Chinrest mount types?

April 3, 2018, 1:45 PM · How does the mounting of a chinrest affect the violin's sound? I have been using a center-mount chinrest ever since I got my violin (it fit well - no red spots, phew!) and I'm curious how the mounting of the chinrest affects the sound. How does a center mount chinrest make the violin sound vs a violin with a side mounted chinrest?

Replies (6)

April 3, 2018, 2:07 PM · I’m just guessing, but the center mount is mounted over a part of the violin that is already supported inside the violin by a piece of wood, but a side mount is mounted on a part of the violin that normally would vibrate, so if you clamp it down you lose potential vibration. I’m just guessing, though.
Edited: April 3, 2018, 4:33 PM · I have a violin maker friend and before I moved from his city I would test-play his violins in a large local church room both before and he varnished them. I did this with various chin rests and found that the sound of many violins seemed better and bigger both out in the room and under the chin with a left-mounted chin rest. A lesser number seemed to sound better with a center-mounted chin rest. I've also tested the violins I own and they all are simply better with left-mounted chinrests.

I cannot tell you what violin characteristics are peculiar to each chin rest type.

So, in my opinion it pays to try different types of chin rest, but the most important thing is you own bodily comfort. Just realize that there are some padding designs that can help make an uncomfortable chinrest comfortable.

April 3, 2018, 3:18 PM · The tailpiece and its cord attachment are important, vibrating parts of the sound production system, their vibrations passing into the violin via the center-mounted block within the violin. A center-mounted CR can (but not necessarily) act as a damper on those vibrations.

With a left-mounted CR it is important where it is mounted, by which I mean how far the top contact extends onto the top plate. Too far, and it will certainly dampen the vibrations of the plate. Ideally, it would seem that contact should not extend further inwards than the purfling.

Two further points concerning both types of CR is that they shouldn't be fixed too tightly. Not only can an over-tight CR potentially damage the violin's structure (cracked rib?) but it will further dampen vibrations. On the occasions when I use a CR I have it just tight enough so that it can be slid off with the fingers without damage to the violin but is still firm enough to do its job. The other point is to use the lightest weight CR you can - the more weight of add-ons the violin is carrying the more likelihood of deadening the sound.

Having used both types of CR on more than one violin in the past, my preference would be for a left-mounted CR that is light in weight and not fitted too tightly.

April 3, 2018, 3:33 PM · Keep in mind that a different chinrest may move the ear of the player relative to the violin. This will have a significant impact to the sound as perceived by the player
April 3, 2018, 4:36 PM · I think an experienced violinist or violist will resist any chin rest that changed the relative position of the f-hole because this would mean that every other measurable aspect would also be different i and when you are running all around up and down that fingerboard and bowing "straight" those are things you will not stand for changing.
April 3, 2018, 9:11 PM · It depends on the rest of the setup. Four "movable" things affect how the top vibrates (which becomes the sound), in order of importance: The pressure and the position of the bridge, the position and tightness of the soundpost, and then (and debatable), the position and tightness of the chinrest and tailpiece.
An ideal setup needs to take all four into consideration. Coming from a sweet, perfect setup, any change of those will worsen the sound, wether it is going from left-mounted to center mounted or viceversa. However if you also tamper with the rest of the setup, you may find yourself with all changed and the same sound, or maybe better.
My point is that the chinrest is just one variable in a bigger equation of pressure on the top plank.

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