Shoulder Rest and Sound Clarity

December 31, 2020, 4:54 PM · So I was generously gifted a Pirastro Korfkerrest for my birthday this year. The sound quality difference was amazing. It gave new life to my violin and really made it sing. Unfortunately, despite my efforts, watching instructional videos, and the many adjustments, it's just not comfortable on my neck and ends up hurting me within moments of use.

The customer service has been really good though. They are going to send more ergo adjustments for me to try. In the meantime, I found a good hack. One thing Pirastro really knows is sound. So I moved the Korfkerrest feet onto my VLM Artist shoulder rest and wow was it an improvement. The sound is not as vibrant with the VLM shoulder rest as it is with the Pirastro model. But, with the Pirastro feet on the VLM model it is a welcome compromise and a significant improvement from the VLM original feet.

I recommend trying out the Korfkerrest replacement feet on any shoulder rest that they will fit into, if you don't want to change rests. It's a beautiful difference that's easy to create. Here's a link to the replacement feet if you want to give it a try. I don't work for them (or any music company) I just stumbled into this lucky hack.

https://www.concordmusic.com/products/korfkerrest-replacement-rubber-foot

Replies (12)

Edited: December 31, 2020, 5:24 PM · 279€ for a shoulder rest. Generous gift indeed!
Interesting... Are the feet made of a different material from VLMs?

I remember reading somewhere that you should put the Korfkerrest in the oven so you can adjust it better. Not the greatest thing too look forward after spending that amount of money.

December 31, 2020, 6:38 PM · Interesting, and I'm starting to have problems with the feet slipping on my VLM Artist...I just might try this as replacement for the feet.
December 31, 2020, 8:07 PM · Yes David Duarte it was a birthday/Solstice gift. This is the Model 2 Korfkerrest so the oven warming is no longer needed. The wood can be carefully molded into a slightly different curvature. But the height is too tall for my neck and the length too far across my should and chest. It's just too big for my body. The Pirastro feet are more rigid than the VLM style feet so they have to be at the same exact tilt angle on both sides, to stay gripped on the violin body. That's the only tricky part I've noticed.
Edited: December 31, 2020, 9:38 PM · The feet of my Diamond don't give me any trouble. Are you sure that the Pirastro's feet on the VLM Artist makes it sound better? Better how, louder? Resonance? Brighter, darker?
I don't notice a difference in sound between restless and VLM, so in my case we would be talking about sound boosting here.
December 31, 2020, 10:39 PM · Shoulder rests do change tone, but it may not be that noticeable by your audience. Cannot say scientifically, but I feel ot may be related to combination of factors, violin to ear position, ttpe of feet, and materials involved.

Since experienced players can hear the difference, I respect that for at least players themselves they notice an apparent improvement eith the Korfker SR. Some did not prefer it for that reason-it made their violins too powerfyl under their ears (again, the audience perhaps may not be able to tell.) My Kun Bravo, Kun Voce, VLM Diamond, and Bon Musica all "sound different" to each other, but I cannot specifically say how or why.

January 1, 2021, 4:38 AM · I'm absolutely sure that shoulder rests affect the tone in many different subtle ways and also that it is potentially perceivable by an audience, but probably not in a concert hall, just as Adalberto said. Before I ended up with my current setup I had ordered the Korfker, a Mach One and a Viva la Musica to test against my Wolf Forte Primo. Playing on all of them in a mid-sized living room, my parents a few metres away definitely noticed the differences in tone between all of them, though I'd be cautious calling it "improvement", necessarily. As far as I remember, the VLM barely made a difference, while the MO and Korfker both made the sound less muffled, but the MO gave a boost to the low end (?), distorting the overall sound of the instrument. The Korfker was the only one that felt like giving my violin the necessary space to sound like itself, if only it were more comfortable... :)
As far as I can tell from my experiences, there are several factors: the material and thickness of the rest (and its padding); as well as the material and form of the clamps. I've personally switched to a free-floating system that has no feet at all and I do think that it affects the sound positively.
Edited: January 1, 2021, 5:59 AM · I just heard of these for the first time. Why are they so expensive ? What is the advantage of the cradle over the shoulder rest ?
January 1, 2021, 6:54 AM · Brian, to answer your first question, it's because they're made by Pirastro.
January 1, 2021, 6:57 AM · It's like restaurants. One business model that seems to be pretty successful is to just be the most expensive place in town.
January 1, 2021, 3:35 PM · I believe it is expensive because it can be, and because of R&D and Mr. Korfker's collaboration. I think it is the cradle section that is absurdly priced-doubt many will try it-even if they could afford it-because the price just doesn't sound right. But the rest itself has good reputation.

Note that some VLM and Kun models were once considered expensive, and some think a 49.99 Bon Musica is expensive as well. We now think they are all "cheap" because of the Korfker rest. If something affordable works well, it is fine. I think the Korfker is relatively expensive, but I would not think any less of any player that loves what it does for their playing. It is their choice, and my last standard SR is only "affordable" in relation to the Korfker (I am now using another, but it still is more than $30.00.)

While I am not a nationalist, I still prefer non-chinese made goods even if I have to pay a bit more. The affordable made in China accessories out there for the violin rub me the wrong way. I prefer a SR by Pirastro, Wolf, Kun, VLM, et al, because these are not made in China. No offense intended of course, use whatever works for yourselves. Just mentioning it because it is a pity I will never try the reportedly good and newer SR that Mr. Victor likes, that comes both in plastic and wood, because it is expensive on top of being chinese-made (please correct me if I am wrong-I forgot the name... looks flat and comfortable.)

And just to be sure, I have nothing against Chinese people and their culture, nor am a bigoted fool.

Edited: January 1, 2021, 5:15 PM · I don't use a shoulder rest, and haven't done a ton of research and testing specifically on the shoulder rest, but:
If the violin vibrates at the place where something touches, then that "something" will have an effect on the vibration in sound and playability.

Shoulder rests normally touch the edges of the lower bout, where the predominant vibration is at the very lowest frequencies. This should cut down on the low resonances, but also add some apparent stiffness under the bow for better attack transients. If the violin itself is stiff and resistant, this might not be significant or even "good". More flexible violins might show up the effect more, and be judged "good".

Add to this the variables of exactly where the shoulder rest feet touch, what material they are made of, the mass of the rest... and you just have to play around with stuff and see how it works on what you have.

Edited: January 5, 2021, 10:23 AM · I use a Kun Bravo, which is relatively heavy and rigid.

On the widest part of the lower bout of my viola, I find it reduces the lower frequencies. I assume this is partly the mass of the Kun, and partly the clamping effect. If mounted nearer to the tail block, (and stabilised by a string to the lower bout's left corner) I notice no effect.

But remember that CR/SR changes alter the position and angle of the instrument, which can alter the perception of timbre.


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