Bon Musica and Forte Secondo

Edited: April 29, 2019, 10:52 AM · Curious if any of you with shoulder arthritis and other left arm injuries have tried the Bon Musica SR? If so, was it helpful? It's sold by some for that purpose as it is adjustable in, apparently, every possible way. They also want my money and am doing a bit of research here and elsewhere before I risk forking over $50. Claims are a dime a dozen.

Currently I use the Kun with 2 long legs. Am also considering the Forte Secondo as it also appears to be quite adjustable.

I do like the Kun, but as I play with fewer breaks, I'm seeing a few signs that I may need more adjustability in my SR. I still stick to playing no more than an hour at a time, but as I improve there is much more time spent actually playing in that time than a few months ago.

Replies (42)

April 29, 2019, 11:09 AM · I used the Bon Musica (with Kun feet) for a couple of years but had to discard it because it got loose and flimsy and was falling off the violin. I am using the Forte Primo temporarily until I get the hang of adjusting my Pirastro Korfker shoulder rest, which has really tight fittings. It's just a pain to adjust!! Good luck. Getting the right shoulder rest and chin rest takes time and effort, not to mention $.
Edited: April 29, 2019, 3:12 PM · Thanks Erin! Shar has a generous return policy, which would be good should I choose to try more than one. The Forte Secondo may be of interest, and your not the first one to say that about the Bon Musica but if it should turn out to be the best for my situation than it might be worth it. Also trying to factor out tension and position issues as that could be the only problem.

Kind of amazing I can play at all given the shoulder and hand arthritis AND the fact my left arm has been broken in 2 places (at different times), my left wrist has also been broken, as well as my left collarbone, and other things I won't bother mentioning... I'm progressing well according to my teacher, (and he doesn't sugar coat - and I like that as it means I can trust his compliments), and none of it seems to impact my playing. I intend on keeping it that way! That means I need to play, and practice, wisely.

Edited: April 29, 2019, 12:29 PM · I found the best shoulder rest for me for many years was a Wolf Secondo (without extending legs). I had tried most other shoulder rests over the 30+ years I used shoulder rests (of course there were the 30 previous years when I did not use a shoulder rest). I support my chin instruments between my jaw and collar bone so I use additional support only to avoid raising my left shoulder.

However, with the various physical problems that come with advancing years I found a firm shoulder rest to confining and I have v
finally settled on the AcoustaGrip ( ) which gives me the elevation where I need it plus all the flexibility of playing restless. The AcoustaGrip is sold by most dealers. It comes in different thicknesses.

For just a tiny bit of elevation while retaining flexibility under my violas I use a GelRest Micro ( ). Actually I know the inventor and company owner from personal contact about 20 years ago when he first introduced his GelRest chinrest concept shortly after I moved to the SF Bay Area (it seems we still remember each other as my recent purchase a Micro proved - even though he recently moved an hour further east). This device is also widely available.

I would advise calling either company or perhaps SHAR or another dealer for advice on which model (thickness) to purchase.

April 29, 2019, 1:01 PM · Everyone is different. After my episode of left arm problems I did a lot of experimenting and settled on the Morawitz chin rest, and the inexpensive Everest shoulder rest. What I recommend is; first find the optimum horizontal angle for the violin, then find the chin-rest that fits you to that angle, then add the shoulder rest to fill the gap between the back of violin to the shoulder. I have tried several times, but I have never been able to go without the shoulder rest. What would have happened to me in the era before the SR ? I would probably have been one of the multitude of unknown players who never reached pro. status. Everyone is different.
April 29, 2019, 1:02 PM · I used a Kun and a Wolfe Secondo for a while, and am now using a Belvelin small pad with an additional sponge on the treble side - a lot of tension I had has been eliminated with this shift in setup.
Edited: April 29, 2019, 3:24 PM · Timothy, we will just say that I dont do anything in half measures, like in my mountain biking days (not as long ago as you may think). I should have also mentioned that my neck has also been fused, thankfully just at one level only. So I need to be careful with my positioning. Thankfully my reconstructed right shoulder is behaving.

Andrew, Joel and Pamela, thanks for your suggestions for consideration, I will check them out. I started with the Everest but it kept falling apart on a daily basis. Moved to the Kun out of frustration.

I will admit with my neck as it is the idea of a sponge is a bit concerning - but I don't know anything about that. Will research.

April 29, 2019, 2:34 PM · continued... "Everest...kept falling apart" Aha.. possible evidence that you were bearing down too hard with your head. With the head Slightly tilted to the left, the violin should just hang, without exertion; the edge of the chin rest catching the inside of the jaw.
Edited: April 29, 2019, 3:27 PM · Thanks Joel! My assumption was that it kept falling apart because the screws were backed out too far to provide me the appropriate height - I will keep an eye out for this as well. I've recently moved to having 2 long screws for my Kun for the same reason (it's only fallen apart once) as the short leg was on the very last thread...

