How to Adjust Your Shoulder Rest and Play Comfortably | Violin & Viola TV #218

by | Feb 2, 2016 | 6 comments

In this episode I’m going to give you some tips for adjusting your shoulder rest in answer to a question from Dorothy:

Zlata, could you do a video on shoulder rests? I mean, like how to adjust it to each person’s best fit, what is the best one and how to recognize the best one, why what works for me might not be what works for you, and so on?
Please? I know I need serious help here! I’ve already spent a small fortune trying to find one that works.

This video is just about adjusting your shoulder rest. Related to this subjects are three other videos I made:

3 Checks to Know if You Should Use a Shoulder Rest on the Violin or NOT

How to Release the Tension in your Neck when Playing the Violin?

6 Steps to Select Your Ideal Violin or Viola Chinrest and Play Comfortably

If you have watched above episodes and know that you have to use a shoulder rest and that the problem is not in your violin hold or chinrest, this week’s video about adjusting your shoulder rest might be just what you need.

A well fitting shoulder rest must have a pad that follows the shape of your collar bone. The weight of the violin should be equally distributed over the rest. You shouldn’t feel a lot of pressure in one small spot.

The shoulder rest I use is the VLM Augustin Diamond rest. This is a wooden rest that you can’t bend. I’m lucky that it follows the shape of my collar bone. If you can’t find a shoulder rest that matches the shape of your shoulder or collar bone, consider a Wolf Forte Secundo rest. Wolf rests are made of metal and you can bend them into any desired shape.

Besides from bending the rest, you can also try to tilt the rest. In this way the whole pad can rest on your shoulder and not just an edge. You can hold your violin straight, while your rest follow the angle of your shoulder.

My shoulder rest can’t tilt and I don’t need it to. If you are looking for a rest that can tilt, again look at the Wolf.

It’s important to check this and to have a shoulder rest of which you can feel the whole pad and the weight is distributed over this pad.

Adjust your shoulder rest in height properly. Except from adjusting the general height, you can influence the angle of the violin by choosing a different height for every side. Most shoulder rests are adjustable in height on both sides.

Adjust the width of your shoulder rest properly. The width depends on how far you want the rest to be on the violin. The wider your shoulder rest is, the more it goes down on the violin and the more it will move to the edge of your shoulder while playing. The narrower your shoulder rest is, the more it remains on the top of the violin and the more it moves to your neck while playing.

I like my shoulder rest to leave me some freedom of movement in my shoulder. If I can’t move my shoulder while playing, it stiffens and starts to hurt. Therefore I don’t want it to be too wide.

Just to summarize my tips for adjusting your shoulder rest:

  • Make sure the pad follows the shape of your body and distributes the weight of your violin.
  • Bend and tilt the shoulder rest if necessary.
  • Adjust the rest to the proper height.
  • Adjust the rest to the proper width.

The Wolf Forte Secundo is a popular rest that you can bend, tilt and adjust in width and height.

I hope this video and the recommended videos above will help you out finding a comfortable way of playing.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below!

Shoulder rest featured in this video:

Most valued features:

  • light


  1. Helga Klemm

    Thank You, Zlata. The shoulderrest was my problem too. No I hope it will be better with Your advices.

  2. Nelle Escoto

    I learned a lot from you Teacher! Thank you very much, ☺

  3. Thisbe

    Thanks for showing this shoulder-rest! A good moment to have a close look on my own KUN shoulder-rest again, for some time I did not have any problems with my shoulder-rest but while my playing is improving I felt it did not fit me so well anymore. I have changed the widt of the legs and I think it is going better now. But because I have changed the position of the shoulder-rest I have some difficulties with hitting the strings now, I hope I only have to get used to it. But I do realise only a small adjustment has a great result!

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Yes, small adjustments definitely work and we have to adjust constantly as our technique develops and changes.


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