Using a shoulder rest is extremely important to maintain correct posture. It lends support and security, allowing the left arm to move more freely. Using a shoulder rest may also reduce shoulder tension and muscle strain.
There is another school of thought that a shoulder rest is unnecessary and players should learn to play without one, however personally, I am not a proponent of.
The general shoulder rest
The Kun Violin Shoulder Rest is regarded as the most popular and widely used shoulder rest. The Kun offers a wide range of adjustment to fit your violin size and the height of your neck. Many companies have tried to make cheap imitations of the Kun, do not be fooled. Kun also sells junior sizes and collapsible shoulder rests for a better fit in violin cases. Two of the higher-end Kun shoulder rests are the Kun Bravo, made out of hardwood and brass fittings, and the Kun Voce, created from authentic aerospace-grade carbon fiber. Both the Voce and the Bravo boast increased acoustic properties. The Classic, Super, and Collapsible models are made from composite materials with brass fittings and latex-rubber feet.
The Kun is priced between $20 and $100 depending on size and style selected.
Shoulder rest for long-necked violinists
- The Bon Musica shoulder rest is perfect for long-necked violinists, however it can also be used as a general shoulder rest. It has a longer metal platform that wraps over the shoulder lending greater height and stability than a normal shoulder rest. The platform can also be bent to a small degree to customize the shape.
The Bon Musica is priced at about $60.
- The Wolf shoulder rest can adjust in height up to three inches. The platform can be bent for customized fit as well. The Wolf Forte Primo and Secundo are best-selling versions within the brand.
Wolf shoulder rests are priced up to $50.
Shoulder rests for short-necked and child violinists
- The Play on Air shoulder rest is great for short-necked individuals, children or violinists who dislike the bulky hard shoulder rests. The shoulder rest is blown up manually with air and provides cushion and comfort as an end result.
Play on Air shoulder rests are priced at $20 or less.
- Another easy shoulder pad is simply a piece of sponge or foam. It’s perfect for the violinist that doesn’t like the restrictions of playing with an actual shoulder rest, but still wants a little protection and cushion.
Hand make your own for a couple of dollars using foam from your local craft store for less than $2!