Video Tutorial: Playing the Violin Without a Shoulder Rest

Shoulder rests present many benefits to players. It facilitates free movement of the left hand and helps those with longer necks fill in the gap between left shoulder and chin.

However, shoulder rests are not for everyone. Some people prefer the comfort of a bare violin. If one's neck is shorter, the shoulder rest may place the body in an awkward position. It's best to experiment with the most relaxed and tension-free positions for yourself.

If you do find playing without a shoulder rest preferable, then here are some tips to take your hold a step further and gain more control of both body and violin.

There are three elements at work.

  1. Your left hand places the violin on the shoulder.
  2. Your shoulder acts like a table for the violin to rest on.
  3. The natural weight of your head lies on the chin rest to secure the violin in position.

Make note the shoulder is like an inanimate object. It does not need to move up in order to support the violin. The violin simply rests on the shoulder. If you move the shoulder blade higher, you will create unnecessary tension and eventual pain.

Also important, the left hand only supports the violin initially to place the violin in position between shoulder, neck, and chin. Once the weight of the head falls on the chin rest, the left hand should be relaxed, not grabbing or tightening around the neck of the violin. It only slightly holds the violin - the thumb and padding of the hand below the index or first finger. You should still be able to shift and vibrate.

Check out the impressionist. You can also use a small pad to attach where the shoulder rest goes. These tools may add or aid in further comfort of your head, neck, and shoulder position. 

Watch Fiddlerman demonstrate below.


Please contact Fiddlershop via our chat system, or 

(954) 530-5999 if you have any questions. We're always happy to assist! :)




Hi Lise! We asked Fiddlerman and he thinks it’s OK to play without a shoulder rest and chin rest.
This is of course dependent on if your student can manage shifting down. Also if he can play relaxed, without
tension in the shoulder and/or neck.
Good luck!

Lise' Brinkley

I have a fiddle student who prefers to not use a shoulder rest or a chin rest. I’ve tried to encourage him over the years to use at least the chin rest, but he says that he’s more comfortable without either one. It looks to me as though he would benefit from both, but I’m trying to respect his preferences. Do you have any suggestions?

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