Not every violinist likes using shoulder rests.
And you can certainly play without one.
That’s what people did for many years, before violin shoulder rests were invented.
But using one makes a lot of sense. It adds a significant level of comfort.
Of course, that assumes you get a good one.
The best violin shoulder rests add a ton of comfort, but little weight. And they sell for a reasonable price.
Which ones are the best? Keep reading for a comparison and brief reviews of the top shoulder rests for the violin.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Shoulder Rest For Violin Compared
- 2 Best Violin Shoulder Rest: Reviews
- 3 Violin Shoulder Rest Buying Guide
- 4 Do You Need A Shoulder Rest For Violin?
- 5 Best Violin Shoulder Rests: Final Thoughts
Best Shoulder Rest For Violin Compared
Best Violin Shoulder Rest: Reviews
The following are the best shoulder rests for violin at a number of different budgets. We also made sure to include models made for children, since most good violinists start when they are young.
Best Overall Value: Fiddlerman Wood Violin Shoulder Rest
- Good quality, good reputation, good aesthetics
- Wooden shoulder rest: durable and traditional
- Foam padding and height-adjustable for better comfort
- Works with 3/4 and 4/4 violins and 13" and 14" violas
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- Plastic feet
For those who don’t want to spend big, but still want a shoulder rest made of wood (that is also of good quality), this Fiddlerman shoulder rest is just the thing. Fiddlerman is known for good accessories and this shoulder rest is no different.
The wood looks great and is also sturdy and durable, meaning it will last for many years with proper use. The color of the wood matches a new violine, so you won’t even notice it on stage.
More importantly, the feet are height adjustable and there is foam padding on the bottom, making this shoulder rest quite comfortable and suitable for many. Plus, it can be mounted onto 3/4 and 4/4 violins alike (as well as violas).
Highest Quality: Kun Bravo Hardwood Shoulder Rest
- High-quality maple wood – a touch of traditional elegance
- Polished brass fittings that are fully adjustable
- Incredibly comfortable and durable
- Comes with a pouch for better storage and transport
- Suitable for both professionals and amateurs alike
- The price is a bit higher
If you love playing the violin and only want top-quality accessories, no matter the cost, the Kun Bravo shoulder rest for violins is the model for you. A combination of quality, style, and utility makes this shoulder rest perfect for anyone.
First of all, it is made of maple hardwood. This means it’s durable, sturdy, and classy. It won’t break easily, but is also quite comfortable. It goes perfectly with all wooden violins, retaining that classical touch.
The brass fittings are classy as well, plus they are polished to add an extra shine. On stage, it simply looks stunning.
But more importantly, the fittings are fully adjustable, making this shoulder rest perfect for all types of shoulders. Of course, it must be mentioned that this shoulder rest fits 4/4 violins.
Best For Beginners: Everest ES4G ES Series
- Quite affordable
- Thick foam padding
- Incredibly lightweight
- Very comfortable
- Much easier to break than wood
- The height is only slightly adjustable
If you have just started playing the violin, you probably don’t want to spend big on the instrument, at least not until you learn the basics and realize whether the violin is the right choice for you.
That’s where some cheaper options come into play. But the ES 4G from Everest is not simply a cheap shoulder rest. It’s actually quite good, especially given the low price.
Unlike the previous two models, this one is made of plastic, which is the main reason for the lower price. The plastic is quite lightweight, which is a big plus over wooden shoulder rests. On the other hand, plastic can never be as durable and sturdy as wood.
The bottom side has a thick foam padding which will make the violin on your shoulder even lighter! With this combination, the violin feels almost weightless. The height is adjustable, although not a large amount.
It’s worth mentioning as well that the shoulder rest is suitable for both 3/4 and 4/4 violins and will be great for beginners due to its light weight, good comfort, and low price.
Best Budget Shoulder Rest: Everest EZ-3
- High-quality thermoplastic material
- The black color looks quite nice combined with the stylish design
- Incredibly lightweight – only 0.16 pounds
- The cheapest shoulder rest of high quality
- Great for beginners
- Not much height is gained with adjustable feet
- Won't withstand rough handling
While the previous choices were mainly for 4/4 violins (many of them support 3/4 violins as well), this model is specifically made to fit 3/4 violins. As such, it is a better choice for that size than 4/4 shoulder rests that are okay for 3/4 violins in general.