I certainly don't need to bear down any further with my head than is necessary and won't rule that out as a possibility. My lesson is tonight and will ask my teacher to take a look as I play. I DO tend to carry more tension that is good for me - or anyone really. Except for playing very fast (for me), something about that causes me to relax if it's a familiar fingering.

April 29, 2019, 3:37 PM · Catherine, I had come to that situation in needing a little help with a particular violin stabilization, without restraining my movements too much a few years ago, due to two left shoulder separations and left lower arm and wrist breaks.

I tried many shoulder rests but the one that worked best for me for the last several years has been the Bon Musica. So far it has held up well and I am not easy on rests. Of all I tried it was the most adjustable for my requirements. YMMV

April 29, 2019, 3:39 PM · Good to know Skip - thanks!
April 29, 2019, 4:48 PM · Catherine, a high shoulder rest tends to destabilize your violin hold, and may cause trouble in your right arm / shoulder, which you will also need to raise more. I'm sure this isn't new to you, but have you tried a low (as low as possible, just providing the proper tilt) SR, and then filling the gap to your chin with a CR of appropriate height? Especially with shoulder AND neck problems you need a setup that allows a maximum relaxed posture - a high SR or a fixed position (like the bonmusica forces you into, once hooked to your shoulder), most probably isn't the best way to go.

Besides that, the VLM Augustin diamond is the SR of my choice, because it's the most adjustable I could imagine. It can also be brought to a relatively low position if necessary, but what is most intriguing is the adjustability of the feet. If you rotate them away from your body, it brings the rest itself closer to your collar bone, which allows you to choose the instrument's position even more freely, while the SR still stays stable attached to your instrument. And it does look beautiful, with that maple wood. The VLM Augustin VivaFlex offers the same functionality and is the plastic made budget version for half the price.

As far as for the sponges, I also do like the Acoustagrip. But if your instrument is not very old and happens go be varnished with a softer oil varnish, then it leaves traces even after only one hour of playing (as happened to my Viola No.1). Not so with long seasoned varnishes, or if they're not very soft.

April 29, 2019, 4:57 PM · I've used a bunch of different shoulder rests in the past, and I found that the Bon Musica was the sturdiest and most secure of the ones I'd tried. A downside is probably that it's heavier and therefore might have more impact on the sound than ultra-light ones. I recall trying Kun, Kun copies, Forte Secondo, and Mach One. The Forte Secondo was ok as I recall, but it wasn't as secure (hooked) as the Bon Musica.

I've stopped using shoulder rests altogether since, and find that I'm fine without one (using a Wittner Zuerich chin rest, which is also somewhat adjustable, formerly the similar but centered Augsberg).

I suggest considering minimizing the height of the shoulder rest to reduce the potential strain on the joints, which might require adjustments to the chinrest to compensate.

Given your cumulative conditions, I'd advise being particularly cautious about your set-up, playing time, and discomfort - you have to make it easy; if it isn't, work harder to make it easy :)

April 29, 2019, 5:30 PM · I used the Forte Secondo for years before I decided to change to a pad, it is adjustable in every way imaginable and it served me well. After many years with the pad I have now recently begun using the Bon Musica, it is really chunky and solid and will 'not' fall off if it is adjusted properly. This SR has an extra feature which actually hooks over the shoulder thus requiring less assistance from arm and head to hold the instrument. The whole length of the back plate can be bent into the required shape, but I had to actually drill an extra hole to obtain the necessary curve I desired for the hook over my shoulder. No matter which SR is chosen the violin should always remain in contact with the collar bone directly under the chin.
April 29, 2019, 5:35 PM · Beware of Bon Musica SR! Your first impression might be that is perfectly fits and that exactly where real danger is. It will lock-in and possibly press certain structures. I discarded it as soon as i felt tingling and numbness in my fingers. The above is just an extreme example of SR disc-functionality. Immobility caused by SR is discussed in great details on this site. Forte Secondo seems like a way less rigid combination, flexible enough and somewhat adjustable.
April 29, 2019, 6:01 PM · Lots of good advice above. I would say that if you have a long neck, consider a higher chinrest rather than a higher shoulder rest because it raises the violin higher and your arms have to be raised as well. The nice thing about the Bon Musica is that it has a bendable body so that it could be adjusted to the desired shape. The hook on the shoulder side can be a bit annoying and restrictive, but I think you might be able to kbend it out of the way if I'm not mistaken. A comfortable chinrest will also help. One rule that I have about shoulder rests is that they should never ever sit on the edge of the shoulder (aka atop the shoulder joint) because it'll lead to instability, lack of balance, lack of freedom and a host of other problems. Instead, the shoulder rest should sit more on the end of the collarbone, which is the place where backpack straps rest.
April 29, 2019, 6:13 PM · ...The hook on the shoulder side can be a bit annoying and restrictive....

