Chinrest Irritation

November 3, 2015 at 11:57 PM · I've been playing on a new violin for the past 8 months or so. About 2-3 weeks ago, my neck was starting to develop a spot, which I attributed to the violin hickey badge of honor (sarcasm). I have been practicing a lot more lately. But about a week ago, that spot has become red, irritated and a bit itchy.

The part of the violin that touches my neck is the metal bracket/clamp of the chinrest and I've noticed that the gold color/plating has rubbed off and is now exposing the metal color. Have I developed a nickel allergy? I've never had trouble wearing jewelry. I wear a watch and necklace daily.

What are my option for this chinrest without having to replace it? Has anyone wrapped just that small piece metal with like shrink wrap or a tiny piece of cloth? I don't want to have to drape a big cloth over it as I've seen some professionals do. I am trying not to replace the whole thing because I've grown a liking to the wooden color of the chinrest, which matches the tailpiece and pegs. The chinrest color is a mix of rosewood and boxwood color. I'm not sure what it is, but it is not just 1 color. It has a brownish gradient to it where some parts are darker and lighter than the rest, which would make it harder to replace. Should I just bite the bullet and buy a new one?

Replies (22)

November 4, 2015 at 12:34 AM · You could have the same problem with a new one. What I suggest from my own experience is to cut up a piece of thin chamois leather into long narrow strips and wrap them round the metal parts of the chinrest. You can use paper glue to hold the chamois in place. It will be virtually out of sight and will protect your skin from the metal - if it is the bare metal that is the problem.

November 4, 2015 at 12:52 AM · Place a clean handkerchief over the chin rest. Replace every day.

November 4, 2015 at 12:54 AM · The titanium chinrest clamps work for most people who have experienced irritation from other metals.

November 4, 2015 at 01:00 AM · You do not have to replace the whole chinrest : keep the wooden part and buy replacement metal fittings/clamps. As David has suggested, you should try Titanium fittings.

November 4, 2015 at 01:12 AM · Its most likely a nickel allergy - I have the same thing cheap silver jewelry leaves an irritating rash that can last months..

Like the above I cut a fairly broad sheet of (real) chamois that's wide enough to cover the chinrest with over hang and long enough to hang over the edge of the violin and rest on my shoulder. I hold it in place with an elastic band round the chinrest and for practice, I tuck the other end under a second band between the corners on the back (then you don't have to think of it). Because I'm tone obsessed (and don't use an SR) I take the latter off for performance.

November 4, 2015 at 01:31 AM · Thanks! I'll try out cutting out small pieces of chamois and putting them around the brackets.

I never thought of replacing the brackets themselves. That will be my 2nd option. A quick google search comes up with a few international sites and varying prices. I live in the US. Where is the best place to buy just these titanium fittings and not a whole chinrest setup? I assume replacing the fittings is a universal size where pretty much all chinrests accept most bracket fittings?

November 4, 2015 at 01:42 AM · On the titanium fittings, you could check the nearest high-end shop. If they don't stock them, they probably know where to get them. (I think the wholesaler Howard Core carries them)

They're not cheap!

November 4, 2015 at 02:12 AM · A hankie IS cheap. Please re-consider, at least for a while, till you get those other parts.. And treat your skin. I'm not a doctor but I like Witchazel for minor skin irritations.

November 4, 2015 at 02:48 AM · the clamp doesn't look cheap:

https://www.violins.ca/fittings/chinrests/chinrests_parts.html

but apparently they sell leather pieces to go over the metal parts.

November 4, 2015 at 07:21 AM · I have the same issue, and use Titanium fittings manufactured by Tempel (Germany). They are extremely lightweight as well!

November 4, 2015 at 10:12 AM · If you are replacing the clamps be aware that the screw sizes are not standardized.

November 4, 2015 at 05:27 PM · You can always fill the old holes and redrill new ones to take the new metal fittings if they have different thread sizes or widths. There is no need to discard your old chin rest if you really like it.

November 4, 2015 at 07:54 PM · Elise - can you post pictures of elastic band arrangement on chin rest. I'd like to do this but fumble with the set up.

November 4, 2015 at 09:35 PM · Another possible alternative is stainless steel, but you would need to verify that you are not also allergic to it. Many stainless alloys contain nickle in small percentages but may not act the same as nickle plated. Stainless clamps are about 3 or 4 times as costly (list) as nickle plated ones but a small fraction of titanium. I think I'll try some of them myself because they should look like new forever. For now, I also recommend just covering the metal.

Most sizes/threads are pretty standard these days because there aren't that many manufacturers. Some of the older ones do indeed vary.

November 4, 2015 at 09:42 PM · I began using the Strad Pad a few years after I moved up to my first 4/4-size instrument. If you haven’t come across this device, check it out online. I always keep several on hand, since I play regularly on three fiddles.

I can practice and play up to 3 hours a day -- that’s all my schedule allows -- and I have no skin irritation. I also notice better grip and traction. Mine attach to the chinrest with Velcro. They stay put -- no sliding around -- and they cover the metal brackets.

They’re quite economical and easily washable.

November 4, 2015 at 10:36 PM · While I mentioned the titanium fittings, I really think that the best system (when it comes to benefit of the violin) is one which minimizes skin contact between the player and the violin.

On cheap instruments it doesn't matter, but gol-durn it, I've seen enough Strads go seriously downhill during my working career, that I thought it might be worth mentioning.

November 5, 2015 at 01:01 AM · A cheap, odd, permanent solution might be "blueing" your metal clamps, but please do it far, far away from the violin and let it dry and make sure it's dry properly.

November 5, 2015 at 02:53 AM · You can cover stuff up with carefully cut and applied sections of moleskin. Just keep the adhesive off of the varnished surface of your violin.

November 5, 2015 at 01:27 PM · Wearing a watch and necklace with no irritation might not mean anything. I have a nickel allergy and have for as long as I can remember. It only bothers me where the metal is in constant contact with the skin and where I sweat. Necklaces and bracelets have never been a problem for me as long as they don't stick to sweaty skin, but rings and earrings give me an itchy rash that in a few instances has started to bleed. My violin strings don't bother me, but one day I was playing my violin and I started to itch on the side of my neck. I looked down at the chin rest and saw that the copper-colored coating was wearing away and the nickel-colored was showing through, just like you describe. Since I know my own history and recognized the itch, I immediately started covering it. You can buy chin rest covers or just throw a handkerchief. I currently use a Strad Pad. I'm going to replace it with my own design. A few of my students use covers they have improvised from things they found lying around, and one of my students has a chin rest cover his mom (also a violinist) made for him.

Whether you have an allergy or it is just friction or something else, you don't want to be uncomfortable when you play. Find a solution that works for you. That might be a new chin rest or new parts for the existing chin rest, or it might be solved just by covering it up, but the best person to make such a decision is the person who has to live with that decision.

November 6, 2015 at 09:38 PM · Wittner provide a very good and inexpensive non allergenic chinrest http://www.wittner-gmbh.de/cgi-bin/db_search_e.pl?rubrik=Chin%20Rest%20for%20Violin&gruppe=Chin%20Rest As a luthier I recommend this above anything currently available unless I can supply a premium made hand made chinrest with titanium fittings. Some of the woods used for chin rests can stimulate allergies...In recent years with the shift of affordable rests East there has been a drop in quality all round including fit or what cheap unregulated stain is reacting to your delicate skin....

November 6, 2015 at 10:02 PM · I agree with Melvin. Should have thought of that myself. There are two models, center mount and side mount. The people I know who use them are happy.

November 6, 2015 at 10:34 PM · a little bit relevant question.

It seems that I am getting a LOT of ingrown facial hair on the left side of the chin, where I press down the chinrest, any thoughts on countering that?

I didn't get this before.

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