choosing the right chinrest

September 16, 2018, 9:34 PM · I currently play with a very tall shoulder rest and I've been thinking about getting a higher chinrest (my current one is lower than most of the ones I see) because I notice I've been raising my left shoulder quite a bit and I feel like it's causing tension (please let me know if you think a higher chinrest is a good idea or if there is something else I could do).
when I got my current chinrest, I picked one that matched the color of my instrument because I thought all chinrests were basically the same. but now I want to be a little more educated when I'm making decisions.
how do I know which chinrest is right for me? how does the shape affect how you hold the instrument? why do some players play with a chinrest in the center of the instrument as opposed to the side? also, I've heard of chinrests where you can adjust the height. does anyone have one of those and are they useful?
any comments on the subject are helpful

Replies (14)

September 16, 2018, 9:38 PM · When I finally got my own violin (after a rented 3/4) my violin teacher borrowed a selection of chin rests from the music house and we spent a good part of a lesson putting it on, taking it off and playing until we knew which one suited me best.

I don't think there is any other way.

Edited: September 16, 2018, 9:45 PM · Go and try some at a shop.

When I had my viola last worked on (new bridge, fingerboard plane, and the usual sound post jiggling) I had the luthier working on my viola fit a half dozen different chinrests for me to try. I settled on a Teka style rest.

It was such a good customer service experience that I'm pretty sure she is now my preferred luthier for whenever I need work - 8 hour drive or not.

Your other questions come down to comfort, preference, and anatomy. If you find your jaw currently sitting more near the tailpiece than the center of the rest then you might find a center mount chinrest more comfortable, the shape of your jaw will determine how the cup should be shaped, etc.

Edited: September 16, 2018, 11:34 PM · Good advice above. The best way to find out is to try a bunch and see what you like. Here's some things to consider.

To determine the right height of chinrest, make sure that the violin plus the chinrest fills up most of the space between the chin and collarbone. A setup that is too high will cause unnecessary tension in the neck and backward head-tilting. The rest of the space can be filled by a shoulder rest or shoulder pad/cushion. If you intend to go completely shoulder-restless, I would try to fill up even more space with the chinrest plus violin but do leave a bit of wiggle room.

The placement of the chin rest depends on the angle that one should hold the violin at. This angle is mainly determined by the length of the arm. Those with longer arms should hold it pointing more to the left and those with shorter arms should hold it pointing more forward. To determine the exact angle, try one of two methods listed below.

Method 1:
1. Place the instrument in solo rest position (not orchestral rest position on the knee). Point the scroll to where the wall and ceiling join.
2. Place the tip of the left thumb in the curve of the neck in roughly fourth position.
3. Reach comfortably up and over the lowest string (G on violin, C on viola), wrapping the tips of index (first), middle (second), and ring (third) fingers easily and lightly under the fingerboard. Pinky is placed on either of the lowest two strings according to comfort.
4. While keeping the left hand glued, place the instrument on the left collarbone.
5. Turn your head slightly to the left. To determine how much you need to turn your head, imagine you're looking straight ahead, and think of that as 12:00. Turn your head to roughly 11:00, and that will do it.
6. Place the chin where it naturally falls.
7. Release the left hand into first position.

Method 2:
1. Hold the instrument in your right hand by the upper bout. Thumb should be on the top plate with the rest of the fingers on the bottom. The scroll must point towards the wall with the strings facing your body. 
2. Take your left arm and bend it towards your shoulder (either left or right will work) until the fingertips are just touching the top of the shoulder.
3. Take your right arm (with instrument), and place the instrument under the chin with your arm in a similar position.
4. Transfer your left hand to holding the instrument and drop the right.
5. Turn your head slightly to the left. To determine how much you need to turn your head, imagine you're looking straight ahead, and think of that as 12:00. Turn your head to roughly 11:00, and that will do it.
6. Place the chin where it naturally falls.

If you wish to determine the optimal placement of the chinrest for your physical build, now is the time to check the position of the chin. Where does it fall relative to the tailpiece? If the chin falls to the left of the tailpiece, consider a chin rest that sits completely to the left of the tailpiece. If the chin is very close to, or on top of, the tailpiece, consider a chin rest that sits mostly to the left of the tailpiece but has a notable extension over the tailpiece. If the chin falls to the right of the tailpiece, consider a center-mounted chinrest.

The shape of the chinrest should be chosen based on chin shape. The website has a good overview of what chinrest shape suits which chin shape. As a general rule, those with a more protruding chin bone or those who otherwise have some noticeable curvature of the chin bone should consider a chinrest with a noticeable scoop/curve shape (aka deeper chin cup), and those who have a hidden chin bone or those who otherwise have a flatter chin bone shape should consider a flatter chin rest (aka shallower chin cup).

Edited: September 19, 2018, 2:11 PM · I found the right chinrest and I don't know what it's called (it was my teacher's). it went over the tailpiece of the instrument but wasn't a centered chinrest, was very tall (at least an inch or so), and it had a pretty dramatic lip on both sides of the chinrest. I went to the violin shop and they didn't have quite the right one. any ideas where I could find one or of chinrests that match that description?

edit: the one I had previously was probably a guarneri, and the one I'm trying out right now that is slightly more comfortable is a berber.

September 19, 2018, 1:40 PM · I have this dancer's neck, and I've found the Kreddle to be really nice. I have the old model, before they made some changes, which is a little flatter. I prefer the old one, but it's really adjustable, and I prefer it to stacking up cork under weird designs and doing all kinds of wizardry like I used to.
September 19, 2018, 4:43 PM · I've had the same boxwood side-mounted rest for at least 25 years. Every time I've switched violins, the rest goes on it. The reason is the sound: while I feel that the over-the-tailpiece chin rests are comfortable, I've found that they choke off some frequencies on the A string.

