Who uses a shoulder rest and who doesn't?

I'm just wondering :

1 -- Who here at BGD uses a shoulder rest? And why do you feel you need to use it?

2 -- Who here at BGD does NOT use a shoulder rest? And why don't you?

I began my fiddle journey back in 2014 with a cheap fiddle.  I bought a 'KUN' brand of shoulder rest ;   but I just couldn't get comfortable with it.  I have a long neck, you see (not Giraffe-long ;  but still too long for the fiddle to sit tight under chin / jaw.  So, I then bought another shoulder rest to try.  I forget the name of it but it was the one that you can bend into shape to fit over your shoulder.  Very well constructed ;  and it did keep the fiddle tight under the chin,  but it remained a little too high and I felt like my neck and shoulder were in traction, with almost no up and down or side-ways movement possible.  Then I remembered a number of excellent past and contemporary classical violinists who don't use a shoulder rest.  So I decided to ditch mine and just try to play without one.  Too easy, right?  The results are below:


--More range of motion of left arm -- up and down, side to side, tilting etc.

--Better, more vibrant, slightly louder sound as the fiddle reverberated across my collar bone (and made my teeth vibrate --- seriously !)


-- Difficulty holding the fiddle in position.  Fiddle kept slipping and I felt I was always going to drop it.

-- Found that I had to bend my left wrist to keep my left palm against the fiddle to maintain control. (very bad habit for left hand.)

This is just my personal experience while using and NOT using a shoulder rest.  It would be great to hear  from others about their shoulder rest experience. As well as what the NON-shoulder rest people use instead of the commercial-type shoulder rests.





  • I don't use a shoulder rest.  Tried one...like you said, felt like I was locked in traction or something, even though I have a short neck.  Kept trying and finally said forget this whole idea.

    I don't have any problems unless i do a lot of sliding up and down with double stops...then I do have to plan ahead to conscientiously grip the fiddle with my chin to hold it steady for the double stop slides...other than that...holding onto it with my chin or in any other ways I hold the fiddle, I don't see any problems.  Wearing slick clothes might make it worse.

    I also don't use a chin rest...it cut through my jaw no matter what...I kept trying different ones and carving them with a pocket knife to try to make them comfortable, but they just hurt me, so I quit using them too.  The only problem with that is sweating...that's a bad thing when your chin sweats on the fiddle and you can't hold it good.  So you can lay a cloth over the edge where the chin rest goes...or an article of clothing, such as a collar, can go there...I don't do that stuff, though...I just try to cope as best as I can...lol.
  • Thanks for the feedback, Cricket.  OK !  That's it !  I'm definitely never going back to a shoulder rest ;  and i will be removing the chin rest as well.  I figure that if you've already ditched yours and you play absolutely fabulously, then when I ditch mine, I too will play fabulously.  Ah !   To wish is but to dream.  :(
  • I use a shoulder rest I have tried several the one you described that sets over the shoulder that is bendable is the one I finally settled on it took a lot of changing and adjusting and different placement on the fiddle body but after a few months of being dissatisfied I finally found what works for me absolute violin control , comfort , ease of bow control , and ease of hand and finger control on the fingerboard and I have no problem with the violin slipping out !
  • I just got a bon musica shoulder rest acouple of weeks ago and its the best one I have tried out.
  • Hey Joe that's what I have .
  • I am 6'6" tall and playing without a shoulder rest just doesn't work for me.  I played fiddle 40 years ago and I had a rest that I bought through the 'Strad' magazine.  It was wonderful, but I don't remember who made it, or even what it looked like.

    When I started playing fiddle again a couple of months ago, I picked up an 'Everest', which is OK, but not ideal.  The original rest that I had was so comfortable and stable, that I didn't know it was there.  After reading what you guys have said about the 'Bon Musica', and doing some research on-line, I just ordered one.

    I am looking forward to trying it.

  • Bill it took me a lot of time and experiments to get it right , I almost was ready to trash it several times good luck with yours !
  • I use one...loved it since I first put it on...no more fiddle hanging out in the air 'cause I pulled it away while sliding down the neck, plus my neck & shoulders are far more comfortable now not having to do contortions to hang on to my instrument.
  • I thought this might be useful.  It is a quick evaluation of the 'Bon Musica' shoulder rest, and very, very detailed instructions on how to adjust and use it.  There are 3 videos.

    She recommends drilling a hole in the rest to get more adjustment in Video 1 and Video 2.  In Video 3, she revises this advice and shows that drilling the rest is not necessary.  The adjustment can be achieved without drilling the rest.

    Here is part 1:

    <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX-tNDYQCQQ">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX-tNDYQCQQ</a>

    Here is Part 2:

    <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxqtFoK2Xxg">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxqtFoK2Xxg</a>

    In the third part, she revises some of the advice she gave in the first two videos.

