Violin is by far one of the hardest string instruments when it comes to learning and playing. It takes dedication and long hours of practice to be able to produce any pleasing sound with the instrument.
Now, with that being said, prolonged practice sessions can become somewhat uncomfortable especially when you consider the unique posture in which you need to hold the instrument. Many beginner violinists have noted experiencing some pain in their neck, and even chin, after a tense practice session.
This is where Violin Shoulder Rests come into the picture. These can help the players practice the proper posture for playing the violin and even limit the pain they experience while starting out.
With this in mind, we have put together a detailed read covering some of the best Violin Shoulder Rests in the market. By the end of this read, you will have a clear understanding of what violin shoulder rest is right for you, how you should use one, why you might have heard some violinists against its usage, and much more.
So without further ado, let’s get started:
A Violin Shoulder Rest is a simple accessory that gets attached to the backside of the violin. It contains some clamps which get attached to the edge of the violin and provides a platform, usually made with soft material like rubber or soft plastic.
You place the platform on your shoulder to provide some comfort as well as elevating the height of the violin, making it easier to hold the violin between your chin and shoulder.
It has primarily devised for amateur violinists to prevent the instrument from slipping while they are practicing or performing. By adding the extra height, the players don’t need to bend their neck very much. This makes it easier, and much more comfortable to keep the violin in position, and practice good posture and prevent neck stretching or back hunching.
Furthermore, by adding the cushion or padded platform, it provides extra comfort to the collarbone, which makes the playing as painless as possible. This means, you will be able to practice for long hours allowing you to become proficient more quickly.
Despite being really useful to beginner violinists by increasing the accessibility, you might have heard many players shun the use of violin shoulder rests. This is mostly because the earlier models used to distort the sound of the instrument by dampening its resonance. However, such problems are not present with the modern violin shoulder rests.
Back then, the shoulder rests occupied an overly large contact surface with the violin. As such, it is quite natural for the resonance to get somewhat distorted by the soft materials. But now, the shoulder rests are attached to the violin using clamps at the edges, reducing the contact surface to an absolute minimum.
This is even the case with the cheapest violin shoulder rests in the market, and so, you have no worries or criticisms for using these accessories while learning to play the violin.
By now, you should have made up your mind on whether or not you want to use a violin shoulder rest. If yes, then here are some things you should consider when purchasing one.
As you can remember, we just discussed the main critique on the use of Violin Shoulder Rests, which is, that it can dampen the sound. This is why the material used to prepare the accessory is very important.
For example, if the shoulder rest uses soft material, then there is a chance that it might absorb the resonance, thereby affecting the sound. On the flip side, a hard material won’t be much comfortable, thereby defeating the purpose of the shoulder rest.
As such, hard material is generally used as the base of the shoulder rest which is then topped with soft padding to provide comfort to the player. Generally, the hard base is designed with either wood or metal whereas the soft padding uses rubber or foam. In some instances, you might also find a decent violin shoulder rest completely built of plastic.
Wood is by far the most common material used to build the base. It is durable, has good resonance, and looks very stylish. But on the flip side, it isn’t very flexible and won’t bend to a perfect fit on your shoulder. So if you are going for a wooden violin shoulder rest, make sure that the base is well padded.
Foam is one of the most popular materials used for the base padding. Alternatively, some manufacturers like to use a sponge or soft rubber for the padding. And speaking of rubber, you will also find models purely constructed out of hardened rubber. The rubber shoulder rests are more flexible than wooden ones and are also quite affordable. However, you will be sacrificing quite with respect to style.
Metal is generally used to construct the legs of the shoulder rest that clasps to the edges of the violin. But you can find models which use metal to construct the base as well. In that case, they use a soft and bendable type of metal which allows the player to adjust the rest to comfortably fit on their shoulder.
And finally, you will find that the market is populated with tons of plastic violin shoulder rests. These are, by far, the most affordable. However, they also have the shortest lifespan.
While purchasing a shoulder rest for your violin, you need to make sure it is compatible with the size of your instrument. As you should already know, violins and violas come in different sizes, and as such, make sure to buy your violin shoulder rest accordingly.
However, you might also find shoulder rests that are compatible with various sizes of the violin. For example, there are many shoulder rests that can be used interchangeably between a 4/4 violin and a 3/4 violin. The same goes for a 13” viola and a 14” viola. But, with that being said, you are unlikely to find a shoulder rest that can easily fit with a violin as well as a viola.
As such, make sure the shoulder rest adheres to the size of the violin.
Now while inspecting the size of the instrument, you might also find that these shoulder rests also come in various shapes as well. For example, there is the bar-style shoulder rest which gives you a narrow area to rest on your shoulder. On the flip side, there are big well-padded shoulder rests as well.
You can choose whichever you like. It is very subjective and won’t cause any issues. As long as there are no sound dampening issues, you are fine.
The shoulder rest is designed to provide comfort to the user. As such, it is important that you are able to properly adjust it to attain the most comfortable angle or position.
Now, most shoulder rests will give you the option to adjust it to a comfortable height or depth. There are also some that come with a swivel that allows you to tilt it and adjust its angle. You can even find some products that allow you to bend the base so that it perfectly fits the curve of your shoulder.
However, the more features you are looking for, the more it is going to increase the cost of the accessory.
