Neck Marks

July 29, 2005 at 02:46 AM · I know all dedicated violinists & violists have those trademark spots on their necks, but mine is especially bad. It's really sore and red and has bumps on it. Does anyone know of any way to help this? It hurts when I play or touch it (and I'm at an orchestra camp all this week, go figure!). :>

Replies (13)

July 29, 2005 at 03:01 AM · Oh my, It's possible that it has become infected, which does happen occasionally. You have to be sure to clean your chinrest occasionally. If the pain doesn't go away soon, or the spot swells up, I would go see a doctor, just in case.

It's also possible that it's nothing. The violin mark thingy can get raw every once in a while, but I'd just keep an eye on it.

Edit: Actually, I implied that an infection is the norm. It's not, in fact, it's pretty rare, but it does happen.

July 29, 2005 at 11:15 AM · As a quick-fix while you're away at camp you might try covering it with a large band-aid while playing and putting a handkerchief or bandana over the chin-rest (to protect the area and eliminate friction). If you see a doctor, try to make it a dermatologist.

When my daughter's violin mark was infected we went to her regular doctor first, who prescribed a topical medication that actually made it worse. The dermatologist, who we saw next, was familiar with the "violin hickey" and knew exactly what to do-- a different creme, plus instructions to wipe the chinrest down with alcohol pads (you can buy them in a box at the drug store and keep them in your case-- they are hardly damp and won't drip on the instrument's varnish), and to use a fresh handkerchief as a barrier.

My daughter, like a minority of players, develops small pressure cysts inside the violin mark. Those are the white bumps. They are harmless, and ever since the first bad episode healed up, she's kept the area from becoming too painful by practicing good "chinrest hygiene". Hope this helps!

July 29, 2005 at 04:04 PM · Hi,

The mark is a sign of a fault in setup and a sign of tension (though some have skin problems). The only long term cure is a better chinrest that works for you, and making sure that you don't clench. Also, cleaning the chinrest regularly with alcohol will help to prevent bacteria from accumulating.


July 31, 2005 at 03:53 AM · So, Christian, do the really good violinists not have significant neck marks? Wow! I assumed that it was a good thing, you know, a goal. The one with the biggest mark plays the best...which of course dosen't always hold :-)

July 31, 2005 at 05:31 AM · With many people, the hickey can also indicate an allergic reaction to the wood of the chinrest. Some people are more sensitive than others, and rosewood is the most likely to trigger a reaction, but ebony and boxwood can do it too. Along with treatment of the skin and perhaps tweaking your setup, you might consider using a plastic chinrest.

July 31, 2005 at 07:48 AM · A use a silk pocketsquare from Zegna. Keeps my neck from getting that mark.

July 31, 2005 at 08:24 AM · I remember in high school when this became a problem, I purchased a very soft rubber pad that strapped on with a rubber band. I don't need it anymore, probably because your skin eventally develops a resistance to it, sort of like a callous. But a soft covering for your chinrest may work, providing that you keep it sterilized.

July 31, 2005 at 12:42 PM · try rubbing some tea tree oil on it. it's done wonders for some violinists i know..

August 1, 2005 at 12:18 AM · Don't neccesarily try to get rid of's the trophy you don't want to get rid of...I mean, of course, if it's infected, take care of it...but not enough to get rid of it. It's a very special mark of violinisticness! ;)

August 1, 2005 at 01:51 AM · Not to worry, Carley! I definitely don't want to get rid of the mark, just bring the pain down a little bit.! :)

August 1, 2005 at 08:35 AM · In Paganini's day they treated it with leeches followed by a poultice of mud. Sometimes they would saw your leg off without anesthetic.

August 1, 2005 at 10:14 AM · I don't know about *wanting* a big red gash on my chin for all the world to misinterpret as a real hickey or some gross skin disorder. I believe only other string players would know what it is.

Plus, it looks less than flattering to go out to a nice dinner and be wearing a cocktail dress and fancy hairdo and then have a pulsing sore on your neck. EEeeww. Just eeew.

Either use a cloth to cover the chin rest and reduce the appearance by reducing the friction, try any other options already listed, or invest in some heavy duty concealer make-up to hide the callous.

August 1, 2005 at 05:12 PM · Hi Jenna,

Actually, if you look at pictures have hardly anything, whether it be Oistrakh, Heifetz, Grumiaux or Milstein. And among the many that I have met among today's great players, most of them do not get much of anything either.


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