    Here is the third video:

    <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtY0CbsZ_Dk">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtY0CbsZ_Dk</a>

    Hope you find this as useful as I did.

  • Bill great video this video would have helped me get there quicker , I am happy with mine now , but it took me what seamed like forever to get it there because every change messes up something else !
  • Thanks for the great input, everyone !  And thanks so much <strong>Bill</strong> for those very informative videos.  I'm sure they will be a great help to anyone who has a Bon Musica shoulder rest.

    And thanks for reminding me of the name of the shoulder rest that I mentioned in my first post here : it was indeed the Bon Musica.  I don't have access to it here, but when I do, I will try drilling the holes in it that the video suggests and see if it will work for me.  If not, then at least I will have a nice little sieve to filter my home-made cider.  :)

    <strong>Steve</strong> ~ I struggled for over a month with my Bon Musica to get it happening but the frustration of it all made me think that it just wasn't worth all the hassle.  I will try again some day.
  • I am so used to a shoulder rest that I really can't play well at all without one. I have a shoulder rest for each of my fiddles all adjusted for perfect fit. I don't play without them. When I try someone else's fiddle and I have my fiddles around, I always ask if they mind if I put my shoulder rest on their fiddle to try their fiddle out. You only get one chance to make a first impression and I don't make a very good impression on folks when the fiddle is slipping all around under my face while I desperately cling to it in an effort to keep it from dropping.. ;)
  • I vaguely remember using what seemed to be like a small bean bag for a shoulder rest back in my childhood.  When I got this violin, I was playing it without a shoulder rest, but once I started lessons back up, my instructor had me get one.  I think it is VLM AVGVSTIN?  It definitely helps keep the violin up and in place.  And no "taco neck", lol.
  • I have a shoulder rest that I like--whenever I can get it to fit right. However, it normally falls off, when I take my fiddle down. Just about given up on using it. During jams... in order to hear the other players, I've started putting the fiddle in the crook of my elbow like the old timers did back in the day. It actually works better for me there.
  • I've got a long neck and narrow shoulders.  I can't control the fiddle without a shoulder rest. I tried several over the years and different padding. I didn't have good control and would play with terrible posture. Finally, I started tinkering with the chin rest and that made a big difference.  I ended up with a tall SAS chin rest.  That in combo with a basic shoulder rest works really well for me. Just a suggestion that you look at the chin rest as well as the shoulder rest if you need support.  Joe
  • Hi Joe,

    I am in the same situation - Tall (6'6").

    I got the 'BonMusica' shoulder rest a few days ago and spent a whole day trying to adjust it to fit comfortably.  I followed the instructions in the tape series and became more and more frustrated as time went by.  Finally . . . I tried changing the chin rest.  That was the key.  Once I located the right chin rest, the shoulder rest held firmly and comfortably.

    I couldn't agree with you more.  The chin rest can be the key to getting the shoulder rest to work properly.

  • When I first got my violin I didn't know you were supposed to use one. I was just goofing off on my own to see if it was something I was truly going to be interested in. (My guitar days did not last long)  So after a few months, I decided I should take lessons. And on day one my teacher informed me I needed a shoulder rest. I got some cheap thing and it was OK.  I have since switched to a Bon Musica and it is fantastic. I cannot play without a shoulder rest. I have tried. The instrument just keeps slipping down my shirt. And I can't get a good enough grip on it to hold it still when I shift positions. I have gotten the Bon Musica rest adjusted to a comfortable height and angle for me. I had some Kun shoulder rest that was padded and I felt like when I switched to the Bon Musica that it, being less thick, did not absorb some of the sound. It also seems to me that the fiddle resting on my shoulder didn't resonate as well as on a shoulder rest kinda suspended. Sorta like how a carpeted room absorbs noise where a bare floor echos. Just my thoughts.  I think it all boils down to what works for you. I do love my Bon Musica though.
  • I don't use one because I never had one when I started, and by the time I got to try one, I was already more comfortable without it.

    I have played a fiddle with a BonMusica rest on it, and it was very comfortable, but not necessary for me
  • Thanks for the heads up regarding the chine rest, Joe.  I will be looking into trying one of the higher varieties out --- could be the answer.  Though, I have to admit that I do like the old look of a fiddle without either a chin rest or a shoulder rest ;  but looks alone don't make make music.

