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Elke Meier
I am pretty new at this all, so when I first experienced pain in the left side of my neck I was sure that it was just sore muscles from turning the left arm in a way it has not been used to for the last 50 years :) - or else that I somehow did not follow the instructions and had a wrong violin hold, etc. But after checking and rechecking my position against Beth's videos, I think the problem might not be me but rather either the shoulder pad or the chin rest.
At first I thought the problem was the shoulder pad. It just did not feel right (I have a KUN one). I tried all sorts of combinations, getting one end a bit higher, the other a bit lower, shifting the screws so the wider part sat a bit further back or to the front - I just could not manage to get it to be comfortable. My violin is secure, it is not that I feel it slips or something like this. But the front end of the shoulder pad pushed against a bone, and it really hurt after a while. By now I either got used to it or have found an adjustment that is not too uncomfortable. However, it still is not really comfortable either, otherwise I wouldn't be back at the screws every other day again...
But by now I think the real culprit is probably the chin rest. When I got the violin the violin maker changed the chin rest because she felt that with this one (I don't know exactly what type it is; it resembles most a Teka, but does not quite match the pictures I find on the internet) I had a better hold. But after playing for five weeks with it, I feel it is constantly in the way. If I hold the violin straight out to my side, then it really feels comfortable :). But once I have it at the 45 degree angle, my jawbone is right where the highest edges of the chin rest are and the jaw is anything but resting!
The first weeks I felt that once I got the shoulder pad adjusted right and once I got more comfortable with the violin in general I would get used to how it feels. But over the last week instead of getting better I have developed a very sore and painful back of my neck - to the point where I think it is not good to go on like this! Also, more than once several fingers went numb, and this is definitely not a good sign.
I live way out in the boonies and the nearest violin shop (or the violin maker where I borrowed my violin from) are about 120km from here. So going there, trying something for a week, going again and changing it would become a rather costly option in a country where a gallon of gas costs 8$... - you start to think twice about making trips that might be avoided. That is why I am googling first, and why I also decided to post this problem  here. I actually was thinking about ordering a whole bunch of chin rests via Amazon and then send back the ones that wouldn't work. However, this would definitely NOT be my preferred way of dealing with this problem. Just now I stumbled over a website: Has anybody had experience with a Kréddle chin rest (http://www.kreddle.com)? It is quite expensive, but if this would solve the problems it might not be much more expensive than going through a whole list of other chin rests until I find one that fits. Well, do you notice: I am a little at a loss how to proceed now. Any advice would be appreciated.
Elke Meier
21 Responses
Posted: March 30, 2014
Last Comment: April 19, 2014
Replies

Elke Meier
Posted: April 19, 2014
Hi everybody, just to follow up on my earlier thread and let you know where it stands right now:
I have decided to keep the Paganini chin rest, which is very similar to a Flesch flat, just the edge is a little rounder and more pleasant for my jaw. The new chin rest already made a big difference in comfort.
Then I decided to try a Bonmusica shoulder pad - wow! That REALLY made a difference. It makes keeping the left hand relaxed much easier because now I don't need it at all any more to keep the violin in place. It just stays where it is supposed to be :).
Thank you all so much for your advice! I am happy with my setup now! Maybe at some point I will look into getting a SAS chin rest, because I have cork right now to lift the Paganini about 1cm and I am not sure how long this will keep. But at the moment there are too many other things going on and I will have to wait until life slows down a bit again before I start experimenting again.
Thanks again for all your help!

Barbara Habel
Posted: April 12, 2014
Hi Elke,

just a silly thought: you started out saying your fingers would go numb.

Check the hight of your strings at the nut. The E string ought to be very close to the fingerboard, maybe like putting 2 pages of paper beneath it. The G string needs something like 1 mm.

If your E string and the G string have the same distance to the fingerboard, then the E string is definitely too high.

Ask Diane for exact measurements for the gaps between strings and fingerboard at the nut.

At the end of the fingerboard the measurements ought to be as follows: (you can look up an old posting from eugenia from the ukraine).
E string ought to be 3,5 mm max and G string 5,5 mm max.

Check out your strings distances, just to be on the safe side.

KarenJ
Posted: April 10, 2014
I have a Bobelock case with the suspension that Vicky was describing.  the 35 fit in it.  My other violin had a rest with built up cork almost that high and still fit.  guess it all depends on the case.


