Captain Fiddle Music

Ryan and Brennish


Fitting a shoulder rest

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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.

Hi J,

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

"medium height."

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

Dear 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