    <strong>Lisa ~</strong> I had a shoulder problem just after I started to learn the fiddle ;  and the only way I could play the fiddle without exacerbating the injury was to play old-timey like you mentioned you often do during a jam.  It worked for me back then ;  and jut recently, I tried to play with the fiddle up on my shoulder, but it really took a lot of getting used to.  What sounded just okay with the fiddle being played old-timey sounded dang awful when I played it up on my shoulder (crazy fingering, messed up string crossings, the lot !) but I think I am getting a little better and more comfortable with it being on my shoulder now : though I still prefer to lower it to old-timey fashion in order to learn a tune or to just pluck the strings when learning a new tune.

    I guess it all comes down to 'horses for courses' in the end.
  • I have a shoulder rest but it seems to put the fiddle in a " strange " location and I have a lot of trouble when trying to play the G sting  . Seems to sound better without a shoulder rest too . With several bad disc in my neck I can't play too long unless I cheat and use my hand to help hold up the fiddle . May try and get to the shop during winter and make a custom tall chin rest and see how that works .
  • Yeah, I certainly need a shoulder rest.

    When I first took up the violin about a year ago (in my 66 year old body), with playing my new instrument, I started developing bad shooting pain in the neck that shot into my head and even ears making me think I had tinitus. To this day I have a bit of a bulge in the neck muscle on my left side. But it's no longer a pain problem because:

    1) I got a pretty fair neck brace (KUN) and for more lift I also rolled a dish towel fastening it with a shoelace for a better angle. (I don't need the towel so much anymore).

    2) I got a raised chin rest which helps.

    3) I have trained myself to relax and not clench up when I play something as fast as possible. Holding that tension for prolonged periods was a bad thing and probably at the root of the problem for me. (Imagine playing a fast video game that you just have to win where you have to peel your hand away from the controller afterward. Now imagine that happening to your head. . . yeesh. I almost gave it up.)

    I guess I must have a long neck. That's what the YouTube videos produced by people selling shoulder rests seem to point to. And I think it's probably right.

    On a related topic, I also bought a 16.5 viola to see if my canary in a coal mine of a wife could handle those top end pitches better than a violin. When she keels over I know I need to put a couple doors between us.

    The viola was more of a challenge holding it in place because it's bigger and heavier = more unwieldy. For that I had to try one of the biggest flexible shoulder rests = Wolf Forte Secondo. It's pretty amazing and it works great for holding in place that piece of furniture while I fiddle about with it. (while I viola about with it?)

    Anyway I do use a shoulder rest and could not play without one (or something to help hold the position) in either case.


  • I use shoulder rests for school because they are required, but at home when I'm practicing, I take it off. Shoulder rests are really uncomfortable to me, even the ones that are meant for comfortable playing.
  • I just bought a new shoulder rest the "BonMusica".

    I am very satisfied with this (I had a Kun shoulder rest before that was heavily padded but still not adjusted well).  The BonMusica is a huge improvement for me it is easily adjusted and stays in place and give a much better stability than the other rests that I have tried.

    The only thing that was a surprice was when I was going to pack down my fiddle in the case. I could not find any space to put down the shoulder rest (my earlier shoulder rests could easily be fitted in the case together woth the fiddle).

    I just wonder how other users of the BonMusica shoulder rest pack down their fiddle and shoulder rest in the case. Do you make any modifications to the case, or are there special cases available that are larger inside or do you just simply carry the shoulder rest in another bag?
  • Hakan as you can see in the photo there is no room to spare and will only fit one way ,just barely ,the back of my fiddle neck slightly rest on the rubber padding of the Bon-Musica .

    <img src="https://bluegrassdaddy.com/wp-content/uploads/hm_bbpui/87812/yoddp73tdk20gjrwjecb1t3qmr3hdf72.jpg" alt="BonMusica shoulder rest in case" />
  • Thanks for the photo.

    I think I now have to look for another larger case with a larger department for the neck and the shoulder rest. My case is so much much smaller than this and I cant fit the Bon-Misica as shown on the picture. But now I know.
  • I've tried pretty much everything is search of what works for me.   I have a fairly long neck.  I found

    early on that Stuber Chin rests always seem to work well for me.  I have an everest and a bon musica  shoulder rest laying in the floor.  They haven't been used since I got my first Comfort LLC

    from Shar Music.  I now have several of them for my different fiddles and even one for my Viola.

    They were out of stock for about a year, but now Shar has them back.  There is no adjustment....you put them on with little effort, and take them off with little effort.  They are the

    only combo that is comfortable to me.

    My two cents,

    Jim New, Fruitland, Missouri

  • Thanks for sharing, Jim. I've heard that the Stuber chin rests are pretty good. But as you say, you find the Comfort LLC better for you now.
  • <img src="https://secureservercdn.net/" alt="" width="212" height="162" />  I didn't realize that Steve has such beautiful blue eyes.  I'm jealous! Wanna swap.  :)
  • Maria, that's kinda strange that your school requires it, they should let you do whatever is comfortable
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