How much $$$ can shoulder rest companies make?
I know, this is an odd question here, but this is one of the few places I know about where there is a diverse collection of smart individuals that, collectively, seem to be able to answer any question.
First off: the title isn't *exactly* what I'm asking.
To make a long story short, I've been designing a new type of shoulder rest for some time now, and if everything goes as hoped, it should allow some ground-breaking levels of adjustability and security. Due to patent laws, I don't want to post any real details here, but basically, just imagine a shoulder rest that you can put anywhere in relation to your violin (very close, very far, way up, way down, pivot, left, right, etc...). and adjust in any/all axes of motion, and once it's there, it will stay there indefinitely, and will never fall off of your violin. But once you want to move it or try another position, it can be put into any other format within 5-10 seconds. So theoretically you could try 100 different positions within a fairly short time frame, but once you settled on one, you could just keep it there forever, and every time you put it back on your violin it will be in the exact same position it was last time. Oh, and despite all of this, it will be lighter than a "standard" SR (although there's no possible way to make it the *lightest* considering how much it can do).
There's a bunch of other stuff that also make it sort of a "first" in many categories, but I don't want to get too bogged down in bragging about it until I have an actual product on the market.
My dilemma is this: after having spent thousands upon thousands of hours designing this thing (including, but definitely not limited to, teaching myself CAD so I could make it precisely how I think it should be, researching high-end aerospace materials to use, understanding manufacturing, etc....), I'm getting to the point where I need to decide to spend serious $$$$$.
Because of the complexity of my design (there's no way to make it simpler than it already is), it will probably cost me a great sum of money to tool, so my guess is I'd have to sell something like 3000 shoulder rests to just break even on the tooling (this is partially because I want to keep the product price low, so my margins won't be insane.... I'd rather many people use it, rather than an elite few). Part of my parameters for the rest was to have it under $100, and hopefully closer to $60 (no promises there).
Until this point, I've been able to work on the design and the only cost has been my own time, creativity, and effort. But I'm approaching the "pay wall", and of course that's a whole different level of commitment. It's not like I can get a refund on a custom-made mold set, or all of the engineering fees for the molds themselves.
Getting down to the question: do you guys think it's a good idea to proceed, assuming that the shoulder rest does everything I claimed above?
And in relation to the actual title of the thread, how many shoulder rests do you think get sold yearly? And how many do you think get sold that are "specialty rests", in the $50-$100 range? I might be able to estimate my potential profits and thus financial feasibility for the my product if I had some numbers to work with. I'm sure no one here knows a concrete answer, but even sheer speculation would be helpful to me at this point.
Also, could you see yourselves spending $50-$100 on something that does what I've claimed? Or is the "regular" style of shoulder rest something that you've found satisfactory? Perhaps the quirks of regular SRs don't bother you that much? (e.g falling off, moving position, limited adjustability, or very time consuming to adjust).
Any and all opinions are welcomed. Thanks!
EDIT: I wanted to add that I'm not interesting in "crowdfunding" this product. It's just not something I believe in, for a multitude of reasons.
The Korfker rest is well over $300 US, and the Korfker cradle is more than a $1000, yet I see players using both of them. We're all struggling to find a way to make an essentially unnatural hold comfortable, and players are willing to go to great lengths to solve it. If your design really does provide a viable solution, many people will pay a high price for it. I sincerely wish you luck with this.
Sounds like you are at the point where a proper market analysis and business model needs assessment should be developed. A nice project for a grad student in business development, so you may want to approach some faculties with the right program. They love these kinds of practical and close ended projects with a limited and well defined scope.
Thanks for the input so far. I feel more encouraged already!
You're asking financial and business questions in a violin forum. What do you expect to get from the average user here?
There are people here who know a great deal about business (I am not one of them).
Erik, I had mentioned to you in a previous thread you had started a few months ago about this subject, that I manufacture and have items manufactured for my business. At this point, you need to decide the best manufacturing process that will suit to make your item efficiently, cost effectively, and to your standards and in the amounts that work for you. You will then need to produce some prototypes to be sure you are on track. At that point, you can calculate costs. You mention molding, I don't know what materials you plan to make them in, but 3d printing and CNC from solid material, may be considered. There are some websites where you can upload your 3D model, select a material, quantity, and receive a quote. As before, my offer stands if you need any other advice, just let me know.
