How Much Would You Spend On a Shoulder Rest?

January 14, 2022, 7:43 PM · Before we get started, I'd like to acknowledge all the people that are going to make some tired joke about not needing a shoulder rest. Much like viola jokes, these can be reserved for the person in your life that laughs because they love you, not because there is actual humor in your remark.

Moving on:

Hello everyone; some of you may recall that for the past few years I've been developing a new type of shoulder rest.

I've spent so much time and energy on developing it that I can't even begin to detail the process thus far, but suffice to say, it's been a lot of work.

I'm at a point now where I'm trying to make some decisions, and a big one is "how much will I charge for this thing?"

I already know that the most obvious answer is "charge the most you can get away with," but frankly, I don't want to do that. Looking at the Korfker Cradle, whose $1000+ price tag inspired me to double down on my efforts to produce my own shoulder rest, I am reminded that I always wanted something that would be truly secure, lightweight, and allow a large range of adjustment, all while maintaining or improving acoustics versus a more "standard" SR. But when it finally came out, it was insanely expensive. And I know some will argue that the Cradle is expensive to make, but I guarantee you their margins are ridiculous. They chose to make something great, but to make it at a price point that only a select few would ever be able to afford. They could have offered a lower-tier version with cheaper materials, but they didn't.

I personally believe that a *broad* range of players deserve to be able to have something that is infinitely adjustable (curvature, as well as height and all angles), lightweight, acoustically superior, and highly secure.

So my question is this: what is the most you'd spend on a shoulder rest, provided it truly does what is claimed above? I think I'm aiming for a price where at least 30% of players would *consider* spending that amount. Obviously, I'm not looking to compete with the price point of something like an Everest or a Kun.

I feel like we all have a mental "cutoff" point where, regardless of function, we simply wouldn't pay more for a given accessory. For example, some people will never spend more than $300 on a bow, even if they could easily afford it. Others would be happy to spend $10,000.

My current plan is to offer 3 different inventions... the 1st should be something that's cheap enough to where nearly 100% of people would at least consider it. The 2nd is something I'd like 50% to consider. The 3rd is something I would hope 20-30% would consider.

1) The cheapest: a quick attachment that you can use with your current shoulder rest, which allows you to put it in most positions on the violin without it moving. Minimalistic and probably like $15-20. Think of it as a "better rubber band," although it won't be elastic and will last years of use. Theoretically could enhance acoustics due to no longer needing to "Squeeze" the shoulder rest on to keep it secure. Will be one-size-fits-all, so would work for anything from 1/4 violin to a very large viola. Would also be low-profile so no one feels silly using it.

2) Midrange: a more rigid system that will allow you to use your current shoulder rest in nearly any position, but gives 4 points of contact for a better acoustic, more security, and less varnish-rubbing. Would give zero lateral "squeezing" to the violin, thus freeing it to vibrate more naturally. However, your ability to control the height of the SR remains the same. Probably like $50.

3) High-end: a full shoulder rest system that attaches in the same way as option #2, but allows infinite adjustment in all directions and all angles, including extreme angles and extreme height variance (from very low to very high). The curvature of the rest portion will also be highly adjustable, allowing both bending AND twisting, but once it's set in place will remain completely rigid in that position (unlike metal rests which gradually unbend over time). Of course, these adjustments can be re-done at any time, and will be very intuitive and simple to do. No baking in the oven or anything like that. And due to utilizing carbon fiber, the whole thing will weigh under 40 grams. Also, it will attach to the violin in a "normal" way, meaning it can be completely removed and replaced within just a couple of seconds. I'm thinking somewhere between $120-$150. Do you think that, given what I've mentioned so far, that this price point is something 20-30% of players would consider?

As always, thank you all for your input. You guys have no idea how excited I am to finally be closing in on an idea and actually putting it out there. I've been inventing things since I was very young, but have never brought an idea to market. And even if I don't make much money, I will feel fulfilled by solving an issue that I've had since I was young, and hopefully progressing the design of shoulder rests in a forward direction.

PS: due to the MIRACLE that is 3d-printing with metal, I would eventually like to offer a 4th option, which would be a completely custom, titanium shoulder rest which would all be one piece of metal. It would be dendritic in structure and offer zero adjustability since it would have no moving parts. Each one would be one-of-a-kind and a work of art in its own right, as well as being lighter than you might think possible. Of course, it would retain the positive qualities of my other shoulder rest, such as having 4 contact points. This would be for someone that has already "dialed in" what they want in a shoulder rest, and has $$$$ to spend on something fairly superfluous.

Replies (39)

Edited: January 14, 2022, 8:15 PM · For an SR that solved all of the problems that an SR can solve, I would pay $300. I would want a warranty.
January 14, 2022, 8:37 PM · I'd value shoulder rests the same as chinrests, since a good chinrest already eliminates the need of using any shoulder rest for me.