Following the above-mentioned criteria, you can search the market for a shoulder rest that is perfect for you and your violin. But to help you out on your search, here we have put together a list of some of the best Violin Shoulder Rests so you can make your pick out of the most popular and feature-rich options available in the market.
Starting off our list we have the AcoustaGrip Concert Master Level 1. It is entirely constructed out of foam and attaches right to the body of your violin. There are hundreds of small suction cups that create multiple micro-grips to keep attach itself to the violin.
It comes with a dedicated cut out for your shoulder to help create a secure fit. Doing so protects your chin, neck, and collarbone from any discomfort or pressure marks.
There is no use of any glue or adhesive so you don’t have to worry about any damage to the varnish of the violin. Furthermore, since it uses no clamps, there is no dampening effect on the sound.
The Bonmusica violin shoulder rest is extremely popular amongst beginner and professional violinists alike. It is a well built sturdy product that is, by far, one of the most flexible shoulder rests in the market.
You get a softly padded curved base that is super comfortable. You also get extra controls that let you adjust the width, height, and curve of the rest to your specific requirements. Not only that, but it can also be installed inversely for left-handed violinists.
And although it uses clamps to attach to the base of the violin, it makes minimum contact, so you don’t have to worry about sound dampening.
Here we have a super affordable violin shoulder rest made by Everest. It is completely designed using plastic and foam which results in affordable pricing, but at the same time, it is somewhat of low quality and might break with prolonged use. However, it is still super comfortable which makes it popular amongst amateur and student violinists.
The shoulder rest follows an ergonomic curve that sits perfectly for maximum comfort. However, do note that it is designed to fit 1/4 to 1/10 size violins, so it won’t be compatible with anything larger or smaller.
The Fiddlerman shoulder rest is made using 100% genuine wood for the base. This makes it extremely high quality and sturdy enough to last you for ages. And to enhance the comfortability, it comes with a foam padding.
As we discussed earlier, being made of wood, it is not curve-adjustable, so that is something players should keep in mind.
However, it is still quite flexible and can be configured to a specific height that you like. You can also entirely collapse the shoulder rest and retract it, so there is minimal space between you and the violin, allowing for a more natural feel.
Up next, we have the Kun Collapsible Violin Shoulder Rest. It is one of the most popular shoulder rests for beginner violinists. It comes with a patented locking system that ensures the shoulder rest is never in touch with the violin, so you don’t need to worry about any sound dampening issues.
The bar-style shoulder rest is contoured to comfortably sit on your shoulders allowing for extended hours of playing. There is also a foam padding for extra comfort to your shoulders. It can also be adjusted in three directions to make sure the violin perfectly fits into place without you need to stretch your neck or bend your posture.
The Mach One is one of the classier violin shoulder rests in the market. It is handcrafted using maple wood giving it a very polished and sophisticated appeal. The shoulder rest boasts a very pronounced curve which not only looks great but also makes it much more ergonomic and comfortable.
As you can imagine, the base is coated with an ample layer of foam which provides extra cushion to your shoulders. Besides this, the feet are also designed using nylon material to ensure your violin doesn’t succumb to any unnecessary wear and tear.
With the Playonair violin shoulder rest, you ditch the traditional bar style shoulder rest in exchange for an inflatable cushion that can fit on your shoulders. There is an option to control how much you want the cushion to inflate in accordance with your comfort, and also doubling as height adjustment.
Surely it is one of the best shoulder rests in the market as far as comfortability is concerned. However, as too much of the cushion touches the violin, you will notice a significant amount of sound dampening. As such, you need to inflate the cushion accordingly to keep things balanced.
If you are looking for a shoulder rest strictly for height adjustment, then the Viva La Musica is an excellent option. It is designed using maple wood, which not only makes it look good but also provides strength and rigidity ensuring long term use.
A thin foam layer is also applied to make sure the violin comfortably rests on your shoulders without causing any pain. And for violinists with long necks, the legs can be easily adjusted to the height of your likings so you don’t have to stretch your neck to hold the violin in place.
The Wolf Forte Primo Shoulder Rest offers a metal base that can bend and adjust to the shape of your shoulder. This allows the violin to be fitted properly limiting the off chances that it might fall off. Not only that, but the base is paired with a foam padding which also makes it comfortable for your shoulders.
Each of the legs that attach to the violin contains two threaded sections. This allows for excellent height adjustability so you don’t have to stretch your neck to hold the violin in place. Also, apart from being flexible in terms of its height, the violin is also suited for various violins sizes.
And now for the final entry on our list of the best violin shoulder rests, we have the Wolf Forte Secondo. It is one of the most affordable yet highly customizable shoulder rests in the market. In fact, one of its key aspects would be the fact that you can manipulate almost every part of the device to ensure a comfortable fit.
You can bend the bar to your desired curvature. But it remains stable while you are using it. The legs can be moved in and out, and can even be rotated to help you get the right configuration in terms of height and angle. On top of that, you get a thick foam padding which significantly reduces the weight of the violin on your shoulder.
So these were our picks for the 10 best violin shoulder rests. Do let us know if you found the read to be useful and whether it helped you in finding the right shoulder rest as per your needs.
As you can see, we have included a diverse range of shoulder rests, starting from the classical bar-style shoulder rests to foam-based, and even with inflatable cushions. This should give you ample options to find a violin shoulder rest that is right for you and fits your needs.