Other than that, this shoulder rest from Everest (again) is made of TP material (thermo-plastic), which is not very sturdy but is incredibly lightweight (only 0.16 pounds). The whole shoulder rest is plastic, apart from the thin foam placed at the bottom in order to make this product more comfortable on your shoulder.
The feet are also height-adjustable which makes the EZ-3 quite comfortable for many players, but mainly younger beginners who play 3/4 violins and need lightweight accessories. For smaller children, the next model below is better.
Best For Children: Kun Collapsible Blue Moon
- Highest quality plastic material – durable and lightweight
- A combination of foam and rubber for a better fit
- Great for transport
- Comes in many colors
- Fantastic fit for younger ones
- Not as cheap as some models (wasted money, if your child gives up on playing)
When it comes to really young ones, i.e. beginners who play 1/2 and 3/4 violins, the Kun Collapsible is the top choice. This shoulder rest is of great quality and is recommended by many violin teachers for that reason.
Kun really held nothing back when making this shoulder rest. Usually, younger players get cheaper products that are easily replaceable. Here, the quality of the shoulder rest is the same as with all other Kun products – top-quality. Remember that the top choice on this list was from Kun as well.
This time around, it’s a plastic model, not a wooden one. But the plastic is full composite, making it thicker, but also heavier. This means that the quality of the plastic is much better than in most models and it will not break so easily. On the other hand, it’s heavier than other plastic models (but not by very much).
At the bottom, there is a combination of foam and rubber, which will perfectly soak into any shoulder. This makes it perfect for many younger players.
Because children often travel to lessons, the feet of this shoulder rest are collapsible (as the name suggests). This makes it possible to move them inside the main body, to make it easier for transport. It also comes in many different colors, so every kid can get the one they like best.
Violin Shoulder Rest Buying Guide
The shoulder rest is a recent innovation in comparison to the age of the violin. In fact, many violinists still don’t use it. But every violinist should try playing with it for a while, especially those who play every day for hours. And if you have a long neck will need it for sure.
How do they work?
The pad raises the violin, so you don’t have to tilt your head to the left. But you do have to raise your right arm more. The height of the padding has to be balanced with the height of the bow, to find the perfect combination.
The most common pads are made of metal and covered with soft rubber. They are attached to the violin by clamps (called feet), and are usually adjustable to the width of the instrument. And sometimes also in height, which is very convenient.
But there are many other types of shoulder rests, like synthetic, wood covered with leather, inflatables, a kind of cushion attached with leather strips, etc.
Some children start with a simple sponge held with rubber bands. In any case, it is always ideal for the pad to have as little contact as possible with the bottom of the violin so that it does not muffle its sound.
There are many brands of pads: Kun, Everest, Wolf and more.
If you want to buy the best shoulder rests, there are certain criteria that are important to consider. Below are the most important factors to consider before buying a shoulder rest.
- Manufacturer: there are many manufacturers of shoulder rests that have a long tradition and good reputation. Buying shoulder rests from such companies is always a good start.
- Customer reviews: Are there people who have already bought and rated the product? Honest user reviews will tell you a lot about the shoulder rest without even trying it.
- Price: How much money do you have available and are there any cheap deals for shoulder rests? Paying money for your instrument is always recommended but you don’t need to spend big to buy high-quality shoulder rests.
- Dimensions: What product size is needed? There are different violin sizes, as well as body sizes. Not every shoulder rest will fit your needs.
- Comparison: You should carry out an extensive product and price comparison taking into account the relevant criteria to find the best product.
Use the checklist above to identify several products that meet your needs. Because most shoulder rests are quite inexpensive, you can actually buy several different ones and see which one feels best. You can sell the rest, if not needed. But if you follow our recommendations, there should be no need for that. All the shoulder rests listed above work great.
Do You Need A Shoulder Rest For Violin?
As mentioned previously, you can certainly play the violin without a shoulder rest. Many professional violinists do just that. In the end, it comes down to personal preference.
We recommend trying it with a shoulder rest for a while and without one for a while. Which feels better and more natural to you? There is your answer.
Best Violin Shoulder Rests: Final Thoughts
The best shoulder rests for violin can change your entire experience with the instrument. Find the model above that best meets your needs, and give it a try.
That said, it might not be for you. As mentioned, many violin players prefer playing without a shoulder rest. If that ends up being the case for you, no problem. If you’re not sure, just buy a low cost model to give it a try for a few weeks. That way you don’t lose much money figuring it out.