What are the most common shoulder rests?

May 9, 2023, 4:20 PM · Hi everyone, as some of you know, I'm working on a product that attaches to your current shoulder rest and allows it to be completely secure in any position, as well as allowing a much looser placement than would normally be necessary (since the security is no longer dependent on the clamping action of the SR). There are other benefits too (such as reducing/elimating the need to replace the rubber on your SR's feet), but I'll wait until I release the thing before I bore people with all of the details.

30+ prototypes, thousands of hours, and 2 years after starting this project, I'm actually getting very close to a finished design and in the near future I hope to put a video out demonstrating the invention.

As part of this video, I intend on showing that it will work on pretty much any shoulder rest, but I'm hoping to limit that to the 5-10 most common SRs.

So, what are the SRs you tend to see most often?

The ones that spring to my mind are Kun Original, Everest, Bon Musica, Wolf Secondo, and Viva La Musica.

Replies (25)

Edited: May 9, 2023, 5:03 PM · Wolf is the most common among everyone.
Then you see a lot of Korfkers in the top orchestras and performers.
The others in the middle use mostly Viva La Musica or Kun, but these two brands have so many different models that none of them has a chance to be the most common.
Edited: May 9, 2023, 4:50 PM · The two I've seen multiple people using in my viola sections in the last two years are Bonmusica and Kun Bravo.

I've also seen VLM Diamond, VLM Professional, Wolf Primo, Playonair, and one homemade shoulder pad in my viola sections in that time.

I wonder if there are regional preferences, because I hadn't heard of Wolf until 2017, and I've still only ever seen one person using a Wolf shoulder rest in my life.

May 9, 2023, 4:56 PM · I get the feeling that the Kun standard (either original or collapsible, and its variants/knockoffs) are the most common, at least among average students and amateurs. Beyond that, it's really hard to say... Bon Musica, Wolf, Viva la Musica, Mach, etc...
May 9, 2023, 5:03 PM · Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that the Kun Bravo is one of those variants of the standard Kun shoulder rest, basically just a wood version of the original.
May 9, 2023, 5:44 PM · I use and really like the original KUN shoulder rest. I've drilled a couple of holes where the feet attach to the body of the shoulder rest to adapt to my frame. Works well for me.


May 9, 2023, 7:12 PM · I would never use a Bonmusica. That thing looks like a piece of orthodontic equipment.
May 9, 2023, 7:15 PM · I see a lot of Kuns, Fortes and korfkers persinally
May 9, 2023, 8:40 PM · I think KUN is the most popular brand.
I can’t wait to see Erik’s invention. The suspense is killing me:)
May 9, 2023, 10:41 PM · Kun is pretty canonical. Many others are basically a variation. Wolf Forte Secondo is distinct enough to be worth comparing to. Bonmusica, because of its distinctive hook. Korfker, too, for its uniqueness. Maybe the Performa although I think it's too new to be used much, but represents a distinct viewpoint.
May 10, 2023, 1:00 AM · Thanks for the input, everyone.

John, I'm glad someone is excited! Admittedly, you'll probably be underwhelmed upon it's unveiling, but that's kind of the point; I worked very hard to make it very low-profile so that even high-level players can use it without feeling self conscious.

May 10, 2023, 6:14 AM · I too wait impatiently!
I stop my Kun Bravo tilting towards me with two cotton shoelace loops from the its legs to the lower bout's corners. But it can still tilt away from me if I'm wearing a jacket with thick lapels. And I don't like the strain on the corners. I have the Kun nearer to me than the widest part of the lower bout.
May 10, 2023, 8:03 AM · Bear in mind that if you are targeting a low price-point, then you can expect a lot of your customers to be amateurs and students, and the most common rests among that crowd are probably the Kun and the Everest. But if you are targeting a high price point, then more of your customers will be presently using the more expensive rests like the Korfker.
May 10, 2023, 11:33 AM · That's a good point, Paul, and something I have also considered. My thing's gonna be around $30, and in today's market I don't know if that can be considered expensive or cheap :P.

But it's definitely cheaper than continuing to buy different shoulder rests in the hope that they won't slip!

And even in the case of something like the korfker that typically doesn't slip in a traditional position (3:00-9:00), it will still be useful as it will allow it to be safely placed in positions that would have been previously unsafe, such as close to the collarbone (4:30-7:30).