I would definitely buy one. If it was really great, more than one.
One thing on your side is that folks who seek out a shoulder rest often buy more than 1 before they find the one they like and stick with. BUT, once a shoulder rest fits the need, there's no reason to buy more than one.
Less than physiotherapists.
A Kreddle shoulder rest? I would also buy one, but I think shoulder rests are clunky and a big waste of money.
Timothy, thank you for the offer. I'm definitely still in the prototypes phase, although it's not as linear of a process as I would like because the material I will be using is fairly exotic (although, being a thermoplastic, still reasonably cheap to use once I have the molds). That, and the tolerances in the molded product have to be good because there are a lot of parts that need to push-fit into other parts, so the shrinkages need to be very similar in all of the components. But, I mainly have it sorted out. I may CNC a prototype out of a solid block of the stuff, or I may CNC machine it out of a material that's close enough in mechanical performance, but just heavier (like aluminum). I've already 3d printed prototypes, of course, and will be 3d printing more as time goes on. This isn't strong enough, even with the strongest FDM material (or SLS, etc...) for a truly functional prototype, but still helps me get closer to the final design.
Cotton, I dislike Kreddle's implementation of their idea. Yes, a ball-jointed chinrest was a cool idea, but in actually using it I found it somewhat unreliable in staying in position (smooth plastic on smooth plastic can only supply so much friction), and also very time-consuming to adjust. And the adjustment just isn't intuitive. I'm glad that they strived for something new and innovative, but I feel that it ended out being a half-baked product with good marketing behind it, rather than a truly solid piece of engineering. I also feel that it's heavier than it should be, and I'm *very* much not a fan that the clamp feet don't have a gap between them to make room for my collarbone. For such a premium price, I would expect them to at least have the clamp feet separate (talking about the center-mounted version).
You're going to have to invest in your business, plain and simple. You can invest your own money, or you can get others to invest theirs. But you need to hire a lawyer who specializes in setting up small businesses because you need a trademark and possibly also a service mark and you need to set up an LLC or such, and you need to protect your IP (patents are expensive). I predict you will spend bare minimum $2000 just on that stuff, not to mention manufacturing. There are companies that will, for a fee or a piece of the action, shop your idea around on a non-disclosure basis to see if there are manufacturers who could easily re-tool for your item. Not surprisingly they advertise during late-night reruns of Perry Mason.
Honestly, part of the reason I want to keep the price point low is because I want the majority of students to also have access to it, and if their violin is only $500, they probably don't want to spend $300 on just their SR :)
Paul Deck is right. There will be significant business set-up costs. You want to probably separate this from however you've incorporated your teaching business.
This serious player isn't about to spend $300 on a shoulder rest no matter how great it is. I love my Mach One; the $60 or so I invested years ago was money well spent. Any leftover money these days--well, not that I have any leftover money--is going straight to the Jacobs School where I have a child determined to repeat my poor life choices.
Yeah, I also plan to keep the price point low because I really want students to have access to a better SR. I teach so many people whom I can't seem to find a good fit for (without doing modifications, or having them try a billion different SRs).
How can you get one million dollars with lutherie? You have to start your business with two million dollars.
Paul N., professional freelance violinists and violin teachers own their own businesses, essentially. They assess the market, advertise, and decide how much to charge for their services,and what kinds of services they offer. Sure, "advertising," for a violin teacher, is likely your word-of-mouth reputation in the community. I think you're wrong--and I would expect that many professional musicians develop very good business sense learned on-the-job.
Oh, God, please, I really hope you're not comparing being a freelance teacher and thinking about how much is it each hour, with developing a product and selling it to the public. The first one can be done by a teenager, the second one requires an infinite amount of hours of developing the product, choosing the materials, the mechanization of the pieces, who ensembles them, where, how, the price of the product, how you distribute them, you have to know about licensing, create may be your own trademark or company, and this is just an appetizer. Your answer pretty much sums up why you shouldn't ask here business and investment questions. You get what you expect from a violin forum.
So now you're badmouthing violin teachers, on a violin forum, wow, what a troll!!
The thing that should be taken into account is there are very few companies that just manufacture Shoulder rests, usually it is just one of many products the company sells, expecting to make money of just selling shoulder rests is a bit iffy, especially at $60, it seems you would have to charge significantly more to make it a viable venture.
Erik, in this case with low production numbers and sales, you have to keep this project as simple as possible. Don't get involved with lawyers, patents, and trademarks. Even if you do, if they are violated you have to file a claim that will cost more then what it is worth. This project is way under the radar of any company going to the trouble of copying. There just would not be enough profit for them to do so. However, if you offer to sell them in quantity to Shar or Fiddlerman at discounted prices they would prefer to get them from you then to go through the hassles of making them. It is also very risky to get that kind of money wrapped up in molds. If the molds don't work out properly, all could be lost. And in situations like this when there is a failure, you end up with a lot of finger pointing and a bunch of unusable product, been there. Instead look towards machining from solid or a much lower cost way to have molds produced.
Paul N said: "...requires an infinite amount of hours of developing the product, choosing the materials, the mechanization of the pieces, who ensembles them, where, how, the price of the product, how you distribute them, you have to know about licensing, create may be your own trademark or company..."
Erik, you should contact Jordan Somethingorother, the guy who did the Kreddle, about how he turned his idea into a real business. He wouldn't exactly be incentivized as a business owner to help you out, but you never know. If you can get something good in the hands of touring violinists, that is good marketing - I know some soloists have used the Kreddle, although your bread and butter is likely to be the student market.
it doesn't hurt to ask. Worse they can say is no. But if you are providing them with a future product there may be interest on their end. I would ask Fiddlerman too. Another person who went down a similar road is Peter Kaman https://www.thechinrestlip.com/
Eric, if you have not already done so, run your shoulder rest by some high-end luthiers to see if there are any problems with the shoulder rest, or the attachment method, before you invest a bunch more money.
Few designs stand up to the market unchanged. Over the first two years of selling my shoulder rest I have made changes to every part (easy to do with printed parts and low volume). Parts have been made stronger (broken due to drops, over-tightening bolts), knobs changed to make them easier to turn (arthritis is getting worse), the violin plate grip was changed due to unavailable materials, many changes to make manufacturing easier.
First off, thanks for all the great responses, guys. The hard part for me in much of this is even knowing *what* questions to ask, and everyone here so far has done a great job of giving me perspectives that either I hadn't considered, or that I needed to be reminded of. It's so easy to get stuck in a bubble of your own thoughts when you're the sole proprietor of something. I also find that by simply asking a question to others, somehow new ideas end up popping into my head. It's kind of like that phenomenon: when you're searching forever for something you lost in the house, and as soon as you ask someone where they think it might be, that's when you find it (before they even answer!).
I would apply for a patent. I would also make the assumption that the patent will be nigh useless should anyone decide to actually copy your product once it's available, because a patent is only as useful as your ability to pay to
Lydia, that's exactly my plan. Patent it (or at last apply for patent pending), but don't actually expect that it will do anything if anyone gets the idea to directly copy my idea.
As far as patents are concerned, by far the greater part of the expense of getting a granted patent for an invention lies in the fees charged by patent professionals. The set fees charged by a national patent office for patent applications and renewals are relatively small in comparison.
If your financial resources are limited, consider going to California Lawyers for the Arts. If your income is low enough to qualify, they offer referrals to patent attorneys who are willing to work either pro bono or for reduced fees depending on your income.
Just a thought that you might be able to survey market share of different shoulder rests by the number of reviews they've received on various forums. In addition to being novel and non-obvious, my understanding (which is not so great) is that there needs to be "reduction to practice" which means you have tested a prototype.
'there needs to be "reduction to practice" which means you have tested a prototype.'
"You want iron-clad protection of your IP because your goal is not to make a profit manufacturing and selling your product. Your goal is to sell your IP to Wittner."
I was just going to say, save yourself all the endless drudgery and sell your model to Wittner and continue to live in peace and prosperity, but I guess that's not what you're looking for...
By the way, will there also be a viola version? Or is the cost of additional molds going to be prohibitive?
From my job and where I work, I receive many individual and companies with really good inventions and designs.
I definitely plan on a viola version eventually because I think violists suffer even more often than violinists when it comes to the limitations of current SRs. I should probably be able to modify the violin version to fit violas with minimal tooling, rather than making an entire new set of molds. I can't promise it will take away back pain, though! Viola always made my back sore, and I actually remember inventing something for that when I was in my teens. I remember my viola teacher saying "ok, but please don't make it so that everyone says *oh, there's the viola player* when you enter the room." Looking back, it was a really ridiculous contraption.
Haha, it's funny that you mention thomastik, Carlos. That was one of my ideas, to partner with them to provide a direct competitor to the korfker series. However, I don't exactly like the idea of a large corporation telling me how I should make my invention or how much I should sell it for. I feel like it would turn into another shoulder rest that "everyone deserves but no one can afford".
I'm no expert, by no stretch of the imagination. I will note that there is at least one violin-related business I know of that sells one thing, chinrests. The WAVE chinrest comes in 3 models in different sizes.
I really want to avoid wholesale, catherine. However, I have to ask myself how much money I could possibly make if I'm doing all of my own marketing and sales and if that amount of money would cover the large initial expense of my design. If I'm being realistic, probably not, at least not in a limited time frame. But maybe I'm wrong... I wonder how much $$$ a company like the Wave can pull in yearly?
Erik, I make my own molds and do plastic injection for a fair amount of my products. So if you need any free advice, feel free to reach out. While shrinkage should be factored in, you also need draft so the part can be removed easily, vents for air to escape, and also consider using threaded inserts for fasteners. I chose the image below so you can see how inserts can be molded in to avoid drilling and threading afterwards. If you have a STEP file 3d image of your parts, you can load them up at xometry.com for an instant quote. They give you several options for manufacturing processes including injection molding.
Thanks so much for the advice and offers to help, Timothy! Luckily I have a friend who is a mechanical engineer and he has been able to give me some guidance in terms of the basics of the design to make it manufacturable (such as draft angle, uniformity of thickness, expected shrinkage, etc...). Of course, he has just made very general suggestions such as you are doing now (although he had the advantage of being able to see the part), and I still have done the actual work myself.
Oh, by the way, what are some of your inventions, Timothy? Just curious.
Erik, one of your goals an the foremost reason to keep it simple and affordable was to make it accessible to any student. Suppose this should be the beginning of a success story, even without a strong partner, because the product would speak for itself and would be a must-have within short time without extensive and costly advertising - how could you expect to manage this without wholesale? Direct marketing in larger dimensions is some serious business, you'd have to he an employer soon as the business grows. At this stage the copycat companies will appear and sell their crappy lookalikes for $12,99 under similar name ("William Eric's" why not...), ruining your reputation. Now reread this thread under this light.
Nuuska, I think that you, David Burgess, and Carlos are correct in your assessment that wholesale through major distributors will be necessary.
Erik, can't say I have any inventions yet, mostly innovations. The part pictured is for an after market ignition system for a wide year range
Oooh, this is exciting stuff!
Timothy, I Couldn't agree more! I also feel inspired when I hear about people making something new, or just pursuing a passion.
Craig, I think you are right about there being a better market for new shoulder rests, simply by the fact that new SRs are always exciting (whether they end up being good or not), whereas teaching aids don't stir up the impulse buyers quite so easily. So it gives me hope that you got the major players to buy!
I look forward to eventually seeing what you've come up with. I gave a stab at SR innovative re-design, and as you point out, there isn't much space under the body of the violin to work with...so I abandoned ship on that avenue of exploration.
If it may be of interest:
I'm not sure about the relative sizes of the markets. The advantage of a beginner product is that everyone's a beginner ... at the beginning. Usually their SR at that stage is some hopeless piece of twisted metal wrapped lovingly with foam and scotch tape.
Dr. Deck, I could possibly be even more adverse to risk then you. The company that was initially doing my plastic injection molding was small, allowed me to machine my own molds, and liked working with me. Eventually the owner retired, I had them make a large batch of pieces to carry me and purchased their plastic injection equipment very reasonably. Typically when I begin a new venture, I use time in the evenings and limited amounts during business hours, feel out for interest in that item as Erik is doing, and get as many advance orders as possible to at least break even as soon as possible. I caution Erik on getting involved with molding that can cost upwards of $60k. I know from experience and have seen businesses spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for tooling that does not work. And these days some people are very adept at providing excuses while keeping your money and failing to provide the service you wanted. When it came time for a website, I was told by web designers to be ready to spend upwards of $25k. While that seems fine, I still was the one doing the majority of the work photographing inventory, creating descriptions, etc so I found a company that offers website templates for a fraction of the cost and did the work of setting it up myself. It is not the greatest, but I am very satisfied. Another very important tool, is reading people and checking them out some before doing business with them. If a business seems to be cutthroat and doesn't value their vendors, stay clear from them. If they are open, honest, and value you as a vendor, it means more then any agreement written on paper.
Oh trust me, my design will be *perfect* before I actually shell out 60k-100k to make the molds. I've redesigned this thing countless times and I'll probably do it a bunch more, because I'm not willing to make a half-baked product.
Erik, et al.,
Hi George, obviously you must be speaking of the Korfker shoulder rest (probably not the cradle, which is about $1000).
Consider for a moment the difference between Craig's product and yours. Craig's is a single injection-molded piece of squishy plastic with no moving parts. And he spent how much on tooling?
I spent very little on tooling, as there was none. All molds were able to be 3D printed.
In most cases a mold can have multiple cavities with runners connecting them from the injection site. You do have to consider the injection capacity of the machine.
"I don't exactly like the idea of a large corporation telling me how I should make my invention or how much I should sell it for."
Very true, Han. I have definitely been guilty of mentally forcing the prices of things down in the past just as a way of keeping ideas viable.
"... how long I want it to take to break even on the tooling."
Erik, Thomastik come out of the Rudolf Steiner cult and may not be open to inventions that come from outside that cult - which doesn't lessen the validity of some things that have come from within that cult, like Nordoff-Robbins music therapy. You may prefer a more culturally mainstream partner.
Well, I have a lot more work to do before I can truly claim anything, but I do really hope that my design can be as good or better than the cradle while being a heck of a lot closer to $100 than to $1000!
"There are possibilities for funding your own company by tapping into your own 401K"
Or, it could be a great advancement over the current array of SRs that are little more than glorified scaffolding propping up the violin. It could make it big, and Erik will laugh all the way to the bank.
I'm fairly confident I'll be able to break even given enough time and effort. As long as I do that, I'll be happy.
I just had a look at this Korfker Cradle. So now not the violin, but that cradle thing, rests on your collarbone? How odd.
Yeah, that bothers me too, Jean. It looks like they made a bit of a cut-out, but I still imagine that the added thickness is something that would be bothersome to many people.
"Also, Scott, copycats rarely cause the original maker to go out of business."
I have to admit, I think it's harder to convincingly fake something like a shoulder rest (I'm talking about a situation where a competitor tries to pass off their copy as the real-deal).
By career I am a Mechanical Engineer who spent 35+ years developing products and shepherding these into production. I have designed my own and later ran teams of designers/engineers in design efforts and production releases for the high tech industry. These design efforts mostly focused on automated machines that are used to manufacture semiconductor chips. These teams numbered in the several hundreds of engineers/designers. I also love playing my violin which offers a great escape.
i just spend 70 bucks on a mach one hook shoulder rest, but everyone else i know has one of these collapsible 30 bucks kuns
Interesting write up, Larry, thanks for the input.
Kun is a privately held company, so no hard numbers. However this site has the annual revenue estimated at $2.5M
Parents do not want to spend $50 on a shoulder rest. But if they have to spend hundreds on hockey gear, no problem.
"Scott, You are a professional violinist, that must have taken a lot of guts to pursue that career with all of the heavy competition involved. Nothing ventured nothing gained."
Larry, thanks for that write-up. Using amazon reviews is a creative way to get some metrics on total sales. However, it's worth noting that most SR sales are most likely through major distributors like Shar as well as music stores, so it's a little difficult to get an accurate grasp of the number without contacting the distributors themselves. For something like a vacuum, I would think the amazon-review method would be quite accurate. I'm just not sure about shoulder rests, since they're a specialty item in a sort of unusual market.
Erik: Not sure if this is a relevant bellwether, but the company that makes the bow hold teaching aids (Bow Hold Buddies) just posted that they just passed their 10th anniversary and have sold over 100k units.
Thanks for the encouragement, Craig!
I don't think Bow Hold Buddies are a good indicator of the potential market for a new shoulder rest. The Bow Hold Buddy is a brand new concept, not a retooling of an existing one.
The comparison with Kun might not be fair, as it has the longevity of an established reputation across successive generations to its favour. Maybe more suited is a market research of how newer rests enter the market (marketing, endorsement..) and remain relevant.usually there is a marketing hook (pun aside).
Mary, start-ups are just expensive, so I've learned to not to react to large prices when considering them. For example, outfitting a simple commercial kitchen for a restaurant, buying the chairs, the tables, paint, etc... can easily run into the 100k-200k range. And there's no guarantee that the restaurant will be successful. Usually people take on business partners to divide the risk, but it's still a lot of money for something that, statistically, has a greater chance of failing than succeeding. My idea is no different. There is no reward without any risk. But my 3d printer idea is just a way of keeping the risk lower until I know there's a market. Keep in mind that 3D printers can be had for just a few hundred bucks, but the one I'm speaking of specifically can actually do professional, end-use products, meaning that I can "test the market" for much cheaper than the alternative. And like I said, at least if the idea fails, I can easily re-sell the 3d printer for a discount, or use it for other projects. When we're talking about this sort of equipment, it's not a hobbyist machine anymore; it's a business investment.
This is why, very often, new ventures are taken on by those with experience in the industry. Because they have inside information not only about technology and manufacturing, but also market positions, distribution, and other vital factors.
I sent an inquiry, Craig. Thanks!
Revenue matters less than margin. Kun is the market leader in shoulder-rests. $2.5 million annually, if that's true, has to pay for manufacturing a dozen or more different types of shoulder-rests (multiple lines, with a range of fractional sizes in each line), fairly extensive marketing, attendance at trade shows, and likely paying salaries and benefits to a small staff. I'm guessing that revenue doesn't go very far in terms of generating cash profits.
The Kun Voce, their CF rest, is $65, relatively simple in design, and is presumably mass-produced at more scale that Erik will have, suggesting that his $60 price point is probably unrealistic. So figure that maybe it retails at $100, making its wholesale price in the vicinity of $50 (note that this is uses the generous assumption that wholesale is 50% of retail and not 25%).
Erik, developing skills with 3D modelling and printing could become a very useful investment for you. I believe 3D printing will have a significant economical impact globally once it becomes the primary manufacturing process for nearly everything manufactured. The process is far more developed then most people realize. Once a leading tech company or large corporation takes the lead into 3D printing it will be the one to buy as much stock as possible in! It will become cheaper, better, and easier to make goods and products that would normally be made in China and Mexico. And there will be products that will be very unique and revolutionary due to the capabilities of 3D printing that conventional manufacturing cannot do such as printing in different overlapping materials.
The place that is doing the 3D printing for you may be willing to help you with the design, since they earn more if you sell more.
Lydia, nice assessment!
Unfortunately, Lydia, the spools for the CF-printer are extraordinarily expensive compared to normal CF. However, the actual strands of CF used in each part would be quite minimal. It would mostly be a somewhat-cheaper material which has chopped CF in it, but is primarily nylon.
Are you sure you need a fiber-reinforced material? These days 3d printing materials are quite varied in their physical properties and applications and improving all the time. I have colleagues who work on this. Would the range of materials available to you be wider if the plastic doesn't have to be black? Can the main "rest" part of your SR be made of wood, such that you can benefit from inexpensive labor and materials overseas?
There are many examples of success in the current market not in selling low-priced goods (where you will get crushed like a bug), but in high-end products. Watches are a great example: It's useless to compete against Timex or Casio. But many watch makers have sprung up in the US making higher-priced mechanical watches, and they seem to be selling. The same with craft liquors, chocolates, and other products. I'm always amazed at the $7 chocolate bars they sell at the local market.
I’m with Scott on that: you are making something extraordinary. People will pay good money for good products. We suckers pay lots of money on strings for crying out loud! And those wear out quick.
One more comment about 3D printing, about which I admittedly know little:
Paul, FDM (fused deposition fabrication) 3d printing is notoriously weak compared to actual injection molding of the same thermoplastics. This is because each layer is just laying on top of the previous layer, having somewhat melted to it. So even if I use a plastic like polycarbonate that should theoretically have pretty decent strength/stiffness, I would find that it is multiple times weaker than its injection molded counterpart.
Well, what I want is a shoulder-rest that is really, really low. I like my Korfker but I can't really adjust its legs to be as low as I want them to be. It doesn't interfere with resonance, which is the big plus that caused me to switch rests.