I found this to be very true, that is why I needed to drill an extra hole to obtain the curve I desired. But when there is a neck problem the extra stability of the hook is very welcomed, but it must be adjusted to the individual.

April 29, 2019, 7:20 PM · for stability nothing beats the bon musica. If you want something to hold the violin as much as any shoulder rest can, this one is it. The price you pay is that it is one of the larger rests on the market. The mach one hook and korfler are good choices for stabilityif you want something sleeker than the bon musica. For the money, the everest is the best I’ve tried.
Edited: April 29, 2019, 8:29 PM · Lots of food for thought, thank you! I hadn't thought about how a higher SR might put more stress on my shoulder. I HAVE noticed more complaints from the shoulder. It was only so high because I was needing to lean my head over too far... So my neck appears happy. For once in my life I'm trying to be proactive to avoid aggravating my neck and/or shoulder. I love playing and don't want to risk having to give it up through stubbornness. I am very careful in how long I play each day, and if things start complaining then I stop.

I had read the Bon Musica was adjustable in every possible way - including the angle of the "hook" over the shoulder. I was looking for adjustable angles, and directions of adjustment more than anything else.

The Forte Secundo is interesting, and while I'm still not sure about sponges, I will admit the Acoustagrip as described by Andrew is intriguing. I've been told my CR "fits" my jaw well, so I think I will start with the Gel Rest for the CR that Andrew mentioned and see if that provides both comfort and the chance to lower my SR a bit. If not, then will give both the Wolf Forte Secundo and Acoustagrip trial runs.

April 29, 2019, 8:23 PM · So here is a picture of my chin rest - any idea what brand/type it is? I really hope this link works...

Edited: April 29, 2019, 9:49 PM · So here is a picture of my chin rest - any idea what brand/type it is?...…………

Guarneri chin rest

Edited: April 29, 2019, 10:49 PM · Thanks Harry, good to know. I've been told it fits my jaw well. It's what came with my violin.

I appreciate all the good information. It sounds like I truly should start with considering my chin rest and go from there. That hadn't occurred to me before starting this thread, thanks to all.

April 29, 2019, 11:22 PM · Catherine, I'm sorry to disturb the harmony again. The paradoxon about the Guarneri CR is that it is extremely widely spread and mounted on maybe three out of four student violins, therefore many folks learning how to adjust to it and stick with it - but it's pretty unergonimic for most, that's why many (if not most) use it in a different manner than intended. You will often see even mist advanced players hooking the central portion (which goes over the tailpiece) under their chin, leaving the "chinrest" part unoccupied. Besides that, it's the most "lateral" model if used "properly" (actually, most players profit from a chin position nearer or even partially above the tailpiece, and that's the way they use it as described...), and it is one of the lowest models.
By any means, if you're starting experimenting with your setup, then don't stick with something that "fits your chin well" if combined with an inappropriate SR and with a weird and in physiological violin hold. For 99% if all players, the Guarneri model will be the most unergonomical CR on the market.
Edited: April 30, 2019, 6:42 AM · Nuuska, thanks for the additional information. That's why I posted the picture, to learn more. I've been wondering why my SR needed to be so high as I'm a short, small framed woman.

I posted this thread focused on a new SR - but after reading all of your comments I've decided to take the advice to start with my chin rest instead. I will start with the Wittner as it is so adjustable and go from there. Unsure about the plastic but as it seems quite popular I won't let that prevent the test.

April 30, 2019, 3:16 PM · If you are suited to a center-mounted chinrest and the bar portion of the guarneri fits you well, by all means use it, and if it truly suits you, go ahead and use it. Otherwise, I don't think it's a good chinrest choice for most people. Small-framed people may benefit from kusing a center-mounted chinrest, but those with longer arms may feel cramped in the arms with the angle that results from using a center-mounted chinrest. The Wittner is a great product, and the plastic shouldn't be a problem.
April 30, 2019, 4:52 PM · I suffer from neck and back problems and came up with the ideal solution for me and I'm sure it will work for others too. I extended the hook on the Bon Musica so that it holds on my shoulder. In addition to this I use a Happynex style sling (actually now I just use a strip of lycra) and I hook it over the chinrest rather than under the tailpiece as the producers of Happynex suggest. I'm completely head free and fully supported. Youtube video on this soon...
April 30, 2019, 4:57 PM · Proper positioning matters to me, and my current set-up does get me elevated enough, but my shoulder is starting to complain a bit more. After researching here and elsewhere it does seem that my SR is probably too high for my shoulder - and an adjustable chin rest does seem an experiment I need to make. I want to continue playing for the rest of my life if possible, and for that I have to play and practice smart!
April 30, 2019, 6:47 PM · And I thought I had troubles! I have a very long neck, severe myofacial pain (temperomandibular joint, TMJ, syndrome), and chronic neck, shoulder, and upper back pain. I have very little fat cushioning my jawbone and collarbone, adding to my discomfort. About year and a half ago, I injured my left shoulder rotator cuff and the pain and dysfunction were so bad that I couldn’t play for a whole year, even with physical therapy. Even so, some of the contributors to this thread have worse issues than I and still manage to play. I feel like I have been working on the SR / CR issue all my life. I use a very high, centered chinrest, which feels good, but I need to keep trying new shoulder rests. I thank everyone for your comments and suggestions.
April 30, 2019, 6:53 PM · Catherine, let us know how the Wittner works out. Are you trying the augsburg model? The standard Wittner is not adjustable.
April 30, 2019, 7:12 PM · I had always used the Wolf Secundo, but tried the AcoustaGrip and really found it comfortable combined with a lower chin rest. I became a bit disillusioned when it wouldn't stay in place. I believe I got this link from a post by Mr. Victor somewhere along the way:

