As you might imagine, here at GelRest, we get a lot of queries about how to make a violin more comfortable, so musicians often ask us about the violin shoulder rest.
The way we see it, the GelRest provides comfort and protection to those parts of your body above the shoulder, like your face and neck for instance, while the shoulder rest does the same for parts of your body below, like your collarbone and breast.
Having a bit of padding at BOTH areas of contact will offer the most protection — thus preventing bruising while also reducing tension. The result is you will practice more, which is the key to faster improvement, and more fun!
So, a shoulder rest is a good place to start, but it’s only half the battle, because chinrests and shoulder rests work together to achieve optimum comfort. Make sure your chinrest is comfortable, click Here.
Here’s a good tip for setting up your shoulder rest on your violin or viola…
Note, to try this, your shoulder rest must have adjustable feet.
Next, try setting the two adjustable feet at very different heights –one side high and one side low. See photos.
That’s because when you hold the instrument up to your chin, your left shoulder will easily contact the instrument, but your right shoulder willl not contact the instrument at all — in fact, there may be a gap of 3 or 4 inches between the instrument and your right side.
Try holding your instrument up in playing position, and see for yourself.
Here’s how I set up my shoulder rest.
- Set the foot on the left at the lowest position possible, by turning it clockwise.
- Set the foot on the right at a higher position (turn counter-clockwise), so it makes contact with your body.
Experiment with the right foot height to find the position that’s right for you.
Looking down from the neck of the instrument. The extended right side is easy to see.
Another view. Note that the shoulder rest is at an angle across the back of the instrument. Try to copy from the photo. If your shoulder rest doesn’t feel comfortable for you, try changing this angle.