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Rue

Chinrests - where is your chin supposed to go?

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Just for fun...:)

I have noticed that most(?) people use the popular Guarneri-style chinrest and that is ubiquitous on almost all new instruments at this point in time too.

BUT...I have seen many people putting their chins on the cross piece...not even close to the actual rest.

So, if that's the case, why wouldn't those folks use centre-style chinrests?  Isn't having your chin resting on a bumped up cross bar more uncomfortable? :wacko:

Pics below:

Guarneri, centre mount

guarneri_e_dk_large.jpg

Example of a center-mount (there are many versions):

flesch+boxwood+violin+chinrest+-+center+

 

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I do that too. Then I thought the same thing you said and got a Flesch chinrest, but without the hump. Turns out it was kind of high and uncomfortable, so now back to the Guarneri. Plus, it went slightly to the right of the tailpiece, which was really uncomfortable. Something between the two would be great, but it has to go above the tailpiece, which inevitably raises the height...

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To answer your questions, every person is different. Some people don't mind placing their chins on the small tail of the Guarneri chin rest. Some people may use a pad to compensate.

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There is a plethora of chin rests out there and finding just the right one can be time consuming, if not also expensive.  So I understand why you'd use the one that just came with your violin.  However, given how much time is spent getting comfortable with your violin (so you can play well) - 'making due' with what I think is a fairly crucial bit of the overall set-up  - is also counter-intuitive.

So not using one that actually fits one's chin - seems silly.  And having to use a pad/cloth to compensate should be unnecessary (protecting your chin further [or to soak up sweat, etc.]- by using a cloth is different - I'm talking about basic fit).

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16 minutes ago, Rue said:

 

So not using one that actually fits one's chin - seems silly.  And having to use a pad/cloth to compensate should be unnecessary (protecting your chin further [or to soak up sweat, etc.]- by using a cloth is different - I'm talking about basic fit).

None of that is silly at all. What you want is a system to hold the violin axially in translation while you can still rotate it axially. That means ideally you hold the violin with the TIP of your chin, ON your collar bone. And that means either no or only a minimal chin rest is needed. This works wonderfully and works long term. Now, if you start looking for comfortable, super stable, custom made chin/shoulder rests, they'll all feel super in the beginning but being inflexible will end up being an irritation and causing pain. They're not good at following you and you change all the time. The only time a person with a short neck needs a chin/shoulder rests is if he drags the violin when changing downwards. If that happens, drop the finger pressure during the position change. Drop it A LOT. To produce a decent tone it is fundamental the instrument is held somehow precariously.

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I'd think though, the more comfortable the chin rest is...and how suited to how you hold your instrument...it would make position changes downward easier, since you are not clamping down as much - because everything is well balanced.

I can't play with a cloth over the chin rest either...feels unstable, so even I noticed that I clamped down harder.  I tried it because someone insisted it's the best way to go (comfort-wise), but I just found it a pain.  

I use the Guarneri style on my good violin.  It is a small model and quite comfortable.  The bigger ones don't work for me.  I tried a Flesch center mount (with the bump) on my 16" viola and it works much better than the Guarneri.  On the bigger instrument I couldn't balance the instrument if I actually put my chin where it's supposed to go.  I haven't played my 15 3/4' viola enough to worry about it yet.  I have a spare Flesch (no bump) I can put on it if I want to.

FWIW, the bump on the Flesch isn't uncomfortable.

I wonder how many people play on an uncomfortable chin rest just because they can't be bothered to change it.  That then has me wondering how people decide just what is important to playing comfortably and what isn't...:ph34r:

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13 minutes ago, carl stross said:

None of that is silly at all. What you want is a system to hold the violin axially in translation while you can still rotate it axially. That means ideally you hold the violin with the TIP of your chin, ON your collar bone. And that means either no or only a minimal chin rest is needed. This works wonderfully and works long term. Now, if you start looking for comfortable, super stable, custom made chin/shoulder rests, they'll all feel super in the beginning but being inflexible will end up being an irritation and causing pain. They're not good at following you and you change all the time. The only time a person with a short neck needs a chin/shoulder rests is if he drags the violin when changing downwards. If that happens, drop the finger pressure during the position change. Drop it A LOT. To produce a decent tone it is fundamental the instrument is held somehow precariously.

Couldn't have put it any  better myself:). The only snag of no chinrest is that it doesn't do much for the varnish.

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Sometimes I am irritated by the chinrest and take it off completely. It's not that much harder to play, although it can result to pain if I constantly feel it will fall... But for some reason I think the instrument sounds worse without it, kind of all over the place. Maybe the chinrest provides the damping it requires and makes the tone more focused. But I'm not sure if there's a noticeable difference to someone listening. Thankfully the varnish is already worn in that area for antiquing purposes, so no need to worry about that! :) (sort of...)

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These are some extracts from a project in the Netherlands on chin and shoulder rests, if interested, it's worth reading the whole article.

From:  http://www.violinistinbalance.nl/neck.htm

At the Utrecht Conservatory we notice that playing technique among violinists and violists is often hindered by equipment that doesn't suit their body sizes and shapes.

This research project provided violin and viola students with resources necessary to address their playing problems. We developed a unique Chin Rest Testing Kit which allowed us to adjust the chin rest in all directions and angles. We collected store-bought chin and shoulder rests, and assembled materials the musicians could use to make their own shoulder rests.

Ill-fitting chin rest and shoulder rest can cause the neck muscles to contract and the top of the spine to become immobile. When the upper vertebrae of the neck are locked, it affects the basic motor skills of the player, leading to technical problems in both arms and hands.

Violinists develop coping strategies that allow them to play in spite of stiffness, but the toll on the body is high, often leading over time to injury, reduced confidence, and rigidity in the face of new creative demands.

1. Pulling the head constantly over to one side can lead to imbalance in the neck and head.
2. Sticking chin forward to hook violin also causes neck and shoulder tension.
3. A balanced use of the head and neckmeans that technique is based on good coordination. 

If chin and shoulder rest are correctly adjusted, a light intermittent pressure on the chin rest using the weight of the head is enough to stabilize the instrument during down shifting and other manoeuvres. Pressing directly down by nodding the head on the spine puts much less stress on the neck than when the head is tilted to the side.

1. You can’t see how long his neck is…
2. ... until he lifts his head. Huug using his old low chin rest

If the chin rest doesn’t match the neck, simply turning and nodding the head is not enough to find the instrument. The violinist must contract the neck and pull the head down and out of balance.

When turning and nodding the head to find the chin rest, the neck vertebrae are still properly aligned, and the neck muscles strong. In contrast, clamping with the head tilted to one side (or pulling the head down) weakens the neck and spinal reflexes, disturbing the coordination of the entire body. Also, when the instrument does not have the support of the collar bone, then the player often has to hook the instrument with the jaw to keep the fingerboard from sagging towards the floor, creating excessive tension in the neck.

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2 hours ago, thirteenthsteph said:

 But for some reason I think the instrument sounds worse without it, kind of all over the place. Maybe the chinrest provides the damping it requires and makes the tone more focused. But I'm not sure if there's a noticeable difference to someone listening. 

Makes a very noticeable difference to someone listening. Violins sound best with side chinrests and ( noticeably ) worse with over the tailpiece ones. They sound even better with no chinrest. But in the end playing the bloody thing is hard enough without introducing extras.

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I agree with Carl. It's something I picked up from a Michael Darnton post years ago: Over-the-tailpiece style rests have a detrimental effect on tone as compared to those of the side mount variety. 

I started changing all my violins to Tekka-style and my neck and ears began thanking me immediately.

 

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51 minutes ago, henrypeacham said:

... Over-the-tailpiece style rests have a detrimental effect on tone as compared to those of the side mount variety. ..

I have mostly read the opposite. That side mounts dampen tone.

Lol..and here we go again! ;)

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Picture the fiddle with a shoulder rest and chin rest laying on the table.  If the chin rest is deep enough you can simply hook your thumb over the rear of it, and the shoulder rest becomes a fulcrum.  It takes very little effort to hold a fiddle with that kind of chin rest  compared to a chin rest that is so shallow that you have to press down with your neck.  There's a side-mount rest called a Stuber that's my favorite.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.Xstuber+violin+chin+rest.TRS0&_nkw=stuber+violin+chin+rest&_sacat=0

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1 hour ago, carl stross said:

Violins sound best with side chinrests and ( noticeably ) worse with over the tailpiece ones. They sound even better with no chinrest. But in the end playing the bloody thing is hard enough without introducing extras.

No, what sounds best to somebody sounds worse to somebody else.  There's no reason to hold it "precariously" either  And a few reasons not to...  But it's essential that it not be clamped.  Your jaw should be relaxed and not even necessarily closed.

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28 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

No, what sounds best to somebody sounds worse to somebody else.  There's no reason to hold it "precariously" either  And a few reasons not to...  But it's essential that it not be clamped.  Your jaw should be relaxed and not even necessarily closed.

Well, you and Menuhin are at odds here, then.

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2 hours ago, henrypeacham said:

I agree with Carl. It's something I picked up from a Michael Darnton post years ago: Over-the-tailpiece style rests have a detrimental effect on tone as compared to those of the side mount variety. 

 

You are kind but that is a rather trivial piece of knowledge. Never heard anybody who knew violins to have a different opinion. BUT , some violins are not solid enough for a side chinrest and some players value the convenience ( for them ) of an over the tail piece one, more. Horses for courses.

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33 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

No, what sounds best to somebody sounds worse to somebody else.  

This is actually something really really interesting. It all depends who that somebody else is. :)  What "sounds best" on violins is in my insignificant opinion :) something learned. One learns how a violin should sound from somebody else who knows. One does not KNOW a priori what best sound is. Naturally , people gravitate towards a dark sounding violin with a lot of G string and/or a stable, monochromatic violin. In other words, to rubbish. 

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Different chin rests can sound very different to the player especially.  I use Flesch no-hump mostly.  I like the plastic Wittner on viola as well.  The clamps on it are the best engineered that I've seen, very easy to install and very ergonomic, just not real pretty.  I have also de-humped a regular Flesch and that was quite good too.  Chin rests are generally pretty cheap so if there is a hump or an edge that you don't like grind or sand it off.

 

DLB

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14 hours ago, carl stross said:

This is actually something really really interesting. It all depends who that somebody else is. :)  What "sounds best" on violins is in my insignificant opinion :) something learned. One learns how a violin should sound from somebody else who knows. One does not KNOW a priori what best sound is. Naturally , people gravitate towards a dark sounding violin with a lot of G string and/or a stable, monochromatic violin. In other words, to rubbish. 

Well then, assume there is a single best violin sound that everyone would appreciate as best if they were educated enough,   So then might not a particular chin rest steer some particular deficient violin closer to that sound?   Or increase the player's comfort to the point where he is able to start making that sound? 

But I think there's a very broad range of what sounds educatedly acceptably good.  Including sound that nobody has ever heard yet!  Personally I will choose the one that triggers my synesthesia best :)

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1 hour ago, Bill Merkel said:

Well then, assume there is a single best violin sound that everyone would appreciate as best if they were educated enough,  

1. So then might not a particular chin rest steer some particular deficient violin closer to that sound?  

2. Or increase the player's comfort to the point where he is able to start making that sound? 

3. But I think there's a very broad range of what sounds educatedly acceptably good.  Including sound that nobody has ever heard yet!  Personally I will choose the one that triggers my synesthesia best :)

1. Sure

2. Sure though I am not that much in the "player makes the sound" camp. Some players, do. Most are just along for the ride.

3. Sure. But I was ( and usually am here ) speaking only about the standard sound - the one we tend to hear in say, Beethoven's c/to with the BPO behind us. There is a great range of fascinating, far more interesting and meaningful sounds the stupid thing called classical music keeps failing to acknowledge. Check YT for some traditional Indian music for example. Most of the music I listen to is folk music on those sort of lines. What I call Real Music. The only reason I would listen to Brahms is the hear how a particular player navigates a particular passage. 

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I have been switching all my playing violins from Guarneri-style chin rests to Teka-style. I like slightly higher platform of the Teka; it makes for a much more comfortable and relaxed hold for me. What I don't like (and worry about) is the having the chin rest clamped over the ribs only instead of over the ribs and bottom block. I would like to have a Teka style that also clamps over the bottom block.

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