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Author Topic: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?  (Read 11559 times)

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Offline Tenn

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Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« on: May 10, 2010, 04:28:11 PM »
I've been playing my instrument for approximately a week, trying to practice at least 90 minutes a day. I've not done the time consecutively- perhaps about thirty minutes at a stretch right now, working on bowing / notes / learning scales and such.

I didn't get a shoulder rest when I picked it up- slipped mine and the luthier's mind, and meant to get one when I got back home.

Now I'm in reach of a shop where I can grab one, but... is it even really necessary? I find the violin comfortable on my collarbone, it doesn't hurt or really bother me at all. I noticed people say it changes the sound, and some say a lot of pros don't use them, but it's a good idea for a beginner.

I did a lot of drill & rifle ceremony when I was younger- so the whole area where my violin rests is used to abuse. Can I just not bother with the shoulder rest?

Online Joe Gerardi

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2010, 04:35:04 PM »
Nope. Not necessary at all. Never had 'em back 100 years ago or so.

Always do what's comfortable.

That said, you should maybe try one until you're used to it in order to make an informed decision...

..Joe
"Some people are like a Slinky... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs"

Offline ChrisP

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2010, 05:44:05 PM »
I'd go the other way. Try it without and only get one if  you really have to. Plenty of people can manage without.

Offline tkirwan

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2010, 06:14:49 PM »
Do what is comfortable for you. The first time I tried to play my violin, I tried it without a shoulder rest, never again. If you are comfortable without it, go for it! I have seen great violin/fiddle players play with and without, it is all up to you. David Garrett, who is possibly the greatest violin player in the last 50 years, plays with a Bon Musica Shoulder Rest that hooks on to his shoulder. Where as Alex DePue, who is a great fiddle player, plays with no shoulder rest. Hope this helps.
Tammy

Offline Worldfiddler

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2010, 06:42:54 PM »
Yep, do what's comfortable for you, on condition that you have enough support so you can shift all the way up and down the fingerboard comfortably :)

Here's an article about the pros and cons : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoulder_rest

Bear in mind that some of the famous names who didn't use a rest were of quite substantial build (ie hardly any neck). I use a Wolf rest for the opposite reason, and I find it gives me total left-hand freedom.

For sure the violin vibrations are different with and without a rest, when clinically measured, but I doubt any listener could tell the difference in a double-blind test.

Jim

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2010, 10:15:58 PM »
David Garrett, who is possibly the greatest violin player in the last 50 years...

Careful with statements like these- you're setting yourself up for huge arguments!

..Joe
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Offline fiddlejen

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2010, 10:57:21 AM »
Nope, shoulder rests are not necessary.
But it's easier to play without one if you've always played without it, because your left shoulder muscles kind of get in on the balancing act in some subtle ways.  (Well unless, as Mr. Jim says, you have no neck. ::) )  But ideally if you play restless, it is a balancing act, your fiddle should just sit on your shoulder & able to move freely.  You don't want to depend on clamping down with your chin to support the fiddle, that kind of tension isn't conducive to relaxed playing.
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Offline zaivanbuijs

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2010, 06:11:03 PM »
I agree, no need at all for a shoulder rest. But, I don't think it's like Jen says that the fiddle balances on one's shoulder. At least, it doesn't work that way for me, the fiddle does not touch the shoulder at all, for it to do that I'd have to pull up my left shoulder and that's be a rather certain recipe for nasty aches and pains, I think.

Offline frodopogo

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2010, 07:32:49 PM »
I don't use one on my main fiddle that I do mostly fiddle tunes on.
And I don't like how the shoulder rest mutes the sound of that one- it takes away
some of the clarity, which is what I like about that fiddle.
Also, I have  relatively high chin rest on that one.

I have a new Eastman VL100 that is a lot more violinny sounding.
The shoulder rest doesn't seem to do anything to the sound of that one that I don't like.
It has a rather low chinrest, and without a shoulder rest, the fiddle wants to slide down towards the bowing hand.
The shoulder rest stops that, and also compensates for the low chinrest in that it feels better for my neck.
And the case I have for it now has room for a shoulder rest.

Anyway, my feeling on it now is that if you don't use an adjustable shoulder rest,
you have to be really precise about using the right chin rest.
The adjustable shoulder rest makes the design and height of the chin rest less critical-
it "takes up the slack".

Offline seasonnie

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2010, 02:50:24 AM »
If you find yourself needing to raise your left shoulder to hold up the violin, then you DO need a Violin shoulder rest or a higher chin rest if you don't want a shoulder rest.

I think if you don't need a shoulder rest, then don't use one, but if you are raising your shoulder or feeling that you must "hold" the violin in your left hand, then you need some added height by either something like a strad pad, or a higher chinrest.

Offline Tenn

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2010, 07:46:39 PM »
I think part of it may be the chin rest. I'm trying out an Artino adjustable (plastic, not the rosewood) that I snagged for a song, and it has the suggestion of being comfortable, but the chin rest that came standard just gets in the way. Without the rest it's more comfy, and I don't find myself lifting my shoulder. Rifles taught my shoulders to stay put less I coink my head :)

Thanks for the advice, folks. Maybe I'll try the gypsy-scarf trick next. When I can acquire a chin rest, I'd be looking for one that doesn't get so high to curve over the tail-piece. Are there ones with shallower dips, or angled more- so that the part that points towards the bout is higher than the other? The 'ridge' feels a little unpleasant, and doubly so with the shoulder rest. I tried changing the height to no avail.

Or, actually- better question. Do any of you use center-mounted, or have any suggestions for entry-level chin pieces?

Sorry to ask so much, but the lack of lutheries around here makes life difficult. I'm doing a lot of research online as well, but I'm generally wary of product spiels or reviews unless you know who you're talking to.

Offline Nick2

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2010, 09:31:32 PM »
There were fiddlers playing years ago (and, indeed nowdays too) with no shoulder rest - and no chinrest either come to that. Some play with the fiddle stuck down on their chest rather than under their chins and there are pros and cons there too.

If you are playing mostly in the first position AND can comfortably hold the fiddle on your shoulder without getting fatigued and can move your left hand freely, a shoulder rest may not be all that much use to you.

If you are playing in higher positions and/or have discomfort the shoulder rest can be helpful.

You can make a simple shoulder rest at home, using a rolled bit of cloth or a piece of sponge foam and if necessary fix it to the fiddle with a couple of rubber bands. Not very elegant but with a bit of experimenting to get the right size,  will work.
I read somewhere that some concert violinists have used padded shoulders in their jackets for the purpose.
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Offline beeswing

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2010, 10:02:16 PM »
When one of my wife's students is uncomfortable with a Guarneri type chinrest, she often switches them to a side-mount Wittner rest. The Wittner rest also comes as  a center-mount, is easy to install, and does not let metal touch skin.
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Offline ladydetemps

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2010, 02:57:19 PM »
I had the shoulder rest I ordered arrived yesterday...and my left shoulder and neck don't ache half as much.

Offline Worldfiddler

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #14 on: Jun 01, 2010, 01:43:46 PM »
Quote
I had the shoulder rest I ordered arrived yesterday...and my left shoulder and neck don't ache half as much.

What make and model did you get?

Jim

Offline ladydetemps

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #15 on: Jun 01, 2010, 01:51:51 PM »

Offline Worldfiddler

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #16 on: Jun 01, 2010, 02:13:02 PM »
Interesting. I have a Wolf Forte Primo which you can bend to the shape of your shoulder.

Is the Antoni rest "springy" as the pic suggests?

Anyway, I think the materiel is a bit softer than the Wolf's (which is a kind of dense foam rubber). The rest needs to be softer for the ladies (ducking for cover :) LOL)

I went through trying nearly every rest on the market before I got the Wolf.

Jim 

Offline ladydetemps

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #17 on: Jun 01, 2010, 02:31:36 PM »

Is the Antoni rest "springy" as the pic suggests?

Anyway, I think the materiel is a bit softer than the Wolf's (which is a kind of dense foam rubber). The rest needs to be softer for the ladies (ducking for cover :) LOL)

No not springy. But it does stop the fiddle from slipping down and digging into my *ahem* chest.

I'm a delicate flower, me. ;) :P

Offline Worldfiddler

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #18 on: Jun 01, 2010, 03:00:17 PM »
Quote
But it does stop the fiddle from slipping down and digging into my *ahem* chest.

You're funny :) :)

But ... you sound like you're holding the fiddle a bit too much in front of you if it would slip *ahem* chest-wise. Without a rest mine tends to slip off the shoulder (down-the-arm direction).

Jim

Offline beeswing

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #19 on: Jun 01, 2010, 04:04:04 PM »
The springs are to hold the long arms against the bottom edge, a bit like the grip system of a Comford rest. I'm forever having "normal" rests (Kun, Wolf, Artino, Muco, Mach...) fall off the insturmink, although the Mach ones' feet grip pretty well, as do the new style Kun feet. Sometimes I have even chalked the feet a bit to give them some grip, on the recommendation of a well-regarded Chicago luthier.
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Offline ladydetemps

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #20 on: Jun 01, 2010, 04:18:18 PM »
which for some reason reminds me....my violin won't fit in the case with the shoulder rest on and there's no where to put it when I take the thing off...so what am I supposed to do with it?

Offline beeswing

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #21 on: Jun 01, 2010, 04:56:48 PM »
The bags that come holding bottles of Crown Royal whiskey are ideal for looping around the handle of your fiddle case, and just the right size for a shoulder rest.
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Offline Ebor_fiddler

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #22 on: Jun 01, 2010, 09:25:10 PM »
Would you like to send me a bottle of Crown Royal Whisky, so I can try this out please?  ;D

Just look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Recognise8  by the way. No chin or shoulder rest suits the way I use my fiddle, but like the man says, it can be very restricting as to range. I can't get beyond high "C" on the "E" string because my hand is tied in first position, but for me it works!

Love and Fishes,

Chris.

 

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #23 on: Aug 11, 2010, 04:32:31 PM »
hey popped over to barleylands today and got myself a proper shoulder rest a kun 'copy'. Chap in the shop was helpfull and I tried several out. First  time ive been able to hold the violin by chinpower only.

Offline Fairview Fiddler

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Re: Is a shoulder-rest even necessary?
« Reply #24 on: Aug 13, 2010, 10:48:52 PM »
technically not necessary but really makes playing a lot more comfortable. I used to have a lump on my collar bone from playing without one and it really hurt. I've got several, a Kuhn and a Comford with the Comford coming in at about $60.
Get a case that will accomodate the shoulder rest. Saw an add for a shoulder rest where Stradivarius is holding up a Kuhn and thinking "why didn't I think of that?"

 




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