Shoulder rest - how not to

October 23, 2018, 8:08 AM · I'm placing the violin on my collarbone. Do I need to make a pad of some kind? It seems the right side hardly inclines without. Any other help? Thanks folks.

Replies (12)

Edited: October 23, 2018, 8:59 AM · My thoughts on this:

1. One should hold the violin between jaw/chin and collarbone if at all possible - whether or not you also use a shoulder rest.

2. If a shoulder rest or pad help you to play more, better, more comfortably or longer (any one or combination of these) it should be tried.

3. There are many genres, brands and styles of chinrests and shoulder rests* and one kind definitely does not fit all. In fact the right one for an player may change over a lifetime.

4. Whatever others may say I have not found using a shoulder rest has a negative effect on the sound of an instrument, but I have found that some chinrests may.

* I have been playing violin for 80 years (now) and have used shoulder rests on and off for the last 50 years. I have tried many different brands and styles (all but a few long since donated to a youth orchestra). Most recently I have found the "New! 2018 'Concert Performer' Violin Shoulder Rest" sold by Amazon (and others, but that's what Amazon called it) does the job well and will fit a viola also (more than can be said for almost any other violin shoulder rest). In spite of the fact that it attaches to the instrument back by micro-suction it has no discernible effect on sound either "under the chin" or played in "cello position."

October 23, 2018, 8:54 AM · I'm not quite sure what you are asking?

For me, I enjoy having the direct contact between the instrument and my collar bone.

Edited: October 23, 2018, 9:00 AM · It teeter totters just resting on the collarbone. I'd rather it didn't without having to use the chin.
Edited: October 24, 2018, 4:19 PM · Eventually you will need to use your chin/jaw to keep the instrument from slipping when downshifting from higher positions - and probably also to stabilize when playing with vibrato. But even then, it should just be the weight of your head - not real pressing. So a comfortable chinrest shape and maybe a chinrest cover or cloth (chamois?) to prevent skin irritation.
October 23, 2018, 9:30 AM · I'm happy with occasional chin use, just not continual.
Edited: October 23, 2018, 4:38 PM · Continual chin use could cause a build-up of unwanted tensions resulting in playing problems across the board. Occasional chin use when needed, in downshifts, awkward fingerings, or chord playing for example, is fine.
Edited: October 24, 2018, 4:19 PM · One act of pride, when I was a little boy was being able to walk around with the violin under my chin and "look no hands!" No shoulder rest in my life back then - not for another 25 years.
October 23, 2018, 5:39 PM · Everyone sets up differently. You have to weigh the options of the different ways, and experiment to find what is ideal for you. It's also very possible that what is ideal now may not be ideal later, as you advance in your playing.

Some people like the shoulder rest on their collarbone because it's closer in function to playing without a shoulder rest at all (in the sense that shoulder movements shake the violin less), whereas others like the shoulder rest far out on their shoulder so they can get maximum leverage and comfort in playing.

It's just really personal, and will change over time. There's no one "right way" of doing it.

You might also find it useful to take pieces of sponges and use rubber bands to affix them to parts of your shoulder rest, depending on what you need.

You may find that the part of the shoulder rest that contact your collar bone may need a bit more "cushiness" to conform around the bone in order not to "teeter", and sponge affixing may help with this.

October 24, 2018, 4:31 AM · Maybe I was unclear - no shoulder rest.
October 24, 2018, 2:44 PM · Those little orange-slice-shaped pads, with a leather thong on the button and an elastic band on the left corner of the lower bout, can be used on the collarbone to tilt the violin along its axis (a "collarbone pad"?), or even in front of the collarbone on the shoulder.

Bear in mind that tilting the violin may require a different chin-rest to avoid tilting the head too.

Edited: October 24, 2018, 2:49 PM · Another option, about halfway through the video 0:54 :
October 24, 2018, 4:07 PM · Thanks. Sounds like a trip to the violin shop is in order.


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