Violin training is no easy task. It needs focus, coordination, and dexterity, all of which require mental and physical strength.
A violin shoulder rest is one tool that can help your training and performance be more comfortable and convenient. It’s certainly one easy way to avoid having a stiff neck afterward.
However, one thing that will most definitely make you sore is spending hours trying to find the best violin shoulder rest. In this article, I’ll try to simplify the process and share my experience with you.
If you’re too busy to skim through the whole article, our favorite option is Kun Original Violin Shoulder Rest. It’s all you need in a violin shoulder rest for an affordable price.
Top Five Violin Shoulder Rests
One thing is for sure, shopping has become a nuisance. With the abundance of options online and otherwise, it has become difficult to find a product that works for you.
In this section, I’ll present my favorite five violin shoulder rests as well as what I like and dislike about them.
Kun has been a recognized name in the industry of musical supplies since the sixties. Its quality and consistency have never failed its customers. It’s the connoisseur’s choice.
Kun Original Violin shoulder rest is a traditional leg-styles rest with a minimalistic and practical design. It provides a delicate curve to sit on your shoulder allowing comfort, flexibility, and simplicity.
It’s made of a strong ABS substance and fully adjustable in three directions. The legs feature four extra adjustment holes, so it can adapt to different body shapes.
The end members are provided with a patented locking device to ensure complete separation from your violin. They easily adjust in height from 1.5 to 2 cm, giving your instrument an extra lift. This is essential to enhance tone clarity and purity, and avoid sound muffling.
On the other hand, there are a few drawbacks to Kun’s shoulder rest. First, it can’t be used with the student and kid-size violin models, as it’s made for 4/4 size or full-size violins. However, it can also fit any standard size ¾ and ½ size violins.
Second, the model isn’t collapsible, which can be inconvenient to carry around to practice or to concerts. Nevertheless, Kun solved this problem with its collapsible model.
Everest EZ4A Violin shoulder rest is a jack of all trades. It’s a combination of durability, versatility, and stability.
It works for both standard and student-sized violin models, which is very helpful for people who use both. It can accommodate 4/4 and ¾ sized models as well as 13 and 14 inches violas.
Therefore, instead of buying a shoulder rest for each model, Everest offers all in one and for a very economical price. It’s practically a steal!
In terms of stability, the legs are individually adjustable, allowing for a tight grip, regardless of your neck length and shoulder structure. The height is also adjustable with a range of half an inch.
The feet are locked in place and coated to ensure your shoulder rest remains unblemished for the longest time possible. Moreover, the rest is equipped with an ergonomic design with a foam underside to provide collarbone cushioning, while simultaneously ensuring maximum comfort and efficiency.
The curve is also carefully designed to encourage proper posture, and in the violin, posture is everything.
YMC Violin shoulder rest is made for those with a rustic taste. Made with a polished top-notch wood frame, it looks like a classic piece of art that perfectly compliments your violin’s aura. However, it offers much more than just that.
YMC’s wooden frame has a sleek curve, one that meticulously follows the contour of your shoulder, ensuring correct posture as well as avoiding slippage. It doesn’t compromise on comfort as it has a thin layer of high-density foam on its backside.
The feet are a great asset in this shoulder rest. They’re non-slip, collapsible, and made of a durable composite. The collapsibility is particularly helpful when it comes to carrying the shoulder rest around in your violin case.
Furthermore, the wooden frame along with the lift provided by the feet ensure violin tone clarity and amplitude. It’s also adaptable with peg holes, providing a solid fit for both full-sized as well as ¾ size violins.
To top it off, YMC Violin’s shoulder rest is easily the most affordable on the market, offering all the advantages of the other brands for a fraction of the price.
Portland Gold Violin shoulder rest is a premium model with an elegant design centered around a wooden frame with an exquisite golden-brown finish that might just match your violin.
The feet are made of a steel-reinforced core with robust brackets and gold-brass screws. They’re coated with molded rubber for extra durability.
The feet can accommodate ¾ and 4/4 violins and maintain a secure grasp for long durations. It’s topped with high-density composite cushioning for maximum strength and comfort.
Portland Gold is also the only shoulder rest on the market, offering a full one-year warranty and a 45-day money-back guarantee. That’s outstanding customer service, from a company that stands behind their products no matter what.
Should I Use a Violin Shoulder Rest?
Violin shoulder rests have as many fans as there are critics. Whether you should or shouldn’t use one, the jury is still out.
On one hand, it helps maintain a correct posture and prevent a stiff neck even when playing for long durations. This is essential if you want to follow the ten thousand hour rule. It also keeps the violin from slipping, allowing for more confident performances.
On the other hand, it can easily backfire. If you’re inexperienced and use it improperly, it can cause bad posture and injury. In addition, shoulder rests tend to muffle the resonance of the violin tune. Sometimes wooden frames, as well as height adjustment, help prevent this problem.
Types of Violin Shoulder Rests?
There are three main violin shoulder rests you can choose from: clip-on shoulder rests, air cushion shoulder rests, and foam shoulder rests. Identifying the one ideal for you is crucial before shopping.
Clip-on Shoulder Rests
These are the most commonly used. They have feet on either side that attach to the rim of the instrument. They’re adjustable in height, depth, and occasionally, curve.
Air Cushion Shoulder Rests
This design is exclusively made by Playonair. It’s an inflatable cushion that sticks to the back of the violin.
Foam Shoulder Rests
This is your very basic DIY shoulder rest. If you’re not sure the concept works for you, try this first. Just attach a foam sponge to the back of your instrument using a rubber band. However, if you feel this type is more comfortable than others, there are commercial shoulder pads and sponges that you can buy.
How to Choose a Violin Shoulder Rest
Our bodies are different, which means that when it comes to violin shoulder rests, there’s no one-size-fits-all. It’s actually a very individualized choice that should be fitted down to your neck length and shoulder bones.
There are some factors that are important for determining which shoulder rest is ideal for you. This buying guide is an attempt to explain some of these factors.
Shoulder rests are mainly made out of wood or plastic. It’s usually made out of a combination of materials, namely carbon fiber, foam, aluminum, leather or sponge, rather than just wood or plastic.
Recently, wooden rests have become more and more popular. The most commonly used types are ash, maple, and walnut. They’re harder and more durable than plastic shoulder rests. They also give a classy rustic look to your performance, more so than plastic or metal shoulder rests.
Moreover, wooden shoulder rests contribute to the clarity and purity of the acoustic sound of your violin. However, one problem you might face with wooden rests is they’re usually not easily adjustable and might be uncomfortable if they lack foam padding on the bottom.
On the other hand, plastic shoulder rests stand out by being lightweight and more affordable. This might affect the tone of your violin, but it’s definitely a good option for a beginner. There’s also a downside concerning its short lifetime and limited durability.
Other commonly used materials are metal, foam, and rubber. Metal is usually used in the legs and bases. The rubber may be used on the feet as they’re economical and flexible. Foam is used for padding for extra comfort. Alternatively, sponge and soft rubber are sometimes used instead of foam.
Size and Adjustability
Contrary to popular belief, size does matter. Considering the size of your violin and looking for a suitable shoulder rest is the best way to find your match.
Most shoulder rests exclusively fit 4/4 and ¾ standard violins. These are the basic kinds that don’t require adjustability. However, it’s not uncommon to find versatile shoulder rests that are compatible with different sizes and even with violas. This is definitely good news for musical polyglots!
Adjustability is another crucial aspect of a shoulder rest. Our body shapes are very different with a huge variation in neck height and shoulder bone structure. Almost all models can be adjusted by height and depth to offer more neck support.
Some models have an adjustable curve with a mechanical base. Others have a swivel feature with which you can alter the angle of the base.
With the plethora of choices and products, it’s become difficult to avoid option paralysis. Nevertheless, buying guides are there for the rescue, especially when it comes to musical supplies.
Looking for the perfect shoulder rest is a daunting task, but nonetheless an important one for your performance as well as your practice.
My favorite one has to be Kun Original Violin Shoulder Rest. It’s a mixture of minimalism, efficiency, and durability. That’s not easy to come by.
If you’d like something more economical, I’d recommend looking into Everest EZ4A Violin Shoulder Rest. It’s fully adjustable and versatile, accommodating almost all violin sizes and for almost half the price of Kun’s.
I hope this article has clarified some of the confusion around the best violin shoulder rests out there and how to choose the one ideal for you.