Yes, I know that's theoretically not supposed to happen because it's clamped on an area where blocks are.
And yes, the side-mount does probably attenuate some bass frequencies. But whatever the case, I've just never liked the sound of the over-the-tailpiece design.

September 20, 2018, 12:13 AM · At some time I ask a new student "is that the chin-rest that came with the violin when you bought it" They usually say yes, and I say, "then it is probably not the best one for you". In one of his books Paul Rolland describes an experiment or study where many students tested several styles of chin rests. Only a small minority preferred the common Guarnari, off to the left side, or the completely centered, Flesch model. Most preferred a chin-rest slighty over the tailpiece, like the Teka, with a ridge that catches the inside of the chin. A lot of the decision depends on the optimum horizontal angle of the violin, which will change depending on whether you are playing high or low, E string or G string. Once you find that compromise optimum angle, you can pick the chin rest that fits. I see that the Ohrenform is becomming more popular. As for the extra-high chin-rests, that seems to me like a new fad, you can fill out that extra space a lot easier and cheaper with an adjustable shoulder rest. I have never been able to go without the shoulder rest, that causes instant muscles problems. One advantage that playing without the shoulder rest might have is that you can change those violin angles while you are playing, but I would rather not try to hit a moving target.
September 20, 2018, 5:19 AM · Only a small minority preferred the common Guarnari,

On the other hand, watching pictures of the most famous violinists, most use the Guarneri. If not always, often enough.
I think the Guarneri has a bad reputation because it's not such a unified shape as it is regarded. There are many differences in angle, size, slope and cup. So many differences that actually one could make a "Guarneri Chinrest Tour" to find the right one as you can do jumping from Tekas, Flesch, Morawetz, Berber and all.

I started my chinrest tour because the Guarneri from my violin was very uncomfortable... And after trying lots and lots and settling for a Bremen, one day I took the violin of another student and found his setup with the Guarneri very comfortable...

I think that chinrests are like chairs... The only way to buy is to try and even when you decide which one is the most comfortable, after a while you change decision and suddenly the one you didn't like becomes comfortable... For a while.

Edited: September 20, 2018, 6:19 AM · I need to pay attention to this discussion.

Firstly, chinrest is a misnomer, isn't it. No-one puts their chin in one. I push my cheek against mine. It seems OK. I must check Youtube to see what others do.

Carlos: "even when you decide which one is the most comfortable, after a while you change decision and suddenly the one you didn't like becomes comfortable."

Yes, I was buying a rucksack 30 years ago, and my friend who owned the outdoor shop said, "they all pretend to be ergonomic and posturepedic, but after you've walked 5 miles with one on your back, they are all as uncomfortable as each other"

Edited: September 20, 2018, 9:26 AM · Fifty years ago, I had been playing violin for about 30 years when I discovered just the right chinrest for me. It was a left-side mounted ebony "Original STUBER" made in Germany. It was a perfect shape to fit my jaw (I have long arms). Fortunately I had purchased 3 of them before they disappeared from the market (maybe I had bought all that had remained) to be replaced by "STUBER" chinrests made somewhere in Asia that differ in shape by a millimeter here and there enough that they don't fit me. When I needed a 4th STUBER I had to order one tailor made from the UK for more than $100.

Much as I love the STUBER design, I have found it is uncomfortable for a lot of other violinists.

But then, about a dozen years ago I came upon a patented chinrest advertised to actually improve the tone of our instruments, the "Resonation Chinrest" : .

The resonation chinrest is sold in a few designs, left-mounted and center-mounted. Its unique feature is the isolator material (replacing the usual cork) and design that contacts the violin body and changes the acoustic. There is no question that it can improve the tone of an instrument - that has been my experience - and that of my long time violinist colleague who also bought one to use on his Enrico Rocca. My Resonation chinrests are left-mounted, his is center-mounted. The actual chinrest appears to be of a relatively low cost type - one is paying the developer for the mounting material and design. The testimonials are persuasive (including mine).

So, although I gave up my perfect-fitting STUBER chinrest over a decade ago, I find my Resonation chinrst with this chinrest cover ( ) is equally comfortable for me with its added acoustical advantage.

September 21, 2018, 10:17 AM · Anna, I had a similar experience in my search for a comfortable chin rest that aided in a comfortable and secure violin position. I had tried and experimented with several my teacher had and after finding the style that worked well for me I went to the Shar website as well as several other sites trying to match visually the one I was interested in.

It's been years ago but I think it was Shar or Johnson String Instruments that I found what I thought was it and they let me demo several and return the one's I didn't want. That might be worth trying if you can't identify the manufacturer of the one you like.

Also, just for future reference I would check out this site if you have an interest in the proper way to select chin rests and shoulder rests for best physical ergonomics and aiding in preventing health issues associated with bad playing positions. There was an article here in Violinist back in 2012 about it.

September 21, 2018, 12:27 PM · Hello Carlos, et al,... Yes, a large number of soloists use the Guarneri, but a quick look at you-tube clips showed that many of them are not using it as it was designed! Their jaws are partly over the tailpiece with part of the cup out to the left in the air. Maybe they are using the Guarneri for the same as reasons that students and amateurs use it--it came with the violin. Luthiers prefer the clamps over the tailpiece block, and they only need to buy one model, in bulk. Soloists are also more likely to have the violin more to the left, to get a better angle and leverage in high positions.~jq
September 21, 2018, 3:05 PM · Goodbye, Bob.
September 21, 2018, 4:21 PM · The SAS rest is nice for those of us with tall necks. It’s design allows it to be mounted on the side or over the tailpiece. It is available in 4 heights.

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