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These two accessories are grouped together because they should always be considered together. Ideally a player could have a matched combination made personally for them for everyone has a different build and will hold their instrument in their own way. In selecting a combination, the following should be borne in mind:

  • Though one feels it an achievement to be able to hold one's violin/viola without the aid of the left hand, it is not the best thing to do. The instrument's support should be shared between the left hand and the chin to avoid unnecessary tension across the back and ultimately to the bowing arm. Good vibrato comes from a relaxed stance as also does good bowing. It is not good practice to squeeze so hard with the chin and shoulder as though one is trying to elongate the scroll and will be very much regretted in one's later years.

  • Any rests or pads chosen should allow one's shoulders to be in their natural drooped position and the head and neck in a natural upright posture.

  • Bear in mind that the higher the shoulder pad, the higher also will be the requirement for the bowing arm - this too can produce problems over the years beside being undesirable for good bowing technique.

  • Finding the correct combination can take hours that is to say if one can find a sympathetic retailer/luthier prepared to give of his time for little return.

  • For youngsters who spend many hours playing, a parent should pay particular attention to these points if jaw bone and chin deformation are to be avoided

  • If one is to be swopping over chin rests oneself - take care that the barrel unwinding pin does not go right the way through the barrel and mutilated the instrument's sides.


Below are pictures of various chin rests easily available. Notice their differing heights. designed placement position and cup shape. They are usually made of plastic, ebony, rosewood, and in some cases suede covered foam (more for the ladies). Some of these makes of chinrests are made a little larger and deeper for the viola, but all can be adapted for the viola by the use of longer barrels to accommodate the viola's deeper sides. ( Another viola joke somewhere here I think. How about this one though: "Why are some chinrests made larger and deeper for the viola? - answer is below the table)

    Name Remarks     Name Remarks
Wolf med height,pliable, suede covered, side placing Teka med height, side placing
Guaneri med height, large, over tailpiece Strad, plastic med ht, 'up and over' tailpiece
Flesch high, over tailpiece Hill med ht, side placing
Dresden low ht, side placing Leipzig low ht, side placing
YMC Fully adjustable. Very comfortable. New         

Answer: So that the violist might enjoy deeper sleep between notes, or just that they are usually longer in the tooth. Sorry!


First of all let it be said, that shoulder pads are not a 'must' and that there is much to be said for managing without one. Some of the more popular types are tabled below and one will notice, that :

  • some are clamped to the instrument's sides whereas others are laid upon the back and attached by sprung legs (The Lark) or by rubber rings to the instrument's corners (Voigt)

  • some have adjustable legs at either end for height adjustment whilst others assume a constant height

  • One other type not shown is the Jegro which is simply a foam covered pad with rubber attachments to the tail pin and corners. A very popular model indeed. A variation on this theme is to use a suede covered foam pad (such as one sold as a car cleaner) to which rubber rings are attached.

Shoulder pads which are clamped to the sides do impair the tone of the violin a little in the lower register but offer more in the way of personal adjustment as well as being comfortable. It is surprising the difference felt when wearing a jacket with its associated lapel after practising in a comfortable wooly pullover.

    Type Remarks
Play-on-Air A blown up laterally slideable cushion which clips to the sides. Make sure the tube for doing the blowing-up does not get lost
YM Artist A fixed height pad attached by width adjustable sprung legs. Very popular as it is not easily dislodged from the instrument. I have seen them personalised by the substitution of custom shaped cushion for the pad. Has the advantage of not compressing the sides of the instrument and thereby impairing the tone.
The Lark A Chinese copy of the above
Bonmusica Shaped to hug the shoulder and prevent ones instrument slipping down. Fully adjustable with moldable curvature. However, somewhat bulky and heavy - not easily accommodated in one's case
Wolf Primo A flat pad (can be arched a little) with legs adjustable for height and which clamp to the sides. Can be accommodated in most cases.
Wolf Secondo Similar to the above but more suited to broader shoulders and laterally adjustable.
Kun Ordinary Leg ht is adjustable. Barrels which accommodate the legs can either be fixed or rotatable. When rotated facilitates storage
Kun Super Similar to the above, but with more selection for lateral adjustment.
Kun Collapsible The Original style, but with legs which fold down for easy carrying and storage.