Fitting a Shoulder Rest,
By Ryan Thomson
A letter I received:
Hi Captain Fiddle,
What kind of shoulder rests do you buy? I have just bought a Wolf Secundo for my fiddle
and a Wolf Primo for my viola. It seems so odd to me that they arrive with almost no
instructions on how to tailor the fit. I have adjusted the height and width and the things
still don't feel comfortable. I have figured out, based on a photo in a catalogue where they
should fit on the violin, but where on your body, exactly are they supposed to fit? Maybe
my neck is just too short or something.
I use a forte primo for my violin. I like it. I used to use a "Resonans" which I still have as a
back up. I actually spent time over a few weeks bending the metal bit by bit until it fit the
contour of my collar bone exactly. It fits better than the forte primo, but isn't as secure in
the way that it attaches to the violin.
Everybody has a different shaped body. Its common for someone(me too) to take a month
or so fiddling with a new shoulder rest until they get it adjusted right for them. Also, some
chin rests stick up higher than others so if it seems you've lowered the adjustments all the
way down and your neck still seems too short, maybe you might consider a different chin
rest. The shoulder rests also come in 3 different heights, although most stores only carry
Turn the shoulder rest around, try each end up or down. Also try it diagonally, in all the
possible positions short of having it fall off your fiddle. It doesn't have to just go on
perpendicular as shown in the diagram.
All of the pad on the bottom of the rest should be touching your body, not just the top, or
bottom, or just one edge of it. Put it on and have someone look at you and see whether
the pad is in complete contact with your body, with no open space showing. Adjust
accordingly. I hope this helps!
happy fiddling, Ryan
Only another fiddle lover would go to that much trouble to help a fellow fiddler. Thank you
much. What you have said is very helpful, especially the part about being sure that it
touches all around. I hope that you will add your advice to your next book. I read anything
"fiddle" and have never found this info, although, I suppose it is mostly common
sense...then so is most of what we read. We just have to have our "bells" rung. By the way,
I come from the period when nobody used a shoulder rest, but my shoulder muscles now
need some help.
Thank you again and... Happy Holidays!
Article written by Ryan Thomson, 2002