Do you have a neck mark from practicing?

October 4, 2021, 2:54 PM · Just wondering if it is a normal thing to "not" have a neck mark even though I've steadily practiced 3-5 hours everyday for years...

For those with neck marks, do you have paler/more tanned/thicker/thinner skin?

Replies (26)

October 4, 2021, 3:27 PM · I’ve never had one.
Edited: October 4, 2021, 3:28 PM · I used to have one all the time that only got worse. However, then I covered the metal shoulder rest bracket with a chamois cloth and it went away never to return. I still practiced 3-4 hrs a day.

It was a Nickle allergy - many people have one.

October 4, 2021, 3:34 PM · Not any more, but the 1st decade of playing I had the dreaded, "violin hickey".
It seems you have to marry the violin in the beginning.
Neck marks earlier, later, not so much. :)
October 4, 2021, 3:47 PM · I had one for many years. Kinda uncomfortable. But the babes all considered it to be an indication of high desirability, so it all kinda worked out. LOL
October 4, 2021, 4:58 PM · Not since I was a teenager. That chinrest neck abrasion is caused by sweat and friction. You can eliminate the friction by not letting the violin move against the neck and chin;-- have a stable chinrest and shoulder rest set-up.
October 4, 2021, 5:11 PM · Joel, there's more going on. Some people have "allergies" to the nickel plating used on both chinrests and jewelry, and also to the nickel content in many forms of stainless steel.

Surgical-grade, and high-quality jewelry grade stainless steels have little or no nickel content.

October 4, 2021, 9:50 PM · I think not having the mark is more common these days than it was in past decades because of the changes in holds brought about by newer shoulder and chin rests, which redistribute the contact pressure. As David Burgess pointed out, there are some rare cases of nickel allergies, and fittings makers have responded with hypoallergenic alternatives like plastic and titanium.
Edited: October 4, 2021, 9:52 PM · Also when you say "not letting the violin move" ... even the tiniest movements can result in friction and damage.

I get just a little mark and it never hurts. Some people get pustulating lesions that ruin their lives. I sympathize with them. I don't think it can be just wood or just nickel although those can be important factors.

A long time ago I decided to give the violin hickey a biblical name: "The mark of the covenant" because it represents our fealty to daily practice.

Edited: October 6, 2021, 10:04 AM · I have no neck mark because:
- I have a beard, offering a ventilated contact;
- a custom re-carved chin rest, with the contact pressure well spread;
- luckily, no intolerance to nickel or wood;
- a well set up shoulder rest, allowing head mobility (hehehehe);
- insufficient practice?...

Nickel, chrome, and sometimes silver, can cause suppurating lesions in some folks (although nickel-chrome alloys are used in dentures!). We can always varnish the metal fittings.

I'm already a violist, so perhaps I should paint on a hickey
just to get some respect?

October 5, 2021, 4:40 AM · I drape a (not too large, just right sized that I cut myself with scissors) piece of chamois leather over the front of the violin, the part that touches your neck, that may also help for you.
October 5, 2021, 4:46 AM · I guess much depends on the combination of physique, chinrest and shoulderrest.
October 5, 2021, 6:30 AM · Did anyone mention a Nickle allergy?
October 5, 2021, 6:43 AM · I've never had a neck mark, but I do get a (temporary) mark on my shoulder, if I play shirtless.

Yes, sometimes I play shirtless. Judge me if you dare.

October 5, 2021, 7:44 AM · You bold thing you Kennedy...
October 5, 2021, 8:27 AM · I sense judgment...
October 5, 2021, 8:54 AM · "Did anyone mention a Nickle allergy?"

Yes, if you string-search with the correct spelling.

Edited: October 5, 2021, 11:42 AM · Yes Elise, you first mentioned it in this thread - early on!

I figure if you've never had a neck mark (i.e., "hickey") from a chinrest with that much playing you are either (1) lucky, (2) doing something right or (3) doing something wrong!

When I got a serious neck irritation from playing up to 8 hours a day (long, long ago) I got some advice that worked very quickly to cure the irritation and prevent it from re-occuring.

1. Zephiran Chloride (to cure it) - that was 44 years ago and there is still some left in the bottle - just in case.

2. chamois draped over the chinrest and around the base of the violin to prevent skin contact (you can buy the chamois at any auto parts store).

2.a. There are cotton chinrest covers that can be kept on the instrument, but are easily removable. They have an elastic band that loops over the end button. I use the ones from M.E. strings, still available on ebay:

When I got mine they were fairly prominent at SHAR and other dealers. The newer ones seem sold by dealers now seem to forgo the loop over the endbutton for attachment to the corners of both C bouts, which is much less convenient for permanent retention.

Edited: October 5, 2021, 10:54 AM · " Yes Elise, you first mentioned it in this thread - early on!"

Its always funny how an obvious idea is suggested over and over as an original one - one can get an estimate of how many replies the average person reads before typing. It varies from 1 to about 5 I think - after that its all just Olde Historye. This is not a judgement, we all do it. But perhaps it does show a bit of a lack of humility - the (repeating) post is hardly ever 'if nobody mentioned it' but more like 'here is the definitive reply'.

Social dynamics on

Actually, a poll of 'how many replies do you read before you give up' would be kinda interesting. Sometimes I actually do read all 150 :)

October 6, 2021, 1:13 AM · I have a very mild one, it is more like a bit of a shade in colour. When it gets more than that or if I start to feel it, I know there is too much tension in my playing and I work on that. But on the other hand secretly I am proud to have a little bit of a violin mark, can't help that:))
Edited: October 6, 2021, 9:09 AM · Hey, I did add chrome and silver and wood to the "nickel"!

In a long, rambling thread, I have on occasion made the same point twice without realising...but maybe other posters were not concentrating?

October 6, 2021, 9:13 AM · "In a long, rambling thread, I have on occasion made the same point twice without realising". Yep, been there, done that. In fact, I've even remembered I made the remark "somewhere else" and searched for ages before finding it was 2 pages earlier in the same thread!
October 6, 2021, 10:01 AM · Elise, as the Scots say, every Nickle makes a Knuckle.

I remember Sandor Vegh saying something like that it was more important to have the mark on the collar bone/upper shoulder than on the neck, because it was the collar bone than was meant to have more meaningful contact with the violin. Maybe others who visited or attended Prussia Cove might remember what he said better (or even that it was Bruno Giuranna who said it, but I don't think it was).

October 6, 2021, 11:59 AM ·
October 6, 2021, 12:03 PM · There's an easy way to find out if you have a nickel allergy, of course. Hold a spare chinrest against some of your skin for a while. Spend an evening watching telly holding one in your hand or with it stuffed down your pants.
October 7, 2021, 9:05 AM · Perhaps Nicki should consult us on; and I suspect there is bruising as well as inflammation.

In a relaxation session during my Suzuki training, we were asked if any aches & pains had re-appeared. For me it was in the ankles, and at the point where my chinrest fittings argue with my collarbone.

October 7, 2021, 3:43 PM · "For me it was in the ankles, and at the point where my chinrest fittings argue with my collarbone."

Ankles? That would be your shin-rest Adrian. You use that with a double bass right?

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