A major challenge that a student can face is finding a comfortable chin rest. There are different models out there that have been around for decades, and new models that have popped up in the violin world in recent years.
Finding a comfortable chin rest can be as painful a process as choosing your violin. It takes time. I have gone through many chin rests. I almost stopped playing the violin before I entered conservatory because I developed a habit so bad that it was painful to put my fingers down on the fingerboard from having a setup that didn’t work with my body.
The chin rest was invented by Louis Spohr in the 19th century. It was invented to help free up the left hand as violin repertoire got increasingly more difficult. (This was also the case with shoulder rests.)
Finding a comfortable chinrest is so important to every violinist. A good chinrest, to me, prevents injuries. We hope that you find this post as a resource to help you with your chinrest search.
Finding Comfort in a Chinrest
Comfort is the first thing you should pay attention to when searching for a violin chin rest. I often tell my students that it’s a chin rest, not a chin grab. When working with your teacher or someone in your local string shop, try chin rests that will prevent you from grabbing the chin rest with your jaw or lifting up your left shoulder. This will cause discomfort for the long term.
Putting your head (or to be specific, the left side of your jaw) on the chin rest should be effortless. If it takes you more than 5 seconds to be comfortable with the violin on your shoulder, then you should probably look for another one. Every violin player is different and you should have a chin rest that works for you.
Changing your violin set up
Every violinist has a different neck. I for one have a VERY long neck. I remember trying out many chin rests and shoulder rests. If you can’t find a chin rest alone, it may be that you might need to change other things with your set up to really help you. This means changing your chin rest, your shoulder rest, or the way you hold your violin.
In general, you want your head resting on the chin rest using the weight of your head to help keep the violin up.
Consider the Sound
Some chin rests effect the sound of the instrument. If you’re comfortable with most chin rests out there, are interested in helping your instrument improve its sound, take note of the metal clamps on the chin rests. The metal clamps are what keep the chin rest secure on the violin.
Some chin rests like the ones made by SAS have one clamp. The SAS can be an excellent option for violinists who need a taller option. But sometimes the single clamp can effect the sound because it’s not distracting the tension evenly on the bottom of the violin nearest the tailpiece.
Chinrests for Short Necks
Dresden 4/4 Violin Chinrest
Guarneri 4/4 Violin Chinrest
Chinrests for Medium Necks
Hill 4/4 Violin Chinrest
Flat Flesh Center Mounted Chin Rest
Chinrests for Long Necks
Wittner Hypoallergenic Chin Rest (Side Mounted)
Wittner Hypoallergenic Chin rest (Center Mounted)