Is shoulder rest for violin the same as endpin for cello?

February 8, 2017 at 11:27 PM · A little cello thread here, related of course with violins. We all know the shoulder rest YES or NO threads, all the controversy and different opinions, the advantages, the sound changing, and you know, that infinite never ending war.

I was the other day listening to a cello piece and suddenly started to think...

Do cellists have a similar discussion about the endpin?

Like a team of endpin defenders and an adversary team of anti-endipin pro-pure sound?

Or are cellists more intelligent than us and no one gives a banana about where do you put your cello?


Replies (21)

February 8, 2017 at 11:32 PM · I once asked the question on about whether cellists and bass players had an issue similar to the SR debate. If I recall correctly, someone said that bassists had a debate about whether German or French bows were superior. That person assured us that the debate among bassists was as full of controversy as the one concerning SRs.

February 9, 2017 at 12:54 AM · I haven't seen a similar cello argument, though I have seen the bass one, and violists have small quibbles about ideal viola size.

I shall ask my cellist teacher about it. :D

February 9, 2017 at 01:07 AM · It is of course quite possible to play a cello without the end-pin - some cellists in Baroque and Early Music ensembles favour it. That old hold is different - the instrument is more upright and is actively supported by the player's legs, and this would have an effect on the bowing action.

Yo-Yo Ma once made a recording* of Baroque cello music with Ton Koopman's Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, and for this recording he had his Strad cello taken some little way back, but not completely, to its original Baroque setup, which included dispensing with the end-pin. Ma said it took a while for him to get used to the new hold, and that he felt he was walking around bow-legged!

The cello's end-pin was presumably intended to make the instrument easier and more versatile to hold, and in this it succeeds admirably. There is another effect, presumably unintended but nonetheless beneficial, in that the end-pin transmits vibrations to the floor, and, depending on the type of flooring and underfloor supports, this may amplify the sound, particularly the lower frequencies. I have experienced this myself back in the days when I was the cellist in a dance band. In some venues with the right sort of staging the sound engineer would decide that a mic for the cello was unnecessary; in others, with a solid flooring, a mic may well be indicated.

I believe that, depending on its design and installation, the acoustic effect of a shoulder-rest can lie anywhere on a spectrum from neutral (no observable effect) to a noticeable deadening effect of certain frequencies. Furthermore, the shoulder rest can obstruct some of the sound emanating from the back plate, which is a significant part of the violin's overall audio output. I don't believe that a shoulder-rest in itself improves the tone, other than perhaps for some players making the instrument more relaxing to play - but there are effective SR-less ways of achieving that (talk to a good teacher!).

*Sony Classical SK60680

February 9, 2017 at 02:39 AM · Cello endpin is not the subject of the kind of heated debate as violin shoulder rests. There are choices of different materials, bent or straight endpin, and how to anchor it on the floor. The only real debate I have seen is, how long should the endpin be? Of course that depends on the player's height. Much more debate on cello strings and bows.

February 9, 2017 at 03:00 AM · No, it us not. You can pin something with the-end-pin.... with sr you can just give it a cold shoulder!

February 9, 2017 at 09:09 AM · "Is shoulder rest for violin the same as endpin for cello?"

Yes! Though I find 'cellists less arrogant as a group..

February 9, 2017 at 02:01 PM · I don't think cellists have end-pin wars. Sure, there was Rostropovich with his bent end pin, but you don't hear people saying that anyone else should do that.

If the end pin was analogous to the shoulder rest, then you'd have arguments about whether having a rubber stopper on the end of your end pin wrecks your tone.

If the end pin was analogous to flat vs. tilted bow hair, then you'd have people insisting that Starker never used an end pin at all.

February 9, 2017 at 03:19 PM · I think there is no argument among cellists about the utility of endpins - unlike the differences of opinion we find here about shoulder rests for violinists.


is an interesting history of cellos and cello endpins and indicates they date back to about the mid-18th century (perhaps 30 years after Antonio S. made his last violin). The original endpins were made of wood and were removable.

Both wooden and iron cylindrical/rod endpins that were mounted in fittings that allowed them to be stored within the cello and retracted for support when playing showed up in the 19th century. My first cello was made in 1877 by a maker in Mittenwald, Germany and when it came to me in 1949 it still had the original 8mm diameter iron (maybe steel) endpin that was too short (about 11 inches maximum extension) for me - and too dull as well. But because it had an internal retaining pin that prevented its removal from the fitting (but not its irretrievable insertion too deeply into the cello) I did all my formal cello training on this cello that had to be played too upright for best access to the thumb positions - but I made it through the Haydn D major concerto anyway (the Haydn C major had not been re-discovered yet). I still have this cello and in the late 1990s I started acquiring other cellos and experimenting with other endpins.

By now I am certain that I have spent well over $1,000 on endpins (for 3 cellos)

There were the 10 mm diameter Carbon Fiber (CF) endpins from Australia. Then there were the 8mm CF endpins from New Harmony (NH), followed by NH 9.5 mm CF endpins with an angled fitting that gave some of the postural features of a bent endpin. Then there was a brief attempt at a truly bent endpin that I made from $2 worth of 8mm iron rod from the local hardware store and bent around a vertical wooden 4x4 in our garage on my way to a string quartet session - from that experience I learned that at the more shallow angle the cellist hears more bass, but the posture didn't suit my playing comfort very well (at least that was a cheap lesson). My most expensive endpin was a "Bell Steel" one from Japan that cost $250. It sounded good but it was longer than I needed and that extra length of steel can make a cello noticeably heavier to carry. So I cut the Bell steel rod to a practical length and in so doing found that I had wrecked its acoustic advantage.

In 2005 I made my last new cello purchase and was intrigued by the (I discovered the brand name several years later) ALBERTI endpin that Ifshin had installed in it. The Alberti endpin has a hollow CF shaft and on the end at about a 90 degree angle to each other are both rubber and titanium points. I liked this endpin so much that I bought another for one of my Strad model cellos and it so enhanced the tone that I bought another one for my other Strad model cello. I figured I was finished buying endpins.

Within the past month I discovered that Krentz (who makes that fabulous Wolf Eliminator) is now selling a new design of endpin for about $400. In addition to adjustable length this endpin also has a screw adjustment for resonance that changes the sound of the cello. Oh My - what to do now?? The only saving grace for me is that the new Krentz endpin is reportedly. limited to a 14 inch extension.

February 9, 2017 at 10:00 PM · "Is shoulder rest for violin the same as endpin for cello?"

Are there endless debates regarding going "pinless" or how endpins are a crutch despite the fact that most of the worlds greatest cellists use one?


February 9, 2017 at 10:28 PM · A friend commented, after going to a Baroque concert where the Cello's were held between the Cellists legs, that the Baroque Cello is "The Original Thigh-master."

To be sure there are purists who consider only original instruments (or at least restored to original dimensions and setups) as the only legitimate instruments.

Despite the age of the most famous instruments most of them have had serious alterations since the masters made them. The fingerboards are longer, the tension of the strings higher, often bass bars are larger. How to properly hold the instrument has changed as well. Music is constantly evolving.

February 9, 2017 at 10:57 PM · George, I understand very well those so called "purists". In example, the electric violin is a thing I don't like at all, hahaha. I even have hard time calling it a violin. But let's not go totally crazy, if I ever face a violinist that says:

-The REAL and PURE violin is a baroque violin that you play with a baroque bow, no shoulder-rest and no jaw-rest.

I'd answer something like:

-Well, you better start playing with stones and wood sticks as those are the REAL and PURE original instruments. That fancy futurist baroque thing you're holding right there is nothing more than an evolved REAL and PURE wood stick.

"Music is constantly evolving", said the one that plays an instrument that has not changed at all in 300 years, lol.

February 9, 2017 at 11:54 PM · A shoulder rest carries less risk of an unintentional Tracheotomy than a cello endpin, when putting the instrument up to your shoulder to play.

February 10, 2017 at 12:12 AM · David that's how I used to tune my daughter's 1/8 size cello. I had to be careful.

February 10, 2017 at 05:53 PM · End pin?

Or cello strap?

let the debates begin!

February 10, 2017 at 08:26 PM · Damn Craig, are you conscious of what you just unleashed?

Endpins are gonna roll, a war is coming. I'm sure even violinists that don't and won't play the cello will defend one of those two mechanisms with their lifes.

February 10, 2017 at 10:31 PM · But David, does a 'cello REALLY require a shoulder rest when you put it under your chin?

February 10, 2017 at 11:52 PM · Don't have enough experience to know, since the first time I tried it, I ended up in the emergency room, and now my medical insurance has an exclusion for injuries sustained while playing the cello under the chin.

February 10, 2017 at 11:55 PM · Playing a cello under the chin requires a shoulderS rest.

February 11, 2017 at 12:14 AM · Don't they have brain surgery for people who try to play an end-pinned cello under the chin?

They do have the "violoncello da spalla" for those obsessed enough to play a shoulder cello.

February 11, 2017 at 01:03 AM · Hahahaha, a cello under the chin, only picturing it makes me laugh.

The legend tells you can play the cello with an endpin under the chin, but no man has yet accomplished it and be alive to tell it.

February 11, 2017 at 04:22 AM · Why?

If the endpin is retracted, no fatalities ensue...

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