Why Your Chin Rest May Never Work.

October 27, 2014 at 07:04 PM · First, let me say that I think my comments are original but the vastness of the internet makes it hard to be sure what is already out there. My

Googling shows little on this particular aspect of the problem.

http://i57.tinypic.com/k2y5nl.png

The picture shows a mock-up of a chin rest made from foam rubber for the purpose of experiment. The simple act of installing a chin rest creates a critical dimension. That dimension is identified as "A" - "B" in the picture. "A" is taken as a point of a chin but that is not critical. What is critical is if the PLAYER is also dimensioned to fit "A" - "B" ! If that dimension is short on the violin then the player will most likely pull the violin off the collar bone to make a comfortable adjustment for the chin rest. A longer "A" -B" forces the violin more to the rear which favors collar bone support.

Having purchased far too many chin rests, I've decided that chin rest evolved for physically smaller people.

Chin rest manufacturers would probably argue that people are flexible and there is a lot of wiggle room in their designs. True. I think there are a lot of unhappy amateurs also.

I think we need a manufacturer brave enough to make a "large" chin rest (NOT just large plate)

Incidentally, my experimental chin rest would move the chin rest point about 3//8 to 1/2" North which moves the back of the violin that much more firmly towards the collar.

Replies (36)

October 27, 2014 at 07:45 PM · You may want to poke around this sit for a while:

http://www.violinistinbalance.nl/did.htm

I always customize my chinrest (I make them taller)

October 27, 2014 at 07:46 PM · I think all the chin rests I've seen are either center or bass side mounted. However, another option for consideration is mounting the chin rest on the treble side of the tail piece.

If you look at a Baroque violinist in action sans CR you'll see that their chin is located on the treble side of the tail piece, the violin resting on the collarbone. A major advantage is that the violin is naturally secured from sliding down to the player's right (the tail piece stops it). Another advantage is that the lower part of the treble side bout doesn't vibrate as much as the bass side bout (I hope I'm correct in this assertion), so there is less interference with the tone if the player needs chin contact with the violin table to facilitate down shifts.

Historically, the violin is designed for optimum acoustic performance on the assumption that no extraneous acoustically damping items such as SR or CR are present. Given that CRs are very important for playing post-1800 music, and it is therefore unrealistic for most players today to play without a CR, I suggest this is an opportunity to design a light-weight low treble side chin rest in order to maximize the advantages of the Baroque hold for modern use.

October 27, 2014 at 08:23 PM · Trevor

As often as I have heard about the Baroque hold I don't remember seeing a video. Maybe I'll check out YouTube.

Is classical or Baroque hold considered more or less difficult? Baroque is my favorite genre. The music is so special.

SP Wolf looks a lot like an infomercial but I never argue with success.

October 27, 2014 at 09:29 PM · I agree! which is why the second purcuase after getting a chinrest - is a mortise saw. You just need a type that has enough wood to allow you free reign!

October 27, 2014 at 11:34 PM · Substitute a plain block of wood and call it a kit !

An E Bay winner!

October 28, 2014 at 01:19 AM · I think if we use the chinrest from the basis of violin balanced on the collorbone and weight of the head on the instrument when needed, while always keeping the sensation of the neck lengthening and widening, a lot of chin rest problems will vanish or greatly diminished.

On a tangent, here's a pretty good look at Amandine Beyer playing without a chinrest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXI2w1R8LbA

October 28, 2014 at 02:16 AM · Right now I have about 7 chin rests. I also have some shoes that really don't fit. I sometimes simply tolerate the discomfort associated with both groups.

The violin is different. I always want the very best conditions for performance and comfort and I think I'm closer to that goal then ever. (Anybody selling a saw?)

October 28, 2014 at 12:39 PM · Trevor

My first impression is that a CR for Baroque might be a center mount, allowing a range of positions around the tailpiece.

Too big? Too heavy? Other problem?

PS. Is it not taboo to contact a tailpiece as seen in YouTube baroque video?

October 29, 2014 at 12:30 AM · Darlene,

What would be taboo imo would be to bring the chin down heavily on the tailpiece (like using head weight on a chinrest), for it not only looks ugly but could adversely affect the tuning and tone and may possibly indicate that the performer is not yet fully relaxed with baroque technique. A brief light touch on the tailpiece, with the cheek perhaps, to stabilize the violin during a downward shift is quite acceptable though. Amandine Beyer does this with superb grace.

A proper "flat" baroque tailpiece is the thing to have.

October 29, 2014 at 02:21 AM · To add to Trevor, I think the point of bringing up chinrest-less playing is to open more possibilities on how to balance the instrument with our bodies. Maybe after experimenting how much weight you actually need to put your head on the instrument, you may even discover one of your seven chinrest actually works.

October 29, 2014 at 06:01 PM · I don't want to start a war or upset Trevor, but personally speaking I don't like Amandine Beyer's Bach Chaconne at all. I find the sound a bit dead, and her quavers are often out of time. In other words, I find it rather distorted. But maybe that's the way Bach should be played and I'm totally up the creek.

Also, it may be that because its about a semi-tone lower in pitch it changes the whole resonance, and that may be why I find it rather uncomfortable to listen to.

October 29, 2014 at 07:13 PM · My apologies to Amandine, I could have picked better playing.

I picked that video because it has a good view of her left shoulder and you can see when she puts down her head on the instrument, not for her interpretation - that's perhaps for another thread.

(It also clearly wasn't her best live performance...but at least it's encouraging to see even the best of us has off-days and memory slips.)

October 29, 2014 at 07:44 PM · Hi Dorian. Sorry I realise it was you now who put up the clip, not Trevor.

Actually, I don't mind the off days and memory slips. It was just the sound generally and the lack of resonance as well as what I perceived (maybe wrongly) as rhythmic distortions. I think the rythm gives the piece an overall architecture. However, this is obviously not the right thread to discuss such things, as you rightly say.

October 29, 2014 at 08:18 PM · Yes that video it's not in my hall of fame of Bach chaconne performances...Amadine Beyer's artistry, HIP, what's a chaconne, are fascinating subjects for other threads, sorry for putting a tangent on this discussion.

I just hope people can take inspiration and experiment on how to make their violin playing more comfortable.

October 30, 2014 at 01:48 AM · The new Kreddle chinrest can be mounted on the treble side if desired, I understand.

October 30, 2014 at 04:10 PM · Dorian

The little detours may sometimes prompt the right questions!

Anyhow, I think I have identified the main culprit with (my) chin rests. My chin rests were designed by some technician or engineer using as a model ...WHAT? (WHO?) but it is not "one size fits all". How do I select a chin rest? I don't. I just keep spending money. I think this may have to do with my overall larger build and bone (chin/jaw) structure

Also, chin rests may look pretty much the same but I can report that 1/8" can be large in terms of long term discomfort.

For the moment I'm suffering with a standard Teka which is the best of my poor choices so far. (I have to bring the violin slightly off the collar bone to get a comfortable grip on the chin rest.)

THE SHOULDER REST IS THE EVIDENCE THAT CHIN RESTS DIDN'T DO THE JOB.

October 30, 2014 at 05:02 PM · Hi Darlene, I have just begun my own quest for the Holy Grail of comfortable chin rests so I thank you for sharing your experiences on this subject. I started out by dismantling and reassembling my shoulder rest. Once that felt right I realized the chin rest was not right. The most important thing I discovered for me was no matter how I adjusted the shoulder rest, the chin rest forced me to place my chin forward causing muscle strain and spasm at the back left side of my neck. Also putting the shoulder rest in the correct position puts my chin partly on the tailpiece and partly on the chin rest. Again, uncomfortable and causes pain in my jaw. I might add for clarity that I am a small person with a short neck, and um, plenty of my own chin "padding". The best result I got for my own comfort and ease was to ditch the chin rest altogether. The big downside was the effect on the sound of my instrument. Drat. Thought I had it figured out.

October 30, 2014 at 06:14 PM · Sarah

Welcome to the club!

I am thinking about "user friendly" materials like foam which might be useful in the right density and I can shape it.

Also a mechanical fix but that will take some time.

Meanwhile, I can hardly play for 15-20 minutes at a time which seems to please the dogs.

Maybe I'll even consider Baroque being that I prefer violin left in the first place (and favor the music too!)

October 30, 2014 at 08:40 PM · Sarah

I just noticed your chin rest trade-off going back to a no chin rest decision.

Are you sure that you suffered a big loss in tone/quality? If the chin is a muffler, then the chin rest is a clamp. Maybe you are not getting a true evaluation being under-the-ear (?)

Incidentally, most of the people on YouTube playing Guarneris are playing very much on the tail piece.

I will post a sketch of my "ideal" CR just for fun.

October 30, 2014 at 09:44 PM · Sarah, if you notice a difference in sound when you play CR-less this is to be expected. Played CR-less the instrument is far less damped by the extra mass (CR+SR) it would otherwise be carrying and so extra high frequencies are getting through to the left ear which (a) is not hindered by a CR in the way, and (b) is in a slightly different position and closer to the instrument. Some of these extra high frequencies are bow noises or little string squeaks and don't carry more than a few feet, so you don't need to worry about them. This is particularly so when using gut, especially plain.

If the violin is being supported efficiently CR- and SR-less, most of the time the player's chin, to the treble side of the tail-piece, will be barely touching the violin, if at all. About the only serious chin-to-violin contact is needed is when descending from a high position to 1st, 2nd or 3rd, and then only enough to provide the necessary opposing friction, which isn't a lot. Head weight coming down on to the violin's table certainly isn't needed.

There are various fingering techniques designed to help a safe descent from high positions (see Ritchie's book on playing without a chinrest), but most of the time there never is a problem - typical solutions are playing across the strings in a high position; or extending the fingers so as to reduce the difference between 1st and 2nd positions; or looking out for an open string or a rest for an easy down-shift (it seems that pre-CR composers usually made life as easy as possible for their violinists by providing these particular escape routes in their music).

October 30, 2014 at 10:45 PM · Where is the best place to put a mute? For some reason we designed a mute(chin rest) to be place at the end of the tail piece.

The main problem is violinist are chronic traditionalist and are unwilling to think out of the box: compared to other industries. As you noted, some of our top performers are unable to pick out the correct chinrest ? . Today's CR and SR are severally flawed, and to find an easy way to play the instrument for many is unattainable at this time.

What you can do in the meantime is make a print of your chin using silly putty and a plank a wood(1"x4"). Then you can pick out a chin rest that is close to this, and then carve out the chinrest as close as possible to the silly putty print.

October 30, 2014 at 11:37 PM · Sarah

Here is my concept picture:

http://i57.tinypic.com/110at68.png

This is a poor drawing but the idea is to be able to place the CR back and forth, i.e. towards the scroll or away. Big deal? I would guess that good fit is a matter of 1/4". Yes, a chin rest certainly "shows" lots of room but it is not all usable for max conditions. Different subject!

(If only the cello was a bit smaller!)

October 31, 2014 at 03:33 AM · Paul Anastasio, a Jazz/Swing violinist here in Seattle has a little product called,"The Impressionist". It is a polymer that is heated in hot water and placed on your chinrest. Place your chin in it when it is warm and create a impression that is your jaw! It can be heated over and over, and Paul once told me that he sometimes does that every day...

2 benefits: 1-a mold of your jaw, so no excuses if it doesn't feel right. 2-The weight shifts the balance of the fiddle toward you.

http://www.violinist.com/directory/bio.cfm?member=PaulAnastasio

October 31, 2014 at 12:20 PM · I've seen those but they looked high? I think it is time to try it at the price!

October 31, 2014 at 04:15 PM · OK a little more time, a little more experimentation. I went back to the chin rest and just couldn't take the neck pain and discomfort. I find so much more ease of playing without it! And I can play much longer. I began to get a feel for when contact with the chin area was actually necessary. Surprisingly little is needed and this allows me to maintain a more "neutral" neck posture. As I continued to play this way tone began to improve and I could experiment with bowing. Also noticed using different muscle groups. So there is some old "muscle memory" to unlearn and new ones to be learned. I'm beginning to feel like I can practice enough daily to get somewhere. Tried chin on the left and didn't have success with that. But will try again. I like the idea of a CR that is formed to ones own chin. I did notice more bow "noises" and it's reassuring to hear it may not be just me!

October 31, 2014 at 06:13 PM · Darlene, I agree the Impressionist looks high, but comfortable. Your pic of the tape and pad cracked me up. I was at that point looking around the house for whatever might work! We've all got a little "MacGuyver" in us! LOL I actually tried a Dr. Scholl's gel pad(the kind for the ball of the foot), placing it where the CR would be. It definitely adds comfort and a little grip. But I wouldn't recommend it for performance as it falls off whenever the violin is taken down, such as during a rest or the end of a piece. Not a memorable moment I want to create! I looked up Stanley Ritchie's book on playing without a chin rest, "Before the Chin Rest", and look forward to delving into it.

November 1, 2014 at 12:08 AM · I've seen those but they looked high? I think it is time to try it at the price! [Flag?]

$11.95 is high?! Oh, you meant tall.

The idea would be to get as much of the height on top of the violin/viola and lower your shoulder rest. If one keeps raising the shoulder rest, you'll notice that having to raise your right elbow will cause problems with the lateral tendon of the elbow-otherwise known as "Tennis Elbow"-and placing more on top and lowering the instrument will allow you to lower your elbow and use more of the weight of your arm.

It's all a grand compromise, moving one way to minimize one stressor, but not so far as to exacerbate another.

November 1, 2014 at 01:01 AM · Sarah

I too am interested in the idea of muscle memory and the ongoing dynamics that result from simple use. The exercise of playing modifies the very conditions!

Duane

I found the high (SR) reminded me of playing uphill. Bulked up the shoulders a little.

Impressionist in mail as I speak.

I have reached a truce with a Teka and a Resonans SR but I have to tilt the violin a lot. Is the violin supposed to be flat?

Sarah

I had a great lesson about things changing with a violin. I actually spoke to the head of Pirastro labs and asked him how long it would take certain strings to settle down. He answered, "Sooner than your violin will settle down!" He was not being sarcastic or criticizing my violin. He meant it.

I often think back to this lesson in real dynamics!

November 1, 2014 at 02:16 AM · The violin shouldn't be flat: it causes more problems(health and intonation) with the left hand and shoulders. Give it a good tilt, as long as the bow isn't rubbing against your stomach when playing on E, your good. I am not sure if having the violin HIGH off the shoulders is a bad idea. If it is high and flat, than yes, this is really bad, but if it high with a good tilt I don't see a problem.

I also ordered one of these 'impressionist' chin rest accessories.

November 1, 2014 at 01:36 PM · I think the shoulder is important to form the tripod chin-collar bone-shoulder which is a reason to play violin left. Is this how Baroque can manage without hardware? Extreme left?

There is a pro on YouTube who is so extreme that sometimes her Guarneri is opposite her left ear!

November 2, 2014 at 12:21 AM · "The violin shouldn't be flat: it causes more problems(health and intonation) with the left hand and shoulders. Give it a good tilt, as long as the bow isn't rubbing against your stomach when playing on E, your good. I am not sure if having the violin HIGH off the shoulders is a bad idea. If it is high and flat, than yes, this is really bad, but if it high with a good tilt I don't see a problem."

Charles - Heifetz, Rosand, etc. etc. etc. in fact held their violins relatively high and relatively flat. And Auer advocated holding the violin really high. Not sure what you mean by a "good" tilt, but I advocate in fact having the violin relatively flat with no more tilt than the natural slope that the angle of the shoulder-to-the-collar-bone inheres. (Of course this implies the natural fit on the body of SR-less playing. Yes, here we go; everybody duck!) And straight out most of the time - no drooping. All this leads in fact to better intonation, with the hand dropping more evenly, better, more sonorous bowing, and better projection.

I'm pretty busy now, but when I have a chance I'd like to come back with my thoughts specifically on the CR - which in my case, ALWAYS works.

November 2, 2014 at 02:05 AM · It should be worth returning when Charles and I have our en route Impressionist chin rest gizmos.

November 2, 2014 at 08:53 PM · I once discovered something with one of those Wolf soft chinrests that have one leg:

http://www.gewamusic.com/uk/wolf-kinnhalter-dolce-tellerform-classic-standard-38139.html

You can rotate it so that it hangs off the edge towards your neck. I felt it was a huge improvement with the only problem that you had to put it back before you put the violin in the case and also it was hanging over the edge. However, I think somebody could come up with some kind of rotating chinrest that would solve these problems. Anyway, it was much better for your neck as it came to meet you rather than the other way around.

November 2, 2014 at 11:46 PM ·

A good strategy! Something that fits!

November 4, 2014 at 01:50 AM · The IMPRESSIONIST has arrived and is installed.

Installation was a bit complicated, requiring timing of 2 minute and 5 second intervals all while dealing with two boiling water rinses. Not bad if successful.

I have not had a full session with this device but it feels as good or better than some of my "good" CR's.

I know already where this can go wrong. User not sure what direction to point violin.

November 5, 2014 at 12:26 AM · Can report that IMPRESSIONIST is as advertised but mounting and placement requires some thought.

I am on my second "melt" which allowed me to take off the SR.

I think it is a great product and well worth the price.

Melt no. 3. Slight overlap on to tailpiece. Best results in 5 years of messing around. Played 1 hour without irritation or pain. Would never found the correct shape with a commercial CR.

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