Shoulder rest - ALAP

November 16, 2019, 10:21 AM · 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.

Replies (26)

Edited: November 16, 2019, 10:36 AM · 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:
1. Gelrest Micro
2. Acoustagrip

Check them out on line. Both attach by microsuction to the back of the instrument and can be placed in exactly the right location for your specific physique. The Gelrest micro is definitely lower. Although both of these devices touch the back of the instrument (actually fasten to it temporarily) I have not detected any change in tone when they are in place - and believe me, I have tried to.

I still use the Gelrest Micro for violin playing but no longer need any such accessory for viola playing. During my 81 year "amateur career" playing chin instruments I used shoulder rests for almost 50 years (none at all for the first 30 years and intermittently for the last 10). My longest-used "solid" violin shoulder rest was a Wolf Secundo (the low one without height adjustment).

Edited: November 16, 2019, 12:04 PM · 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...

I'd rather use a piece of foam under my shirt and a piece of chamois to add some friction - but first I'd like to know there isn't a more off-the-shelf solution. I would have given the Phantom rest (adjustable version) a serious try, but it seems to be discontinued, and no response via the contact email address... (Well, maybe it's better that way. Having all the burden on the button seems to be a funny idea anyway...)

Edited: November 16, 2019, 12:53 PM · 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?
November 16, 2019, 1:15 PM · 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.
November 16, 2019, 1:21 PM · Unfortunately, the Kun, Artino etc. won't go lower than the VLM.
Edited: November 16, 2019, 1:54 PM · 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.
November 16, 2019, 3:09 PM · Have a look at the Pirastro Korfker rest. It can be very close to the viola st the lowest point.
November 16, 2019, 3:12 PM · 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.
November 16, 2019, 6:11 PM · 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.
November 17, 2019, 3:11 AM · 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.

Bo, eventually if the Korfker might go that low, I'd give it a try without minding the money. But as it appears to me, it has extraordinary high feet, and the possibly low height comes from the possibility to bend it. This rather leads to a low contact point on the shoulder, not on the treble side. But I'm looking for something that allows applying a large amount of tilt (because of my small hands) without gaining too much height while having the instrument rather high ony shoulder using a centered chin rest, otherwise my neck will be too short... something I only arrived at with sponges yet. And even in pro players, I haven't seen it differently. Another alternative I found working is ditching the CR completely for the use of a standard SR model. Hm... But then I'd rather go for a fumbly foam construction.

Andrew H, thanks for the suggestion. But from the pictures, doesn't especially the treble sided end of the rest look like the heel of a shoe? Rather adding height than decreasing it? How low does it really go, could you be so kind to measure the distances or post a photo of your setup? That would be really great and helpful!

Edited: November 17, 2019, 8:41 AM · 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.

Have you tried adjusting the VLM legs so the angles are not as wide spread, and mount it towards violin c bout side (like Vengerov does) and not the ordinary place. It will really lower the rest to like non-existence.

With scroll pointing up, the legs will be V shape, and mount it at upper side of lower bout (we normally clamp it at lower side) but with leg adjusted backward like V, it should provide enough extension to your shoulder and make it extremely low.

November 17, 2019, 12:08 PM · 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.
Edited: November 17, 2019, 6:17 PM · Nuuska,

I do understand your problem. It could be partly related to the chinrest you use.
What kind is it?

I use the very lowest left-mounted chinrest I could find a Joachim from Concord music.com :
https://www.concordmusic.com/products/joachim-violin-chinrest.

The I built a lip on the chinrest to fit my jaw using half of an Impressionist that can be bought from many dealers, for example:
https://fiddlershop.com/products/the-impressionist-chinrest-comforter?variant=6799973646387&network=g&device=c&keyword=&campaign=927736749&adgroup=pla-295133627502&gclid=CjwKCAiA_MPuBRB5EiwAHTTvMXVQScviGJdrSB7I8xXgz8W9cC8BlDy1ccVbcAjZunlGrItiCikCuRoC1N0QAvD_BwE


I move the viola over toward the right and allow the right side of the viola to dip down toward my chest - this lets me get a better reach to the low notes on the C string.

