working, because with the new / old violin - see the blog and facebook post if interested :) - I'm developing paraesthesia in my left arm. and that can't be good. Every SR I own (I have 3) in every configuration, in order to offer any support, seems to be compressing median nerve which is a little annoying. A CBW is very appealing, but I can't seem to create one with a chamois or sausage roll.

May 4, 2013 at 11:32 AM · Hi,

Sharelle, I know some people that have found success in creating something using the non-slip liners that can be but in the bottom of drawers as the material is softer and more "cushiony" than chamois, but does not slip a lot. I know that some of my colleagues who specialize in beginners use this as you can configure cushions or CBW of different shapes and height for various individuals, through folding or layering or a combination of the two. Could be worth a try...


May 4, 2013 at 01:16 PM · Sharelle,

I found at least 2 shoulder rests (BonMusica and Mach 1) that somehow press my left shoulder on the wrong spot causing tingling in my left hand fingers. As soon as I stopped using them, the tingling was gone. You probably need a wider SR, such as Wolf flexibel, or a pad to spread the contact point across the shoulder.

May 4, 2013 at 09:03 PM · Fly in the ointment.

I just had a lesson with a bonafide violin pedagog and soloist. Yes, he's on youtube and you would drool to play bach like he does.

He told me to put the SR back on... so now what?

Fantastic lesson.... but - other than my intonation, rhythm and tone I play great :p

May 4, 2013 at 09:58 PM · Ask him WHY you should put the SR back on. Is it just because that's what he does?

May 4, 2013 at 10:12 PM · yes, Elise, please let us know if the teacher had actual reasons for the shoulder rest.

Sharelle - I use what Christian wrote above - drawer liner. Amazon has it listed under "Grip It Shelf and Drawer Liner". I got mine at a local drugstore. It's cheap (so no great loss if it doesn't work for you), non-slip, and you can cut and/or fold it as needed to achieve the shape and thickness you want. It's firmer than a soft sponge, but not rigid. I use a rubber band to hold it on the violin.

May 4, 2013 at 11:55 PM · Shelf liner. Mmm. I've got that. (I'm an occupational therapist, we practically inhale that stuff). I've got sponge in different density. Chamois. Cleaning cloths with differnet naps. I've ordered a Poehland. I'll try again today doing the sausage rolling.

I'm strangely relieved to hear that others have experienced similar.

You'd think I could do make something up easily, and I could if it was for someone else, but for some reason I can't do it for myself - I get all kack handed and lose orientation as mentioned before. I haven't been able to do anything with non slip liner or any of the other things.

Interested to hear about THE LESSON, Elise.

May 5, 2013 at 03:05 AM · more tomorrow - just came back from hearing the Danilo Perez trio (jazz) playin WITH the Cecilia string quartet.

The piano quartet that Danilo wrote (a commission) went a lot better than the attempt to incorporate a purely classical quartet into free-style jazz. Nooope. Not quite there...

May 5, 2013 at 03:11 AM · Elise, maybe he's just jealous! :-)

Forget 10,000 hours practice. How about the 10,000 hours spent on finding a comfortable, functional setup!

May 5, 2013 at 09:20 AM · Elise, your teacher may genuinely feel that you play better with an SR, but that does not in anyway invalidate the benefits of your "restless" practice.

Did he really listen to (notjust watch) your playing without a SR?

May 5, 2013 at 11:56 AM · Hi,

Elise, by the way, have those GEWA pads arrived in Toronto yet?


May 5, 2013 at 12:38 PM · I've been using Acoustifoam pads for a while now-- I find that they have nearly all of the acoustic benefits of going restless, with pretty much all of the support (and traction) I'd want from a rest.

May 5, 2013 at 12:57 PM · OK, the lesson.

The teacher, a highly regarded pedagog (on the faculty of no less than three universities, two of which have strong violin and soloist - lots of cred and strongly recommended to me by people I trust. Also, he was not polarized in the SR wars at all - he has played both with and without (as he demonstrated).

His comment was that I was working my left hand too much to both hold the violin and finger. I think what it really boiled down to was that he wanted to change my hand alighment with the keyboard and that required more freedom of movement than was currently possible. The changes he suggested boiled down to bringing the hand further over so that the fingers come down more squarely - the outcome was the opening of mythical space between the side of the first finger and the keyboard (qv above and Menuhim).

There is no question that playing SR less has improved my ballance and ability to manipulate the violin and, frankly, I still find it more comfortable. However, I am going to go with the flow here and use the SR as a tool to improve my L hand.

By the way we worked on a LOT of other things too. An amazing lesson - I hope he will teach me again...

May 5, 2013 at 02:07 PM · Do still play restless as a stimulating therapy!

I have mentioned the thumb from time to time.

Personally, for the vibrato and finger action that give me the sounds I want (on the viola), I must have The Gap betwween the base of the index and the fingerboard.

