Shoulder rest - ALAP
I'm looking for a SR that can to be set as low as possible, almost touching the back of a viola at least on the treble side. The VLM diamond I'm currently using has it's limits, since the metal clamps the feet are screwed into have their specific height, and if one tried to modify them, there would still be those fixation screws... Are there any types of shoulder rests I didn't come across?!
I'm not looking for an adhesive foam pad.
I never needed a high shoulder rest but I did use a variety of low ones. There are 2 devices I know of and have used that might meet your needs:
Andrew, the acoustagrip is great - unfortunately, my viola's oil varnish is that soft that it will make an impression within 20 minutes, so I stopped using it. Maybe it will take a few more decades for the varnish for hardening, who knows... It's not sticky or something, just very soft. No damage on any of my other instruments, though - no matter if old or new, spirit or oil varnish...
Are the feet on your VLM screwed all the way dowy to lowest point? You could try a Kun or Everest with the feet screwed all the way down to lowest point. Unfortunately, standard shoulder rests can only go so low considering the way they're constructed. If you need something really low, your best bet is probably some sort of shaped sponge or foam shoulder rest. You could try a shaped sponge like the Perfect Shoulder Rest from Shar Music or the Artino pad. There's also something called the poly-pad which is a shaped sponge shoulder rest made by Michael Kikber. Both products are more available in the US so you might have difficulty getting them in Europe. Perhaps you could try various types of spongy materials cut to size/shape?
Ella, that's what I'm doing at the moment. Sponge under shirt, just to gain the necessary tilt, and a piece of chamois to protect the instrument and add some grip us what works well. It's okay for at home, but "on stage" it looks a bit weird and dysmorph, with that bulky left shoulder. Not that would be a big issue for the moment - I'm too stuck in my daytime job anyway. But it's time for a change, and several projects are scheduled for next year.
Unfortunately, the Kun, Artino etc. won't go lower than the VLM.
Nuuska, I think the issue is not whether microsuction will imprint your varnish but if the imprint will go away. 56 years ago I had the opportunity to handle and play an 18th century Stradivarius that had been owned and played by the great 19th century world famous international virtuoso, Ole Bull. The owner demonstrated how the varnish was still so live (i.e., soft) that his fingerprints showed on it after he pressed and gradually faded as we watched.
Have a look at the Pirastro Korfker rest. It can be very close to the viola st the lowest point.
Yes, I've heard the Korfker can go really low. It's really expensive, though. Some swear by it, but you won't know how it feels until you've tried it.
Consider mixing and matching shoulder rests with different feet. The Mach One is good for this because it relies mainly on its feet for height; if you get shorter feet from a different brand, you can get it extremely close to the instrument.
Andrew V, the impression remains. It's less an impression than the varnish becoming dull, following exactly the contour of the Acoustagrip. It can be polished out, but I don't want to explore what will happen with regular use.
I have a large collection of rest and VLM is probably the lowest you can get (clamp style test). I too have korfker and it’s not as low.
It would be nice to have photos, but Kevin, do you mean positioning the shoulder rest so that the shoulder side foot is close to the chinrest and the chest side is closer to the middle bout? This is my personal favourite way of positioning a shoulder rest, and some people will find it more comfortable than placing it the traditional way straight across the back of the instrument.
For fans of SRs which are able to sit very low on the shoulder side, Berent Korfker is planning on releasing a short leg option some time in the near future.
Ella, actually not really the same and quite the opposite. here’s the photo of my setup.
Time I think to flag up the "Invisi Rest" as another possible choice. I have been using one without problems for many years.
Andrew V, I understand what you're telling me. I'm still experimenting with CRs and switch between Guarneri, Teka, Berber. Currently still waiting for a Flesch I ordered almost 3 weeks before...
Nuuska, For me I need to get my 16" viola tilted down to the right to get my fingers reasonably comfortable on the C string. Also remembering that fingering C string more in 2nd position helps with some semi-quaver passages (especially Viola I on the Mendelssohn Octet this coming Friday).
Nuuska: got it, sorry I didn’t read careful enough that it’s a Viola :)
No-one here seems to have mentioned the Bonmusica. Three violists in my chamber orchestra have been using the brand for years, my teacher uses one and persuaded me to get one early on in my lessons. I still have it and use it very occasionally when a particularly heavy symphonic score demands it.
I found the Bonmusica shoulder rest really locked my violin to my body in a way that eliminated any flexibility when playing. I did not use it for viola but if Trevor knows three violists who use it, my problem might have been unique.
Andrew, I think the answer to your Bonmusica problem lies in the inherent adjustability of the device. The feature effective in anchoring the Bonmusica to the shoulder is the padded hook member on the left side. This hook member is made of metal which can be easily straightened out to whatever level of flatness or "hookness" suits the player.
Kevin, no need to apologize. Never heard about the sure tone before.
If you want to learn more about the the Bon Musica, please watch the Youtube videos posted by Red Desert Violin. Getting the Bon Musica to an extremely low height may be quite tricky. As for chinrests, how about the Wittner? It comes in both a side mount and center mount version, and the Wittner has more tilt than the Flesch i.e it's lower on one side and higher on the other. The extra tiltmight help you reach the string more easily. It's not the prettiest as xeas made of plastic, but it's very functional. Of course there are so many other chinrests to try, but Wittner is probably one of the easier ones to find.
Ella, great advice again from your side. I also think that it isn't the easiest thing getting a Bonmusica lower than it is meant to be and would require a bit of tinkering.
Ella's suggestion regarding the Wittner chinrest is a good one. I explored this several months ago and found it to be highly flexible. Additionally, Wittner has engineered a quite different style of shoulder rest which I purchased at the same time. The adjustment of the shoulder rest is extremely flexible. Your desire to place it as close to your viola as possible is doable with this shoulder rest. It takes time to perfect the adjustment matching your particular height and tilt requirements but once adjusted you will find two things out quickly. First it is an extremely comfortable shoulder rest. Second because of how it is supported it is likely that you will experience a difference in a good way regarding your viola sound. Watch this video first: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8Rh0e4YvFs . This video shows someone who installed both the Wittner center mount side chinrest and the shoulder rest. Note the position of the shoulder rest after he has completed his adjustment. You should be able to see a portion of the shoulder rest when looking down on the chinrest extending beyond the viola body. This portion is the shoulder side of the shoulder rest. The other end rests on your chest. With respect to the plastic, it is a a modern composite material that is extremely durable. I have used the chinrest and the shoulder rest for about 3 months now with playing times 7 days/week and averaging about 90 minutes. Both are still in great shape and comfortable.
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