I guess it will all come down to perceived value. People know how to value something that they're used to seeing. For example, most know that a $10 SR is cheap and junky, a $30 SR is decent, $70 is premium, and $250+ is luxury. Same idea with cars. But how does a customer value something they haven't seen before, or that they didn't know they needed?

In a world where tons of companies are making crappy products for $5 and then selling them for $50, perceived vs actual value has gotten weird. And it seems that perceived value is driven primarily by marketing, as opposed to how much effort/money went into a product.

Edited: May 11, 2023, 2:28 PM · Perceived value is driven by "Oooooh, shiny!" Fortunately, music is (for the most part) less tolerant of crappy products - they might look good, but they don't sound good.

As for shoulder rests, I come back to the good old Kun, on both my violin and my viola.

May 11, 2023, 4:35 PM · I use a thin foam pad that I cut out of some packaging material and attach it to my violin with a simple rubber band. It gives me the freedom and flexibility I need to play comfortably. Not very marketable, but extremely inexpensive and it works for me.
May 11, 2023, 9:54 PM · I use no SR. Will it attach to that? :)
May 12, 2023, 12:58 PM · You're always welcome to buy one anyways, elise :) You can donate it to the next person you hear complain about their SR slipping.
Edited: May 12, 2023, 2:09 PM · Kun used to be the norm (regular plastic, collapsible, Bravo, etc.), with Wolf Forte rests (Primo, Secondo) also being common decades ago. Then the newcomers arrived, and now usage appears relatively balanced among brands-though Kun seems to still have a strong share of the SR market.

However, at least IME, most feet slippage occurs with the Kun feet, then Wolf. I have never have had a slipping VLM Diamond or Bonmusica rest. The now defunct Kun Voce also never slipped due to the special, broad feet design-the new regular Kun feet are supposedly more resistant to slipping off the instrument, but it still can happen.

I have never used some others mentioned in this thread, so can't comment on every model.

Mr. Dalton, when I first saw the first
ever Bonmusica rest in my life, I shared a similar view as yours. It could also be potentially dangerous if misused. But after adjusting it to my own body shape and playing needs, I found my younger self's misgivings about the Bonmusica misplaced-it can work very well while keeping your playing quite free despite the cumbersome appearance. Personal adjustment is key, and I would not blindly recommend it in its stock form, even though it's supposed to be "standard" (I greatly flattened its signature hook, though it still is there.) The feet also never slip off the instrument, as aforementioned. It is not the cheapest, though definitely far from the most expensive nowadays.

May 12, 2023, 2:43 PM · Adalberto, if a shoulder rest is placed in a 3:00-9:00 position and also put on tightly, it tends to slip a lot less (unless it's a Wolf which has its feet extended for extra height, in which case it will slip no matter what). With that said, I've still had a VLM diamond slip before and damage my varnish, despite it being placed in the "optimal" position. It took a lot of heavy playing along with a 4 hour rehearsal, but it did happen. Any SR's feet can "walk" over a long period of intense playing, which is why you always see players unconsciously fidgeting with their SRs during rests. (they give it a quick touch to make sure it hasn't moved, then keep on going as usual).

But the main issue comes when players want to place the SR in different positions, particularly closer to the collarbone, OR if they're fine with their current 3:00-9:00 but want to be able to put it on loosely to minimize the clamping action's effect on acoustics. In either of those situations, I have found most shoulder rests to be lacking in security. 99% of the time they're fine, but that 1% is what scares me. It's also annoying that over time, most SRs will slip more because the rubber wears out.

It's worth noting that if I stay in 1st-3rd position, security is of much less concern to me. Not only is the SR less likely to slip there, but if it does, I can catch the violin. But once I start jumping around in positions and using aggressive vibrato (especially sul G), suddenly I am very aware of the potential for my SR to slip. If it does so at the wrong time, it could be very bad, and knowing this changes the way I play. I am much more likely to attempt to always keep my thumb under the neck and curled, as opposed to letting it slide up the side of the fingerboard. In addition, a part of my brain is dedicated to feeling if there's any slippage, and being ready for the possibility that something might move at the wrong time.

Meanwhile, let's compare this to our chinrest: it's basically just part of our violin. It never slips, or does anything that requires us to even think about its existence. It just is there, doing its job. I think SRs should be the same.

I am curious (although I may have asked you these questions before):

1) With your Bon Musica, what position are the feet in?

2) How how tightly do you push it on the violin?

3) Have you ever had to replace the material on the feet (that's usually a good indication of how tightly you push it on)?

