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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: My violin is suddenly in the way of the E-string

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Quincy - Posted - 01/20/2021:  11:24:16

I play without a chin rest. I'm very allergic to nickle and the luthier's  Wittner alternative fell off all of the time , so I decided to try to play without and found out it feels more comfortable to me.

I'm not planning to play without a shoulder rest, I have an Artino shoulder rest that can be adapted in height and I have it at it's highest, but I might buy a shoulder rest that has more height than this one.

But now my problem.

Yesterday I have been playing with my shoulder rest a bit to find the ideal position of the violin for me,  I tried different heights and pinholes and tried out every possible position on the back of the violin. But I tried so many different options that I'm totally lost now, because when I now try to play the E-string, the wood of the violin is literally in the way of my bow.

Are there any guidelines on this matter?

Edited by - Quincy on 01/20/2021 11:28:59

TuneWeaver - Posted - 01/20/2021:  13:02:27

Intriguing... Can you post a photo? I'm not sure what you mean when you say, "..the wood of the violin is literally in the way of the bow.."...Don't give up.. Experts (wink) are here to help..


banjopaolo - Posted - 01/20/2021:  13:30:33

Quincy I’m not sure to understand what you mean exactly: you mean that when you play the E string you hit the body of the violin with your bow?

I played baroque violin for some years: no chinrest nor shoulderest... evrything can be done! But you have to find a position that allow you a relaxed and confortable playing...

Try to be very carefull checking the inclination of your bow while playing every string, I think you can find the right inclination to play the E string with any shoulderest height

banjopaolo - Posted - 01/20/2021:  13:52:01

Let me suggest you an exercize: play some long bowings on the open A string, then play some long bowings on both A and E string in double stop, at this point just tilt the bow slightly not to touch the A string anymore... that’s the perfect inclination to play on the E string....

Brian Wood - Posted - 01/20/2021:  14:30:21


Originally posted by Quincy

Are there any guidelines on this matter?

For the comfort of your body and what it's used to, a new shoulder rest will probably need to equal the hight of your old shoulder restand chin rest combined. That does still leave you with your chin lower to the top of your violin than it was before but I'm guessing in time you will get used to it, and your right arm will get used to a new position for your E string.

Edited by - Brian Wood on 01/20/2021 14:30:49

Brian Wood - Posted - 01/20/2021:  14:31:24


Originally posted by Brian Wood


Originally posted by Quincy

Are there any guidelines on this matter?

For the comfort of your body and what it's used to, a new shoulder rest will probably need to equal the hight of your old shoulder rest and chin rest combined. That does still leave you with your chin lower to the top of your violin than it was before but I'm guessing in time you will get used to it, and your right arm will get used to a new position for your E string.


TexasReb54 - Posted - 01/20/2021:  15:58:49

I'm assuming you mean that playing without a shoulder rest makes it difficult to achieve a good angle on the E string without rubbing the side of the fiddle. I play my fiddle without a chin rest or a shoulder rest, but I got started in school playing Viola classically with a chin rest and shoulder rest for about seven years. I run into the same problem occasionally, especially when I'm trying to speed a tune up and I stop paying as careful attention to the angle of the bow. It can be overcome. It is simply an issue of adjusting to bowing the E at a slightly different angle. It tends to be less forgiving than with a shoulder rest. You might also experiment with the angle you're holding the fiddle at. Bear in mind that many older fiddlers who played without chin and shoulder rests didn't use what most classical players would consider to be a "proper" way of holding the instrument. Many angled the fiddle away from them pretty dramatically and of course many didn't even place it under their chin at all. Take a look at how Doug Kershaw holds his fiddle to his chest. I'm sure it would make most classical violinists cringe! I'm not saying those are ideal ways to play, but it's worth considering that the angle and placement may make a difference. I also personally believe that if you're playing fiddle for your own enjoyment like I do that "proper" form isn't a huge deal. If it's comfortable for you and doesn't cause you to hurt yourself or handicap your playing, do it! If sticking to what you think is a "proper" hold is uncomfortable or making you unable to play, loosen up a bit and find something that works.

DougD - Posted - 01/20/2021:  16:17:52

I believe you can get titanium clamps for your chinrest that might solve your allergy problem.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 01/20/2021:  19:29:09

If the Wittner was falling off, it probably wasn’t attached properly, unless the violin has very unusual edges (like a Rigat Rubus). Don’t over tighten, but it needs to be firm enough to stay in place while your chin sits on it. Using the violin without a chin rest is certainly an option, but it will take some getting used to, and the position of the instrument will be different.

As far as rules for setup of the shoulder rest angle, there are different schools of thought. Most would suggest that the violin be tilted downward at the E side just a little to allow for easy bow access across all strings. If the instrument tilts too much, the bow will run into the C bout.

Shoulder rests tend to favor more of a tilt downward than what you would find using just the chinrest.

Quincy - Posted - 01/20/2021:  21:13:48

Many thanks for the input!

Going back to a chinrest is not what I prefer, without a chin rest I hear a nicer sound next to my ear and the chin rest always felt like it was in my way.

My teacher plays without a chin rest too, but she never corrects my position because she told me once the way I hold my violin is exactly how it is described in books. However, she encourages me to start MOVING now when I play and to be more expressive in my play. I am not sure about moving along to the music, I record myself pretty often and when I see myself wobbling when trying to move I ask myself: how much movement is allowed? And don't I look weird this way? (I do, I'm pretty sure :-D)


: hehe I had a video where I was struggling with the E -string, cursing and all, but I deleted it. Not too smart, I should have compared the video with other videos I have, to see what went wrong. But I meant that my bow touched the wood every time I tried to play the E-string.

@ Brian Wood: yes , this is what I figured out too, that the loss of the height of the chin rest perhaps needs more compensation. So a shoulder rest with more height would be nice. Suggestions for a shoulder rest are always welcome!

@Paolo: thank you for this little exercise, it worked very well! I love these technique tricks and tips. 

After reading the reactions and a few attempts later I finally found back the best way for me to adjust the shoulder rest, it is now placed right at the bottom of the back side, where the chin rest would be at the other side if I still had one. 

Edited by - Quincy on 01/20/2021 21:16:01

ChickenMan - Posted - 01/21/2021:  03:25:33

Is it that you are drawing the bow outside the optimal sweet spot? If you bow too far towards the fingerboard this can happen (touching wood with the bow). I am otherwise flummoxed as to how this could happen if you didn't have the problem before, unless perhaps the bridge was moved laterally.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 01/21/2021:  11:50:51

Playing without a chin rest is a lot of fun. After doing it for a while it feels natural. The only real downside to it is difficulty in shifting, especially when coming down. If you’re playing music that doesn’t require much shifting, it won’t be much of an issue.

There are a couple things that could cause your bow to run into the bout, but I hesitate to make guesses without seeing the instrument.

There isn’t any firm rule about moving as you play. Some players move quite a lot, others don’t. It doesn’t make any difference to the quality of sound unless you turn enough to change the direction of sound radiation. Too much movement can be very distracting to the audience, especially if it comes off as contrived. That being said, there’s little agreement on where to draw the line. My advice would be to focus on your playing and the audience and let your body move as it will (assuming good posture, of course).

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 01/22/2021:  05:46:37

I don't use chin rests or should rests either me, they make holding onto an awkward instrument even more awkward. But what I find myself doing is that the instrument sort of tilts one way or another, depending on which strings I'm bowing...not sure if that would work for anybody else, but at this point, 12 years into my self-learned playing, it seems to be working for me. Good luck solving the issue, Anja.

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