It was a simple solution to the "grip" problem.

April 30, 2019, 7:34 PM · Ella - it's the Wittner Zuerich. Shar has a nice description of its features. They should have it back in stock in two weeks, I want their generous return policy just in case. I only want to change one thing at a time so if there is a change, good or ill, I will know the cause.

Bob, thanks for your feedback. I plan on checking out both after my CR experiment.

Pauline, good luck with your own search.

April 30, 2019, 8:53 PM · Wittner Zuerich has a design based on the Guarneri, but with an extended section under the 'ridge' part where the 'chin' hooks over, which may restrict the adequate gripping for the chin, I would probably want to cut that away but it may be impossible due to the type of material it consists of. However, it can be tilted side ways which maybe an advantage. The Guarneri style offers a larger area ( than any other style ) for the 'ridge' section for the 'chin' to hook over as well as including a 'cup' section for the 'mandible'. Sometimes the cup section is over sized and not entirely utilized, that is why it maybe seen whilst playing, but it is there if the head needs to change position slightly. I have cut a portion off the cup section of the Guarneri thus reducing the density.

I have also done similar to what Christopher described; because the Bon Musica is so stable on the violin I have attached a wide elastic belt to this SR which goes around my chest and under my right arm, and with the slide adjuster brings the violin tight and close to the neck, thus requiring very minimal weight from the head to hold the violin in place. I have also erected an apparatus in which the violin scroll rests supporting all the weight of the violin, I use this only for practice at home. This is similar to how Indian violinists play with the scroll resting on their foot, I can't get down that far so I have made an adaption of this idea.

April 30, 2019, 9:36 PM · "with an extended section under the 'ridge' part where the 'chin' hooks over, which may restrict the adequate gripping for the chin"

Do you have experience with it or are you merely speculating? The Wittner's shape works well for me, and has no such problem, at least with my jaw.

April 30, 2019, 9:41 PM · Do you have experience with it or are you merely speculating?

I did say 'MAY RESTRICT'..yes, of course I am speculating, I haven't got one yet...!?

The section I was describing looks 'to me' that it maybe in the way of my chin because my chin nearly touches the tail piece.... That's all..

Edited: May 5, 2019, 2:35 AM · Catherine, you might want to check if the Bonmusica rest will fit into your violin case. All Kuns, VLMs, Wolfs will into almost all cases; on the other hand the Bonmusica has a shape which impedes fit in many of the more compact ones.

Just a thought!

May 2, 2019, 12:10 PM · Timothy, you must have the Augsburg? Trying to decide between that and the offset version now. Unsure if it's a good idea to play with both height and CR location at the same time...
May 2, 2019, 12:10 PM · Timothy, you must have the Augsburg? Trying to decide between that and the offset version now. Unsure if it's a good idea to play with both height and CR location at the same time...
May 2, 2019, 3:11 PM · That all makes sense Timothy. I think I will wait for Shar to get the off-set version back in stock (2 weeks) so all I'm really changing is the height of the CR. I want to isolate each change so I know what impact might have - the perfect outcome will be is all I need is the raised CR and can stick with the Kun - but life is rarely perfect. If I do need another SR then I will experiment with the Forte Secunda first (and hopefully last).
May 2, 2019, 11:54 PM · I'd suggest aircrest pad, they have 4 attachable pads so you can adjust your height.
May 8, 2019, 8:13 AM · The Forte Secondo has the huge advantage of being bendable and twistable: flat on the shoulder, and almost vertical on the chest.
I abandoned it because the rivets broke, and I only just saved the violin from being badly scratched by all those metals bits.

The Bon Musica's shoulder "hook" is often set too far to the left, pushing the head to the right out of line with the spine. But it too is bendable.

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