Yet another reason to get rid of the shoulder rest

June 7, 2014 at 03:46 PM · SR woes from a recent student recital. My son (foreground) seems to get a kick out of it although I didn't think it was very funny at the time.

Replies (29)

June 7, 2014 at 04:20 PM · The video wouldn't play for me, but I'm guessing his Kun rest slipped off.

The issue is not shoulder rests in general, but ones that are crap. And Kun rests are certainly crap. I see them fall off all the time in orchestras, especially if the feet wear and get slippery. Menuhins are also prone to slip off and damage the instrument.

Wolf rests never fall off. Your logic is kind of like saying "my cheap tire got punctured easily--yet another reason not to have tires at all.."

June 7, 2014 at 04:22 PM · I am very impressed with your ability to carry on in the face of adversity! You didn't miss a beat!

...and as for providing added entertainment for the children? Just a bonus feature! :D

June 7, 2014 at 05:23 PM · I am with Scott. My Kun used to fall off when I looked at it the wrong way. So, I got a Menuhin-style one by Maestro from Shar that cannot fall off. Whatever its other faults, and I don't see any, at least it stays on. I suppose the downside is that I cannot provide the same sort of entertainment Smiley managed.

June 7, 2014 at 05:40 PM · I use a Wolf Forte Secondo. Price is not an issue, but this rest seems to fit my anatomy best

June 7, 2014 at 06:37 PM · Oh alas and alack - and all that worry about not getting the notes right!

My SR has gone for months now, hopefully for good. Loving live without it...

June 7, 2014 at 07:05 PM · Better it fell off during a rest period than during some of the latter passages? :D

I've used a Mach One for 15 or so years and recently decided to try out a Bonmusica for the hell of it since I have one on the Viola. No real issues, though the Mach One does tend to slip off but that's most likely age-related. >.<

June 7, 2014 at 07:53 PM · Years ago I used a Wolf "Super Flexibel" that fell off constantly. Splat.

The Wolf Forte Primo stays on well.

June 7, 2014 at 08:37 PM · Some violins are just a tiny little bit narrower than the span of Kun shoulder rest. All it takes a bit of adjustment, such as elastics connecting the the feet and attached to one of the corners to help it stay secured. No shoulder rest is perfect.

June 7, 2014 at 08:50 PM · Rocky wrote: "No shoulder rest is perfect". I beg to differ, no shoulder rest IS perfect. :D

June 7, 2014 at 09:13 PM · Hahaha, I kind of laughed to be honest.

I personally don't use a shoulder rest and sometimes my stand partner's shoulder rest falls off, I just glance and give them a look of disapproval as they miss 5 measures trying to put it back on.

June 7, 2014 at 09:27 PM · "...and as for providing added entertainment for the children? Just a bonus feature! :D "

My son was bored to tears through the entire recital, but he said the SR episode was the highlight of the evening... the things parents will do to keep their children entertained :-)

June 7, 2014 at 09:28 PM · Bravo, Elise!

June 7, 2014 at 09:35 PM · "Better it fell off during a rest period than during some of the latter passages? :D"

Actually, I didn't post the entire vid (not too proud of it to be honest), but it fell off again at the end of the last passage and it caused me to miss the last few notes. I have no idea what was going on. My SR has never fallen off before, but it decided to fall off twice during my performance -- must have been the extra adrenaline -- either that or it really was a message from above.

June 7, 2014 at 11:30 PM · Regarding the above-mentioned Kun:

My experience with them has been positive -- especially the Bravo model. I've never had a problem with them falling off. But they need to be a good match for the instrument and the player's build. They are a great fit on two of my fiddles, less so on the third. Fortunately, replacement feet, when needed, won't break the bank and are just a few mouse clicks away.

Height adjustment and SR orientation are important, too -- these vary from one player to the next; one setting won't fit all. I set mine at lowest point on shoulder side, about midway on chest side, and orient it SW-NE as viewed from the back of the instrument. FWIW, I can't wear a jacket with the SR -- neck too short, too much bulk from extra fabric. Excessive bulk can contribute to uneven pressure, clenching, and loss of security. All that, in turn, can increase the risk of fall-off.

June 8, 2014 at 06:00 PM · I sort of feel bad...Wasn't it one of my threads last year that made you give SRs one more chance?


I enjoyed hearing you play, though!

June 8, 2014 at 10:34 PM · I find the stiffer Kuns stay on: the "Super" and the Bravo. The Standard and Collapsable ones have to be set tighter, which splays the feet too much to get a firm grip.

Also if the violin swings to the right, a high mounted Kun (for my long neck) tends to get dragged off.

June 9, 2014 at 12:31 AM · My first one's on order- and the cheapest I could find! I've decided I'm not going to get very much vibrato going without one, and two left hand fingers broken 35 years ago don't help.

