Center Chinrests: Love or hate?
I recently adopted a center chinrest on my violin and immediately my ease of playing has improved. My shoulders stay more open, my spine more erect, and my neck is free of tension. I chose a Flesch scooped model; it was the most natural fit for my body and immediately felt better than the rest.
However, I hate how it looks. Maybe I will grow more accustomed to it, but I wanted to reach out to all of you to see if you had any testimonials for center chinrests that you felt strongly in favor of that I might investigate? I feel that aesthetic is secondary to function and in that regard I will keep my current setup, but if any of you can suggest something you have had success with I would love to hear about it!
I have a Wittner Augsberg centre chin rest on my violin. I really like it. There is no tension in my neck. It helps a lot. So I would recommend it
Looks have to come second! You don't look good in traction ;)
The decision to use a center or side-mounted chinrest is very individual. Everyone is different; some love center mounts while others hate them, so it really depends on your own needs and preferences. Center mounted chinrests are advantageous if you have short arms or less flexibility in your shoulder joint, as they position the violin higher on the shoulder and point the scroll more in front of you rather than out to the side, which makes it easier to reach the tip of the bow and brings the violin a bit closer to your left arm. The disadvantage of a center-mounted chinrest is that for people who have longer arms, a center mount may force them to hold the violin too far in front of them, leaving a lack of room to bow at the frog, staying close to the bridge will be hard, and the left arm might feel squished into a small space. In this case, a side-mounted chinrest can help position the violin so that there is more room for the arms to move.
For my arm length and hand size, a center-mounted chinrest would be ideal... but my neck is so short that it would have to be lower than the tailpiece itself, which makes it impossible for me to use a center mount. My solution is a custom-made chinrest: side-mounted, ultra-low, and cut to place the cup as close to the tailpiece as possible.
Yes, I forgot to mention that center-mounted chinrests will not fit short necked players, especially violists because of the thickness of the instrument. This is because center mounts can only go so low or otherwise they won't fit over the tailpiece properly. But in my case, however, I actually have a fairly long neck, even though I'm not very tall, so a center mount on viola is actually very comfortable for me in all aspects. Since the OP is a violinist and not a violist, this situation is less likely to occur; you would need a rather short neck to find a standard center mount too high.
I'm looking to get one for myself! Has anyone tried the SAS? It looks super interesting, in that it can move laterally.
I would disagree with Ella. I found the opposite. As a long armed player, I find it more comfortable playing out to the side than in front with a centre mount. Was the opposite with side
Look at Anne Sophie Mutter playing. I would not say that she looks uncomfortable and the instrument definitely looks balanced While I love trying to play as relaxed as Zukerman, I try to emulate her balance.
It's a very individual thing of course. But if you look at a lot of pros, they have a lot of side chin rests especially Guarneri CRs, but their jaw isn't in the cup of the CR. It's across the tailpiece and over the treble bout! The only part of the Guarneri CR they use (watch Josh Bell for example) is the knob that goes over the tail piece. Thus, it's a center chin rest after all! I think the idea of the center CR is that it moves your violin farther back on your shoulder. I know a woman who has her violin pushed back so far that her chin rest of more of an ear rest.
Jake, I guess everyone is different. What I said was my experie and what my teacher has noticed anyway. I have also read a number of postings about center-mounted chinrest and short-armed players. We're all different.
Ella, I get that. Was just sharing mine too :)
I find chinrests that are centered over the tailpiece to be horribly uncomfortable but when I notice that a student seems to play with their chin consistently over the tailpiece, I recommend that they try such a model. It's such an individual thing.
Some play forward, some to the side, some more up, some more down. If only there weren’t so many bones of varying lengths involved, not to mention the floating collarbone and scapula and ball and socket joint...
Another thing that has not been mentioned is how some of the cantilevered models, Guarneri, SAS, etc have a little less rigidity in them. I noticed that when I used to play out on the cup on a 16.5” viola. I felt less secure than I do now.
Well.... You don't look at the chin rest while you are playing right? If it makes playing more comfortable and natural, it is the way to go for you.
I had an ohrenform chinrest on my violin. When I switched to viola, I realized after 2 years that part of the tension I was feeling was from its Strad-style chinrest and went to an Ohrenform. It was immediately so much more comfortable. I happen to have small hands and a long neck, which is consistent with what other center-chinrest lovers have written.
I tuned a student's instrument today in orchestra, and it had a Wittner. It was the side mount, but it was surprisingly extremely comfy.
This summer i got a sverdlik chinrest. It's similar to the non-humped flesch chinres except its slightly to the left, allowing you to hold the violin further to the left, as opposed to always over the tailpiece. One of the first things i noticed was how it really improved my sound, making it more resonant and increasing the great ring of overtones. It also allowed for a lot of flexibility an comfort, while also giving enough structure to maintain stability. I would highly reccomend it but I should warn you, it's expensive. Many very prominant violinists use it like Glenn Dicterow and Dmitry Sitkovetsky.
I’ve noticed many people who are more petite (below 5’3”) with shorter necks, tend to place the jaw over the tailpiece for leverage. So I think in this case, a Flesch center mounted chinrest is ideal, rather than using a side mounted Guarneri style chinrest and placing the chin on the tailpiece. I’m about 6’0” so the side mounted Kaufman is what I prefer.
Just to follow up- I used the Flesch with the hump for about two weeks. It was wonderful, but I wanted to keep experimenting. I installed the Berber center rest this past week, and I feel like this is the line of best fit for me. My chin can rest more or less centered over the tailpiece while my jawline is cradled by the remaining cup--something the Flesch didn't have that I missed. I wish I had experimented with this 10 years ago! But I suppose that as I age I get better at finding ways to use my body with the least amount of tension possible. Thank you all for your testimonials! :)
Having used a Guarneri chinrest on violin and viola, I experimented with a center mounted rest--the Ohrenform, which Joshua Bell has been using. On the violin it is very comfortable, but on the viola it does not work; it's too high. I'm 5'8" and my neck isn 't long enough.
I really tried to like a center rest CR. I check all of the physical boxes that say it should have worked for but just couldn't tolerate it long enough to.get used to it. The Wave turned out to be the CR for me.
Catherine, is the Wave side or center-mounted?
The Wittner Zuerich is very similar except it's a side chinrest. Same lightweight plastic fittings that can help a violin's sound (metal and cork chinrest mounts are essentially dampers for the violin).
Thomas I completely agree! Well said.
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