Who uses a shoulder rest and who doesn’t?
Tagged: shoulder rest
September 8, 2020 at 8:50 PM #85894
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.
GSSeptember 8, 2020 at 9:50 PM #85895cricketParticipant
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.September 8, 2020 at 11:20 PM #85896
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. 🙁September 9, 2020 at 12:03 AM #85897
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 !September 9, 2020 at 7:14 AM #85899JoeParticipant
I just got a bon musica shoulder rest acouple of weeks ago and its the best one I have tried out.September 9, 2020 at 7:42 AM #85900
Hey Joe that’s what I have .September 9, 2020 at 10:47 AM #85901
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.
BillSeptember 9, 2020 at 12:07 PM #85904
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 !September 9, 2020 at 1:39 PM #85906fiddlewoodParticipant
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.September 9, 2020 at 2:41 PM #85907
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:
Here is Part 2:
In the third part, she revises some of the advice she gave in the first two videos.
Here is the third video:
Hope you find this as useful as I did.
BillSeptember 9, 2020 at 7:28 PM #85910
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 !September 9, 2020 at 8:00 PM #85911
Thanks for the great input, everyone ! And thanks so much Bill 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. 🙂
Steve ~ 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.September 10, 2020 at 6:01 PM #85917FrederickParticipant
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.. 😉September 11, 2020 at 2:23 PM #85936PatriciaParticipant
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.September 12, 2020 at 10:04 PM #85952lisabParticipant
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.September 13, 2020 at 12:25 PM #85955IcebikeParticipant
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. JoeSeptember 13, 2020 at 1:06 PM #85957
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.
BillSeptember 13, 2020 at 5:23 PM #85959fran hParticipant
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.September 14, 2020 at 1:03 PM #85964Gunnar SalyerParticipant
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 meSeptember 14, 2020 at 7:32 PM #85974
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.
Lisa ~ 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.
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