Shoulder rest for a wide lower bout

June 27, 2019, 4:45 PM · I'm having trouble finding a shoulder rest that works with my new viola. Note: for those inclined to tell me that I don't need one at all, that's simply not an option I'm considering.

I've gotten along comfort-wise with Viva La Musica and Kun. All I ask is that

a) it fit the viola
b) it fit in the case (collapsible arms)
c) it not cause the instrument to buzz

The Viva failed me on (a) - the lower bout on my new viola is about 258mm at the widest point; the Viva was stretched to the breaking point despite allegedly fitting >16.5" violas. The Kun collapsible failed on (c) - it fits the viola and the case, but the rest pivots on the feet such that in the course of playing it pivots towards the bottom of the viola, causing buzzing when it makes contact. I am constantly having to pivot it away again, which gets annoying - I need to do this every 5-10 minutes.

Does anyone else have this problem? Does anyone know of a shoulder rest that fits larger instruments, has collapsible feet, and where the platform piece (for lack of a better word) doesn't pivot on the feet when you don't want it to?

Replies (23)

June 27, 2019, 5:03 PM · Bon Musica makes custom wide shoulder rests. Unfortunately, at 260 for the lower bout, your options are limited.

A friend made very wide violas and we would modify a Kun by either putting moleskin on the sr so it wouldn't buzz or wrapping a washcloth around it where it would touch the back. You could also try a Kun with XL forks and a lower chin rest.

June 27, 2019, 6:44 PM · I recently switched to the Everest Viola one to avoid the Kun pivoting problem and it has worked great. It doesn't fit in my case, but my case is particularly small, so it may fit in yours.
June 27, 2019, 6:58 PM · My son's Kiernoziak's lower bout is 10 3/8" or just over 260mm and the Viva La Musica 'Diamond' works, but just barely. For the first several months putting it on always felt like we were taking it past the limit, but it has loosened up over time and seems to fit pretty well now. Would buy again.
June 27, 2019, 7:03 PM · To me, the solution seems plain simple.

Throw out the shoulder rest entirely.

June 27, 2019, 7:42 PM · If you can use a low SR check out the GelRest Micro. has the best price I've seen.
June 27, 2019, 9:21 PM · I'm wondering, have you widened your kun to widest position on both sides? I can't recommend anything in particular, but if finding a suitable shoulder rest is problematic, I would explore sponges and pads, as the width of the viola will not matter.
June 27, 2019, 9:34 PM · Cotton,

Can't/didn't read? They already addressed that in the question.

June 27, 2019, 11:18 PM · If you basically like the viva la musica, I'd write to - eventually they'd be willing to work on a custom made diamond model. It's not a super-huge company...
Have you tried a foam, like Xeros, under your shirt instead?
June 28, 2019, 6:09 AM · Foam is a great option or some sponges that will grip and support maybe?
June 28, 2019, 7:05 AM · Another possibility is Acoustagrip. They have a viola version. I've been happy with my violin version.
June 28, 2019, 7:23 AM · They said they aren't considering it, not that they tried it.

When an added device like the shoulder rest causes you so much frustration, I don't see why you wouldn't consider not using it.

June 28, 2019, 10:40 AM · Lots of good suggestions here - thank you all!

I must admit I've always been a bit wary of the rests like the Acoustagrip that adhere directly to the instrument - but I guess if they caused damage, we'd know about it by now!

@Cotton Mather, being able to play without a rest must make be nice, as you don't have to deal with these issues. But I can't manage it. I can blame my relatively narrow shoulders and long neck, but it's really a matter of what feels comfortable/secure to me.

June 28, 2019, 11:50 AM · Yes, I agree that you have to use what works for you. People do get frustrated with shoulder rests, but that doesn't mean you should get rid of it altogether. Ditching the shoulder rest is a good solution for some, but not all. The good news is that there are lots of options to try: various shoulder rests, sponges, foam pads, cloth, etc. I think most of us benefit from using something underneath the instrument to stop it from slipping. In order to go shoulder restless, I think you will have to get accustomed to using a lot more left hand support than you're used to; plus your body type needs to work decently with restless playing.
June 28, 2019, 12:33 PM · Let me add my vote for the Acoustagrip also.
The thing about this stick-to-the-back (STTB) SR (the GelRest is also a STTV SR, just smaller) is that the Acoustagrip is larger and thicker - but you can google them and see for yourself.

The thing about SRs (and violin/viola backs) in general is that most people only need help with a very small area of contact with their collarbone, shoulder or both. Most of the size and mass of a SR is needed only to attach it to the instrument.

June 29, 2019, 12:47 AM · I have had the issue that you describe with the Kun viola rest tilting. Try attaching a makeup pad to the side that contacts the body with a rubber band - this will limit how much it can tilt.
Edited: June 29, 2019, 2:57 AM · As for the acoustagrip, I've got my experiences. Basically, I like it. Not necessarily on violin, since I've found my perfect setup here. But on viola, it was one of several "95%" options. What made me stop using it was it's effect on the varnish. The use of the acoustagrip hasn't any impact on all my other instruments, either with spirit varnish or a well matured oil varnish. But on my main viola with a relatively young (11 years) delicate and rather soft varnish similar as it is traditionally used in Mittenwald for the high end models, you can see clearly where it was attached even after an hour of playing. Not that it would stick too hard to the varnish and take away some of it, this definitely never happened. It just leaves an impression there which can be polished out - but I don't fancy polishing my viola on a weekly base.
June 29, 2019, 8:11 PM · Not sure if Wolf Forte Primo would be wide enough. Another thought: does it help you move the feet under the treble side (A string) all the way to the spike?
June 29, 2019, 8:38 PM · Have you tried the Kreddle adjustable chinrest? My neck is bordering on gargantuan and I still don't even use the tallest setting. It was worth every penny of the $100 for me.
July 1, 2019, 12:34 AM · I vote for the bonmusica. From personal experience, you can slightly bend certain parts, which can give at least a few cm in width
July 1, 2019, 1:16 AM · Acoustifoam. Can be moved to where it provides optimal support and contact with collarbone. I use them with my violin, and my teacher uses them with his viola.
July 1, 2019, 8:45 AM · Lots of great suggestions here. Thanks everybody!

@Nuuska M: Wow, that's kind of frightening that the acoustagrip was leaving an impression in the varnish - that's the kind of thing I was afraid of with that option.

It's possible that this problem might self-resolve, as I might end up not keeping the viola...but that is a topic for another thread.

Edited: July 1, 2019, 11:33 AM · A colleague of mine played one of those Tertis model violas for awhile with a lower bout so big there was only one case model that it even fit in (a BAM Artisto with the largest pattern cutout).

She was able to get a Mach One shoulder rest to work. I believe their large size model fits up to 11.2" inches across, which is about 284mm. Whether that design's specific curve fits your shoulder is another consideration entirely, but it's worth a try!

July 18, 2019, 8:38 AM · Hi! It's extremely helpful feedback that the pivot on Kun rests causes an issue for violists - I play viola myself using the Collapsible and the Super and have never encountered that problem, but it's obviously a common concern based on the number of comments on this thread!

Side note: I always recommend the Super for violists as I find it inexplicably more stable and comfortable than the Original/Collapsible (and almost never slips off my instrument) though it's not all that different.

Also, I do see a lot of viola players with wide instruments using Mach so that may be a solution for you!

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