You could approach this positioning either with a very low chninrest or none at all.

I use cushioning over my chinrest, shielding my neck from the metal hardware and protecting my collarbone.

When I did use shoulder rests I always positioned them at an angle. The angle one uses for a shoulder rest depends on the angle one aims the instrument's scroll and that depends on physical factors including one's arm length, hand size and wrist flexibility.

November 18, 2019, 8:53 AM · 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.

I had originally purchased a Korfkerrest from Fiddlershop Summer of 2018 but returned it because I could not get the shoulder side of the rest low enough. More recently, Pirastro offered me the possibility of participating in their beta testing of the shorter Korfkerrest leg. So I repurchased the returned SR from Fiddlershop and installed the shorter leg. Such a small adjustment made a big difference.

November 18, 2019, 9:39 AM · Ella, actually not really the same and quite the opposite. here’s the photo of my setup.
https://i.imgur.com/zg21j3v.jpg
I adjusted the leg so the shoulder side leg has more angle, so it can extend the rest towards me while being lower at the same time.
VLM can be adjusted in many different ways, but one needs to find what best fits them (as a combo to their chinrest).
Edited: November 18, 2019, 12:36 PM · Time I think to flag up the "Invisi Rest" as another possible choice. I have been using one without problems for many years.
Edited: November 18, 2019, 5:43 PM · 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...
There seem to be solutions which work, but none of them is perfect AND handy yet. Guess in the end I'll end up with having everything customized, including my own body.
Are you sure the C is more accessible if sailing low? Most folks told me differently, and this is also how I feel about it, at least for the moment. But this changes every other day while exploring...

Holly, this is something I'm looking forward to. I know you'll not be allowed to post pictures - but how about a top secret PM...?

Kevin, I use it almost the same way - but not on a tiny itsy bitsy violin, but on a real grown up viola ;-D. The feet will still sit on the "lower" side of the lower bouts, otherwise the rest will move way too far from the collar bone, at least for my shoulder size...

Trevor, I love the invisirest! It's one of my favorites yet, and not any other will go as low! Unfortunately it has one huge drawback - it's not adjustable to the amount I wish. Not enough tilt. That's why I have to make it visible at least partially on the shoulder side.

Edited: November 19, 2019, 7:33 AM · 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).

Sometimes I think Mendelssohn just had "a thing" against violists!

November 19, 2019, 1:32 AM · Nuuska: got it, sorry I didn’t read careful enough that it’s a Viola :)
In that case, I’d suggest try sure tone rest (I have it too for violin and it’s low).
November 19, 2019, 7:28 AM · 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.

The Bonmusica isn't perhaps the prettiest around, but is mechanically well thought out and, importantly, is virtually infinitely adjustable.

November 19, 2019, 7:40 AM · 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.
Edited: November 19, 2019, 11:24 AM · 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.
Edited: November 19, 2019, 12:24 PM · Kevin, no need to apologize. Never heard about the sure tone before.

Trevor the bonmusica might be a problem solver. I didn't look at it from close because of the screws and the high treble side foot on all the pictures, but if the foot can be bent without making the whole device loosing tension, then it could work. And the screws are on the bass side where the rest would be set to a higher position anyway.

November 19, 2019, 3:44 PM · 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.
Edited: November 19, 2019, 4:01 PM · 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.
Still (!) waiting for the Flesch. Probably you're right, your point of view about the CRs influence on the tilt sounds quite reasonable. If I will not arrive where I think I need to be, I'll look for my abandoned kreddle for experimenting on that. Still has to be somewhere... Again it will not go very low and therefore I will have to use it with my semi-invisibirest, but it will allow infinite adjustment. Eventually I'm thinking about making my own CR then, or modify the Flesch if it's not too far off from what I want, according to the measures I'll find out with the kreddle. (The kreddle "cup" for the chin will definitely be too small for my comfort, as it has even been on violin...)
November 21, 2019, 5:32 PM · 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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