In terms of utility, what problems can I solve with your high-end option that I couldn't with a $100 Kreddle chinrest? I suppose that means $100 would be my upper limit.

Edited: January 14, 2022, 8:40 PM · I’m with Paul. If it can do all of that and be adjusted to the very low height that I would need and allow the free range of motion that comes with sponges/nothing I’d pay Korfkerrest kind of money. I like things that rest more on my collarbone than my shoulder and as of right now the only thing that can do that are sponges due to the low height that I need on that side. That being said, I think $120-$150 is very reasonable for something with that capability as well. Price it at what you think is fair. People will pay for something they see the value in. Just look at all the korfker users. Most people wouldn’t pay over $100 for a shoulder rest anyway so around that price point would fit your 30% margin. The most I paid was about $80 for the VLM diamond back when I used it. I also had the collapsible kun bravo a while ago that’s around $100, but I won that in a giveaway. If the bravo worked for me I’d gladly pay another $100 if I ever needed another. Small price to pay for comfort.
January 14, 2022, 9:04 PM · " Before we get started, I'd like to acknowledge all the people that are going to make some tired joke about not needing a shoulder rest. Much like viola jokes, these can be reserved for the person in your life that laughs because they love you, not because there is actual humor in your remark."

ouch.

January 14, 2022, 9:51 PM · Paul: thank you, that is exactly what I needed.

T Y: Glad to hear the Kreddle worked out for you! I didn't find that I liked it at all, personally, but it did give me some inspiration for my own ideas. I suppose one could call my invention the "kreddle" of shoulder rests (although I would argue that isn't accurate, exactly). Speaking of which, does anyone know if there are any high-end players that use the Kreddle? I personally found that it worked well up to 3rd position, but poorly for upper positions, such as those in concertos.

Christian Harvey: Excellent response, thank you! I totally agree with having a shoulder rest position closer to the collarbone; needing that for myself and for some of my students was one of the major inspirations for my current design. I feel that roughly 50% of people would do better with a shoulder rest that was closer to their collarbone than a standard rest allows, but most have just accepted the current limitations and the resulting compromise in shoulder mobility.

I probably should mention that $120-$150 will be if I'm selling direct. If I ended up selling through a retailer, it would probably be higher, but perhaps by that point I could create a mass-production process that could lean up the price, since the volume of sales could validate that.

Elise Stanley: Sorry, but we have to fight back against bullying! People should feel safe choosing whatever system works best for them, without fear of mockery from the community.

January 14, 2022, 9:53 PM · You want folks to weigh in. I'm a long-necked guy with a Kun Bravo (collapsible, but cost c.$75). It's pretty nice, but I would pay $120-$150 for something that felt wonderful and didn't dull the sound of my violin.
January 15, 2022, 1:51 AM · I'd be willing to pay Korfkerrest money if I have the opportunity to try it extensively in the shop before buying. If not, then my maximum price point drops to maybe $75 with a personal recommendation from someone who knows my playing, or $50 without a direct recommendation.
Edited: January 15, 2022, 6:23 AM · The most I would pay for a shoulder rest is $50. That is because most of the ones I have tried are not comfortable and turn out to be useless ; they just sit in the bottom of a drawer. If I knew that this shoulder rest was going to do the job it is supposed to do (try before you buy ? ) then I would pay up to $100 for it.
January 15, 2022, 6:45 AM · Erik wrote: "Speaking of which, does anyone know if there are any high-end players that use the Kreddle? I personally found that it worked well up to 3rd position, but poorly for upper positions, such as those in concertos."


January 15, 2022, 7:12 AM · Erik, I think $300 would be a fair price to pay for your high end shoulder rest. If your shoulder rest can help players achieve a relaxed playing position and prevent injuries, that would justify the high price.

-Luc

Edited: January 15, 2022, 7:27 AM · Erik, I don't actually use a Kreddle myself since I have a Hollywood chinrest that fits me almost perfectly. I'm a firm believer that any height adjustments should be made at the chinrest on top of the violin, as opposed to under the violin via shoulder rests. Having the instrument raised high for me makes my playing tense and stiff; keeping it lower and supported by my left hand allows me to play in a more relaxed manner.

Without a doubt shifting positions is far easier if the violin is gripped properly by the chin and shoulder/collarbone to leave the left hand completely free, which is why I compromised by using my chinrest again after several months without it. I haven't used a shoulder rest for several years now however, but I hardly need to exercise blazing fast left hand techniques if I only play for my own enjoyment.

It would be interesting to have your fully adjustable shoulder rest used in tandem with the Kreddle to fit the specific physiology of each player. Would it be worth $120-150 however, I don't really have a qualified opinion to that.

January 15, 2022, 8:25 AM · "Elise Stanley: Sorry, but we have to fight back against bullying! People should feel safe choosing whatever system works best for them, without fear of mockery from the community."

Terrible. Can you give an example of this 'bullying'? I think we will all help you stamp it out.

I can remember strident and sometimes irrational opinions on this site about SR/noSR- but only from many years ago and, if my memory serves me correctly, this was just as passionate from both sides. However, if I have missed any that rise to the level of bullying in the last 3 years or so please let us know. The recent discussions that I am aware of have been more like a luncheon conversation.

Indeed, in recent times your comment is the most incendiary on the subject that I can recall.

January 15, 2022, 11:48 AM · Heifetz just used a little sponge.

I use the "Virtual SR" and it's great!!!

Dump the training wheels (or crutches) and don't look back.

If you have a massive CR then you don't need an SR.

This and that about "freedom" and the tone of your violin.

They didn't have shoulder rests in 1750.

If you use an SR it's because nobody ever showed you properly.

Did I miss anything?

Now can we get back to what one might be willing to pay for a well-functioning device?

January 15, 2022, 12:50 PM · I'm neither for or against shoulder rests, and I think it's just what suits you best. My answer is that it really depends. Shoulder rests that are more adjustable and made of more expensive materials are inevitably going to be more expensive. I'm using a Kun standard collapsible and am able to get it close enough to my neck by placing it in a certain position on the violin/viola and I do have relatively narrow shoulders, but that certainly doesn't work for everyone.

I think that both high chinrests and high shoulder rests have their place. I totally agree with previous posters who suggested raising the chinrest to fit longer necks. However, high shoulder rests have their place as well, particularly if you need lots of height on the chest side, which is a very common occurrence even if you have a tall chinrest. As with anything, nothing is right for everyone. I think the Kreddle is a very good chinrest in concept. As with anything, it's certainly not perfect, but there are people who do enjoy using it, especially now that it does have two interchangeable chin plates.

I think what would be more beneficial for everyone is to encourage the trading or trying out of shoulder rests from friends and colleagues because I know plenty of people who have drawers full of chinrests and/or shoulder rests that they weren't happy with, and I think those can be loaned out to violin/viola playing friends so they can experiment with their combos without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars. I was kind of envisioning some kind of website or social media group or something to encourage the exchange and tryout of rests, but there's a lot of logistical nightmares with that too.

As for how much I'd spend... I generally agree with Andrew's post. If I don't know what I want or am just buying a shoulder rest online on a whim, I won't spend more than $50. If I have some specific requirements in mind and have done my research and/or a friend who understands my needs recommends something, I'd be willing to spend up to $100. With anything well over $100, I would need to try it extensively in a shop or I'd need to borrow one from a friend for a few weeks to really test drive it before committing. So in short, I'm willing to spend more on something that'll truly benefit me if I can thoroughly test drive it without dropping the cash right away.

January 15, 2022, 1:44 PM · 35 quid,
January 15, 2022, 1:47 PM · As the parent of serious teens, a hundred bucks or so was about my limit for a shoulder rest that may or may not work for us. But as soon as my son's teacher (and pro symphony musician) told us "I am not going to tell you that you have to buy a $300 shoulder rest, but the Korfkerrest is great and solves every problem I've had with one", since we'd had the same issues, we jumped on this.
January 15, 2022, 1:48 PM · I acknowledge your acknowledgement.

$0, final answer!

Edited: January 15, 2022, 1:51 PM · Personally I think a target market should be those in their first year or two who want a cheap shoulder rest which is comfortable. Your market for something that most people would consider expensive, ie, over a hundred quid, I would have thought is relatively small, whearas there are a lot of beginners who dont know if they will carry on the hobby so wont spend an arm and a leg, these are who you should look to, if making money is your aim, in my opinion anyway..
January 15, 2022, 2:06 PM · Personally, I've been happy with my $30 kun I've used since graduating from my Suzuki school sponges decades ago. My neck and shoulder probably grew to adjust to it after all these years. I must be a rare case. Your responses will probably be all over the board. You might have to practically give them away and not plan on making a lot at first, then keep raising the price as you find out how much you need to charge to make money and how much people are willing to pay. You probably won't make much in the first couple years anyway, that's just how business is.

Also, will you also be selling viola rests, or are you sticking to violin rests? I have a more difficult time finding a good viola shoulder rest that I'm comfortable with.

January 15, 2022, 2:07 PM · @ Paul, yes good riddance to all those!
@ Elise, I too have noticed that welcome trend.

I suppose the real price of my present Kun Bravo is the accumulated sums spent on all the SRs in my drawer. Including my first Resonans rest.

I use the Bravo (around €100) for its nearly ideal shape and its stability; (the plastic versions are shorter lived and fall off more easily).

The best fit for my beanpole frame was the (cheaper) Wolf Secundo: I could twist the aluminium platter to be nearly horizontal on the curly end of my collarbone, but nearly vertical on my chest. But any slipping can cause damage to the fiddle from the spiteful metal parts

January 15, 2022, 2:48 PM · "My neck and shoulder probably grew to adjust to it after all these years. I must be a rare case."

You're not alone, Rebecca. I really think it's just individual. I am also a member of inexpensive Kun gang, and honestly it's just because it fits me well enough. I don't have a particularly unusual body type (I have narrower shoulders that are pretty flat), but there are certainly many people with more particular needs due to shoulder/collarbone/chest structure, movement patterns, neck length, etc, so yeah it jst really depends.

January 15, 2022, 3:08 PM · After a lot of moderately expensive experimenting I settled on the least expensive Everest model. Be sure to find your best chin rest before shopping for the ideal shoulder rest. Try to avoid the current fad for extra high chin rests. They don't fit in the case.
January 15, 2022, 3:41 PM · I didn't balk at the price of a Korfker at $250, but to me, the $350 they want for the new model is too much. I suppose it's somewhat psychological, but to me, $75 is a reasonable amount to pay for a higher-end shoulder-rest. The $250 price of a Korfker is pretty much serious musicians only.
January 15, 2022, 3:45 PM · Kun is the major competition. You have to be priced to compete with those.
Edited: January 15, 2022, 4:23 PM · Wow, more responses than I expected on this subject! Though overwhelmed, I will respond to all of them:

BUT FIRST: anyone who currently has issues with their shoulder rest or wishes it did something more, can you either email me at SacramentoStrings@gmail.com and detail what you wish it did, or just post it here? (examples: swappable pads, more height adjustment, better curvature adjustment, etc...). This would be very useful for me in my development process. I want to avoid being in my own "echo chamber" of what needs to be in an SR.

Paul Smith: thank you for the contribution!

Andrew Hsiegh: You're in Sacramento, aren't you? I'll let you test one in person once it's feasible. (as a side note, I find it funny that the term "KorfkerRest Money" has now been coined, lol).

Brian Kelly: thank you for letting me know! Based on many responses thus far, it definitely seems like this will be a "try it before you buy it" item, or at least it needs to have a solid return policy. And I, too, know the feeling of having a million SRs sitting in a drawer. Part of why I wanted to invent my thing is because I was tired of having to hand-pick a SR for every different person. I kept thinking "why isn't there ONE rest that can just do everything?"

John Kruer: thanks for the Kreddle-related links! It's good to know that at least a couple high-end players are willing to use experimental equipment.

Luc Nguyen: Thank you for your feedback and encouragement! I hope it turns out to be as good as I would like it to, but I won't really know until I've sent out a few prototypes to different players for testing. I'll need some real-world data at some point to see where its weaknesses are.

T Y: I appreciate that having the instrument lower and making up height with the chinrest works well for you. I actually tried that philosophy for a while (part of the reason I bought a kreddle!), and realized that due to the bulging nature of my front deltoid (shoulder) when playing, I need a bit of space between my shoulder and the bottom of the violin, and having a shoulder rest helps create this gap. Otherwise, when I am shifting around, my shoulder pushes against the violin. I eventually found that my personal "sweet spot" is having a low chinrest and low shoulder rest, but making sure that the chinrest is one with a significant lip. This gives me a somewhat "restless" feeling, while maintaining the benefits of a shoulder rest. I no longer try to "fill the gap" of my neck length, as has become a recent trend. I noticed that this made me feel very "stuck". I personally prefer being able to mobilize the violin in many different directions, and this means that leaving some gap on both the top and bottom ends works well for me.

Elise Stanley: My initial comment was intended to immediately stamp out anyone's desire to make this thread into a chance to mock those who use shoulder rests. With that said, it was also meant to inject a bit of dark humor (the only type I know) into the conversation. I do wonder why you took the comment personally, though, unless you were intending on leaving a comment mocking SR users. Some might view those jokes as light-hearted fun, but the reality is that those are micro-aggressions, just like light-hearted demeaning comments about viola players. To those making the jokes, they seem like harmless little jabs, but when you're on the receiving end, they accumulate and start to affect the way you perceive yourself. You say the conversations in the past have been just as passionate from both ends, but the important distinction is that one end was defending, and the other was attacking. I haven't seen many instances where SR-users are going out of their way to say how silly non-SR-users are. I'd like to finish this by saying that my comment was not inflammatory towards non-SR-users; it was inflammatory towards those who constantly make these "jabs." If you include yourself in that category and somehow feel that the initial comment I made was directed towards you specifically, then perhaps that's something to ponder. By the way, when you put the word "bullying" in quotes, it is a subtle way of indicating that you don't believe it's happening. Not sure if you meant to come across as dismissive or not.

Paul Deck: you hit the nail on the head about the typical micro-aggressions received in a thread like this (by the way, I never thought I'd actually use that term in my life).

