'Shoulder rests' that don't make contact with the body

November 13, 2013 at 07:57 PM · What shoulder rests do you know of that don't make contact (or very minimal contact) with the back or the sides of the violin, but still have the support and 'feel' of a shoulder rest.

I have seen a couple

-The Phantom Rest. This is too dangerous for the endpin, I won't consider it

-Wittner "Isny" - new shoulder rest. Has anyone used it? I have not seen a review of it yet. Seems well designed

If there are some other ones, I would love to know about them and see which could be the most practical. Since I am essentially stuck using a shoulder rest because of a long neck, I would like one that does not inhibit the violin's vibration.

D

Replies (32)

November 13, 2013 at 08:05 PM · The Phantom is the one I was going to list.

November 13, 2013 at 09:15 PM · Hi,

Someone on this site mentioned the new Wittner rest and said that they liked it quite a bit. I think that Vilde Frang uses something that sounds like what you are describing, but I have no idea what it is.

Cheers!

November 13, 2013 at 10:13 PM · Hi D, I've been using the Isny for a few weeks now and am pretty happy with it. It's not perfect but the closest to what I've been looking for. It's very adjustable and I now have my fiddle in a place no other shoulder rest has allowed: low (held at left side of left-bout) and still forward (that is the scroll points more forward than left.) Also I think it can get the rest closer to the collar bone than any other rest with feet.

It's a good design but a little finicky. The end of the arm attaches to the 'clamp' by means of a short screw-like mechanism; you align the slot and turn it, but it takes a bit of practice to catch the threads (you don't want to be in a rush putting this rest on your fiddle, which might mean arriving a little earlier than normal ;) It's secured in place by a latch, which so far has held, but doesn't inspire tremendous confidence. It turns and pivots in all directions at both the arm/clamp end, and where the rest attaches to the arm. The rest itself is designed like a wind-shield wiper. If you press the middle the ends pivot in response. This makes the rest quite flexible, not anywhere as rigid as a rigid-rest, which some may prefer, others not.

Apart from the bolts in the pivot mechanism everything is plastic so I don't know how long it will last. A friend who tried it said he was afraid he'd break it, but he admits to squeezing quite a bit. But it is fairly light. I don't know how you get hold of the adapter for normal chinrests. I'm using a Wittner centre mount chinrest to attach it to the Isny's clamp, which I've rigged with a temporary home-made rest (I cut off the cup and fashioned my own.)

There is one design element which concerned me at first. Where the arm attaches to the clamp, the portion of the clamp which covers part of the back is very close to the back. I suppose to protect the instrument there is a small rubber bumper on the screw part of the arm which touches the back as you screw the arm into the clamp. I was worried it might leave a mark, but so far that hasn't happened. So technically the Isny does touch the body, albeit minimally.

I got mine for 60 something USD from ebay. I think Concorde carries it too for less, but their shipping policy to Canada worried me. I've ordered quite a few things from Michael Wang at www.ebay.com/usr/yourdealscenter and his service has been excellent.

Hope that helps.

November 13, 2013 at 11:01 PM · very useful info - thanks a lot

November 14, 2013 at 12:24 AM · Try the Viva La Musica Augustin Diamond:

http://www.vlm-augustin.com/vioin-shoulder-rests/vlm-augustin-diamond/

Ive swapped to this 3 weeks ago - a very versatile rest and it really does not affect tone on the violin - and Im quite particular. Its incredibly secure on the instrument. Im impressed. I think this is the one Ill settle on.

The rest really does get where others cannot - it takes some time to get the rest 'configured' properly simply because it adjusts in so many ways - and my violin contacts my collar bone - which is great. This means I have the pad quite low - lower than any rest ive ever encountered. Happy to supply photos if it helps.

The Menuhin rest (now made as a Lark copy) also is

very good at preserving the sound of your violin, but doesnt feel like a modern should rest - it gives a huge freedom but little security.