If it turns out to be a bad one then perhaps I'll try a better one, but I suspect it will work enough for me to see what the experience of one is like. I'm 60 and been playing a year, and LOVING IT!

June 9, 2014 at 12:33 AM · @Seraphim,

You SHOULD feel bad. It is entirely your fault :-)

Just kidding. Actually, I put on the SR because one day, I was practicing a high passage (maybe the end of Saint Saens, I can't recall), but I was way up in the gerbil zone and literally dropped my violin. It rolled on the carpet a couple of times, but thankfully was not damaged.

This recital, the SR popped off again at the very end and it not only caused me to miss the last few notes, but put a pretty good nick on the bottom of my violin. Notice, I kept the violin on my shoulder for the last page turn, haha!

June 9, 2014 at 12:39 AM · "I'm 60 and been playing a year, and LOVING IT!"

Good for you Nancy! Never give up. There are only a handful of things in life that are truly worthwhile. Music is one of them.

June 9, 2014 at 02:21 AM · My KUN was a very good indicator that I might be a bit tense. This happened several months ago.

I use a Bon Musica with my UCWV (main violin) and had decided to play my Knilling (25+ yo VSO) using my old KUN.

In the middle of a piece the violin dropped a bit and there was a loud bang.

Best I can determine is by pressing down too hard the feet splayed apart and the violin eventually slipped down below the feet.

There was no damage but I had to be very careful prying the violin out of the shoulder rest.

I have started playing a “Baroque Style” violin (my BS-violin, but that's a future post) without any type of rest, chin nor shoulder. I plan to continue with the Bon Musica on my main instrument. I am starting to play more fiddle music and with that I want to use the chin rest if the violin is high enough, but no shoulder rest. Well except that there is a Adult Fiddle Jam and Masterclass I'm signed up for and the teacher's book is adamant that one must use a shoulder rest.

Thank you for sharing the video. I'm glad I'm not the only one having SR-flux issues.

June 9, 2014 at 03:44 AM · @Patrick,

Yes, that's exactly what happened at the end of the Saint Saens. If you notice at the end of the piece, I turned my violin upside down and the feet of the SR were not even touching the instrument.

I wonder if there is a term for the fear of dropping your shoulder rest during a performance. Perhaps it's called Kunophobia. Whatever it is, I think I got it now.

June 9, 2014 at 07:08 AM · Isn't that "Restless Legs" syndrome?

June 9, 2014 at 08:05 AM · Shoulder rests prevent the muting and damping of sonic vibrations by limiting contact with the radiating surface (back of the violin) with the shoulder and chest. It's probably the relative ear position that only makes a few people question a shoulder rests' effectiveness.

Slip ability seems to be related to fit and adjustment. The only time I have had trouble was when I didn't want to adjust a rest from fitting my violin, and put it on a trial violin a little less wide at the bouts. Trying to change the angle only works until there is tension and you move the violin, usually when you take it down (to do a page turn). I guess that's what happened to make Smiley's son smile.

Can we please limit snarky remarks on rests (for or against)?

Smiley, you are brave to post your video; thank you.

June 9, 2014 at 08:40 AM · Dave: What snarky remarks? I just reread the topic and can find not one single one. The only slightly abrasive comment I could find was this one: "Shoulder rests prevent the muting and damping of sonic vibrations by limiting contact with the radiating surface (back of the violin) with the shoulder and chest. It's probably the relative ear position that only makes a few people question a shoulder rests' effectiveness."

Forgive me, but that's rather incendiary...

June 9, 2014 at 11:04 AM · My shoulder rest fits quite snuggly. Like I said, it has never fallen off before with many hours of practice. Aside from the adrenaline factor, the room was extremely clammy, so perhaps the moisture caused the feet to lose their grip.

I didn't see any snarky comments either. I sure hope my comments are not perceived as snarky. In spite of the title (which was made with sarcasm), I am neither for nor against using SR's. But when they fall off during a performance, it can be quite distracting for the performer, and entertaining for the audience :-)

June 10, 2014 at 02:40 AM · Smiley, so nice to hear you play again after the mere 35 or so years it has been since the last time I heard you play. :-) Also, I love my Mach One.

June 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM · Hi Mary Ellen,

What's a few decades between friends :-) Congrats on a very successful music career.

June 10, 2014 at 07:06 PM · "Best I can determine is by pressing down too hard the feet splayed apart and the violin eventually slipped down below the feet."

That's exactly what happens. The KUN (at least standard model I used to use) was too flexible. Another issue of the flexibility is that if too low it can bend and damage the back of the instrument.

Flex was also a problem on the Menuhin I used in my youth--the thing would splay out and if a rubber tip came off, I'd get a nice big scratch on the ribs. Menuhin was a great artist, but an industrial designer he was not...

June 10, 2014 at 10:01 PM · @Scott,

Agreed. I think that is what happened. I have the SR set pretty high so that adds to the instability of the contraption.

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