4) Is most of the music you play in 1st-3rd position, or do you play a fair amount of more advanced material that requires big jumps in shifting and aggressive vibrato?

Edited: May 12, 2023, 7:22 PM · Mr. Williams,

I will check more specifically later-pardon, not at home right now, and missed your reply.

Please do not take my comment as a challenge to your product. Just wanted to note that most of the slippage situations have indeed been Kun/Wolf in my experience (note also that I am not bashing these products! I do not adhere to the notion that I must know what works for others based on personal taste/opinion. I have all my old shoulder rests somewhere-rarely get rid of them.)

(Very sorry the VLM Diamond slipped for you! Especially because those steel parts at the bottom should have hurt your violin a little. I frankly had it never happen to me.)

Without being home to double check (I do it by instinct now):

1)Facing back of violin: between 4 to 5, depending on SR, 9 or 9.5, dpending on rest. I do not use the standard central position usually recommended, as then for my body and bowing technique it ends up too much over the shoulder. I like to bring the violin in, rather than out, use low Teka chinrest.

2)Just tight enough-not forced in. Not loose.

3)I used to get feet worn much more often as a younger violinist (probably poor posture and tension, regarless SR placement). They last a while now.

4)I play all over, sul G too. Bonmusica does not slip off for me, but my old Kun Bravo has a few times. Often it falls as one rests the violin "after" playing, which may not damage the violin but is super annoying, especially if it would happen live.

In short, I tend to hold the violin rather lightly, never clamping it (or avoiding it as much as possible) and my violin position is such that it may alleviate the issue-not certain. Neck, medium, not short, which probably helps. Prefer low position at the chin, but not too low-basically want it to be as unobtrusive as possible, minimizing or even eliminating the common complaints against shoulder rests (stiffness, lack of freedom, etc.)

On the Bonmusica issue, I have not made an scientific test, but it is likely that the tone may be impacted a little by the "grabby" foam in the legs-but the audience may not notice, even if the violinist himself/herself could, so it's not too bad. I would not use a SR just for the "sound"-fit, comfort, freedom of playing all sort of repertoire with ease and without thinking is what motivates me to use a SR. If you have the best sounding SR in the world but it makes you overthink what you are doing or you are just plain uncomfortable, it misses the point. Freedom of playing sounds "better" than a badly fitting SR that should theoretically sound better. I still think the bulky Bonmusica is not for everyone-and should be used with care-but does work for me; definitely not a blind recommendation on my part.

Edited: May 13, 2023, 1:58 AM · I was brought up on the good old Voight that I still use on one of my violas. It's completely non-adjustable - a flat slab of wood with two wooden rubber-lined feet, upholstered with foam covered in corduroy. Dead simple and 100% reliable for those lucky enough to have grown a British-standard neck. The nearest modern equivalent are those curvy wooden things with height-adjustable rotating plastic feet that screw into a selection of holes. I have four of those set up to fit instruments of different widths.
May 13, 2023, 2:50 AM · Adalberto, I appreciate the detailed information. Every little bit helps. Obviously my product won't be for everyone, but if you ever find your Bon Musica slipping, you'll know there's an option!

Steve, regarding the modern equivalent, I believe you're referring to a Mach One :)

May 13, 2023, 3:42 AM · That's the one. Fast as sound and cheap as chips (the knockoffs anyway).
May 13, 2023, 1:54 PM · The tighter you put on the shoulder-rest, the more it dampens the sound, though. In other words, you have to balance between risk of slippage and the (minor but possibly meaningful) impact on sound.

I think less advanced players may be more likely to have slipping shoulder-rests because they hold the violin less stably. My son has issues with his tiny Kun slipping in orchestra, so it's held on by rubber bands as well as the feet.

Edited: May 14, 2023, 3:19 AM · I couldn't agree more, lydia. One of the primary reasons for my invention is it allows a SR to be placed on loosely without losing security, thus preserving maximum acoustic fidelity.

I hope that this will also allow me to acquire a greater market share, since pretty much everyone wants a better sound out of their violin, even if they don't normally suffer from slippage.

Also, regarding younger players, I think the main thing is that their shoulders are very small, which often requires an SR position closer to the end button of the violin. I often use rubber bands with my young students for this reason, because that is an inherently insecure position for most SRs. (Rubber bands work ok, but need frequent replacement, don't allow *all* positions, are ugly, and don't offer maximum security....but they are significantly better than nothing).

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Shopping Guide
Violinist.com Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop



Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine