Replacing a chin rest

May 12, 2020, 9:08 AM · The chin rest has come off my fiddle. It was obviously on a thin lath of wood or cork, which has come off the wood underneath the chin rest. The metal bit is still attached to the chin rest.

Is it possible just to glue the thin lath back on to the bottom of the wooden chin rest, then tighten the metal with a bent paper clip so it grips the violin? I am presuming one should not glue anything to the violin itself? Obviously I would normally go to a violin shop but I am new to this area and I don’t think they’d be open in lockdown anyway.

I played my fiddle this morning without the chin rest (but with a shoulder rest) and it was okay - not as secure or as comfortable, but okay.

Would it be best not to do anything myself but just wait till I can get someone experienced to either mend this chin rest or fit a new one?

My fiddle (though I love her dearly) is not an expensive one, and I have another to practise on if need be.

Doe anyone have experience of refitting a chin rest that fell off?

I’d be very grateful for any advice, even if it’s just ‘Leave Well Alone’!

Replies (13)

May 12, 2020, 9:20 AM · Yes I think you can glue the cork back onto the wood part of the chin rest. Or if you have a small piece of leather that you can cut, that would work too. Use as little glue as you can get away with.

The little screws on the chin-rest clamp can be tightened by any piece of thicker wire. I take the little wire handle off of small (1") black binder clip and the end fits perfectly into the hole and it's nice rigid metal. Obviously you have to avoid poking any piece of wire through and scratching the rib of your violin.

May 12, 2020, 10:53 AM · In the past, when my chinrest cork has failed I have sometimes replaced it with thin slices I cut from wine-bottle corks.

More recently I have substituted rubber for the cork on all my chinrests (4 violins and 2 violas) with great benefit to the tone quality produced by all the instruments.

This is the product I purchased from Amazon for this purpose although, unfortunately they do not stock it at this time:
Neoprene Rubber Black Self-Adhesive Sponge Strip 5/8" Wide x 5/64" Thick x 33 feet Long

The blade of a small screwdiver, such as used for eyeglass repair, can be used. A minimalist tool for chinrest-hardware tightening is usually provided with each chinrest and a fancy tool can be bought for about $4.

May 12, 2020, 11:10 AM · Remember that you have to drink the wine before you can use the cork ;)
May 12, 2020, 11:22 AM · My experience of having a chinrest that fell off during a summer school in Ireland, and couldn't be repaired until I got back to England, was being taught by one of the instructors on how to play without both CR and SR (I didn't use a SR anyway). That was one of the most useful things I took away with me from that workshop all those years ago.
May 12, 2020, 12:47 PM · Hi Andrew,
I just want to warn you against using rubber instead of cork because rubber ages and turns "sticky" and over time (>3 years) it may leave mark on your instrument.

Mollie,
I did have several chinrests fail/break down on me. I glued the cork back on my chin using superglue in the past. Since I am paranoid about leaving a mark on my instrument, I let it dry for over a week before putting it on my instrument.

In one case, I started using a piece of smooth leather instead of cork like Paul. I didn't use any glue, I used the chinrest clamp pressure to keep the piece of leather in place instead of using any glue.

For screwing the clamp on and off, I used a small chinrest "key" that normally came with a new chinrest when I order one.

Edited: May 12, 2020, 4:10 PM · Steven, I have removed several of the "rubberized" chinrests and there was no mark. However, I have found cork debris on instruments I have removed normal chinrests.

Any damage should be less than "skin deep." Certainly no worse than other normal surface damage our instruments suffer from regular use over a lifetime. I'll let my heirs worry about it.

Besides, any luthier should be able to neaten any damage of that type.

May 12, 2020, 3:16 PM · Andrew, I've seen the cork and their debris stick to violins as well. I would still be worried about rubber leaving marks because I used to ownsome rubber hand tools which turned quite sticky over time.

Honestly, I'm pretty sure my shoulder rest feet left some permanent dark/black marks on my violin. I put it on the exact spot each time and I don't think there is anything I can do about it because it turned contact points dark and it isn't coming off.

May 25, 2020, 2:52 AM · Thanks for all the helpful advice.

It gave me the confidence to effect a repair, which I hope will last.

Best wishes,
Mollie

May 25, 2020, 10:49 AM · Steven,

Andrew is using neoprene, which is not the same as natural rubber, and is pretty resistant to the ravages of time. I use the same stuff, on his recommendation, and it's pretty stable (more than cork).

In fact, I have a lot left over, if anyone in the US is interested, PM me. You can send me a stamped, addressed envelope and I can send you half a foot of the stuff, should be enough for multiple chin rests.

May 26, 2020, 9:19 PM · As part of a chinrest modification, I looked for a source of thin cork sheet after a few failed attempts slicing wine corks thin and uniformly enough. I found an unlikely source: It turns out that an inexpensive bulletin board from an office supply store has a nice thin cork sheet glued to a foam backing. I used brake cleaner (it's basically pure hexane) as a solvent to dissolve and remove the glue, easily recovering enough thin cork sheet for the job. As above, I used as little glue as possible to bond it to the chinrest, larger than needed, and trimmed to a nice shape with a single edge razor blade. I regret I didn't save the photos - I hope this experience is useful.
Edited: May 28, 2020, 6:00 PM · Charles! Nice work with the hexane! That's what I use to rub off that type of glue too. (Odorless paint thinner is what I usually have handy.) But you can often find thin cork sheet with adhesive backing at a craft store like "Michael's". As far as cutting thin slides from a wine cork, I have found this to be easier by holding the cork in my vice so that the end protrudes ever so slightly and then cutting off the slice using a flush-cutting saw.
May 28, 2020, 6:01 PM · Is there any advantage in a centered (over the tailpiece) chin rest over the typical placement?
Edited: May 28, 2020, 7:51 PM · Alan, chinrests that CLAMP over the tailpiece have the advantage that your violin has an end block there, so there’s a structural advantage in supporting the clamp pressure, but well made violins can support clamps to the side of the tailpiece too. Chinrests that are POSITIONED over the tailpiece are strictly a personal preference. They do change the position of the violin in relation to your chin and shoulder, and this can work well for many players (myself for example). There are knowledgeable people who assert that where the chinrest clamps on can have a significant effect on the acoustic response of an instrument, for better or worse with each individual violin.

So there’s no right or wrong choice. You just have to experiment and be open to the results. The “Guarneri” design chinrest has been ubiquitous to the point of being “standard” for many years, and many players have never tried anything else. I think that they should try different designs. They might be surprised and pleased with the results.

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