Brave Chin Rest Theory

July 20, 2014 at 04:08 PM · I counted my chin rests this morning which I accumulated during the last 5 years. There were 12. Maybe more just lost in my music room. And, a few were Guarneri with various plate sizes. I think I have used all of them to some extent.

What happened? I'm starting to believe that I simply outgrew some of them. In other words, I think that the muscle groups/configuration that were once so comfortable developed further due to use and now a different CR geometry is needed.

So, if the neck/chin characteristics are in a perpetual state of change, I should expect to "upgrade" every now and then(?)

Now,there is another way to explore this topic:

How many on this forum have been using their same chin rest for years?

Replies (42)

July 20, 2014 at 04:39 PM · Not I. I've been heuristically treating shoulder and neck problems over the years by lowering (then eliminating) the shoulder rest and raising the chin rest...and I'm still not done.

July 20, 2014 at 05:00 PM · I think you have a lot of company to different degrees.

I can't imagine that playing the violin is not a study in adapting to physical change or ailments and those issues might involve hardware.

July 20, 2014 at 05:24 PM · I think we should have CR-clubs - like those Tupperware parties of the 50s - we could pull out a Flesch and talk about its curves, clamps and comfort.

Although I have tried going CR-less, my relationship with these is not love-hate as for SRs (currently the latter), but more like a box of hair accessories with one is in use while the others are in waiting.

The current one is an ebony Berber (I have a boxwood one too) but I got mad at it and cut off the right cm, beyond the clamp. Actually, its much improved :)

July 20, 2014 at 06:13 PM · Amazing!

I too have a revised Berber which I think worked well for a few months but then it started to act up.

A few months ago I was in a shop which was using some ridiculous CR which I wouldn't even try so I tried it. Bingo! About 3 months and counting but I know it won't last

Where are all the folks with the "forever" CR?

July 20, 2014 at 08:26 PM · Darlene - I think they are playing Baroque violins ;) ;)

[and the new beau is what?]

July 20, 2014 at 09:08 PM · I use the same two I made several years ago. Two more when I started playing (left-handed) but those have been retired. I'm not completely satisfied with one of the current ones, but it works and I'm not that particular. I made a custom fit one for a friend who won't use anything else. But I'm not surprised that many people "outgrow" their CRs because so many things change with time.

July 20, 2014 at 09:26 PM · I have mucked about dozens of chin rests but for the last year I have been using the Tekka. I doubt that I will change from that now.

The centre mounted chinrests were promising but they completely deadened the sound on both my violins. I am not sure how anybody can use them ?

July 20, 2014 at 09:38 PM · Lyle

I have started off with all good intentions about many a chin rest but, as you say, things change.


"Baroque" .... it will be interesting to find out.

The store where I got my current CR is right out of the twilight zone. It can be 2014 here but maybe 1914 there. The CR is the 1/4" thick version with the cross hatching on the top. I know that this is absolutely taboo but it works once understood. The every day price (ebony) is $10.00 with standard hardware.

PS I followed your lead re neck cloth chamois but found a piece of welders apron leather which I'm trying. Very grabby but soft and thin enough.

July 20, 2014 at 09:45 PM · Brian

Yeah, Tekka was surprising. In a class with Berber,I think.

Besides acoustic problems, I'm not sure anyone really knew what to do with center mounts. I think the idea was to play the violin more left but the tailpiece forced the CR too high.

July 20, 2014 at 10:31 PM · "Besides acoustic problems, I'm not sure anyone really knew what to do with center mounts. I think the idea was to play the violin more left but the tailpiece forced the CR too high."

I bet most SR-less players use a centre mount and like the height to fill the chin gap.

There was an amazing improvement in my violin when I went from the side to centre mount. Maybe the problem is with the center mount :D

July 20, 2014 at 11:49 PM · Do any of your configurations make any difference in how far left or right you play the violin? Does your violin touch your left shoulder at all?

Or is your violin position not affected by your chin rest(s)?

(We never use the word "gap" in my house :)

July 21, 2014 at 01:14 AM · I have been using a Berber for years after using a Guarneri for years. I have never felt much difference between/among the various rests. Maybe it is simply an indication that somehow I am not much of a violinist, but, I wonder. And, I use a Kun on my viola. My main problem has been finding the right SR for me, i.e., one that is comfortable and does not go flying off every time I look at or touch it. That took years, but I finally solved that one too. Good luck! Somehow, the CR issue has passed me by.

July 21, 2014 at 01:22 AM · Darlene - I guess that question was directed to me not the OP?

Yes, the violin lies on the left shoulder - the 'secret' is to bring the shoulder and side forward but NOT up. and let the violin rest on it. I guess it depends on your body shape but many people - including Ann-Sophie Mutter, Dylana Jenson, Raphael Klayman (whos on and initially taught me this; he has a document on the method) can play indefinitely like this without stress. But, as said the CR becomes more important.

July 21, 2014 at 02:24 AM · So, we finally have one reply about a CR being used for a long time ..... Tom H, Berber.


Can you give me more info to find the Klayman paper?

July 21, 2014 at 10:13 AM ·

You don't realize how important a chinrest is until you custom make one for yourself or get one done. You can make a mold of your chin with playdoh or putty and a piece of board for support; this will show you how wrong your current chinrest is. We generally play with the wrong chinrests and a poorly designed shoulder rest; therefore, we will never be truly comfortable and constantly changing things.

July 21, 2014 at 10:58 AM · I've used the same chin rest on instruments for years - and its always the one that came on the instrument when I got it.

I think the problem is not the chin rests, but the players holding the instrument incorrectly. That's also why players use handkerchiefs etc on the rest to save the love bite on their knecks. (I admit I have done that as well*). But as long as you don't thrust the instrument into your kneck but rathet hold it with the point of the chin, all will be well.

* Now the love bites are genuine ones aquired on days off from the violin, or should I say nights?

July 21, 2014 at 11:34 AM · I bought a Kreddle just about a year ago, and couldn't dream of anything else. Except a center-mount Kreddle...

July 21, 2014 at 04:11 PM · Charles C

I also see it as poor information badly applied. The first problem is to conceptualize the role of the chin rest. I also pay a lot of attention to installation of the chin rest.

Peter What is your current CR model?

From the standpoint of polling, most of the few replies use their CR for a long time but I do not believe that is generally true(?) with a larger sample.

July 21, 2014 at 04:26 PM · Karen

What makes you think that the S.A.S. is much different in function ? I don't know about price.

July 21, 2014 at 06:31 PM · Darlene

"Peter What is your current CR model?"

I've no idea. It was on when I bought the fiddle. It's a fairly standard one I think. It may be me but I don't think the chin rest matters that much, it's how you use it that counts.

July 21, 2014 at 08:25 PM · Probably



July 21, 2014 at 11:51 PM · Like Karen, I also bought a Kreddle and really like it. I would never go back to my old Guarneri style CR.

Btw, Karen, the Kreddle can be mounted near the center, right? I mounted mine partially over the tailpiece. I don't have my violin with me currently, but I'm pretty sure it can be adjusted to be over center.

July 22, 2014 at 02:03 AM · The results of this thread so far are a surprise to me. I had the impression that people are often unhappy and try new brands but not in these reports.

July 22, 2014 at 10:14 AM · If you read Rugerio Ricci's book (Ricci on Glissando) which is about left hand technique you will understand that he considers the chin rest to be an unfortunate invention by Louis Sphor and that pre-chinrest left hand technique was safer, more secure and involved better fingering. It avoided the "trombone" method of shifting that upsets the security of the violin hold and introduces risky intonation as you are jumping around a lot more.

It's worth a read as it is revolutionary stuff. I also met and heard an ex-pupil of his whose playing was pretty immaculate, and I discussed these things with her. Musicality and flawless technique went hand in hand.

Ricci points out how unmusical some modern fingerings are, placing emphasis due to shifts on the wrong notes, such as the third note of a triplet in a downward progression.

July 22, 2014 at 11:51 AM · Darlene: I used a SAS for about a year before trying the Kreddle. The main difference between the two is that the Kreddle is adjustable in all planes, whereas the SAS is just...tall. The Kreddle also comes with 3 different "stem" pieces (I don't know what they are really called) that let you start out from different heights. You can get some pretty crazy configurations going.

Gene: I know that you can get the Kreddle pretty close to the center, but I think a true center-mount would be ideal for me. I play viola, and I am most comfortable with the instrument pointing more front than left.

July 22, 2014 at 12:31 PM · Peter

Now I'm going to wonder about those triplet shifts ! It is interesting that you actually met a student.


"Crazy configurations" probably is the key to success. In the context of infinite shapes, I always wondered why the gel versions are not more popular?

Doesn't playing "front" pull you off the left shoulder? Wouldn't a center mount force your instrument left?

July 22, 2014 at 11:41 PM · "Crazy configurations" probably is the key to success. In the context of infinite shapes, I always wondered why the gel versions are not more popular?

Doesn't playing "front" pull you off the left shoulder? Wouldn't a center mount force your instrument left?

Darlene: I've not seen any gel pads that give "crazy configurations" like the Kreddle does. It is almost infinitely adjustable.

I never found that the chin rest dictated the angle of the instrument (front vs left). Maybe I'm holding the instrument wrong, but it seems to work for me :-)

July 23, 2014 at 12:09 AM · If you can locate the scroll freely without chin rest consequences, I would say the Kreddle is doing a great job.

Some of the gels set with heat after a close "fitting". It's on my to=do list but low priority.

July 23, 2014 at 12:52 AM · I tried one of those heat-setting gel-lke things. It was called "The Impressionist" because after heating it up, you put it on the chin rest and then let your jaw sit on it a bit, to make a custom impression. I know some people like this, but it never worked well for me - it always hardened to an uncomfortable shape, and didn't stick well to the chin rest, so it fell off a lot.

July 23, 2014 at 01:22 AM · That's good to know. I won't waste the time.

I did model my jaw in hobby clay and it is super comfortable but not on a violin yet. I'm trying to find some loose hardware around here. The joke is that the mold does not look at all like a regular chin rest shape but feels just right.

July 23, 2014 at 01:53 AM · I have used the same CR for probably ten years. It looks like a Kaufman in the Shar catalog. I've also used the same SR the same length of time, a Wolf Forte Primo.

July 23, 2014 at 03:30 AM · I doubt that most will even come close to that uninterrupted length of time.

And also, I'm sure that many might be playing a setup that is less than comfortable.

You are a winner on both counts.

July 23, 2014 at 07:05 AM · I hypothesize if people seriously try and experiment playing chin off without a chin rest and then return to one, half of them will realize they would have stopped squeezing with their heads and compressing their necks and won't need to blame the chin rest anymore.

No miracle chin rest will give you relieve if you haven't figure out how to let the instrument balance between your collarbone and left hand.

July 23, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Dorian

I'm glad to see someone mention the balance aspect of violin support. However, I would include the shoulder as part of that balance.

But even if the CR is playing less of a role, it still needs to be comfortable AND fit in with the desired geometry.

I agree that failure to reach overall balance probably dooms many chin rests.

July 24, 2014 at 12:53 AM · With the number of custom rests I've made, I have found that most people do not like a "too-perfect" fit. But tonight I saw something new to me. A player in need of a loaner fiddle came by to pick one out. His shoulder rest looked typical but he also brought his own chin rest, which was some sort of pad with elastic bands. I've seen something similar used as a shoulder rest but never as a chin rest. It looked comfortable, obviously side-mounted. Seemed to work for him. Somebody must sell them.

July 24, 2014 at 02:17 AM · Just guessing here but could it be Poehlan?

( not sure of spelling)

July 24, 2014 at 09:17 PM · I checked and didn't find anything but shoulder pads by Poehland (you were close). I have one of those. Also checked Shar without luck. This one was black, square and had bands that went to the lower corners on top but I didn't see the rest. It sure didn't seem to mute the fiddle. I'll try to remember to ask when he returns.

July 28, 2014 at 06:52 AM · "Where are all the folks with the "forever" CR?"

I have used the same CR's for 30 years: no tension, no cramps, no hickey..

They are wooden Teka-style rests, but very much modified:

- tilted to give 30° slope on the violin, 45° on the viola; (I have a small pinky, but often a wide vibrato..);

- the leftmost half of that excruciating ridge has been filed away.

I have done the same to plastic models: my friends and students love them!

As they are side-mounted, their position can be modified to allow for changes in clothing, SR etc.

My drawer is full of less successful "corpses"..

July 28, 2014 at 08:51 AM · I used Teka for many years, but switched not too long ago to a new model by Tempel (Germany), their own version (Otto Tempel Model) which is a blend of the Guarneri and Flesch chinrests. It has a Guarneri style cup albeit a bit smaller than usual, with a curved Flesch-style ridge at the jawbone:

I play without a shoulder rest, and it fits me perfectly. I bought the boxwood model with titanium fittings, and it is very light!

July 28, 2014 at 02:08 PM · Gene


July 28, 2014 at 06:09 PM · Gene W -- I'm curious to know your opinion on how the Tempel CR compares to the Kreddle? I remember you being one of the early supporters of the Kreddle kick-starter campaign...

July 28, 2014 at 07:59 PM · Well, I have to admit my chinrest choice was partially due to aesthetics as well. :) I like the appearance and weight of boxwood fittings, and coincidentally the new Tempel design just happened to fit me perfectly.

I actually purchased a *viola* Kreddle, and it worked out really well for me although my wife who shares my instrument with me found it too tall to use even at the lowest setting (my viola has fairly tall ribs and she's not that tall). We settled on using a Teka on the viola as a compromise so we can both play it, and I gifted the Kreddle to a friend and colleague who was using an SAS but was unhappy with it despite having modified it, and the Kreddle was exactly the solution she was looking for. It's a great product and I continue to recommend it for those who are unable to make the standard options work.

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