Is A Violin Shoulder Rest Worth Using? 5 Reasons Why

There are many components when it comes to playing the violin beautifully. Arguably, two of the most important things are your posture and keeping your body relaxed. Both of these play a role in how a violin sounds and can make it sound harsh. This is where shoulder rests become beneficial.

Is a violin should rest worth using? Using a violin shoulder rest is a personal preference. While there are various benefits to using a shoulder rest, such as improving and maintaining proper posture, reducing tension, and increasing comfort, it can also adversely affect the tone and restrict movement.

There is no right or wrong answer to if you should use a shoulder rest. Although there are pros to using one, that decision is up to the violinist.

In this article, we will look at what is a violin shoulder rest, the different types of shoulder rest and why some violinists use them while others might not.

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What Is A Violin Shoulder Rest?

A violin shoulder rest is a device that attaches to the back of a violin and rests on the shoulders and collarbones. They come in various shapes and forms to assist with proper posture comfort and prevent injury.

Choosing to use a shoulder rest is a personal preference. You do not need one to play the violin. Some violinists decide to use them as they are designed to relieve various issues one may come across when playing the violin. For example, they can help reduce tension from holding the violin tightly between your shoulder and chin, stop the violin from slipping, and add height, which is particularly helpful for violinists with longer necks.

Different Types Of Violin Shoulder Rests

There are numerous shoulder rests on the market that come in different sizes, shapes, padding, and materials. It is important that you browse around and find the perfect one for you.

Clamp-on Shoulder Rest

Commonly seen on violins, a clamp-on shoulder rest attaches itself to the sides of a violin and uses feet to adjust its height and angle. These types of rests are modifiable and come in various shapes, sizes and padding, making them great for long necks. The Everest EZ-1 Shoulder Rest (link to check the price at Sweetwater) is a superb example of a clamp-on shoulder rest that was crafted for ergonomic comfort.

Foam Shoulder Cushion

A foam shoulder cushion is a piece of foam or sponge that can be put on the back of a violin and held using a rubber band. You can make it yourself or order a premade one online such as the Players Economy Foam Shoulder Pad (link to check the price on Amazon). These are a great option for violinists with shorter necks as they may find thinner pads more comfortable than a clamp-on rest.

Inflatable Shoulder Rest

Inflatable shoulder rests are essentially full-width pads that attach over the lower bout of your violin with a strap and can be inflated for comfort and to add height. This will adjust to your positioning and body movements all while providing excellent cushioning. The Playonair Deluxe Shoulder Rest (link to check the price on Amazon) is one of the best inflatable shoulder rests. It allows you to adjust the cushion to your desired firmness and has a non-slip finish.

5 Reasons To Use A Violin Shoulder Rest

Here are a few reasons why you may consider using a violin shoulder rest.

1. Helps Ensure Proper Posture

Using a violin shoulder rest can help keep you stable and in the correct posture while playing. Being in the proper posture will also limit the chance of injury and allow you to play for longer durations without as much fatigue.

2. Reduces Tension

Tension when playing is quite common for beginner violin students. Next to keeping good posture, reducing tension is the second most important aspect of producing quality violin sound. Not to mention when you are tense, you are more likely to get injured. For example, lifting your shoulder to hold your violin can lead to tension throughout your hands, arms and shoulders. When these areas of tense, you are unable to move as fluidly, which is what is needed to create smooth violin sounds.

3. Alleviates Pain

Using a shoulder rest can help alleviate pain when playing the violin. The shoulder rest can provide comfort and cushion between you and the violin. It can also help reduce the need to over clench the violin between your jaw and shoulder by creating a stable foundation.

4. Lightens The Load On Your Left Hand

By easing the weight load on your left hand, it allows the hand to move more fluidly. When you have maximum movement in the left hand, you are able to slide your fingers down the fingerboard with better ease.

5. Provides Comfort

A good and properly fitted violin shoulder rest provides comfort for the violinist. They are shaped to fit the contour of the body while delivering cushioning and padding. This helps to make you more comfortable for longer durations. Beginner violin players may find wood and metal shoulder rests a bit uncomfortable and heavier. To find the best suitable one for you, try out different styles, materials and fits.

Why Some Violinists Do Not Use A Violin Shoulder Rest

It's also important to consider why a violinist would opt not to use a shoulder rest. Let's look at 3 main reasons why a violinist would forego using a shoulder rest.

Can Change Violin Tone

There is a chance that a shoulder rest will have an effect on the tone of your violin. When you use a should rest that either clamps onto the sides or goes flush against the back of the violin, it could dampen the tone by limiting the amount of sound vibration in the instrument. In turn, this can make it more difficult to learn violin if your sound is off-tune.

Limits Movements

Another common reason is that a violin shoulder rest can restrict movements. Although a shoulder rest keeps you in proper posture, some violinists prefer to have freedom of movement. In addition, it could cause tension and become uncomfortable being stuck in the same position for long durations. If you do choose to use a shoulder rest, it is important to make sure it fits your body comfortably as they are not one size fits all.

Can Lead To Improper Posture If Improperly Sized

Lastly, although shoulder rests are intended to improve posture and reduce injury, they can, in fact, do the opposite if you are using the wrong rest. It is essential to use a shoulder rest fitted for your body dimensions to reap the benefits. When in doubt, consider going to a local music shop or violin instructor for assistance with fitting.


Violin shoulder rests can be a valuable tool to have when first playing the violin to help find a proper posture, reduce the likeliness of injury and tension and provide comfort. While not needed, they can be a great asset to the learning process.

Deciding whether or not to use a shoulder rest will be entirely up to the violinist. There is no right or wrong answer. Simply go with what feels best to you.

If you decide to use a shoulder press, ensure you are using one that fits the proper dimensions of your body to avoid injury, and improper posture, as this defeats the purpose of using one and can be unsafe.

This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.


Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and the author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement ( or producing music. For more info, please check out his YouTube channel and his music.

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