AcoustaGrip

Edited: February 7, 2021, 4:13 PM · This was mentioned in another thread but didn't want to hijack it, so started a new thread.

I've multiple neck and shoulder issues as I've mentioned in the past, and I also have narrow shoulders. I'm having...problems and am troubleshooting my setup just in case it's something I can actually do something about.

Currently I use the VLM and custom WAVE CR (it's between the medium and tall heights) - both neck and shoulder has voted strongly in favor of a low SR and a high CR. The feet on my VLM isn't far from the edge of my shoulder and this might, possibly, be part of my problem.

Andrew mentioned the AcustaGrip in the other thread - it looks quite interesting but the idea of adhesive on my 18th century instrument is rather scary. It's not a valuable instrument, but it has a lovely rich/resonant sound and I will never outgrow it.

For those who have used it, is there any risk from that adhesive for an old instrument? Any other thoughts?

Edited: There is no adhesive, I didn't read closely enough.

Replies (39)

February 7, 2021, 2:55 PM · I would think that any polymer material that is designed to be tacky would be bad for varnished surfaces.
February 7, 2021, 3:30 PM · I've use it on several of my violins and my viola for a several years with no apparent effect on the instruments' finish. A violinist friend of mine (with whom I played weekly piano trios for 20 years) used it on his Enrico Rocca violin for which he paid Bein & Fushi $100,000 at the end of the 20th century - we were also playing together before he bought that violin.

I don't use the AcoustaGrip any more because I have found the PERFORMA more comfortable for me this past year.

Edited: February 7, 2021, 3:38 PM · I have been using a AcoustaGrip shoulder rest for a couple of years. There is no adhesive on this SR. The "theory" is that it is like a bunch of micro-suction-cups.

Because I seldom go anywhere with my violin (especially now) and just practice at home, I never remove the shoulder rest unless I want to use it on one of my other instruments.

The only issue I have is, if I do leave the SR off of the instrument and forget to place it on the slick protective backer that they supply, the "pores" tend to get filled with dust and I have to actually scrub the "suction cup" side with mild detergent then rinse and let dry thoroughly before putting it back on the instrument.

The SR leaves absolutely no residue, mark or dulling on the varnish of my instruments.

Just my experiences. I really like this SR.

Edited: February 7, 2021, 3:49 PM · Good to know Andrew, I figured you were speaking from experience. Bob, that is very interesting information! Between the two of you I may well give it a try. Somehow I thought there was adhesive involved, my mistake.

The Performa is also interesting...but I suspect the feet would be in the same place. I need to try a different type of solution - my shoulder is decidedly unhappy.

Edited: February 7, 2021, 4:03 PM · That's very interesting and good information! I was just surmising from a chemistry point of view.
Edited: February 7, 2021, 4:34 PM · Ann - I was surmising as well...

Andrew & Bob - which version did/do you use? I can't seem to find information on how thick the 3 adult size rests are. It would be good to have an idea before I pull the trigger :-) Is it enough of a difference between the Solo and Concert Performer versions to matter? That link on their site isn't working. I can email them, but it's nice hearing from experienced users.

February 7, 2021, 4:55 PM · Have you tried placing your shoulder rest differently on the violin whereby the shoulder side foot is closer to the left side chinrest leg, thereby bringing it closer to your neck and further from the edge of your shoulder?
February 7, 2021, 5:01 PM · I'm giving that a shot Ella, but for some reasons there is more jaw tension. I will see if I can work with it though - it doesn't shift the SR much toward my neck but perhaps...
February 7, 2021, 5:11 PM · Yeah, it will take some experimentation, for sure.
February 7, 2021, 5:19 PM · Greetings?
its always difficult to offer specifics for these kind of issues but there are two key points in my opinion. First, if one is having trouble with a rest it’s often better to crank it down than up, a point that tends to be counter intuitive. Second, the rest should be as close to the neck as possible in order to not inhibit shoulder movement.
Cheers,
Buri
February 7, 2021, 5:19 PM · Greetings?
its always difficult to offer specifics for these kind of issues but there are two key points in my opinion. First, if one is having trouble with a rest it’s often better to crank it down than up, a point that tends to be counter intuitive. Second, the rest should be as close to the neck as possible in order to not inhibit shoulder movement.
Cheers,
Buri
Edited: February 7, 2021, 5:54 PM · I haven’t used the AcoustaGrip, but I did use another rest that had that micro-suction feature, called the GelRest, and I found that it was affecting my varnish such that I was unwilling to continue using it. This is despite the manufacturer’s claim that there would be no reaction. So my vote is no on those.
February 7, 2021, 6:00 PM · Thanks Stephen- I've very narrow shoulders and I can't get the rest far from the edge of my shoulder. Now I'm advancing and playing more it's impacting all of the many things wrong with my shoulder (and elbow/hand) I'm a very stubborn woman, which helps.

The AcoustaGrip would seem to factor out SR position...I do like my VLM and while it may not help, it might if my VLM adjustment doesn't.

Pity I can't see my teacher in person :(

February 7, 2021, 6:06 PM · The AcoustaGrip was unimpressive in my opinion. I did not like the quality, look or comfort. I returned it after a day. I would be skeptical about sticking it onto a 200-300 year old varnish.
February 7, 2021, 6:30 PM · Catherine - I would check with SHAR to ask the dimensions of the different versions. They are soft-ish so you would have some flexibility there. I think you should know what height you think you want before you contact them.
February 7, 2021, 6:35 PM · Andrew- will do. I appreciate all the comments. I am intrigued, but still nervous about the idea.
Edited: February 8, 2021, 6:34 AM · Ella - is this the setup you use with your SR by any chance? If so, can you post a picture or a link elsewhere? I tried it last night based on my understanding of your description and I couldn't set my violin in place at all. I must have understood something in your description.
February 8, 2021, 12:09 PM · I can try and take a picture later today but I'll just share a few things that describe what I'm talking about.

Photos on this page, especially the stuff under the heading "strategy no. 1".: http://violinistinbalance.org/strategies.htm

9:45 of this video (I know, more videos, sorry, but you can just ignore the rest of this video, it's just the segment from like 9:45-10:05 ish that shows the way I like to place my shoulder rest lol):
https://youtu.be/7BZabnwdTdo&t=9m45s

This may not work for everyone but it's worth a try.

February 8, 2021, 12:22 PM · Ella, thanks, I will check it out tonight after work.

I also know that I've far more going on with my shoulder, arm, elbows, and hands than most do. It's something of a miracle I can play at all, and it's not helpful that in these times my teacher can only see me across Zoom. I doubt that the cause of my current problem is mainly where my SR rests on my shoulder, I am just trying to address those things I can. Like LH tension :-)

February 8, 2021, 12:28 PM · Yeah totally, there's always lots of factors to consider.
Edited: February 8, 2021, 1:26 PM · Catherine, coming back to your original question. I basically agree that the acoustagrip will *usually* do no harm to your instrument. With a spirit varnish or a really well cured oil varnish there's nothing to worry about.
Can you already hear my "but..."?

My No.1 viola was made in 2008 by a great luthier and now good friend. Beside a marvelous cosy and malleable tone, warm but still strong, it features a beautiful dark oil varnish which really seems to be on the soft side. After more than 12 years it apparently isn't fully cured yet. This isn't obvious at first sight, when you're touching it everything seems normal, and even it's tasteful, perfect craquelé would suggest differently. But one hour of acoustagrip contact will inevitably lead to an impression in the varnish. It's not that it would "stick" to it - it's just you clearly see where the pad has been, leaving the whole area dull. It could be polished out, but definitely reduced my motivation for further experiments.

Otherwise, I think I would have modified its shape a bit, and then it might have been a perfect SR for me. Especially tone wise I couldn't find much of a difference *under the ear*, one of several reasons why I pretty liked it. But due to that varnish it went into my collection...
And I'm wondering if this is the reason why that luthier is using a different varnish recipe now, besides aesthetics.

February 8, 2021, 2:02 PM · In 1963 had the opportunity for a few minutes to play on a Stradivarius that had been owned by the great virtuoso Olé Bull. The owner was a touring lecturer (talking about varnishes and finishes) who worked for the Dow chemical company and his violin-collecting hobby, what with upward trades over the years had led to this Strad that was THEN insured for $150,000. What he really wanted to demonstrate was that if you pressed your fingers into the 250 year old varnish you could see that the impression of your fingerprints remained. And then you could watch them slowly vanish.
February 8, 2021, 2:45 PM · Andrew, that's an interesting story. In this case, unfortunately it didn't vanish by itself. Actually I allowed it several months to do so, but it just didn't happen... In everyday situations, the varnish is not much more sensible than average.
Edited: February 8, 2021, 6:11 PM · Ella - very helpful, thank you. I think I had just too severe an angle on my VLM. I used this tonight and I will try it for a bit before I decide to invest in another SR solution.

My other problem, I think, is tying my LH finger pressure to my dynamics - that's even more important to solve I think. My LH thumb pressure is fine, it's the other 4 fingers I tend to forget about...and thus my elbow isn't happy.

February 8, 2021, 7:18 PM · Yeah totally, it's easy to become tense or use too much force when playing loudly or intensively, and we all struggle with that.
February 9, 2021, 10:38 AM · Nuuska, now you see why people buy Strads.
February 9, 2021, 11:45 AM · Dmitri, definitely. Well seasoned varnish. The main reason to go antique. Lucky you these arguments don't apply to cases!
February 9, 2021, 12:14 PM · Nuuska, You describe what I read elsewhere about this foam leaving marks on varnish. I assumed it is a chemical rather than physical thing but I'm not sure. I don't buy that the little cells in the material are responsible for its stickiness either, as the foam is open cell, the "suction cup" explanation seems inadequate. I'm unwilling to experiment.
February 9, 2021, 1:50 PM · I've an antique, and with the mixed results from members, I think I need to pass. Sadly. Will keep experimenting with my VLM and work on the other pieces of this puzzle.
Edited: February 9, 2021, 2:25 PM · Ann, I don't think it's chemical. Yes, it's open cells, but with an extra layer of something else coupling to the violin.

Catherine, especially with an antique, I wouldn't bother. The varnish will be well cured. I don't have any problems with my three violins from the 1950ies and 1960ies (one spirit, two very nice oil varnished) nor in my 1970ies No.2 viola (oil), and not on my son's contemporary spirit varnished violin. And even if it happens, it can be polished out easily at your next annual service. All you loose is not much more than the cost of the AcoustaGrip itself. I really think that it's a great product, just not for my No.1 viola. And I don't need it at the moment - I switched to almost-restless in the meantime.

February 9, 2021, 2:51 PM · Nuuska, thanks. I've no idea what the varnish is, but as you said, mine is more than well cured. It WOULD allow a different type of SR experiment...I don't think it would do me any good to try another traditional type of SR, given my narrow shoulders. For now I'm trying Ella's suggestion with tweaking the angle and see if that helps. If not, then will give this a shot. It's not an expensive experiment.
February 10, 2021, 11:17 AM · Catherine, if your VLM is either a Diamond, VivaFlex or Original model, I habe no doubt you'll find a solution. At least, if you don't, then there's probably not much sense in buying any other model to solve your problem, because I doubt any of the other brands offer any helpful features (regarding your specific situation) these three don't.
February 10, 2021, 11:29 AM · Nuuska, it's a Diamond. I keep tweaking the angle, but the close I get to the suggested angle for my narrow shoulder, the less my jaw likes it. I agree there isn't any point on trying another brand of a traditional SR.

I've a longer lesson than usual this afternoon with my teacher - we will try our best to work through Zoom on this, as well as a LH issue. Time to seriously check out my positioning again as I think I'm at the point where it is holding me back and I've already had a (small) injury. I like this too much to accept that.

Edited: February 10, 2021, 3:02 PM · Nuuska and Ella - my teacher really likes the new angle on my VLM Diamond. He DID discover that I've the habit of raising my left shoulder slightly when I raise my violin to playing position - and leave it elevated. So it's consistently and always raised! Thankfully it's not a mechanical thing as I was able to prevent that from happening. I will need to figure out what's going on there. I might need slightly more height on my SR, or a taller CR, will ponder this.

He also found other things related to tension and gave me good advice about what to focus on. Pretty amazing what we were able to work out over Zoom!

Edited: February 10, 2021, 3:42 PM · Cool. It's always a work in progress, so never give up!
If your jaw dislikes the new angle, then you should either adjust your CR (e.g. with a file and sand paper, details might be discussed via PM and the help of some photos), or you should go for a different CR model.
Just don't set the SR higher! Find the optimal angle for your comfort and health, and then keep it as low as possible. If more height is needed, then always go for a higher CR. A higher sitting instrument always leads to more tension, not only in the left shoulder but also in the right, since both arms have to be raised up higher.
February 10, 2021, 3:57 PM · My jaw seems likes a new angle I'm trying, and so does my teacher. He thinks most everything is due to pure tension that I need to work on. I may try the slightly taller Wave CR - the tall was too tall with my Kun, but the VLM Diamond is lower...
February 10, 2021, 4:44 PM · Glad you're making progress Catherine :) Tension is always a huge culprit and something we all struggle with.

Sometimes raising the shoulder rest on just one side by a notch or two (usually the chest side) may do you a lot of favours while leaving the shoulder side as low as possible, since there is usually more space to be filled on the chest and making the shoulder side really high is usually what causes you to have to raise your arm overly high to reach the fingerboard. But yeah fixing tension issues is critical, in a way it's more critical than your equipment lol.

Edited: February 11, 2021, 7:15 PM · Thanks Ella - I can't raise that shoulder rest any higher on the chest side as the leg on my VLM Diamond will come out :-)

Just as an experiment, I've ordered both the Wave 1 and 2 in Tall. I have a custom height (halfway between the medium and tall) of the Wave 2 - which worked well with my Kun when I originally ordered it. The Kun isn't as low as my VLM, so that small difference may matter. While I do like the hook on the Wave 2 - and likely won't change that, it's worth the experiment.

My teacher said that my shoulder rises just a touch as I put my violin in position and stays there consistently - it's so consistent that it's not detectible once it raises. I've noted a difference with my custom Wave 2 since changing SR so it seems a good experiment to make. I can always return them both.

Meanwhile I need to figure out how to practice calm when practicing/playing my violin. Perhaps cognac before practice? HAH! Pity that is such a terrible idea :-)

It's also good to know that I'm not the only one at my level who seems to think that more LH finger pressure helps with faster notes and dynamics...

February 11, 2021, 1:24 PM · Sounds good :)


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