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Do You Play Without a Shoulder Rest?
Just wondering how many people play without a shoulder rest plus a quick question.
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AmandaKulp
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March 9, 2018 - 11:00 pm
Member Since: October 25, 2017
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Hello all,

I was simply wondering how many of you play without a shoulder rest? Why do you like playing without one?

A side question. Does the moisture from your body, such as sweat, start to ruin the instrument after a while when not using a shoulder rest? 

Thanks! 
-Amanda-

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Mark
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March 10, 2018 - 12:47 am
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After I had been playing for a short time someone suggested using a shoulder rest so I tried one for a while, it aggravated an old football injury to the place I thought I would have quit the violin, once I removed the shoulder rest and my shoulder was not locked in any more and I was free to move it around the pain left. I personally am much more relaxed playing without a shoulder rest.

 

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
March 10, 2018 - 3:50 am
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 2382
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When I started playing about 4 years back, I used a shoulder rest, simply because I thought I had to.  I experimented with different brands (loaned to me from friends), and a couple of different styles which I purchased.

Frankly, I was never 100% happy with any of them, and, although they all "helped" to do this "walk around the room not holding the violin" thing - again - that was about all it did for me.  I stuck with the shoulder rests for about 2 years, by which time I was beginning to feel that the instrument should be an extension of myself - to be freer to move, to be able to be subtly re-positioned during playing, to be more easily "tilted" if/when I preferred it.

Initial experiments without a shoulder rest were, let's say interesting 🙂 - but after a few days it became really natural and I continue to play without the rest. ( Oh, other than on my thin-bodied electric - that instrument demands SOMETHING - but I'm actually thinking of fitting maybe some kind of sponge or gel-pad to take up some of the gap).  

As a result of the sans-shoulder-rest configuration, I have also moved on two of my fiddles to a centre mounted chin-rest.

I know, it is all about personal preference and what makes you most at ease for playing - folks are different.  I imagine there is no hard-and-fast rule or right-or-wrong thing to do concerning this.   Just try it, see how you feel !  drummer

EDIT :  you asked - 

A side question. Does the moisture from your body, such as sweat, start to ruin the instrument after a while when not using a shoulder rest? 

   Not as far as I am aware, but I rarely (never, LOL) play bare-shouldered....  haha - however - in relation to this - I do find that certain clothing materials can make the instrument-to-clothing contact point be more, or less, slippy...  for instance, my instruments are not happy trying to rest against my silk shirts - but - a soft cloth like a cotton bar-towel over the shoulder works wonders - bartowel.JPG

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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March 10, 2018 - 9:26 pm
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As a counterpoint: I started out playing violin without a shoulder rest, eventually started using one, and since switching to viola have only played with a shoulder rest. The point at which I found I had to use a shoulder rest was when I started to play music that calls for frequent position shifts and extensive use of vibrato and needed the extra stability. If staying in 1st position and not using much vibrato, I can still play violin without a shoulder rest and it does offer a certain freedom, but a viola, with its center of mass farther out, will not stay in place.

So, for me, the question is mainly about what you plan to play. If you eventually want to go the classical route, it might be best to use a shoulder rest, especially if you have narrow or rounded shoulders. If not, a shoulder rest is very much optional.

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
March 11, 2018 - 1:49 am
Member Since: March 22, 2014
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That is indeed a very good point @AndrewH - my own playing excursions to higher positions are generally pretty limited, and when I do, it's usually only 3rd.  And that is, as you say, precisely because of the type of music I play - largely fiddle tunes.   You will more often find me re-tuning the fiddle to some form of cross-tuning DDAD / AEAE and so on rather than working on pieces that demand shifts and vibrato.

So - very good point and something to take-on-board !  thumbs-up

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Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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AmandaKulp
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March 11, 2018 - 5:39 pm
Member Since: October 25, 2017
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Very interesting responses, guys! I appreciate yall taking the time to give me your input. smile

AndrewH said
As a counterpoint: I started out playing violin without a shoulder rest, eventually started using one, and since switching to viola have only played with a shoulder rest. The point at which I found I had to use a shoulder rest was when I started to play music that calls for frequent position shifts and extensive use of vibrato and needed the extra stability. If staying in 1st position and not using much vibrato, I can still play violin without a shoulder rest and it does offer a certain freedom, but a viola, with its center of mass farther out, will not stay in place.

So, for me, the question is mainly about what you plan to play. If you eventually want to go the classical route, it might be best to use a shoulder rest, especially if you have narrow or rounded shoulders. If not, a shoulder rest is very much optional.  

I haven't even started my violin journey yet, however, I can say that I especially enjoy listening to classical and romantic violin pieces so I would assume that will be what I eventually play and practice most. I thank you very much for your insightful response. 

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 14, 2018 - 5:45 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 13155

You get a shoulder rest with your outfit Amanda. Whatever you do, make sure you are as comfortable as possible.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Jim Dunleavy
United Kingdom
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March 15, 2018 - 6:33 am
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Personally, I don't think it really matters what music you play. For me it's purely down to your physical characteristics.

If you have a long neck, you will need a shoulder rest to have any hope of supporting the violin properly with your shoulder and jaw. Otherwise, all the support will have to come from your left hand, which will reduce it's flexibility.

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