Neck pain with minimal body violin

October 10, 2020, 12:48 AM · I recently bought an electric violin in order to practice at night (I live in an apartment with paper thin walls), and this particular model, the YEV104, is a complete nightmare on my neck. I’m hoping the issue is just the chin rest and not something fundamentally bad about its design, which is more or less just a fingerboard and a “Möbius strip” completely hollow body - I absolutely love the setup I have for my acoustic violin, a bonmusica shoulder rest and I’m not sure the brand of the chin rest but it has a bit of a divet to “hook” into my jaw. Unfortunately this particular violin can only work with a center mounted chin rest, so I can only interchange the shoulder rest. Does anyone know of any (center mounted) chin rests that really hook into your jaw, or maybe even something to help prop the violin up more? It sags forward and I have to really clench my neck to get it to stay up, I found a video online of someone playing it but it appears that he might have drilled a hole into the fingerboard and tied a string around his neck, which seems a bit... drastic?

I’m an adult beginner, and I don’t have enough experience to know if there’s anything beyond a new chin rest that can help this issue... I’d love to just go to a luthier to try some things out but my area is still largely shut down at the moment, so it would be great to try ordering something targeted online.

Anyway, thank you and I appreciate any suggestions!!!

Replies (13)

October 10, 2020, 2:31 AM · I have the same violin, and I also am a relative beginner, who ends up being able to practice late at night, although I usually stick to the acoustic, as it is lighter, and doesn’t flatter my sound as much.
I love the YEV but also find it unplayable without a shoulder rest.
I had to get it out and play around with it to see what you meant by hooking into the jaw . I’d never noticed that the chin rest is so shallow till then, as i don’t notice that once I put the shoulder rest on. I’ve never used a bon musica rest, I just got a cheap conventional rest, and that works fine, although I may not have it set properly as it falls off easily.
October 10, 2020, 5:29 AM · I can't recommend any specific center-mount chinrests that might have a deeper contour than the one that comes on the YEV mainly because the pictures don't show the one that comes with it very well. But there are a number of different center-mount chinrests available at the major violin outlets (Johnson Strings, Shar, Southwest Strings, International Violin) so you may find just what you want.

There are chinrest cushions which can provide a bit more "grab" on your chin without requiring you to lean your chin with more force. My Glasser electric/acoustic violin has the electronics mounted in the chinrest so it's impossible to change that. I find it to be fairly flat with very little grip but I bought a chinrest pad (neoprene, stick on) that improved things a lot.

You may also need a different shoulder rest, one with taller feet so that just the weight of your head will hold the violin in place with no upward shoulder pressure.

I think that the man in the video you included the link to looks very uncomfortable with that rope around his neck to help hold the violin in place -- I would advise you not to consider doing that.

October 10, 2020, 9:27 AM · Wittner makes two adjustable chinrests you might look at - the Augsburg, center mounted and center positioned, and Zuerich, also center mounted, but side positioned.

The adjustments require attaching different spacers, but allow both height adjustment and a limited adjustment of tilt.

That said, requiring a better hook is also something of an indication of a problem with positioning, as it implies that you need to apply force there. So, without discouraging the search for a suitable chinrest, I'd also suggest investigating other parts of your technique and positioning in order to minimize the force required.

Edited: October 10, 2020, 10:06 AM · "I just got a cheap conventional rest, and that works fine, although I may not have it set properly as it falls off easily."

More likely a YEV-ism - the bottom of the body is thinner than the round edge of a traditional violin. Some sort of spacer, maybe cloth tape, might help. Some shoulder rests' grips do work better than others, but one couldn't exclusively fault the shoulder rest in this case.

I've used a YEV restless, but had attached a bit of felt to the very back bottom to give it more of a hold on my clavicle - again due to it not having a round edge there.

October 10, 2020, 10:15 AM · Some people do need a deeper cup on their chinrest due to the shape of their jaw. I'm pretty sure the Berber fits the bill for a center mounted chinrest with a relatively deep contour. That said it's always good to try others :)
October 10, 2020, 10:26 AM · The Ohrenform chin rest is another that is center mounted and extends to the left side.
October 10, 2020, 11:20 AM · Liz, I have no issues concerning the violinist in the video using a cord to make his YEV feel secure. The violin is an unusual shape and I'm not surprised that unusual measures to hold it safely may be felt necessary by a player.

Another possibility for playing the YEV that occurs to me is to hold it like a renaissance precursor of the violin, which is on the chest below the collar bone (no chinrest or shoulder rest). I've seen one or two folk fiddlers today using that hold today. The drawback is that you would probably need instruction from a renaissance specialist to learn the technique.

The Baroque violin soloist Enrico Onofri doesn't use a chinrest or shoulder rest on his baroque violin (standard setup for that instrument anyway) but unusually supports it with an aviator's white silk scarf passing underneath the tailpiece and then a couple of times, unknotted, round his neck. Elegant and smart. Look him out on Youtube playing Vivaldi.

I think the answer is to use whatever works for you and is safe, comfortable and efficient. As I've hinted above, a face-to-face lesson or two from a teacher wouldn't be amiss.

October 10, 2020, 12:08 PM · Get a Happynex!
Edited: October 10, 2020, 6:03 PM · You might not guess it from the video of the man playing the YEV-105, because his performance here is a bit........ corny? But that’s Toshihiro Nakanishi, who I’d call the preeminent Japanese jazz violinist. He’s truly brilliant. He’s also a highly respected composer, often for films.

If you look closely at his YEV, you’ll notice that he’s removed the chinrest entirely. He’s also using a Bonmusica shoulder rest, which is what he uses with his acoustic violins as well. You might also notice that his YEV has frets, which he must have had custom applied. I have a CD of his music where the cover art is a photo of a room in his house decorated with some of the many eccentric electric violins in his collection. He’s definitely an outside-the-box thinker.

I also have a YEV-104, and I use a Wittner Augsburg chinrest along with a Kun Solo shoulder rest, which happens to be the exact same setup I use on my acoustic violins, and the YEV feels essentially the same as my acoustics, apart from the slightly greater weight. I’m not urging you to use what I do, but only making the point that the YEV is adaptable to whatever you want to use and you just have to work with it. Some electric violins have permanently attached chinrests, and that’s a deal breaker for me.

October 12, 2020, 9:45 PM · Thank you all SO much for your suggestions! So I do think I'm pretty sold on my shoulder rest (the Bonmusica), particularly because it is so adjustable, but I have several others around here (a Kun, Wolf, and a Playonair inflatable rest), so I may be able to play with different combinations after I get a new chin rest (but really, once I got the Bonmusica I completely forgot all the others, it made my acoustic feel like an appendage rather than an instrument I was holding up).

Hm, Christopher, I can't seem to find a Happinex, is that from Wittner? I'm definitely going to try some of these ideas out, like putting cloth underneath, and check out this Berber/Ohrenform several people mentioned. It does seem to fit the bill in terms of having 'jaw hook,' which hopefully is just better for my anatomy rather than a fault in my playing position :/ (which I'm sure I need to work on!)

Also Mark, I'm totally new to the violin world and I wasn't familiar with Toshihiro Nakanishi previously - WOW he's fantastic, I can't find too many videos of him on Youtube but this one is awesome!

Anyway, thanks all and I'll update you after I (hopefully) find a combination that works!

October 12, 2020, 11:44 PM · Liz, I’m not able to see your Toshi Nakamura video. I’m operating from a phone and I have to enter the address manually. I’m getting either “doesn’t exist” or “video not available.” I might be entering it wrong.

Anyway, here’s another one. A recent recording, apparently done as a virtual ensemble, and you can see some of Toshi’s vast collection of novel violins in the background.

October 13, 2020, 7:44 AM · Liz, check out:

I Just hook mine around the chinrest and have found that I can buy the material and make my own.

October 13, 2020, 5:32 PM · I suspect the happynex idea has been around in some form or other since the Baroque era - well before the invention of the chinrest in 1820 anyway - and may have been used whenever a player felt the need for stability, such as when playing in very high positions. I think it is not the sort of thing that would have been seen as important enough to be mentioned in the literature of the time, or illustrated by artists in their paintings and drawings, good idea though it undoubtedly is.

Now where's that shop I saw in town a while ago selling silk aviator scarves . . .

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