How Do I Choose the Best Violin Chin Rest?

The playing position is more stable and comfortable with a well-fitting violin chin rest. Finding a good chin rest is often a trial and error process, but understanding the differences between types and what makes a good fit will help you save time and effort. Consider the style of chin rest you want, the curvature it should have, and whether it will need to accommodate a lift, which is a wedge of boxboard fitted underneath the chin rest, to determine which chin rest will fit best.

Determine whether you require a chin rest that runs across the tailpiece or one that sits to the left of the tailpiece. An across-the-tailpiece chin rest may be beneficial to younger violinists and those with unusually short arms or narrow shoulders. The center of the violin will be closer to the left shoulder with this type of chin rest, reducing the distance the left arm must reach to play the instrument. Most players, on the other hand, prefer a chin rest to the left of the tailpiece.

Consider the violin chin rest’s curvature next. Violinists with bonier jaws will need more defined curves, whereas players with fleshier jaws will benefit from a long, low ridge. Pressure points or sores along your jaw are less likely to develop if your jaw has the proper curvature.

Finally, consider whether you require a chin rest that can accommodate a lift. The size of a lift is usually measured in millimeters and ranges from 5 to 25 millimeters. A 5-millimeter lift will fit under any standard violin chin rest hardware, but violinists with longer necks may need viola hardware to secure their chin rest and lift.

Skin sores and muscle strain can be caused an ill-fitting chin rest. Although bad posture or a bad shoulder rest can contribute to muscle fatigue, having the right chin rest ensures that you can play your violin hands-free with no back, neck, or shoulder pain. A good chin rest can also help prevent fiddler’s neck, a condition in which bacteria or fungus accumulate on the instrument and cause sores on the neck and jaw.

Although proper fit is far the most important factor to consider when purchasing a violin chin rest, there are a few other factors to consider as well. Chin rests that clamp over the tailpiece rather than the instrument’s base are less likely to damage the instrument’s thin maple ribs. If you have sensitive skin, a chin rest with hypoallergenic metal or plastic hardware may be necessary. Finally, most chin rests are made to match the wood or plastic of the instrument’s fingerboard and tuning pegs. In higher-quality instruments, these are usually made of ebony, but lighter woods can also be used for a different look.