Hi Everyone,

I hope all you fiddlers are attending Summer Schools, Sessions and Fleadhs, and if you're in Ireland, enjoying the bizzarely wonderful weather!!

Well, I'm now exactly thirty three months into this musical journey of mine and as I travel on, certain things occur to me. Here's the latest.

When I began learning the fiddle I noticed that there are two distinct camps- those who use shoulder rests and those who don't. I automatically went out and bought one, as I thought that any perceived mechanical advantage should be taken advantage of at the start. One less problem to worry about, perhaps.
I stuck with it for about eighteen months and believed that although the fiddle felt very secure and firmly positioned, I just felt a bit isolated from it!

I began playing without the shoulder rest just to see how it would feel, and to be honest, It felt uncomfortable and insecure at first, but I stuck with it for one reason only - I could actually feel the vibration of the music go directly into my body via my left collar bone! Sounds weird, I know, but it had an effect on me that I don't fully understand. The only way I can explain it is that there are three elements to The Music - The Music, the instrument and the player, and I felt that I had suddenly come one step closer to really combining the three elements into one(sort of like the fire triangle...anyone?)

I've now gotten used to playing without the shoulder rest and to be honest, I really don't miss it. Yes, the fiddle does rock over and back a bit as I play, but that's fine, as I'm used to it now, and I feel I have a more direct relationship with the instrument.(For the record I still sound like a beginner-believe me, this is not a silver bullet!!!)

I'm not trying to disabuse anyone of using a shoulder rest, but I would love to hear your opinions on the topic. And, no, I do not play for extended periods of time, so maybe when I'm good enough to do so, I may come crawling back, begging for my shoulder rest! (LOL...wow, I'm forty seven years old an I know what LOL means...)

Anyway, please feel free to express your opinions on the topic. (By the way, there are eighty one members in this group and only four of us have ever posted discussions).

C'mon folks, Fiddlers are not generally shy retiring types in my experience! Argue, agree, disagree, dispute, shout, whisper, tell me I'm right, tell me I'm wrong, tell me you really don't care! Anything! Tell me you're even out there!
All I know is that Tony Lawless and Jim McAuley have given us a forum to chat and get to know eachother. Lets Go!!!


All the best you you, one and all,


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Replies to This Discussion

So - Hi, Paul!   I'm here today - took a vacation day from work.

I've played without a shoulder rest a couple of times and simply can't manage that way.  Seems to  take too much effort on my part to keep the fiddle where it belongs and my left arm gets really really tired.

Thus, I have no interest in asking myself to get used to it as I still am unconvinced that the shoulder rest hampers the sound of the instrument!

Carry on with what works best for you, of course.

I agree, totally. I tried every shoulder rest made and hated them all, especially for the reason you stated, the feeling of being disconnected from my fiddle. I hate the hollow sound of the fiddle suspended above my shoulder. I love  feeling the connection to my instrument when it is connected to and vibrating against my shoulder. All I use is a small square of rubber shelf liner - no height - held on with a rubber band, for slippage, only. It is also key to have the right chin rest. I will categorically state that I hate shoulder rests. 

Paul.  To be honest I have never really tried it without a rest but based on the above I will give it a go.  My fiddle is in for a facial at the moment in Crehans Dublin so when we are reunited I will experiment. T

Hi Mary, Sara and Tony, 

Thanks for your replys. 

Mary, I haven't really played for prolonged periods yet so that's something I have to try out.  I have noticed though, that if I play, say, three tunes twice over then my left arm may feel a wee bit tired alright.  When that happens  I just pinch the chin rest a bit tighter for a while to take the pressure off. 

Sara, wow, you're very definitely in the 'Nay' camp then!  I know exactly what you mean regarding the connection with the instrument.  I must try some kind of flat pad,  as you describe, simply because the underside of my chin rest sometimes feels a bit uncomfortable on the collar bone.  I like the rubber band idea. Then again, maybe I need to try a different chin rest!!

Tony, I'll hold you to that - maybe before the Summer is out? 

Regards All,



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