Posted: April 10, 2014
Hi Vicky….I want to tell you and others about a great case..light-weight and great for camping trips…fiddle camps…taking on the airplane…all around great case for protection and travel. 
These are cases by Kaces and come in several models.  We have sold them in the past and they are good cases for traveling. You would have to try one and you could always send it back…just be sure when you purchase it, there is  a return policy.
Hare are a couple on Ebay in different styles: Some are just foam and some are wood and foam (extra strong).  We sold the older models..a couple of years ago and now these are the new models.  Prices all over the place…$59 - $135.  
Stay tuned. Diane 



Vicky
Posted: April 10, 2014
The case issue is a good point....it won't fit in the more "economical" cases that have a relatively firm block of harder foam over the chin rest area. 

Last summer, I tried to get one of the extremely lightweight cases to use when I go hiking with my camping fiddle, it didn't work because the foam was too rigid and I wasn't willing to risk the pressure on the chin rest / violin, even on a camping fiddle. 

I do have two other more substantial cases that have moderately firm cushioning over the chin rest - they fit fine.  I am very protective of my violins and monitor this closely.  I've used the 32mm SAS on two different violins for 2-3 years now and have had no problems with using a case with built in suspension and the softer (yet firm) block over the chin rest area. 

But I would caution anyone to check carefully and not assume your case will work.  As I mentioned, the very economical ones with rigid foam inserts have serious limitations and are not real accommodating.    Good question, Diane, especially since you would be selling this item!

A pain-free neck wins out any day.....I continue to hike with my slightly heavier case that does accommodate the SAS chin rest.   Just for reference, my cases that work well are in the $75 and $200 price range.

Vicky


Posted: April 10, 2014

Hi Diane,

I have the 32mm SAS and it fits in some of the cases, not others.  I did have to buy a new case when I swicted over, but it wasn't at all hard to find one and it didn't cost a fortune.  It likely won't fit many of the student cases. 



Posted: April 10, 2014
Hi….because SAS is a lot taller….does it fit into a standard violin case?  I know on some of these violin cases…NOT ALL TALL CHIN RESTS will fit and it will be hard to close the top without putting pressure on the chin rest and therefore on the instrument. Karen, Beth and others…what is your observation of these SAS's fitting ok.  
Stay tuned. Diane 

KarenJ
Posted: April 10, 2014
I tried out the SAS recently too.  lighter and much more comfortable. - - and no cork needed!  I tried the 28, 32 and 35. I ended up keeping the 32.  definitely worth trying more than one.  It costs a little more than most of the others i've tried (probably at least 6) but this is the only one that comes close.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 10, 2014
Hi Elke, I just wanted to share with you that I ordered into now trying the SAS chin rest. And like Vicki, I love it!  when you turn the instrument over, you can see that it sticks out over the edge of the instrument a little which creates a sort of cantilever. Also the  lip tucks back further  under my jaw, so I can keep my head straighter. I have the next to highest model. Side note: I don't think anyone is ever finished monkeying around with their setups.


Posted: April 5, 2014
Hi….thanks Vicky…that is good information to know.  We do a lot of business with Bezdez  for our home string shop and carry those extra tall, custom made ones here in SoCal.  I have seen the SAS, but have not actually tried one. 
I just googled their website and indeed, it is very tall.  
Thanks again.  Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

Vicky
Posted: April 5, 2014
I need a pretty high chin rest and use the SAS model.  I love it.

Diane - This is just some info. re: the the Canadian model from Bezdez.  I bought one.  He was very nice and shipped it quickly, but it is not high enough for those of us that need a much higher chinrest.  His models are certainly taller than your typical standard height chinrest, but aren\'t as tall as the SAS models.   I have a lot of space between my jaw bone and shoulder to fill in.    Shipping charges across the border (I live across Lake Ontario from him - lol) are high enough that it isn\'t worth the hassle of sending it back.  The quality is very nice, just not high enough.

Vicky


Posted: April 5, 2014
Bravo Elke!!   So glad you have had the opportunity to explore comfortability issues.  Cleaning the strings…scrubbing them after each practice is a good idea to help with string tone!!!!  You might be over-using rosin as well.  Just a few swipes once or twice a week is usually all that is needed.  I only rosin about every other week or so. Also, while your cleaning your strings…clean under the strings on the surface of the top and remove the rosin building up there..it will harden and darken over time and damage the varnish.  I know of a company in Canada that sells custom tall chin rests and you can find them on Ebay…Bezdez, just google them on Ebay…they ship all over the world.  Sometimes the violin chin rests brackets are not tall enough and you need to go to a custom built one with viola brackets..the sides of the viola are taller!
Have a great day.  Diane in SoCal

Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 5, 2014
The wonderful thing about the community here is that we can all learn from each other. I\'ll be very interested to know what you find that works for you. 


Sorry, this line is a test. There\'s been a quirky issue with the editor and \"quotation\" marks and apostrophes weren\'t acting correctly. 

Elke Meier
Posted: April 5, 2014
I thought I\'d give you a quick update. Thank you so much for all your suggestions! This is what I did:
  • Ordered two new chin rests to try them out: Flesch flat and Paganini, which looked very much like the Flesch, but a bit smaller and with a softer edge at the neck. They arrived an hour ago, I have a month now to try them and then will send one back. I have tried both quickly, am not sure which one will be the favorite one in the end (I think this will also depend on the shoulder rest I will chose). But both of them already feel VERY (!!!) different from what I had! I have more freedom in the left hand and arm - surprising! Well, after studying http://www.violinistinbalance.nl at Joe\'s suggestion I kind of expected an impact on the overall situation, not just the chin. Still it was surprising to feel it :).
  • This website (http://www.violinistinbalance.nl) is inspiring indeed! One new idea for me was when they said that the violin should rest on the collar bone, you should just stand straight, turn the head slightly and give a slight nod at the top of the spine - and that should be enough to place and steady the violin. Upps, if I did that, I noticed that I would definitely have to raise the chin rest also... - another new idea: that you even CAN do that: play around with the chin rest hight and position! So I have just now played a bit with cork inlays, first 1 cm on both sides, then making the right side 1cm, the left side 8 mm. This is just a very crude beginning, but I notice the difference: My posture is different, more relaxed, playing is easier. And having contact with the collar bone makes you feel the music with your whole body :).
  • Shoulder rest: At the moment I just have a home made thing, made of the material I saw on this site: http://www.violinistinbalance.nl/klare.htm. It is not a long term solution for me though, I would like some more stability. It feels wonderful while I play, but the moment I let go of the left hand, the violin slips to the front - meaning that I don\'t really have a free left hand. But it showed me where I need padding and where I don\'t. - Result: The KUN is way to high on the shoulder for what I need. I think I will order a Bonmusica after all and try out whether I can adjust it to how I want it.
I had hoped to not have to order several things, and then send the ones back that I don\'t want. But reading through the violinistinbalance website I realized that I can either want a quick solution and put up with discomfort or stay at it and play around until I am comfortable. I guess it is worth to do the second...

Oh, and another little \"detail\" I discovered: I was wondering why I seemed to be able to produce nicer sound in the first few weeks of playing than now - but then I discovered in one of the threads in the community that I had completely missed out on the need to clean (scrub) the strings after playing... You can\'t imagine what the strings sounded like when I scrubbed them the first time after playing for six weeks. They made the howling of my neighbor\'s dog when she leaves the house and leave\'s her behind sound like an exquisite bell :). So I am really excited now: more comfort in holding, better tone with clean strings - wonderful.

Unfortunately I will be traveling all next week, so further exploration will have to be put on hold. But I thought I\'d let you know where it stands right now.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 31, 2014
Hi Elke, that was a brilliant video! You are so cute too! I agree that a center mounted chin rest, and one that is relatively flat would work best for you. The lip on yours is quite sharp and would irritate most jaw bones.. The chin rests Diane mentioned would work beautifully. If you find you need a little more height, you can get a Strad Pad that will give you a little extra height and give you more cushiony comfort. You did an excellent job of moving the shoulder rest to make it work for you. That's exactly what we all have to do with our equipment. Tweak until they fell good.


Posted: March 31, 2014
Elke, where do you live? I have a Kreddle and i have to say that i don't use it at the moment. I was also having some problems a while back and wanted to try another chin rest. In the end the only thing i did was lose the shoulder rest. I tried some different chin rests but now they are all in a drawer. I use an old center mount chin rest that has that tail that laps over the tailpiece like the guaneri styled ones do. 
Ok to stop rambling what i was going to offer to do was to send you my Kreddle so you could try it but i realized that would be a problem for you too because it mounts on the side and then your shoulder rest would no longer be able to sit like you want it to. So i guess what you need to do is get a center mount chin rest. I like the ones with a hump over the tailpiece because i hook my chin on it. Good luck.


