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Oct 24, 2018 - 4:59:50 PM
2428 posts since 10/6/2008

I'm thinking of experimenting with ways to support the fiddle so that I don't have to use my chin. I want to feel more relaxed and be free to move my head around and gaze this way or that when I play. :)

I don't use a shoulder rest at the moment -- never really found them comfortable -- but I'm open to giving that another try, if it's a necessary part of a suspension system.

So, seriously. What's out there? What have you tried? And what would you recommend?

Oct 24, 2018 - 5:12:37 PM
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bob t


88 posts since 12/26/2007

I had some serious neck pain when playing fiddle a few years ago to the point I thought I would have to quit playing. The Teka style chinrest and Viva La Musica shoulder rest saved the day for me. I've recently switched to the Viva Flex shoulder rest by the same company which I like better and its 1/3 the price.

Oct 25, 2018 - 5:57:51 AM
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Players Union Member



2152 posts since 2/2/2008

I have a friend that has a fiddle support that goes around his neck. I don't know if this is the brand he uses, but it does look similar.

Oct 26, 2018 - 8:24:57 AM
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3949 posts since 6/23/2007

Some time ago I started tucking the end pin into my chest (upper left side). I found I could then glance around the room, plus I didn't have an f-hole so close to my ear so I could listen to what others were doing. Am I in time? Am I in the same part of the tune as everybody else? Am I in tune? All those questions are answered.

Oct 27, 2018 - 5:28:35 AM

2428 posts since 10/6/2008

I wish I could just hold the fiddle lower but my arm doesn’t seem long enough. I’ve ordered a shoulder rest so I can experiment with home-made solutions add I’ll post an update one of these days.

Would love to here more opinions! I suspect it will take a while to find the best approach for me.

Oct 27, 2018 - 11:24:52 AM

1217 posts since 4/6/2014

i just persevered without a shoulder rest for a few months, (after trying 2 or 3 types, and pads and stuff), then everything seemed ok, not saying it's for everyone, but it's a starting point, (and a finishing point for me)......any old chin rest seems to do for me as long as it keeps my chin off the tail piece and the top of the fiddle

Oct 27, 2018 - 12:20:29 PM
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1217 posts since 4/6/2014

just had a look at your "small triumph" blog it looks like you've got a good natural sort of hold on the fiddle.. only thing that seems different from my own hold, is that i think i am tending to use more jaw bone than chin...if that makes any sense?....(the point of my jaw bone on the chin rest).... just like I've fallen asleep with the thing under my jawbone..........just got to stop myself drooling on it. ;o)

maybe worth a try??...maybe not...??

Oct 28, 2018 - 9:46:10 AM

2428 posts since 10/6/2008

I appreciate the comments. Thanks!

I'm comfortable holding the fiddle--it's really second nature now and I don't even really think about it--but I've just been wondering if it could be even more relaxed and free.

I ordered the shoulder rest that Bob mentioned--good price, so I figured there wasn't much to lose--and it arrived yesterday. My first thoughts are that it isn't as physically bothersome as I remember the other ones that I tried being and, my goodness, my left hand was free!

Now, if I could just remove the need for the chin ... :) I'll post updates as I have them as it might be helpful to someone else sometime down the road.

Oct 28, 2018 - 11:22:32 AM

1217 posts since 4/6/2014

An interview with Anne Sophie Mutter:

Laurie:...(interviewer)... One more question...the violinists on are very concerned about shoulder rests....

Anne-Sophie: This is a very interesting, and almost crucial moment in life, when you decide with what shoulder rest, or if at all. I remember I went through a phase of almost seven or eight years. First of all, when I started at five and a half, I was still growing, and therefore I frequently changed shoulder rests. I started with the Menuhin thing, and somehow it wasn't comfortable. A few years later I started to use a little pillow, which felt way more comfortable -- I didn't like the metal thing on the violin. But then when I was 11 or 12 and had nearly reached my final height, (the pillow) felt uncomfortable. So I changed from a relatively high pillow to a low rubber thing, which was extremely uncomfortable but the height was good. From that very uncomfortable but otherwise comfortable set-up, I went to a piece of deer leather, deerskin, because I needed something in between the clothing and the violin because the violin didn't feel secure. So the deerskin was kind of giving traction to the shoulder and violin. And then, when I started to play with Karajan, around that time, I discovered that playing without anything was actually the ideal solution. Then the next step was playing with sleeveless dresses -- that gave the ideal traction. So it took me about seven or eight years to finally settle down and find the solution. But there is no real rule one can apply, because it all depends on the neck length and the position of your shoulder.

Most important is that you don't squeeze your shoulder up, that you don't pressure your chin down, because you'll get terrible muscle pains in your neck area. Basically the instrument has to just lie there and you put your head on the chinrest and that's it. There's no force involved. According to the particular needs of the body, everyone has to play as relaxed as you can.

Dec 12, 2018 - 6:39:02 AM
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2428 posts since 10/6/2008

Update: I bought the Viva Flex shoulder rest that Bob recommended ( and I've been using it with a WickelBuckle (

It took about a week to tweak the shoulder rest to the best position and now, sometimes, I have to look to see if it's there. It's unobtrusively effective and I probably should have gone through the set-up effort ten years ago.

I love the WickelBuckle. It's simple and it does the job. It's a bit strange looking, I suppose, and there's no way to hide it, but it attaches the fiddle to my body in a very comfortable way.

I now have the freedom to relax my left hand and move my head around any way I want -- which, I think gives me the ability to hear myself better and connect with the people I'm playing with. I'm pretty sure I'll continue using it going forward.

Feb 21, 2019 - 9:56:05 AM
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46 posts since 4/7/2016

Thank you
Ordered a Wickelbuckle
After 4 rotator cuff surgeries I must find a way to play.

Feb 21, 2019 - 10:27:53 AM
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2428 posts since 10/6/2008

chas5131 Let us know what you think of the Wickelbuckle after you've tried it for a while. I don't use it 100% of the time, but I'm still liking it when I do.

Feb 21, 2019 - 11:14:11 AM
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76 posts since 11/12/2011

Glad you all found something that's helping. I liked the Wickelbuckle when I tried it and think it would be great for performers or folks who find themselves in less chatty jams. The only drawback for me was that I needed to get in and out of it pretty frequently which I was not very well-skilled at. I've been using a homemade strap for about a year now -- which has been helpful, though not perfect.

Edited by - christym on 02/21/2019 11:19:56

Feb 21, 2019 - 11:33:55 AM
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2428 posts since 10/6/2008

christym I'd love to see a photo of your strap holding the fiddle. And I'd love to hear the pros and cons for the other suspension systems you've tried.

Feb 21, 2019 - 2:08:09 PM
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76 posts since 11/12/2011

Originally posted by Cyndy

christym I'd love to see a photo of your strap holding the fiddle. And I'd love to hear the pros and cons for the other suspension systems you've tried.


PROS: comfortable, very secure, smart design, friendly customer support

CON: I was not able to get into and out of it as easily as I would have liked to, but for folks who may play many tunes in a row this would not be an issue


PROS: very comfortable, very secure, simple design, had no need to speak to customer support so cannot comment on that aspect

CON: Same as for the Wickelbuckle.  I was not able to get into and out of it as quickly as I would like

Violin Valet:

PROS: very comfortable, fairly secure, interesting design, the user is not strapped into anything so there was no issue of getting into or out of it

CONS: requires hanging felt-covered weights (maybe a 1 lb or so total weight, I'm not sure) from the instrument.  I was afraid that without the utmost care I might damage my fiddle because of them.  For this reason, I did not use the valet more than a few times.  Still it was a very interesting design and works well otherwise.  On the last item, I had slightly awkward  correspondence with the seller--but I think that was on me--so I cannot say it should amount to much.

Edited by - christym on 02/21/2019 14:12:03

Feb 24, 2019 - 5:16:17 PM
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1599 posts since 10/22/2007

Saw an older fiddler with a half inch leather strap around his neck. The loop hung down to his chest. The strap went across the fiddle's back in the middle, and up and out of the C bouts ( where the fiddle is narrowest. ) on either side. Difficult to describe but seems very simple once one sees it. I'm a summit shoulder rest owner, and know there are many to choose from and whatever works is an individual thing. Juss' sayin that strap is another option.

Edited by - farmerjones on 02/24/2019 17:17:13

Mar 2, 2019 - 6:29:16 AM

46 posts since 4/7/2016

Tried the Wickelbuckle.
Need the fiddle lower. About the bottom of the sternum. That leaves the strap too loose.
Working on a solution.
Meanwhile I am trying to learn to hold the fiddle cello style. There is something to be said for cellos style.
It does not allow me to stand. I miss that. I also miss having shoulders I could do gymnastics with.
This guy is better at it than I -

Mar 2, 2019 - 2:08:24 PM

46 posts since 4/7/2016

In the cello position the sound was too thin. A good carbon fiber bow fixed that.

Jun 6, 2019 - 7:33:07 AM

4109 posts since 6/23/2007

In some cases, sellers are not qualified to adjust chin restss to individual users. And, no guidance on setting up and using a chin strap is provided. The Bon Musica is very adjustable. Until a qualified person set mine up, and provided advice on using it, I thought the Bon Musica would not work. After the luthier made changes and reshaped some things, I had no problem with the chin rest.

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