Lydia, you'll be happy to hear that my SR will most likely allow the lowest possible position yet on any SR that has ever existed, as well as the highest possible possible.
Erik, I don’t know how thick this SR will be/needs to be. But what about foam/carbon sandwich construction? Like how surfboard are made?
If the SR is to be very low then it has to be very stiff too otherwise you damage the underside of your instrument.
Thanks Erik. Pirastro got in touch with me today.
Erik, logistics aside, I think you've got a very new and innovative shoulder rest idea that could benefit lots of people. I just want to encourage you to keep up the good work.
Hi,Erik,Id say that if youre passionate about the project,go for it.The only thing is that you may have to give up some practise time
Craig, I've definitely considered carbon sandwich construction, but for several different reasons I decided it wasn't too viable. Just too time consuming which would drive costs up, and a few other factors.
Erik, I also wish chinrests were available in more heights. There are plenty of contours, and perhaps more options for center-mounted chinrests, especially the more contoured kind, would be nice (there are plenty of different kinds of side mounts). Sadly, chinrests don't come in a lot of height options and adjustable chinrest options are limited. That said, to add a bit of height, I'll add a bit of cork or rubber under the chinrest, but there's a limit to that. Alternatively, I might stick something on top of the chinrest to increase the height. Another thing: when choosing a chinrest for your students, do you consider whether they would be more comfortable with a side or center mounted chinrest? The teka is a great side-mounted chinrest, but some people are more comfortable with center mounts (and some find side mounts more comfy).
I just reread your original post. Personally, I don't have a problem with regular shoulder rests, as I love my basic Kun to bits (of course in combination with the right chinrest for my physiology) and won't trade it for anything. Plenty of people are happy with conventional shoulder rests, sponges, pads, or nothing, but many people still struggle to find a good fit, especially those with more particular needs. Most of our current shoulder rest offerings are adjustable in height and width, and some models offer shape adjustability (e.g Bon Musica). However, our current shoulder rests still have limited adjustment in other areas like position, angle, tilt, axis, leg positions, and rotation, which could be problematic for some people. For example, current shoulder rests can only go so low because of the way they're built. This means that someone who needs a really low shoulder rest would most likely be more comfortable using a sponge or pad instead of a regular shoulder rest. Current shoulder rests also cannot sit extremely close to the neck/collarbone, though you can get it fairly close if you use a center-mounted chinrest (side mounts get in the way), and put the shoulder side foot close to the chinrest clamp (you may have to narrow the shoulder rest a bit to make this work, like one notch on one side of a Kun shoulder rest), or use sponges/pads instead (not so good for longer necks). It would still be nice, however, to have a shoulder rest that allows for a variety of positions, and it sounds like your new shoulder rest will help to fill the void I have described, and I think it will be a great addition to the shoulder rest line.
My main qualm about shoulder rests currently is that when we adjust them to our personal tastes, they end up slipping. In a nutshell, that's the point of my rest: I can put it diagonally on the violin, or closer to my shoulder, without it moving around or compromising the security of the violin.
I don't have a problem spending $50-$100 on a shoulder rest if it offers a lot of adjustment and I'm not happy with a basic Kun rest. I'm not in that situation, but I know plenty of people who are not suited to the Kun rest. Nonetheless, a shoulder rest like yours would probably still have a place. The closest shoulder rest I can think of that's sort of like yours is the Viva La Musica. Have you tried it? As for the shoulder rest slipping, I generally have not had problems from that, even though I put my shoulder rest on a diagonal. If the shoulder rest slips, it has always been due to worn down rubber feet from years of use, at least that's the case with my Kun experience. As for metal parts scratching the back of the violin on the wolf and the bon musica, I think it's mostly a matter of being careful. I absolutely love the idea of having a shape-adjustable shoulder rest, and metal seems to be one of the few good materials for crafting one. I'm willing to make the compromises for shape-adjustability to be feasible, but I know you're not the most comfortable with that. The bottom line is that the shoulder rest you're proposing probably still has some unique features that you haven't yet mentioned.
That's the other business model: Just be the most expensive thing in the land. People will buy it for that reason alone. Baker's rosin, for example, or Stradivarious (sic!) violins.
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