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I'm really looking to experiment with shoulder rests. I've been using the same one for years, and it's not doing me any favours. Some say no shoulder rest at all, I've been trying out these red sponges a friend recommended and I'd be interested to hear any suggestions in brands of shoulder rests anyone may have, or other things to try.



ps- i'm brand new around here, so if this topic has already been discussed a lot, then i apologize for cluttering the page smile.gif

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I have had some trouble which shoulder rests en chin rest myself. My neck aged, I had to hold the neck pretty tight etc.

The amazing thing is that when I started playing more and more, the problems disappeared!

Of course I don't know your situation, but, provided you're using alright material, don't doubt your equipment to soon.

Good luck

Ps. I like Wolf sholder rest a lot

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I think that comfort and good posture are 95 to 99 % due to proper use of our BODY and only 1 to 5% due to equipment adjustment (shoulder rests and so on). I have seem people who are tight, stiff and awkward with every kind of rest, as others are natural and comfortable with or without rests.

That being said, I think, if you need a rest, just find one that is basically comfortable and provides the proper height. I think if anything to high is much worse (and more common an error) than too low. People seek out a false sense of security by having a rest, often too high, and that HOLDS the violin in place for them. Then they just "move around" the thing with left and right arms. This I think is bad for the music as well as the musician.

The advantage of using no rest, is that you must learn to relax and to be sensitive to proper use of your body. Since your body position has to constantly adjust, everytime you shift, change strings, even change fingers in the same position, not to mention the bow arm. So you really become flexible and fluid, adjusting subtly the thumb position with every little shift, and the amount of left arm support. I feel so much better now without a rest and my playing has improved (not only because of this, but it was all part of a search for comfort and freedom).

I play more viola than violin now, and sometimes on the violin I do use a play-on-air which some people say dampens the sound. But what I like about it is that it seems simply to add a bit of height betwen my color-bone and jaw, but does not in any way hold the violin in a rigid or fixed position. The feeling is close to having no rest. (By the way, I put the play-on-air on backwards, i.e. thich side fartherst from my body).

On the viola, due to the thickness I use no rest. And I see lots of violists with big fat violas and only regular-length necks (the violists neck I mean), who on top of that add a big Kun type rest. Then their whole head and back and arms are contorted. They look strange and I can't imagine this helps them play well.

An interesting and important subject, but I think the real subject is learning to constantly adjust freely to different playing positions. The rest is at most a filler of space between color-bone and instrument, but should not in my opinion in any way "provide" the proper position.

You see, I can go on for a long time on just any subject.

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It's very subjective, but not totally. If it helps the violin fit better into your anatomy, and allows you to keep tenstion out of the shoulder and neck, then use one. Also, it is simply a fact of physics, that a rest (or cloth coverd shoulder) that is in contact with the back of the instrument will dampen the sound, but I would not let this drive your decision. Comfort and playability, and don't let the neo-traditionalists shame you into going shoulder-restless just because the old school did. From time to time, improvements do happen, even in the world of violin playing. My teaching experience has found that I can achieve a more relaxed posture in most students with a well fitted shoulder rest (even on viola).

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Kun, Wolf (primo and secondo/standard and forte), Viva la Musica, and other brands have been on the market for a long time because they do a good job.

The problem, is that no one shoulder rest does a good job for everyone - so you are right where you started. You have to try them and find out what rest works for you. If you have an observant teacher, he/she might be able to recommend a rest based on your physique and playing posture.

If you are lucky and have a teacher who has a collection of shoulder rests, you might be able to experiment at no cost. Otherwise expect to pay about $20 for each shoulder rest you buy to try.


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You might also try one of Michael Kimber's shoulder rests ( I have one. It's an open-cell foam pad that's contoured to fit the normal adult collarbone / shoulder area. While it's not too pretty to look at, it gives me enough support without encouraging clamping and is quite acoustically transparent. Kimber is a professor of viola at USM (formerly at Kansas) and played w/ the Kronos Quartet way back when. I recommend it highly, and it's cheap.

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