Chin rest issues

January 3, 2015 at 04:54 PM · Hi all,

I have a pretty bad nickel allergy which has caused an extensive rash on my neck, and left the skin there perpetually dry. I have tried multiple solutions to this issue, few with success:

- I had a Strad pad for a while, but eventually found it to be too thick for my liking. I kept having to readjust my posture, which was fine without it.

- I bought a chin rest with gold plated clamps. This was fine for a while, until the plating wore off and the allergy returned.

- I have tried using a cloth over the chin rest, but I find that it keeps slipping around and I cannot get a stable hold on the violin.

- I am currently using a Wittner side mounted chin rest made of the hypoallergenic plastic material. This has helped a lot, and I am now able to concentrate on letting my rash heal. However, it's not really the right shape.

Do any of you have any solutions? In terms of chin rest shape, I have found the Morawetz to be most comfortable for me. My ideal situation would be able to use one of those without breaking out in hives each time I play...

Many thanks in advance for your help.


Replies (20)

January 3, 2015 at 05:34 PM · I don't have nickel allergy and don't use a shoulder rest, so the lower part of my center-mounted CR naturally rests on my collar bone. However, to make the CR-skin contact a little more comfortable I've cut up a piece of thin chamois leather into strips and wrapped them tightly round the metal parts of the CR. No metal parts are now in contact with my skin and the resulting setup is very comfortable.

January 3, 2015 at 06:09 PM · For maybe 50 or 60 dollars, you can buy titanium chinrest clamps that are nickel-free. Just Google them.

January 3, 2015 at 07:43 PM · Yes, the titanium clamps work well for a lot of people.

January 3, 2015 at 08:13 PM · Suede leather. Been happily using a sheet of this for years. it also has a slip-resistant property.

January 3, 2015 at 08:13 PM · Suede leather. Been happily using a sheet of this for years. it also has a slip-resistant property.

January 3, 2015 at 10:08 PM · Aditya, as Raphael said, a piece of suede, or chamois leather is even better in my opinion. Alternatively you could try to simply play without a chinrest. Just try it and give it a few days. If it doesn't work it doesn't work, but for me that worked.

January 3, 2015 at 10:08 PM · I bought two Wittner Augsburg (height and tilt adjustable - not quite like Kreddle but getting that way) centre-mounted chinrests, one for my violin and one for the viola, but the second one will not fit my viola, and the one for my violin I have had to side-mount (I may have the worst left wrist in all history for twisting round) - not quite ideal. So I have a spare centre-mount Wittner chinrest, which, like all Wittner chinrests, is hypoallergenic. It cost me ¬£24 (from JPB) plus postage. Are you interested?

January 4, 2015 at 12:39 AM · You can get stainless mounts for violin/vla chin rests for not as much as titanium.

January 4, 2015 at 12:41 AM · I have titanium fittings from Tempel (Germany) precisely for this issue.

January 4, 2015 at 08:33 AM · Using chamois, (real or fake), I sewed a sort of envelope with a long flap: The pocket part slips over the chinrest, and the flap part hangs down over the fittings

A student of mine painted the fittings with varnish.

January 4, 2015 at 09:16 AM · Some good ideas. You could also keep your chin off the rest for most of the time by using the left hand to hold the fiddle up and eliminate gripping with chin and shoulder. It sounds to me like you grip a lot. A hanky fixed to the rest works too (elastic bands) and its useful if you have to sneeze - or need to mop¬†blood up ...

January 4, 2015 at 10:34 AM · Thank you everybody for your responses. It seems as though there are a number of long term solutions. Chamois is something I've looked into; unfortunately that has also caused me some skin irritation.

Titanium barrels would work long term, and I hadn't heard of them before, so I will see if that does the job. Short term, I may well try varnishing the barrels.

Peter - I don't grip if I have the right chin rest! The Wittner is causing me to grip a bit, maybe because it is quite high and flat. I've tried the Augsburg on a friend's violin as well (she had it centrally mounted at first then moved it to the side) and it didn't work for me either. The Morawetz is low and more curved, and works much better for me, and with this I feel much more comfortable in supporting the violin with the L.H.

January 4, 2015 at 11:52 AM · I should have looked at your profile. I'm pleased you don't grip hard and have sorted that side of things out. I see you are in London, and that you are possibly looking for a career in orchestra or something similar. (Or better, like chamber music).

I think the suggestions about special metals and/or painting the struts are probably the way to go. Are you continuing at one of the London Colleges after your Cambridge studies, which I presume are still ongoing?

January 5, 2015 at 01:16 PM · Sorry Aditya, I didn't think to mention it at the time and I was going to say it today anyway, but the Augsburg isn't a centrally mounted side chinrest like the Strad model (If it were, I might have been able to play with it), but if the chinrest is mounted where it's designed to be mounted, your chin/cheek has to be almost or entirely over the tailpiece. I'm not surprised it doesn't suit you.

You can get anodized aluminium ("aluminum") clamps, by the way, but I suspect they will not be as durable as anything else.

January 5, 2015 at 01:25 PM · Aditya, you'd want the entire titanium clamp, not just the barrels.

January 5, 2015 at 01:31 PM ·

January 5, 2015 at 03:04 PM · I've used a grade of chamois as a chinrest cover for the past 37 years. For the past decade or more I've cut it as a rectangular patch and attached it to the back (upper- or under-side) of the chinrest with velcro, so I could remove the chamois and still play on the chinrest. The rectangle is long enough to cover the chinrest hardware clamp, and rest on my collar bone - although a nickel allergy is not a problem for me.

I suppose a Jo-Ann or Michaels store might have the thicker kind of chamois in (close to) violin-

varnish matching colors that I have been using.


January 5, 2015 at 04:00 PM · Thanks for the additional replies. Peter - not sure about what I want to do post-Cambridge but I do want to keep performing as part of my life for as long as I can!

John - I know that the Augsburg is actually a center chin rest. My friend found it didn't work well for her in the middle, so she moved it to the side and it worked better for her. I think she is now using some wooden chin rest of sorts.

David - thanks for reminding me; I completely forgot about the actual hardware minus barrels...

Andrew - unfortunately chamois doesn't work for me either, as it causes skin irritation as well!

January 5, 2015 at 06:47 PM · Matter of interest, Aditya. How many more years do you need to be in residence at Cambridge to get your degree?

Are you actually allergic to alloys containing nickel, as well as nickel (plating) itself? You may not be (The amount of Ni++ ion released from or on the surface of an alloy with iron is small compare with that from pure Ni); indeed, if you can wear a stainless steel backed wristwatch without problems, the answer is, you're unlikely to be, as most stainless steel contains some nickel and the best stainless steel cookware contains 10% of it.

January 5, 2015 at 07:08 PM · Here's a recent Fiddlerman video that describes a procedure you might want to try. I thought it was an innovative way of wrapping a cloth around your chinrest...

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