Ella Yu: Thank you for your long and thoughtful contribution. I, too, had a similar idea about a "library" of sorts where users could try different violin-related equipment to find what works for them. But of course, I think most people would rather just drop cash than go through the hassle of coordinating something like that. My eventual hope is that people can just buy my SR and drop $120-150, rather than continue to buy $50 shoulder rests repeatedly until they find something that works (as I have personally done). And even after having done that, I'm still not totally satisfied!

Ron Black: There is already a plethora of cheap and relatively comfortable SRs out there. The Everest is a great example. Tackling that market would be an exercise in futility, as the margins start getting very slim due to intense competition. Furthermore, I wouldn't find it satisfying to produce something that is like everything else. But, as I mentioned in my original post, you'll find that I'm planning on having 3 different products. The 1st one should be very affordable and allow a better range of adjustability for currently-existing shoulder rests. That way beginners don't have to spend much to have security and enhanced adjustability with their current setup, but it's also something that I could see more advanced players buying, who perhaps are already happy with their SR but just wish it slipped less or want to be able to put it close to their collarbone.

Rebecca Brown: I still very much enjoy the feel of Kuns. They're a classic for a reason, and probably won't be going anywhere soon. Probably the only reason I use the Korfker over the Kun is because it makes an appreciable difference in the response and overtones of my instrument. Sound wise, it is the closest to what I would get without a shoulder rest. Of course, neither the Kun nor the Korfker allow me the security I would prefer, but the shape/pad itself of the Kun is pretty hard to beat. Regarding the business model, I'm not sure I agree with the overall financial strategy of practically giving them away at first, as I feel that would cheapen the perception of the product, but I will definitely be giving a FEW away once they're ready, provided the users agree to give me a thorough and honest review! Ideally I would like to have a nice mix of both professional, mid-range, and beginner players to try it. I will also be making a series of videos so people can really have a chance to see it in action before buying. On the bright side, I have a steady income already so I'm ok with the fact that my SR won't be my sole source of money. I will definitely be making both a full-size violin version and a viola version. I MAY have to offer a couple of different viola versions, since the size can vary so much (especially when considering both the length and the model of each, like an 18" tertis model vs a 15" strad model). Either that, or the viola version is going to have to be a slightly different design to allow a better degree of adjustability. I agree that it's harder to find a viola rest that feels comfortable. You might enjoy knowing that when I was in my teens, I tried to invent a sort of "fishing pole" that extended from the player's back, over their head, and then out to support the scroll of the viola. I brought it up to my teacher and she said "whatever you make, just make sure that it doesn't scream 'oh boy, here come the violas'". LOL

Adrian Heath: Regarding the accumulated sums of all money spent on SRs before getting the right one, that's exactly how I view price as well. Like, how much is it worth to be able to buy ONE SR and then never do it again? I think this is a great example of actual cost vs perceived cost. Like a car that's cheaper at first, but ends up needing constant, expensive maintenance. Anyways, I think that for you, my 1st product or perhaps the 2nd one would end out being a great fit, since you mentioned that the Wolf WOULD be perfect if only it was more secure.

Joel Quivey: The Everest is a great rest for a lot of people. I'm not a huge fan of how it affects the overtones in violins though, due to giving quite a bit more "squeeze" than some other SRs. It also has difficulty getting low enough for some people.

Lydia Leong: Sounds like your actual cutoff is $250! I'm about the same (maybe closer to $300). I sort of balked about the expense when I bought it, but now that it's gone up even more, it really gives the perception of greed from Pirastro. I have a pretty good idea of what things cost to manufacture, including R&D, and it's probably around $70 max to make, including labor, even with all the titanium fittings. The rest portion is not handmade; more than likely it's compressed wood-dust and some sort of malleable glue compound. I like the rest, but am upset at the pricing. I also agree that $75 is a nice cutoff for a "typical" style shoulder rest (like VLM diamond), but of course when you get into territory where it's more of a shoulder-rest-"system" that is far more complex and versatile, I wonder if the perception of max price wouldn't go up.

Tom Holzman: The Kun is more in the arena of "SRs that 100% of people would consider buying." Honestly, I don't even see us as competitors, because our SRs will be so vastly different in both function and price. Much like how Dmitri Musafia probably doesn't see Bobelock as a serious competitor. And Dmitri has demonstrated quite well that a product can succeed quite nicely even if it isn't in the price range of a large majority of shoppers. If he said "alright, time for us to start mass-producing hyper-affordable cases", I would argue that would be a silly business move.

Plus, my lowest-priced product will really act as a "modifier" for affordable rests, which will serve the broad majority of players without having to directly compete with major players like Kun or Everest. I won't be taking their market share, but I will be enhancing the versatility of their product. Everyone wins.

Edited: January 15, 2022, 4:47 PM · After all your cynical comments about SR-less users you still have not given us a single example.

However"
". I do wonder why you took the comment personally, though, unless you were intending on leaving a comment mocking SR users."

"I'd like to finish this by saying that my comment was not inflammatory towards non-SR-users; it was inflammatory towards those who constantly make these "jabs." If you include yourself in that category and somehow feel that the initial comment I made was directed towards you specifically, then perhaps that's something to ponder."

Are directed at me personally to intimidate me and, frankly, are just plain nasty and would seem to be.

January 15, 2022, 4:50 PM · I feel like if you charged $400 for a bespoke shoulder rest in a leather wrapper you could find some success.
(New! Your choice of crisp or supple foam, or a mix of both!)

Seriously though, your market probably isn't affordable rests. We have too many already. I'd wager you have to out-gimmick and out-bourgeoise the current premium shoulder rests.

January 15, 2022, 5:03 PM · Thanks for the comments Erik. I'll just add that you are certainly not alone, and many people have tried inventing their own shoulder rest designs in hopes of solving a problem with fit for all.

One important thing that hasn't been brought up yet is offering replacement parts. While certain manufacturers are good about offering part replacements, others are not. For instance, as Kun rests age, they begin to fall off more and more regularly. In my experience, this is because as the rubber feet that secure the rest to the instrument experience wear and tear, they become less "sticky" and more slippery. This is why I recommend that if you have issues with your Kun falling off due to age, I recommend getting feet replacements. I also think that it's handy to have a few extra pairs of feet laying around just in case. The screw mechanism in the Kun feet is the same as other rests like the Everest or Mach if I'm right, so Kun legs can be used on some other rests as well so long as the screw mechanism is compatible. I do know some other higher end rests use different attachment systems or different types of feet, which may be more durable, but I don't know. At any rate, if there's any part on your product that is prone to wear or tear, offering replacement parts is essential.

As for viola shoulder rests, at least for me, the main reason I find finding a comfortable shoulder rest to be more difficult on viola is that due to the thickness of the instrument, a greater proportion of violists may need low shoulder rests. Also, the highly variable widths of violas makes fitting a shoulder rest more challenging. On my current viola rest, I have it narrowed half a notch to get it close enough to the neck, and that's with the particular way it needs to be angled on the instrument to fit me. If I had a viola with different lower bout dimensions, finding a suitable shoulder rest will become more challenging. I've heard about the Kun super-rest, which uses a slide for width adjustment rather than a series of holes, which makes micro adjustments much easier. Also seems like a concept to think about, perhaps?

I'm also going to mention on a different note that I really appreciate the existence of adjustable chinrests as well. While relatively few people have a neck that's so long that they need a 4 cm tall chinrest, I think that it'd be nice to either have more standard chinrest models manufactured and more commonly available in more heights, or design more standard chinrests to be height adjustable using a system of inserts (like the Augsburg, for example). I've seen far more people try to invent new shoulder rest designs than chinrests, and I really do think chinrest fit matters a ton as you all know, factors like the shape, height, and position all being critical factors. One easy way to raise a chinrest is to insert a layer of rubber material underneath, but you can only insert a relatively thin layer underneath a chinrest without stability issues. Some also put material on top of the chinrest, but this also changes how it feels under the skin.

January 15, 2022, 6:20 PM · Elise, I frankly find it baffling that you think I'm trying to intimidate you... Not sure what else to say, but perhaps you or someone else could chime in and let me know what I said to potentially make you feel that way. With all of that said, I'm not about to go do hours of digging into old threads just to prove an obviously true point, which is that threads involving shoulder rests *almost* always start with a few users chiming in with some snark about how they don't have to use one. I don't think these users understand the impact they're having on peoples' perceptions. I've had many students in the past couple of years come in for their first lesson and feel guilty or self-conscious about using a shoulder rest, because they've read online that it's no longer the proper way to play. In the same vein, many people no longer wish to play viola because Twoset has popularized micro-aggressions against them. Yes: they, too, are bullies; they're taking an already-wounded subgroup of players and jumping on the train to further kick them down. Words do matter, and I should know this better than anyone because I've burned many bridges online in the past. But I'm trying to improve the way I conduct myself, and I hope others would do the same.


Cotton: already working on it! I will wrap it in many layers of gold and platinum wrapping, which should promptly be thrown in the trash once you receive the SR. And don't worry, it'll also have 100 lbs of unrecyclable plastic packaging that needs to be thrown out for no reason!

But in all seriousness, I am also planning on making custom ultra-minimalist carbon fiber rests. I'll probably box them in wood, for safe shipping and nice unboxing appeal, but without adding more waste into our environment. I'm aiming to have a weight of 15 grams, while maintaining 4 points of contact on the violin. This will be able to be made to any height, angle, etc... BUT the trade-off will be that once it's made, it can't be adjusted. This means that it would only fit one violin and one person (there is a possibility that it would fit on multiple violins if their dimensions were very similar, but that wouldn't be something I would feel comfortable claiming). IDK how much I'd charge for something like this, but I think around $500 would be likely, since it's totally custom and would require a lot of back-and-forth communication with the player. Maybe I'd have a discount for people who wanted the same spec but just made to fit on a different violin, in case they changed instruments later down the road. Lots of "maybes" in this idea.

