Removing chin rest (cork) residue

January 8, 2019, 8:57 AM · Hi there

I have wanted to switch out my viola chin rest for something I’m not allergic to, however, the original chin rest has left what looks like some sort of cork residue where the chin rest had contact with my instrument. Firstly, is this normal? Secondly, is there a way of removing it? I’m reluctant to put a new chin rest over this....


Replies (13)

Edited: January 8, 2019, 9:01 AM · A fingernail works for a lot of things.

Sorry, if that seems curt - I've just come from reading Warchal's advice to scrape rosin off strings with the edge of a credit card!

January 8, 2019, 9:51 AM · @Andrew, I will give the fingernails a go!

I know about the credit card thing, I do this... But it sets my teeth on edge!!

Edited: January 8, 2019, 6:53 PM · Can try using a cutting cream ONLY IN THAT SPOT! Another option is a light wet sand and polish (this is assuming it's as stuck as it was on one of my previous violins).
If it's just a little bit, then scrape it off.
Edited: January 8, 2019, 7:27 PM · Sawzall.

To answer you seriously, yes it's normal for cork residue to embed itself into your varnish. At least, this has happened on half the violins I've owned. Not sure how to prevent it. One day violin-makers keen to "antique" their instruments will put a little cork residue there straight off the bench, along with the usual fake dents, scrapes, cigarette burns, and varnish wear. You can try various creams and Hill restorer and what-not, but honestly I would be having my luthier do this. Or just hide it with your new chin rest. The last suggestion was not entirely in jest. If you have the residue removed, the surface of your varnish may be even more receptive to yet more cork residue being embedded when you put on your new CR -- but about this I am not even close to sure.

January 8, 2019, 8:13 PM · I've been through this with a number of chinrest changes over more 60 years of adult violin playing. Frankly, the only time I would consider removing the thin, old cork residue other than with a little dry-cloth rubbing or finger-chipping would be if I were going for Baroque and would hereafter play that violin with no chinrest at all.
January 8, 2019, 9:26 PM · I’m with Andrew and Paul: Fingernail the high spots and then cover it up. No sense in removing material only to have the new cork embed itself as well.
January 9, 2019, 6:54 AM · To prevent this from happening in the future, I coat the cork with soap before putting a new chinrest on. Wet brush and Ivory Soap, and allow to dry. The soap shuldn't react with the varnish, and any residue can be removed with water.
January 9, 2019, 7:53 AM · Clever, Don!
January 9, 2019, 8:43 AM · There's always a problem with cork. I simply replace it with leather pads. Grips better, too.
January 9, 2019, 9:38 AM · The new chin rest I will be using has rubber and no cork, and doesn't leave a mark/residue (I use the same on on my violin).

Don, I love this suggestion!!

Thank you for your suggestions everyone!

January 9, 2019, 10:13 AM · Mary, if this is the "Resonation Chinrest" ( ) I can tell you that I have 4 of them, have been using them for 10 or 15 years, am completely happy with them and there is still a bit of cork residue under the "patented" rubber attachments.

I think they do make an improvement in sound noticeabl by player and listener. While I was a cellist in a piano trio for 20 years, my violinist partner also installed one on his Enrico Rocca violin and we both noticed sound improvement.

January 9, 2019, 12:24 PM · I use a very low, left-mounted Dresden chinrest on my viola so the total distance from collarbone to jaw will be the same as with my violins. I could not find that low a chinrest at Resonation's website when I last looked so I replaced the cork on my little Dresden with rubber. I had forgotten about that, but I just checked it out this morning - and there it is RUBBER. I must have liked the result because it is still on there (the rubber, that is - both contacts with the instrument); not as sophisticated as Gary Anderson's Resonation Chinrest but I love the sound.
January 9, 2019, 1:01 PM · Any chinrest padding material can embed, stick to, or leave impressions on some varnishes, as far as I have been able to determine so far.

Lubricants between the padding and the varnish can reduce this, but also contribute to the chinrest moving around during playing. This can be fixed with higher clamping pressure, but that comes with its own set of problems.

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