Violin Shoulder Rest Guide

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Regardless of whether you use a shoulder rest or not, it is important to ensure that your body is comfortable while playing the violin. This is particularly important for beginners, who may practice for extended periods of time and find it difficult to continue if they are experiencing discomfort. Therefore, whether or not to use a shoulder rest depends on each individual's circumstances. I will share some information about violin shoulder rests in the hope that it will be helpful to you.

Table of Contents

The Origin of The Shoulder Rest

The invention of the violin shoulder rest can be traced back to the mid-19th century. The first shoulder rest was invented by Hungarian violinist Jeno Hubay in 1876, who used a bird wing as a shoulder rest to alleviate pressure on the shoulder caused by the violin. This shoulder rest was not very popular, as it had a negative impact on the sound quality.

Over the next several decades, many musicians attempted to invent better shoulder rests. Eventually, in the early 20th century, American violinist Louis Krasner designed a modern shoulder rest using elastic materials and adjustable mechanisms that provided better protection for the violin, as well as improved comfort and stability. This shoulder rest design has been widely accepted and has been continuously improved and developed. However, some violinists still choose not to use a shoulder rest, so the decision to use one is ultimately a personal choice.

Types of Violin Shoulder Rests

Violin shoulder rests can be broadly divided into several types: standard shoulder rest, adjustable shoulder rest, cushioned shoulder rest, and DIY shoulder rest.

Standard Shoulder Rest

This type of shoulder rest is the most common and widely used. It is designed according to ergonomics and usually has a pre-shaped base with a soft or sponge pad. It can be adjusted for height, width, and angle. The materials commonly used for this type of shoulder rest include plastic, solid wood, maple, and carbon fiber. An example of this type of shoulder rest is the J004 violin maple shoulder rest from Fiddlover.

fiddlover violin shoulder restj004

Adjustable Shoulder Rest

This refers to the type of violin shoulder rest that can be individually shaped by the user. It is usually made of metal and can be pressed into shape according to the shape of one's shoulder, making it more customized to fit the user, although not perfectly. Nevertheless, it is still favored by many violinists.

Cushioned Shoulder Rest

This type of shoulder rest feels more like not using a shoulder rest at all and some violinists even tuck it inside their clothing, making it difficult to tell that they are using a shoulder rest. It combines the advantages of not using a shoulder rest with the ability to avoid discomfort in the shoulder area. However, some people may experience discomfort in the neck while using it. It can be attached to the back plate of the violin, but caution should be exercised as it may damage the violin's varnish if attached to the back plate.

DIY Shoulder Rest

When the violin was first played, there was no shoulder rest or chin rest, which were invented and later used. In the past, many violinists used a piece of soft cloth, sheepskin, or sponge as a cushion to alleviate discomfort. Nowadays, when practicing the violin, if you do not want to use a shoulder rest, you can also use a towel, soft cloth, or sponge instead, with no fixed shape, as long as it is comfortable. There are also sponge shoulder rests sold online, which are pre-shaped sponges.

Do I need to use a shoulder rest?

Whether to use a shoulder rest is up to you, and there is no right way to say it. If you are a beginner violinist, then I suggest using a shoulder rest is better.

Using a violin shoulder rest has several advantages:

  1. Reducing shoulder pressure: When playing the violin, the instrument is placed between the shoulder and the chin, which can easily cause shoulder fatigue and pain. A shoulder rest can provide additional support and relieve shoulder pressure, reducing fatigue and pain.
  2. Improving playing comfort: Using a shoulder rest can improve playing comfort, allowing the player to more easily control the violin posture and play more freely.
  3. Improving sound quality: Using a shoulder rest can improve the stability of the violin, making it easier for the player to control the volume and tone, and achieve better playing effects.
  4. Protecting the violin: Using a shoulder rest can prevent the violin from coming into contact with the shoulder, avoiding contamination, scratches, and wear, thereby extending the lifespan of the instrument. In summary, using a violin shoulder rest can improve the player's comfort and playing effects, reduce shoulder pressure, and protect the instrument, prolonging its lifespan.