Ella Yu: my design doesn't use the stickiness of rubber to stay secure, so the contact points should basically never need to be replaced. The contact points will be coated in silicone for protection, which is great because it won't rub varnish off over time (due to not having to be sticky). As for the rest of the design, while there are many moving parts, they are designed to last a long time since they rely on mechanical grip and leverage, rather than a semi-consumable surface coating such as rubber.


While it may seem like there are more SR designs than chinrest designs, if you count every chinrest that has ever been made (not just the mainstream ones that you could buy on amazon, for example), I would say that there is an equal, if not greater, variety of chinrests than there are SRs. It also seems that there is a far greater market for custom chinrests than there is for custom shoulder rests, probably for the reasons you mentioned. Getting a chinrest that is "just right" can be very helpful.

Edited: January 15, 2022, 8:55 PM · The thing about low shoulder rests is that the portion that goes over the shoulder has to be made of an incredibly stiff material. If it's not stiff, then variations in downward pressure will cause too many problems. When the downward head pressure ("weight") is too low, the rest will feel too high, whereas if the head pressure is too high, then the underside of the rest will scratch the back of the violin. Rests like the Kun or Everest solve this problem to an extent by using carbon-reinforced polymer resins and a C-shaped or box-shaped cross-section. The C-shape can then provide a pocket for the foam rubber cushion. With my current SR (the popular "Everest"), the total height difference between zero and "full" pressure is about 5 mm. Well if that's how high you want your rest to be, then that's too much range of motion. So the question is what kind of material will be more stiff than a CF composite without adding a lot of mass? By the way I like the Everest better than the Kun partly because I like how wide it is -- it's a very comfy and secure SR, I just wish it could be adjusted a little lower. I am already using a Kaufmann side CR which I have carved out some, so it's about as low as they go. What's weird is that I seem to tolerate the viola with a Wittner CR and the Kun SR, which is a lot thicker overall than my violin setup. I think it works because the button is farther in front of my neck than it is on the violin. Or maybe I just tolerate a less comfortable setup because I'm resigned to the fact that with the viola it's basically hopeless. I would actually consider a cushion or semi-restless option for the viola except that I have a painful spur on my collarbone from playing the violin restless as a child, so it would have to be something that defends my collarbone very well. The thing is that I really like the way the SR feels and I don't want to give that up.
Edited: January 15, 2022, 11:02 PM · Great question, Paul. I spent a great deal of time researching carbon-reinforced polymers as a way of mass-producing a reasonably stiff SR. With long-fiber pellets, some pretty amazing results can happen, such as equaling the stiffness/strength of Aluminum, but of course, even the most advanced injection-moldable composite can't even come close to the stiffness/weight ratio of actual laid-up or pultruded carbon fiber.

Also, I'm not sure the Kun or the Everest use fiber-reinforced polymers. They seem to mainly rely on the -cross section as you noted, but their stiffness isn't remarkable, in my opinion. Since both rests rely somewhat on their "squeezing" of the violin to stay on, I think they're trying to avoid making their SRs overly stiff. But this adds the compromise of hitting the violin if you adjust the rest too low (as well as some other trade-offs).

Anyways, long story short, my design will use pultruded carbon fiber because it's relatively cheap as far as "real" carbon fiber goes. It's incredibly light and incredibly strong, and makes cool sounds when you hit it on things. It sounds like metal but feels weightless. But the best part is you'll be able to put the rest surprisingly low due to a combination of the thinness and lack of flex in the "bridge" material.

I think I'll also be designing the SR so that the pad is interchangeable. That way, some people can have a thicker pad and others can have a thinner one. Or, more cushy vs less cushy. I feel that players should be able to try different pads without getting a whole new SR. I hated the pad on the korfkerrest so I just rubber-banded an Everest pad to it. I know they used a super light one because they wanted it be the "lightest" and the most elegant, but come on, give me some options!

January 16, 2022, 4:37 AM · I have a vlm and a basic Kun. The Kun is better padded for me and I can't tell a difference in sound so I rarely use the VLM.
January 16, 2022, 8:36 AM · I recently paid $350 for the KorferRest. I then paid an additional $50 for the short leg accessories. It is currently sitting on the shelf with a whole bunch of others. The VLM Diamond is on my violin. The price I would be willing to pay depends on the perceived value the maker is able to create. A great product is a good start. But marketing will play a critical role in sell success.
Edited: January 16, 2022, 11:21 AM · Slipping feet?

- The rubber dries out with age (don't we all!).
To be replaced before it is too late!