My thumb does not permit this effectively, without support from the shoulder, and the the contact of the SR with the chest stops the viola falling into The Gap, onto the web.

On the other hand, I find a tighter, faster vibrato is still possible on th violin without The Gap, so without a SR.

I shall now watch U-toob videos for the next few weeks (!) with total concentration on the thumbs.

May 5, 2013 at 05:55 PM · Elise, I have exactly the same issue with my left hand, if I understood you correctly. It's hard to bring it up over the fingerboard enough so that my fingers come down more squarely. My teacher blamed this on my inability to swing my elbow underneath my violin sufficiently far. But I think this is one of the issues that is special to being a returner. My left hand is skilled, but I am not able to regain the same flexibility in the larger joints of my left arm (shoulder and elbow, I guess) to swing underneath far enough to use that finger skill as well. I think it was Gingold who said that the purpose of hand position is to reach the notes, and I think my issue is really arm flexibility not being good enough to get the right hand position.

May 6, 2013 at 01:08 AM · Its a rock and a hard place...

I believe the arm should only be under the violin - there should be no effort necessary to swing it further (at least in positions up to 5th) - that introduces tension. So you should be able to bring the fingers squarely onto the keyboard with the elbow 'dangling' under teh violin. If you can't then one way to help is to rotate the violin slightly along its long axis (G up, E down).

.... which is exactly what the CBW was for ... ARGGGGGHHHHH

May 6, 2013 at 02:05 AM · Speaking of the "mythical" space between index finger and violin, c.f Menuhin; what about his "mythical" space between the violin and shoulder which he also regards as so important?

I find for me that that one really makes sense/works with the "wedge" but not with the SR because the space has to be flexible.

May 6, 2013 at 07:40 AM · I agree Eric - but everything about playing teh violin is a compromise and giving the left hand more tasks may well compromise the complexity of piece that it can cope with. the benefit may be in better expression or tone...

It comes down to not only figuring out what works easiest for you but also matching your setup to the type of music you have to play. Thus, traditionally SR-free playing has been associated more with baroque playing where the emphasis (I'm generalizing very broadly here) is on finger flexibility and individual note expression in contrast to more modern work with its emphasis (often) on the full use of fingerboard (shifting) and virtuosic playing in general.

Its a thought...

May 6, 2013 at 04:14 PM · Elise, I agree with you about this kind of compromise, that is what we -- especially amateurs like me -- must always deal with.

May 6, 2013 at 10:59 PM · I thought the whole point of the CBW was that it was a compromise?

I actually don't find holding the violin up with the left hand an added burden, I feel it more as bringing the violin and bow together (kind of like gently squeezing a beach-ball or balloon), rather than forcing the bow down onto the there is an equality between the two sides of the body. Fingering is then placed "lightly" on top, just as the right hand is also to remain flexible. I couldn't do this with the SR. I'd also rather compromise the neck/finger gap than my comfort, if I have to.

I will know more when I receive the inKréddibleTM Kréddle. The chin rest has been my real bugbear so I'm optimistic it will make things clearer.

May 7, 2013 at 12:35 AM · I see returning to an SR as a stage - necessary to fix my left hand. He gave me some neat ideas that I want to incorporate and I have to admit that that is easier with the SR so, here goes again.

However, I am going to keep SRless up so taht I don't become dependent. And I don't think of the CBW as a compromise but as a different solution. At the beginning of this topic I thought someone must have thought about this all before and I'm pleased that that turned out to be the case - but even with these previous ideas (such as the GEWA and Poh whatsit) they vary quite significantly with respec to what they actually support. Also, I went away from a trans-collarbone wedge to one that was parallel or along the shoulder. It felt more comfortable and stable for me.

Interesting discussion because it dips into what exactly are we trying to achieve by mechanically supporting the violin? I think the questoin has a lot more to it and obviously this will not be the last topic on the subject :D

May 7, 2013 at 02:09 AM · Another thought about support.

With practicing the variety of fingering patterns (across the strings) that came out of thinking about the "thesaurus", I realised it was as much about practicing umpteen subtle varieties of hold of the instrument as about intonation and bowing and being able to actively adapt and move between them. I feel that may be more important senza SR than con.

May 7, 2013 at 11:59 AM · !!!WARNING!!! about drawer foam and other plastic-type stuff.

I tried that. Leaving it in the case discolored all the metal--particularly the feet of the CR (where it made actual contact), and turned the varnish a little weird on the old instrument; no affect on the new one's varnish. I tossed it; suggest careful observation, and probably time outside for the material to allow for outgassing before relying on it. Every company making the stuff probably has a different formula, so maybe you'll be luckier than I...

May 7, 2013 at 12:51 PM · sheesh - I wonder what it does to your body when its incorporated into matresses?

Looks like this topic is headed to the Great Archiver in the Sky... will we hear more about the CBW or will it too evaporate into the SR ethos...

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