Shoulders….they come in all sizes and shapes, just like the rest of our bodies.
We can’t play the violin without using our shoulders. Our shoulders help to hold the violin in place while we’re playing.
If we raise our shoulder though, to help hold the violin in place, we just create tension that ends up flowing into our necks and arms. Not good.
Many violinists have found help in holding their violins by using a shoulder rest. Using a shoulder rest helps to prevent our shoulders from hiking up while we’re playing.
You will probably go through several different shoulder rests depending on what level you are playing at, and the shape of your neck and shoulder.
So how do you know what size and kind of shoulder rest will be the best fit for you? Let’s take a look at the different types and brands of shoulder rests that are available and at what playing level they are best suited for.
Sponge Shoulder Pad 2 Pack
The Sponge Shoulder Pad is one of the best items to use for small children who are beginning violin studies. It puts just enough padding to help protect their necks and offer support in holding the violin.
They can easily be attached to small violins with a rubber band or even tucked under the child’s shirt over the shoulder area.
More than one sponge can be used at one time as well, and this is a great way to add in extra height if a child needs that while growing.
These shoulder pads are very cost effective.
Zaret Shoulder Rest
The Zaret shoulder rest is best for young children or adult beginners as it will help them get used to feeling something between their shoulder and the violin, before moving on to a regular should rest later on.
They come in 3 different sizes to fit violins that are as small as 1/16 all the way up to full size instruments. They are great for players that have short necks.
The Zaret can be attached to the back of the violin using a rubber band, or can even be placed underneath a shirt and worn inside the clothing while playing. The second option is somewhat better because the sound of the instrument won’t be dampened that way.
These shoulder rests are economical and are great for violin teachers to have on hand in case a student forgets their own shoulder rest at home.
The one con with these types of shoulder rests is that they dampen the volume of the violin some because they are covering a part of the wood.
Playonair Violin Shoulder Rest
The Playonair Shoulder Rest is another one that is good for people with short necks, as it doesn’t provide a lot of height for longer necks.
This shoulder rest is inflated with air and can be adjusted by how much air is inside at any given time.
They are popular for players that want comfort over the harder shoulder rests and can be used to transition players go from using no shoulder rest at all to getting used to having something there, and then moving on to a higher shoulder rest. .00.
Playonair Duo Shoulder Rest
The Playonair Duo is the newer version of the original model.
This model features a plastic padded frame with a height level of 1 ¼ inches. Extra pads can be fitted on to add in needed height.
Like the original model, this shoulder rest is inflatable which offers softer padding on your shoulder. It also comes with adjustable straps so you can place the padding wherever it is the most comfortable while playing.
The Wolf Shoulder Rest
Wolf shoulder rests are good for beginner or early intermediate level players. They have a simple design that allows for the platform to adjust to the curve of your shoulder and several height adjustments for the legs.
They are well suited for those with longer necks because of the flexibility in the shape and height of the shoulder rest. The padding does not come in contact with the back of the violin, so it doesn’t affect the sound at all.
They are made to collapse and fit easily into your violin case.
Everest EZ Series Shoulder Rest for 4/4 – 3/4 Violin
This shoulder rest has received many positive reviews for its ability to stay on the violin and not fall off due to a special coating on the feet to protect your instrument.
The one piece body comes with adjustable legs, eliminating the need for brackets and swivel components. They are made with a high ABS material that gives them extra strength and durability.
These shoulder rests fit violins that are size 1/10 – 4/4 and are great for school orchestra students as they come in a wide variety of different colors.
Kun Original Violin Shoulder Rest
The Kun shoulder rest was first made about 35 years ago by violin and bow maker Joseph Kun. It is by far one of the most popular shoulder rests on the market today.
These were the first shoulder rests that offered 3 different height adjustments for different neck lengths. They were also designed to have minimal contact with the body of the violin so as to not affect the sound of the instrument while playing.
Kuns are made to fit size 1/8 – 4/4 violins and come in a variety of colors that kids really love.
Special patented locking devices keep these shoulder rests attached to the violin without slipping and come in 3 adjustable heights. They come in collapsible and non-collapsible formats.
Bon Musica Shoulder Rest
The Bon Musica Shoulder Rest is a German designed product that is very unique in its look and function.
It is especially good for players that have longer necks.
They feature a padded hook that wraps over the player’s shoulder that can be molded to fit individual sizes and shapes.
They are also great for musicians that have suffered injuries or inflammation in their neck and shoulder regions, because the Bon Musica allows for more relaxation during playing.
Mach One Maple Violin Shoulder Rest Hook
This Mach One Maple Shoulder Rest is just one of several models made by this company.
This one is a favorite because of the maple wood and the comfortable fit over the shoulder. The shoulder padding is much thinner than previous models, making it less bulky and heavy feeling.
These shoulder rests are made to fit only 3/4 and 4/4 size violins.
Phantom Shoulder Rest
The Phantom Shoulder Rest is completely unique in its design. Ergo Acoustics Lab started by 2 health professionals (one a doctor and the other a chiropractor) that are also string players.
The main difference in this shoulder rest and the other ones is that it doesn’t attach to the back of the violin at all. You simply attach it to the end pin on the violin, right under where the chin rest attaches. The padding part is flexible so you can adjust it to get just the right fit over your shoulder.
There are 2 kinds: the original which isn’t adjustable, and the later model, which is adjustable. At this time, these shoulder rests on fit 4/4 size violins.
The freedom offered with this particular shoulder rest is unmatched in the rest of them. There’s nothing touching your violin to hamper the sound quality, and there’s just one piece that molds to your exact shoulder shape, with a “fit like a glove” type feeling.
Everyone should be able to find the right shoulder pad for their particular shoulder shape and neck size with this wide variety of models.
If you can, try out several different models to see which one feels the most comfortable and seems to fit your individual shape the best. Select a durable one that is also easily adjustable for you.
The whole purpose in using a shoulder rest is to keep your shoulder from hiking up to hold your violin and becoming tense.
If you are able to play your violin without using a shoulder rest and not bring your shoulder up too high, then that is great! Again, a relaxed shoulder is the main focus here.
Even if you are currently using a shoulder rest while you play, but are finding that your shoulder is still hiking up a bit and getting tight, it may be that you need to get a different kind that will allow you to have more height between your shoulder and your violin.
Supporting relaxation in these parts of our bodies that take the brunt of the physical stress will really make a difference in years to come as the effects of playing will show up in our bodies. The better care we take of our bodies while we’re playing just means we get to play longer in our lives.