There are also some drawbacks to using a violin shoulder rest:

  1. Altered sound quality: The material and shape of the shoulder rest can affect the resonance of the violin and potentially alter its sound quality. Therefore, it's important to choose a shoulder rest that suits one's own violin and preserves its original sound quality.
  2. Not suitable for everyone: Because everyone's body is different, not everyone can find a shoulder rest that suits their body type or feels comfortable.
  3. Affects technique: Certain types of shoulder rests can hinder the free movement of the left hand on the violin fingerboard and make it difficult for the player to perform advanced techniques.
  4. Increased cost: The price of violin shoulder rests can vary depending on the type and materials used, with some being relatively expensive and adding to the overall cost of playing the violin. In conclusion, using a violin shoulder rest can potentially impact the sound quality and playing technique of the instrument, and not everyone can find a suitable shoulder rest type. Additionally, purchasing a shoulder rest can increase the overall cost of playing the violin.

How to choose the size of the violin shoulder rest?

Generally speaking, standard shoulder rests have clear sizes that correspond to the size of the violin. For example, a 4/4 violin corresponds to a 4/4 shoulder rest, and there is no need to consider size separately. However, shoulder rests still need to be adjusted continuously, and there is no specific adjustment rule. It is only necessary to consider the following aspects and find the most comfortable state based on one's own situation. This is usually difficult, and many violinists have tried various types of shoulder rests for a long time before finding the one that suits them best.

Here are some guiding principles:

  1. Violin size: Different sizes of violins require different sizes of shoulder rests. Usually, the size of the shoulder rest corresponds to the size of the violin, so if you use a 4/4 violin, you need a 4/4 shoulder rest.
  2. Shoulder width: The width of the shoulder rest should match the width of the player's shoulders. If the shoulder rest is too small, it may cause discomfort in the shoulders; if the shoulder rest is too large, it may slide or be unstable during playing.
  3. Height and body shape: The height of the shoulder rest should also be suitable for the player's height and body shape. A higher shoulder rest is suitable for taller players, while a lower shoulder rest is suitable for shorter players. In addition, some shoulder rests are adjustable in height, so players can adjust them according to their needs.
  4. Playing technique: Certain shoulder rests may be more suitable for certain specific playing techniques. For example, a hook-shaped shoulder rest may be more suitable for players who frequently use high-position techniques with their left hand, while a flatter shoulder rest may be more suitable for players who frequently use bow techniques. In summary, choosing the right shoulder rest size is crucial, taking into account the player's body features and violin size. Players can try different shoulder rests and choose the one that suits them best.

Brands of Violin Shoulder Rests


Kun is a violin shoulder rest brand based in Montreal, Canada. The brand is known for producing high-quality violin shoulder rests made from premium materials such as plastic, rubber, and hardwood, which provide stable support and a comfortable playing experience and are widely loved by violinists. Kun's classic model is the Kun Original shoulder rest, which features a sleek and simple design with a curved shape that conforms to the shape of the player's shoulder, providing good support and stability, and is popular among violinists. In addition, Kun also offers a range of other shoulder rest models, including Kun Bravo, Kun Solo, and Kun Collapsible, each with their own features and suitable for different occasions. 



Everest is a violin shoulder rest brand based in California, USA. The unique feature of Everest's shoulder rests is their easy installation and removal, without requiring any additional tools. The brand offers a variety of sizes and styles to accommodate players of different ages and shoulder shapes.

The classic model of the Everest shoulder rest is the Everest EZ, which has a simple and sleek design and comes in a variety of colors to suit different preferences. In addition, Everest also has a range of other shoulder rest models, including the Everest EZ-4A, Everest EZ-3A, and Everest EZ-2A, each with their own unique features and applications.

In summary, Everest is a high-quality violin shoulder rest brand with unique designs and made from quality materials. Their easy installation and versatility make them suitable for players of different ages and shoulder shapes.



Wolf is a violin shoulder rest brand headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany. The classic model of the Wolf shoulder rest is the Wolf Forte Secondo, which features a unique design with an adjustable support bar for height adjustment according to the player's needs. In addition, Wolf offers a range of other shoulder rest models, including Wolf Primo, Wolf Secondo, and Wolf Terzo, each with its own unique features and suitable occasions.

The Wolf shoulder rest has been highly regarded and chosen by many famous violinists, including Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Itzhak Perlman, and has been recognized by multiple music industry awards, including the Red Dot Design Award and the German Musical Instrument Association Award.

Overall, Wolf is a well-established, uniquely designed, and high-quality violin shoulder rest brand. Its shoulder rest provides excellent support and comfort, offering an outstanding playing experience for violin players, and is highly sought after by them.


Violin Shoulder Rest Installation Video

Installing the violin shoulder rest is very simple. If you are not sure, you can refer to the installation video below. The shoulder rest in the video is a standard shoulder rest, which is very common.

1 comment

  • Posted on by S.T.

    This is really cool, hope to learn more. grateful

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