Posted: March 31, 2014
HI.  OMGosh Elke…that was an incredible video that you posted.  Bravo!!!!  It shows that a video is worth about 10,000 words.   Here are a couple of suggestion:  First you do need a different chin rest that clamps over the end button of the violin. You have a more natural position to hold the violin over the piece (the one with the English name)
it's called the tailpiece and it has the fine tuners on it.  There are several chin rests that might work for you because you do have a tall neck…the space that needs to be filled from the jaw line to the breast bone (where the shoulder rest sits in the front.)  BTW, I really like how you moved the shoulder rest position on the back of the violin to accommodate your physical shoulder properties and to make it more comfortable for your playing.  In using the wash cloth,  you were able to see and feel the difference in where a chin rest needs to on your violin for comfort…no pain!!!!  The chin rest that I would recommend to you:  The new Flesch (also called the Flat Flesch) clamps over the end pin and NOT to the left side as the one you are using now.  The other one I would recommend would be Ohrenform model, this to clamps over the end pin and will give you the comfort of resting your chin on the rest over the tailpiece.  The one that you show in the video is called:  TEKA model. 
Amazon.com carries both of these models of chin rests that I mention above. The Flat Flesch style is a bit taller and would probably work very well for you with your tall, slender neck..:>).  When you look on Amazon..they come in a standard bracket or the Hill style bracket that fits on to your violin.  Both go over the end of the rib section of the violin. Both are ok. 
The one other small recommendation that I would make for your playing comfort would be to hold the violin up and more parallel with the floor.  Your video shows the violin scroll slanted towards the floor and if you position the scroll up that will level your violin out so that you can stand tall with your shoulder back and that will open up your violin tone when your playing and will help your comfort.  
Thanks for taking the time to do the video…I hope others will see your video and realize the experimentation that is needed to get it comfortable so they can progress with learning like you will be able to do.  Keep us posted on your finds.  
Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal. 

Elke Meier
Posted: March 31, 2014
Yes, Joe, I came across part of this site yesterday (the equipment section) and found it VERY enlightening. It which showed me how much there CAN be done, also what a complex field this interplay between the different parts is. I was sorry I did not see more than the three pages the "next" and "previous" at the bottom takes you to, would have loved to read more - and completely ignored the menu at the top... Thanks for pointing it out again! I will study the other pages with great interest!

Joe P
Posted: March 31, 2014
It is a difficult site to navigate, but the Violinist In Balance has some good information about selecting and positioning of chinrests and shoulder rests.
LINK

Elke Meier
Posted: March 31, 2014
This discussion includes members-only video content

Ha, here goes my first attempt at doing a video. What an experience... I don't have a camera, so had to position my laptop with the webcam in such a way that I could record. But in the end it kind of worked - just the audio should probably have been adjusted during the playing, but I don't know how to do that yet. Now I just hope the embedding works. Somehow the settings it gave me in Youtube were not exactly the same as Beth has in her instructional PDF. We'll see whether it works...
I start with a few beats of playing with the old setup. Maybe I just hold something completely wrong and that makes it so uncomfortable. Then I explain where my problems are, and finally I try it with Diane's suggestion of a washcloth and an adjusted shoulder pad to show you how I would feel comfortable.
Thanks for all your help and advice!!
Elke


Posted: March 30, 2014
Hi Elke.  Here is what I would recommend to you:  post a couple of pictures or a video of you holding the violin with your current set-up of chin and shoulder rest.  Take several views if a picture or better yet, a video…showing Beth and others here who are knowledgable about setups to help guide you.  The video/picture should show us the side (front view) of you holding the violin in playing position without the bow. Then show us a front view…the scroll pointed towards the camera and then a back view so we can see where your  head position and where the violin with the shoulder rest is sitting on your shoulder.  This will give us some idea of how your setup looks…it might be that your chin rest is too small and not tall enough to be correct and hence your discomfort.  Also, a person has a natural position where they like to rest the chin…(actually the jaw). Some prefer the jaw/chin over the tailpiece and some have a natural tendency to rest more to the left side.  So yes, your chin rest model could be the culprit here in your discomfort.  First you find a chin rest that is comfortable then you adjust the shoulder rest to help fill the space between the chin and the area where the shoulder rest rests…usually on the breast bone of the chest. 
Sharmusic.com has a lending program with both shoulder and chin rests…you can email them and I think they ship internationally…but not positive about that.  There website is excellent for pictures too…so you might be able to find a picture of the model you currently have on your violin.  My husband and I have a home/violin shop here in SoCal and we spend time setting up students with the most comfortable and playable chin and shoulder rest.  YES, experiencing pain in your neck and numbness in your left fingers?  is nerve problems.  STOP playing and try and correct the problem.  You might even take off the chin rest and try playing without it…put a small, soft, cotton cloth between your chin and the surface of the violin, oils in our skin can damage the varnish over prolonged time. Keep the shoulder rest on when playing. : >)
I hope that helps.  Stress injuries are no fun and you do NOT want to play hurting. 
Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal