Shoulder Rests

If you want to get strong opinions out of violinists/violists/fiddlers, talk about shoulder rests.  Some believe you don’t need them, some swear by only one brand, some make their own at home.   The purpose of a shoulder rest is to help support the violin which helps take some of the strain off of the left hand.

I believe that when learning the violin, you have to strike a balance between ideals and being able to progress on your instrument with some level of comfort.  Here are a few of my favorite options.  Note: When purchasing a shoulder rest, make sure it is the appropriate size (4/4, 3/4 , 1/2, etc.)

Kun Collapsible 4/4 Violin Shoulder Rest  This is a classic and my personal favorite.  There are models with foldable and adjustable legs.  I don’t need a really tall shoulder rest and this one lowers down to a minimal height.  Similar to the Kun is the Everest Collapsible Violin Shoulder Rest, and it’s a bit cheaper.  I find that I can adjust the Kun to a lower height, which suits me. Both are excellent options.

Some people don’t care for the stiffness and rigidity of a shoulder rest and opt for a sponge.   There are ones that are shaped like shoulder rests, such as the Zaret, however, many people opt to use a regular sponge or foam from the fabric store, cut it to the size they want, and attach with a rubber band. If you don’t need any type of cushioning at all, you can also use a piece of leather or suede and place it over the chin rest so that it does not slip when playing.

I have experimented with different types of shoulder rests and sponges over the years and it has taken me a long time to find out what I like.  It’s best to go to a music store that specializes in strings and try out the different types of shoulder rests.  You can also experiment with different thicknesses of sponges at home before you buy something.

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