Holding your violin comfortably when you have a long neck

Holding your violin comfortably when you have a long neck

Our viewer Phung asks:

“I’ve played the violin for 3 years and I’ve never felt comfortable when holding my violin. I have a long neck and a thin body according to Maia Bang’s violin book, which is the only one I consult besides my teacher. I suppose that my long neck is the obstacle. Also in the book,

the Author said I should find the solution in raising chinrest instead of trying higher shoulder rests. However, raising chinrest seems impossible because all the violin shops i’ve visit refused to do that and suggest me to higher my shoulder rest, and they had no idea about raising the chinrest. My teacher thinks that I could use tower or handkerchief, but they just ease the problem rather than solving it completely.

I think this is causing other minor effects. For instance when I play, my right shoulder holding the bow just keeps raising up, making me feel tired of that shoulder. For now i’m trying to balance my way of playing, and i think that you could suggest me some solutions.”

Are you also having trouble to have a comfortable violin hold? Don’t worry, lots of tall people or people with a long neck have this problem and it’s fixable! There are two things you can do: change the way you hold your violin or change your chinrest.

Changing the violin hold

In first instance, you should hold the violin like your teacher has taught you, because everyone holds it slightly different. A problem that many people encounter is that they hold their violin too high and too far to the side, which makes them raise their shoulders higher and higher. This causes the violin to go up even more. You don’t want to do this because this will eventually lead to pain or even injury.

Instead of this, it’s important not to hold your violin too high. Don’t hold it up and to the outside but keep it a little more to the front and lower. This is a very relaxed hold, because you’re using less muscles.

Changing your chinrest

Is changing your violin hold not working? Then you might consider changing your chinrest. If you make this one higher, then you have more space that’s filled up in your neck and your violin will be in the right position.

People usually think changing the shoulder rest is the solution, but this often is only causing discomfort and pain. Instead of this, try changing your chinrest. You can put something in between the violin and the chinrest to make it just a little bit higher. Do it with some cork for example.

If you don’t want to try this, you can also search the internet for a higher chinrest and just order the one that you have but in a higher version. If you can’t find them, then maybe you can ask someone who is handy with woodcarving to make it for you.

PS: Do you want to see YOUR question answered in a Violin Lounge TV episode? Post a comment below!

Love, Zlata

6 Comments

  1. Mareike

    I use the chinrest Augsburg from Wittner, because I have a very long neck. You can adjust this chinrest in high and tilt. It is a centered chinrest, made of antiallergic material. I would recommend this chinrest to everyone with a long neck.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Mareike,

      Thanks for your tip! I happened to meet another violinist last weekend who used exactly that chinrest. It looks very good. Have you also seen the shoulder rest that you can click on it?

      All the best,

      Zlata

      Reply
  2. Michael

    I am tall 6’2″ and have the same problem. I ordered a SAS chinrest which are the highest I could find. I talked to them and special ordered and even taller one than they normally sell. Mine is 41mm and I love it. It’s very easy to install and you can position it in 2 dimensions. I even stopped using a shoulder rest completely for over 9 months (I am recently experimenting with using one again but I have it set up so the violin is as low as possible).

    People laugh about my chin rest but it’s really nice for me. I had to modify my case by cutting out foam to get it to shut so keep that in mind if you order a tall one.

    Another trick is to order “the impressionist” which is a gel pad. You warm it up in boiling water and then put it on the chin rest and mold it to the shape of your jaw. And it stays on without any tape or glue and comes off without a trace. I highly recommend it as an easy way to add some height to a chinrest.

    Another option is to buy cork and put extra cork to raise a normal chinrest but that can make it unstable so better to use the other methods.

    I hope this helps someone. And if the chinrest is high enough try without shoulder rest, it’s a real feeling of freedom.

    Reply
  3. Irene

    Here in our town, the luthier changed my chin rest, after looking very good ergonomically what’s best for me. So he made a chin rest especially for me, higher (20 mm) and placed on the right position on my violin.
    Still I have to make my shoulder rest quite high, but now it works fine for me. I can play for hours now!

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Irene, good that you have found a solution!

      Reply

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