- Poor geometry. On my (rather old) violin and viola versions of
the VLM rests, the pivots are not quite parallel, and not quite opposite each other; the contact with the the shoulder then causes swivelling and unhooking.
On the viola version I was able to re-align the "chest end", but the shoulder contact is still offset in front of the imaginary line joining the two pivots.
I find the Kun Bravo more stable, although rather too chunky.

- Geometry again. When the instrument wants to swing to the right, the tall left foot of the Kun Bravo tends to unhook. On the violin, the feet are on the widest part of the lower bouts and grip well, but on the longer, wider viola they are proportionally further towards the end-pin (I use the same shoulder under both instruments!!) and the side-to-side grip is much reduced: better for tone but a lot less safe. Unsymmetrical feet would help (the wider half nearer the player) but until Eric creates his promised solution(!) I have loops of boot-lace from the screw legs to the lower corners of the fiddles.

I think better geometry, plus my "unsymmetrical feet", and a more elegant attachment than bootlaces, would not increase the price..

January 16, 2022, 9:38 AM · John, I'd be willing to try your Korfker to see if it's maybe something I would buy from you - if you're looking to get rid of it.

Erik, I think your marketing strategy needs to go like this:

Williams shoulder rest: $300
Course of physical therapy for neck (four visits): $240 co-pay
Three or four violin lessons: $300
High end rosin: $100
Set of decent violin strings: $100
Beethoven Op. 59 Quartets (Baerenreiter Urtext): $50
One year of Netflix: $150
One share of Berkshire Hathaway: $485,379
Bottle of decent Bordeaux or Barolo: $200
Fifth of Talisker 10-year: $75
18 holes of golf at public course: $40
Dinner for 2 at most expensive restaurant in Blacksburg: $130.
Car payment (6 years, $18000 car, 0 down): $300
2-hour birthday party for your child at local bowling alley: $300

January 16, 2022, 12:23 PM · Every time there's a shoulder-rest thread, one or more people will post snark about their "Invisi-Rest" or something along those lines. It might have been vaguely funny the first time, and I bear those folks no ill will, but I can understand why Erik would tell them to give it a rest. (I have no recollection whether or not Elise is one of those people, and I doubt Erik remembers who has been part of the no-shoulder-rest brigade in the past.)

That said: When I injured my left shoulder, my clavicle became very tender (despite a series of cortisone shots), and any pressure in that area from a shoulder-rest was unbearable. I ended up switching to using a foam rest -- the Perfect Shoulder Rest Saddle, which was a bit too high but functional. In recent weeks, the pain has reduced to the point where I could switch to Performa. (The Korfker still bites too much.)

The Performa's low height (with the shortest legs, set as low as they can go) and broad support works well for me now. I wrap a chinrest pad (LINK sized for a 1/16h violin) around the 'bar' part of the rest that goes onto my clavicle, providing some padding between the hard wood and my body. That pad has multiple layers of fabric and can be secured with its straps, despite never having been designed to work in this fashion.

I do wish that I could get cushier padding rather than the Performa's thin foam on my shoulder. This is an instance where I really wish I could sew, as I could pad the entire shoulder-rest with, say, a velcro-secured wrap.

By and large, what I want out of many shoulder-rests is simply really low legs -- legs low enough that the shoulder-rest just barely avoids touching the violin when 'clamped down' in playing position.

January 16, 2022, 2:59 PM · Personally I'd go to about 100-110 USD. Currently I'm using something in the range of 70 USD. I like experimenting and it replaced a 50 USD rest that replaced a 30 USD rest, etc. But it wasn't leaps and bounds better than the previous. In fact, I may have gotten it chiefly out of curiosity and esthetics. :D
January 16, 2022, 4:08 PM · Great input so far. Also, thank you to the people that have emailed me thus far with further input.

I find it interesting that so many people have requested a shoulder rest that goes lower, but no one has mentioned one that goes higher! I'm assuming this is just a sample-size error. No matter, as my rest should be able to go quite low and quite high. However, I may add an auxiliary attachment as an option, which will allow people an extremely low platform with a swappable pad. I'm hoping this won't even be necessary though, as I want to avoid making the options too complicated. I really want it to be something that "just works," regardless of what position people want it in.


Haha, Paul, how about this:

18 holes of golf at public course: $40

Three or four violin lessons: $300

One share of Berkshire Hathaway: $485,379

Williams shoulder rest: Priceless

Lydia: You said, "but I can understand why Erik would tell them to give it a rest."

Pun level 9000.

In all seriousness, though, I have a question for you: If the Performa could "pivot" towards you, so that the edge of the shoulder rest closest to you was tilted somewhat up, would that help? I know you've already basically found a solution, but am curious if a pivot function would make it even better.

January 16, 2022, 4:19 PM · The partial tilt possibility of the Bravo can help with different clothing: T-shirt, cardigan, tuxedo etc.


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