To be honest although the shoulder rest has some impact the BIGGEST impact on my violin was changing the Tekka rest I was using (which contacts the violin with about 4inches of cork) and moved to a SAS chinrest - made an amazing difference to the sound. So perhaps worth looking at both aspects.

https://www.viva-sas.com/chin_about.htm

November 14, 2013 at 12:40 AM · For me it was because of a simple, maybe naive experiment. Just hold the violin by the neck and give a healthy tap with your finger around the sound-post area on the top and the back. A good violin will produce a deep and resonant hum, with a clear note. Then when you put a shoulder rest on that hum is reduced to a dull and muted sound. Probably a negligible difference, but I just don't want to hinder the sound if possible.

November 14, 2013 at 01:47 AM · Interesting test!

I wonder how well a simply foam shoulder pad/rest would fare in that testing?

November 14, 2013 at 04:39 AM · 1. Mach One has got quite good sound properties due to material used, and the specially designed feet. The ergonomic side of it is a bit questionable.... some people like it, but for me it created a pressure on my shoulder, so I had to return it to the shop.

2. Kaplan's Shoulder Horn (http://www.magicmountainmusic.org/pdtSH.html) It does improve the sound, but, again, the ergonomic side is lacking.

3. The wedge, as described on Elizabeth Walfisch's web site.

(http://www.elizabethwallfisch.com/page15.htm)

I find it really ergonomic and adjustable. The contact with instrument is minimal and it leaves the back edge of your violin to lean on your collar bone, while the rest is free to vibrate. Give it a try.

November 14, 2013 at 04:50 AM · Ghreetings,

I found that the Viva Augustin diamond was extremely stable and unobtruisve. It was the closest I have got in years to being able to use a shoulder rest. I gave up after a week instead of the usual five minutes. If my Ss need one I recommend this one.

Very expensive ....

Cheers,

Buri

November 14, 2013 at 08:24 AM · I like the Viva diamond. I played for over ten years without a rest. I submit that the sound of a violin is actually superior with a rest...gasp. I'm sure other professionals concur...

If ANY part of the back so much as touches ANY part of the shoulder without a rest, the sound is very muted. I think it is silly that people think restless playing yields a greater sound. Just my opinion.

November 14, 2013 at 09:00 AM · Greetings,

hi William, hope all us well. Are we starting a new restless debate? usually it's a waste of time because even good friends can't agree. so my responses no ofence intended at all, is that there is virtually no muting from the occasional shoulder touch and that to me shoulder rest users frequently have a somewhat less rich sound. one reason I think is that the ret keeps the violin higher so the slightly higher position of the bow arm inhibits total relaxation of weight into the violin.. Also the fixed position mitigates against useful movements of the violin to maximize tone.

Now I've gone and dunnit.....

Bestvwishes as always,

Buri

November 14, 2013 at 11:43 AM · I played without SR for about 3 years and recently started using the Wolf Forte Secondo. So far so good. I have tried others and most of them last about 1/2 of one practice session, then they go into permanent archival. But the Forte Secondo is doing well. While it does impact the sound, I think it is a little better than a Kun in that respect.

Regarding the Viva La Musica Augustin Diamond, since it is made of wood, is it very heavy? Since I have more money than sense, I might give that one a try also.

November 14, 2013 at 12:40 PM · Hi Smiley, the Diamond is indeed a very elegant rest. It's the best sounding 'footed' rest I've tried on my fiddle.

The brackets which hold the feet are the design feature I like best. They swing back and forth from the midline of the rest which allows a placement very close to the bottom end of the fiddle. By the same token, the main drawback (for my protruding clavicle) is that the brackets do not swivel so you can't change the tilt angle of the rest. With conventional chinrests, that lack of tilt made the rest uncomfortable. With a chinrest which slopes down to the left (left side lower than right) I was able to get the diamond to function more like a wedge to get the violin-tilt-angle I wanted. If I didn't prefer a more forward pointing position, I'd still be using the Diamond. But if you have longer arms, maybe it'll work with your Kreddle.

P.S. It weighs 2.1 oz (58g)

November 14, 2013 at 12:48 PM · Smiley is out shopping for more shoulder rests?!

What is this world coming to????

;^)

November 14, 2013 at 01:12 PM · Regarding weight

VLMA Diamond 64g

Lark Menuhin copy 60g

Kun standard 60g

Everest collapsible 75g

Linnd 60g

VLM Artist 74g

(hhaha yes - i have all these to hand! Ive tried a lot.)

The Menuhin and the VLMA Diamond have the best security. The Menuhin, VLMA Diamond and Linnd the least affect on sound - the Everrest one of the worse damping effects. The Linnd and Everest do not have any tilt adjustment. Tilt on the VLMA Diamond is adjustable - the rotation of the feet adjusts the tilt - to a degree - but its not total freedom. The Menuhin has nil adjustment other than rotating the 'plate cushion' by moving the rest around on the violin!

So the VLM Augustin Diamond weight is not an issue - even though its made a wood. The feet are interesting and excellent design that purposefully avoids contacting the violin inside the purfling. Because of its adjust-ability - the plate does not have to be in line with the feet - which means it can place the plate in places others cannot - without falling off your violin.

Im so pleased I expect to buy a second one for my other violin.

November 14, 2013 at 06:23 PM · "I submit that the sound of a violin is actually superior with a rest …. I think it is silly that people think restless playing yields a greater sound. Just my opinion."

My opinion, too -- based on personal experience. Of course, the SR material makes a difference. I had less resonance with the Kun Regular than I did with the Kun Bravo, which I now use. FWIW, I set the SR at its lowest point on the shoulder side and no higher than about midway on the chest side; so there's not much difference in height, for me, between this setup and playing restless. No fall-off problems here, either -- can't speak for the next player.

----------

"If you LIKE your shoulder rest, you can KEEP your shoulder rest" -- well, for one more year anyway.

November 14, 2013 at 07:05 PM · Greetigs, the reason the restless sound is massive compared to using a rest is because the extra conatc with the body allows the resonance of the violin to fill the empty cavities of the body like resonating chambers. As silly people we dont have anything in the skull compared to normal people so ther eis even more space for resonance. Some of these violinists have a slightly nasal sound because the sound actually flows out of the nose. Some times the sound is a little more earthy because the sound is coming out of a difference orifice and sometimes we talk about really ballsy violinists but it is bets not to go there.

Cheers,

buri

November 14, 2013 at 07:30 PM · ha, ha, one of Buri's pearls of wisdom!

November 14, 2013 at 07:43 PM · Anybody try out the PEDI Elegante'?

2.1oz

November 14, 2013 at 08:32 PM · Hi Seraphim, its light weight is the nicest feature of the Pedi (though mine weighs 2.2 oz on my scale, .1 oz > the Diamond, somehow the carbon-fiber and titanium make it feel so light in the hand ;) For me the foam rubber pad is too slippery, and so although it tilts to the angle you want, it tends to slip off. I used a red cosmetic sponge to prevent that. It has a nice contour, and doesn't dampen the violin but I think it does alter the sound a bit. Maybe it's just me, but I think the Diamond makes my fiddle sound a bit warmer (under the ear.)

November 14, 2013 at 09:06 PM · Mr Buri, thank you for making me laugh!

I guess I was referring to shoulder rests that don't have 'feet' but either way, thank you for the responses friends :)

November 14, 2013 at 09:51 PM · "Smiley is out shopping for more shoulder rests?!

What is this world coming to????"

I'm the only anti-rester that uses a shoulder rest. I know, I'm an oxymoron.

November 14, 2013 at 10:03 PM · You are going to have to make a new series of videos:

"How to play the violin using a shoulder rest again"

November 15, 2013 at 12:41 AM · Good idea Seraphim. I might take you up on that. But seriously, it is only after playing without SR for several years, that I have broken the habit of lifting my left shoulder. I tried SR a few times but it always ended up in excess tension in the left side, but now that I have developed technique that keeps the left shoulder relaxed, I am finally ready to put the SR back on.

Just for the record, I neither advocate nor object to the use of SR. I personally believe that it is a LOT easier to play violin if the instrument remains near horizontal WITHOUT the use of the left hand. That is, the instrument remains in playing position even if you drop the left hand. Whether that means supporting the instrument with SR or with your shoulder (assuming your physique allows), that really frees up the left hand for faster shifts and ease in reaching the top of the fingerboard. Many of the masters that played without SR (e.g., Stern, Perlman, many others), have physiques such that the violin stays up even if they drop the left hand.

It makes perfect sense, if the left hand is busy holding the violin at the same time the fingers are trying to play notes, that is extra motion that is going to slow you down. If the left hand is relieved of the duty of holding up the instrument, it becomes more efficient and hence easier to play.

So my conclusion after the past several years is the following. If SR causes tension in the left side, you need to adjust something, or ditch the SR. But if you are able to use SR without tension, then by all means, it makes life a lot easier.

Regarding sound degradation resulting from the use of SR, I do not have a good solution to that, but perhaps the correct SR could minimize the problem. I am still experimenting. Will probably try the diamond mentioned above.

November 15, 2013 at 01:28 AM · Greetimgs,

great post Smiley. only one point I disagree with. the left hand is more efficient when it is holding up the violin because it has more inputs it is a great deal

more effiiclient.

Cheers,

Buri

November 15, 2013 at 02:25 AM · The Acoustifoam pad has next to no contact with the back of the violin, and doesn't create any tension at all on its sides. http://www.acoustifoamshoulderrests.com/

November 15, 2013 at 02:27 AM · As far as shoulder rests - I've tried with and without, even going with a chinrest for a while as I sorted out what worked and what didn't. I wound up with the Mach-1 on the violin, and one of similar style I found on eBay really cheap for my viola.

eBay Shoulder Rest

It's not too bad for the sound, although the one I liked for sound was the Comford, but it was not the right fit for me - far too stiff. The curvy style gives me enough stability, but also enough flexibility to move.

I like the curve on them, it conforms nicely to my physique. But as I tell my students, whether you decide to use a SR or not, you need to be able to play without tension. If there is tension, *something* needs to be adjusted.

November 15, 2013 at 04:26 AM · "Regarding sound degradation resulting from the use of SR, I do not have a good solution to that, but perhaps the correct SR could minimize the problem."

In my experience:

Pedi=little degradation (slight alteration)

Diamond=no degradation (slight dampening, but not enough to consider it a degradation)

Isny=no different from restless, i.e clavicle only contact

re: "If ANY part of the back so much as touches ANY part of the shoulder without a rest, the sound is very muted." I have a friend, big burly, die-hard anti-rester violist with very square shoulders, who experienced this. After he put on a Diamond, his viola was dramatically transformed--much bigger, more open sound with the Diamond than sitting on his big shoulder.

re: "...the left hand is more efficient when it is holding up the violin because it has more inputs it is a great deal more effiiclient." I don't see how holding up the violin offers more inputs, at least any inputs which might offer efficiency. Can you expound Buri?

November 15, 2013 at 10:18 AM · Just to add further to my weight post:

Wolf Forte Secondo 81g

The Acoustipad is a frightening concept - how much damage is that going to do to the lovely back varnish of my violin?

Also the contact points will result in different modes of vibration across the back.

November 15, 2013 at 01:10 PM · I have tried the Acoustifoam. Ron Mutchnik, a poster here on v.com and an awesome player and teacher highly advocates them. He claims it actually improves the sound, but my personal experience contradicts that. I found that the acoustifoam does not give enough support, and also does cause sound degradation.

I'm sure the results will differ from one instrument to another. For example, I have tried a number of chin rests and my instrument absolutely objects to having a center mounted chin rest. It just kills the sound. So I use a side mount. Some instruments are the other way around. It all depends on how the instrument vibrates and how it is constructed and set up.

November 16, 2013 at 03:03 AM ·

December 5, 2013 at 03:47 PM · I got my Isny just few hours ago. It takes some time to mount it on my violin. The sound comes out like restless. I am really happy about it because from now on I can play with natural sound + vibrato. The only concern is the secure feeling. This rest does not provide it. I think I have to change my way to hold the violin: more loose, less pressure from the jaw.

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