Violin Hickey

February 6, 2020, 8:39 PM · Hello everyone! Now, I am well aware of what a violin hickey is, and I currently have one under my left chin. My real co cern is that the darkness is sort of “spreading”. I know that it’s kind of weird, but I don’t know how to like stop it or keep it from spreading. Thank you.

Replies (13)

Edited: February 6, 2020, 9:00 PM · Don't squeeze so hard! Some bruising is inevitable if you practise a lot, but a permanent callous or splotch is avoidable with good technique.

I found that playing with a shoulder rest exacerbated the bruising on the side of my face because it caused me to clamp down on the instrument rather than letting it sit on my body. A well-fitting chinrest helps a lot as well.

You can also use a washcloth as a cushion, but I found that this would also encourage me to squeeze my violin despite the lack of bruising.

Edited: February 7, 2020, 12:38 PM · Chamois,a natural material, covering the chinrest, is quite protective of the skin. Some absorbent cotton might also work. Since you already have a hickey, Zephiran Chloride (a topical liquid) may be able to clear it up quite quickly and painlessly.

For the past 5 years I've been using one of these cotton covers over the rest and its metal hardware:

(All based on personal experience.)

I used chamois over my chinrest(s) from 1977 when learned of that at the 1977 San Diego Chamber Music Workshop until I found the Vaagun chinrest cover about 5 years ago. I've kept a bottle of Zephiran Chloride on hand since then too,although I have not needed it (at least) since I started using the Vaagun covers.

February 7, 2020, 4:23 AM · On many players, this is caused by an allergy to the metal chinrest clamp (or the chrome or nickel plating), and they can get relief by switching the clamp to one made of titanium. Another option is to switch to one of the Wittner chinrests, which has clamps made of a plastic composite.

Or you might find that something like a cloth or a "Strad Pad" between your body and the clamps works for you.

Edited: February 7, 2020, 8:35 AM · First of all, it's not necessarily your fault. You might not be "squeezing too hard" or any of that. Look, there are some full-on pros who have hickeys. (I call it "the mark of the covenant.") What you want to watch out for are signs of deep bruising, allergic reaction to your violin parts (as David noted), or infection. Spreading doesn't sound good -- if that continues go to the doctor, seriously.

Zephiran chloride is a simple topical antiseptic. It won't cure an infection but it might help prevent one from occurring. Disclaimer: I'm not a medical doctor and therefore not qualified to dispense medical advice.

February 7, 2020, 8:52 AM · Since you have a "real concern", keep an eye on it and examine it for lumps occasionally. Some people have residual gills, and string instruments can inflame them. I know a violist with that problem.
February 7, 2020, 9:57 AM · Some good answers already...

If an allergy and squeezing has been ruled out, investigate the shape of your chinrest. If it is "high" for you in a particular area, or even just has a sharp edge, it will cause irritation and/or pinching. I find that students using some "Guarneri" chinrest models often have this issue where the chinrest is quite flat and sharp along the edge and doesn't allow the jaw to comfortable "exit" the rest, causing a pinch point and irritation.

February 7, 2020, 10:07 AM · you can get a piece of chamois in any auto store, definitely start with that just to protect your skin, then follow up on the other advice given above!
Edited: February 7, 2020, 10:30 AM · Are we talking about a spreading bruise? I know I bruise more easily if I haven’t been looking after myself, or my diet . If the bruising seems to be spreading inappropriately, then it sounds like more than the violin contact is the issue.
Edited: February 7, 2020, 11:10 AM · fwiw, in the summer, to keep the sweat off the violin, I'm going to start using a cloth or chamois.
February 7, 2020, 12:09 PM · I have changed chin rest and shoulder rest setups multiple times (including a switch to a pad), and found that my hickey/mark has remained throughout. I'm experimenting with using a cloth to see if I'm allergic to the material of the chinrest at the moment, since setup changes have not provided changes.
Edited: February 7, 2020, 11:17 PM · The Wittner high tech plastic chinrests that David B. mentioned (I use the Augsburg model on all three of my violins, two acoustics and a Yamaha YEV electric) are not only very comfortable, but they're advertised as being hypo-allergenic too. They can't harbor bacteria, and that has to be a good thing.

Laurie just posted an interview with Christian Tetzlaff where he said that he only practices 30-60 minutes a day, and he never really exceeded 3 hours a day at any time in his life. I guess he doesn't have to worry about violin hickeys. To quote Bill Gates, "Life's not fair, get over it."

February 8, 2020, 2:21 PM · Thank for the responses everyone. Now in my case, there a little bumps on it. Should I go see a doctor? Or should I try to play with a little rag?
February 8, 2020, 9:32 PM · Without seeing it, no-one can really answer that , but if you feel that it is a more severe reaction than you have previously experienced doing the same things , or should expect, then it’s not going to hurt to get it checked.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Akiko Meyers
Anne Akiko Meyers

Nathan Cole's Violympics
The Violympic Trials

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine