The violin, as one of the smallest of the stringed instruments, requires that the player adopts an unusual and almost unnatural position. It can be quite an intense activity, especially when playing in an orchestra. If you do not use a violin shoulder rest, and violin chin rest, it could mean that you end up with aches and pains.

Using the right violin accessories can mitigate the risks caused by these unusual positions. Two of the most useful accessories are the violin shoulder rest and the violin chin rest.

Learning the violin today is accessible to everyone and it is thanks to modern manufacturing techniques like the tailpiece, fingerboard and scroll easier. In fact, unlike in days gone by, there are violins and violin accessories available for every budget.

This is true for the entire family of string instruments like the viola, mandolin, guitar, double bass and cello.

There are a number of violin accessories, but in this article, we will focus on the violin chin rest and violin shoulder rest.

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Why Should You Use a Violin Chinrest or Violin Shoulder Rest?

The Violin Shoulder Cushion

Because the violin rests on a musician’s collarbone, violin shoulder rest placement can be difficult. Even though the wood used for making violins is of high quality, the constant rubbing against your bones as well as the vibrations from the instrument can leave you sore and uncomfortable.

Of course, wood is a hard material and without a violin shoulder cushion or violin shoulder rest accessory, discomfort can make playing less enjoyable.

A good violin shoulder rest is placed on the collarbone of the musician meaning that the instrument can be easily bowed. A violin shoulder cushion is a rigid and curved quilted bar that spans the back section of the violin and rests against the player’s collarbone.

It’s important to state that, at first, violin shoulder rest placement can make playing seem more difficult because accessing the strings, and therefore playing in pitch, can be difficult.

When there is no violin shoulder cushion used, the instrument is able to create a deeper sound with more natural and richer sounds.   

For beginners, there is the tricky choice of trading in the comfort of a violin shoulder cushion for better quality sound.

When you use a violin shoulder cushion, it is more difficult to make the instrument vibrate and to reach the strings.

To create the best sound possible, you need to be comfortable and this is why the correct shoulder rest placement is crucial to your success.

The Violin Chin Rest

The violin chin rest is situated at the bottom of the instrument. It has two main jobs, the first is to mitigate the risk of aches and pains that could occur from playing the violin, however, it also protects the wood from rubbing and sweat.

Today, chin rest on violin has been common since the 19th century. However, this was not the case 300 years ago when most violinists tended to avoid them at all cost.

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How much do violin accessories cost?
Like a violin, we all sometimes need a good rest. (Source: cuncon)

Choosing a Violin Chinrest

Chin rest on violin has become so common that today, it is automatically purchased along with other violin accessories. Besides making the violin more comfortable by alleviating the discomfort caused by the rubbing, it can protect the instrument from sweat, dirt and general constant rubbing. To get the most out of the concept of chin rest on violin, it needs to be angled and fitted perfectly.

There are many options when it comes to the violin chin rest.

Whether you play chamber, classical or jazz music, chin rest on violin is something that you may well want to search. There are a few things to consider when considering the violin chin rest.

Firstly, choose one that is the same size as your chin. In addition, remember that the material that you choose, which could be plastic, rosewood or ebony, will influence the sound that you make.

In fact, when it comes to violin chin rest material, it is almost as important as choosing the actual instrument itself.

Remember that your violin chin rest decision is crucial. How can you achieve a good pizzicato or vibrato if your violin chin rest is uncomfortable?

Not unlike the decisions you make around violin shoulder rest placement, you will need to consider a few things regarding how your chin rest attaches to your violin.

Here are some important criteria to consider when choosing a chin rest.

  • The shape: centre or side mount
  • The material: plastics or synthetic materials
  • The finish for wooden chinrests: boxwood, rosewood and ebony
  • The way it attaches to your violin

A simple search for chin rest on violin will show you that there are tons of violin retailers who are able to help you with all types of violin accessories.

If you are able to visit a leading music retailer, there is bound to be someone who could meet your chin rest on violin needs and even show you around the correct violin shoulder rest placement.

What are violin chinrests made of?
You should avoid plastic when you can. (Source: Hans)
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Choosing Your Violin Shoulder Cushion

As mentioned a violin shoulder cushion designed to alleviate pressure on your collarbone is crucial. When choosing this accessory, it should all centre around the violin shoulder rest placement.

It needs to be comfortable which is why trying it out in person in a music shop is important.

There are several brands and options available when it comes to materials and colours. You could choose metal, wood or carbon options from brands like Kun, Wittner, Wolf, and Playonair.

Remember to consider the size of your violin too, which will influence your violin shoulder rest placement. You would not want to choose a shoulder accessory for a 1/4 violin on a 1/2 or 4/4 violin.

Good advice would be to ask your violin teacher for the right guidance when it comes to your accessories.

Adjusting Chin and Shoulder Rests

When it comes to any musical instrument, the importance of having the correct accessories cannot be overlooked, however knowing how to adjust your accessories is also crucial.

To begin, set the height of your violin shoulder cushion by ensuring that it comes up to your lower jaw. Simply put, the violin needs to rest comfortably. If it does not, either your chin rest or shoulder rest will need to be adjusted.

When it comes to the shoulder rest, this needs to be adjusted to fit the violin itself. In addition, you will need to adjust the angle of your shoulder rest to suit you.

Regarding your chin rest, your violin should sit horizontally to ensure that it stays in place.

When you place your chin on the chin rest, your violin needs to be horizontal to stay in place. The shoulder rest is also a good way to adjust the position of the instrument to ensure that it is somewhat perpendicular to your head.

How do you care for violin wood?
You don't want the wood on your violin do split. (Source: PublicDomainPictures)

Choosing Your Violin Shoulder Cushion

As mentioned a violin shoulder cushion designed to alleviate pressure on your collarbone is crucial. When choosing this accessory, it should all centre around the violin shoulder rest placement.

It needs to be comfortable which is why trying it out in person in a music shop is important.

There are several brands and options available when it comes to materials and colours. You could choose metal, wood or carbon options from brands like Kun, Wittner, Wolf, and Playonair.

Remember to consider the size of your violin too, which will influence your violin shoulder rest placement. You would not want to choose a shoulder accessory for a 1/4 violin on a 1/2 or 4/4 violin.

Good advice would be to ask your violin teacher for the right guidance when it comes to your accessories.

Adjusting Chin and Shoulder Rests

When it comes to any musical instrument, the importance of having the correct accessories cannot be overlooked, however knowing how to adjust your accessories is also crucial.

To begin, set the height of your violin shoulder cushion by ensuring that it comes up to your lower jaw. Simply put, the violin needs to rest comfortably. If it does not, either your chin rest or shoulder rest will need to be adjusted.

When it comes to the shoulder rest, this needs to be adjusted to fit the violin itself. In addition, you will need to adjust the angle of your shoulder rest to suit you.

Regarding your chin rest, your violin should sit horizontally to ensure that it stays in place.

When you place your chin on the chin rest, your violin needs to be horizontal to stay in place. The shoulder rest is also a good way to adjust the position of the instrument to ensure that it is somewhat perpendicular to your head.

How do you adjust violin rests?
Make sure you have some screwdrivers in order to adjust your violin. (Source: blickpixel)

Do you practice your violin in a flat, or near to neighbours who are not keen on hearing your music?  

If so, why not invest in a practice mute?

All of these things can be discussed with a private violin tutor. Why not try Superprof for a tutor near you? It is an excellent way to save you from endless hours of online searching. In addition, most Superprof tutors offer their first lesson for free which means that you can discuss your goals and find out about their teaching methodology at the same time. It even means that you can try a few different tutors before making a decision!

Whether you decide to learn the violin online or whether you are looking for the right violin books, there are still certain other things that you will need like replacement strings, horsehair for your violin bow, a case, tuning pegs and other accessories depending on whether you choose to learn acoustic or electric violin.

If you are wondering how long it takes to learn the violin, that can depend on many factors. Make sure you have the right tutor and right resources to help you progress in violin.

It will not take long before you are able to tune your instrument by ear, master music theory and eventually become a violin virtuoso!

For the right-handed musician, you could learn the typical way, however, things get slightly more interesting when it comes to how to learn the violin with your left hand.

Finally, if you have other questions about how to learn the violin, make sure you get your answers from a reputable source.

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Niki

Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.