Shoulder rests are an optional component of the viola, sitting between your shoulder the bottom of the viola. They provide support, helping to hold up the viola so that your extended left arm does not have to hold up weight in addition to moving to sound notes. Despite being optional, most players use one as the alternative is to awkwardly tilt your head onto the chin rest to provide the needed support to hold up the viola.

There are several options for shoulder rests and each has varying levels of padding, foldability, and rigidity. As with most other components of the viola, the shoulder rest must feel comfortable to you or else you will be miserable while playing. The viola shoulder rest you choose is all about personal preference.

 

Padding

All shoulder rests contain some sort of padding. While some shoulder rests, like the AcoustaGrip, are all padding, most viola shoulder rests contain a thin layer of padding that covers a rigid plastic or wooden frame.

Structure

Most viola shoulder rests are made of a frame out of either plastic, wood, carbon fiber, or aluminum. This frame provides the brace between the shoulder and the bottom of the viola, providing enough elevation to avoid straining the player’s neck. The bottom of the frame is covered with padding to cushion the shoulder and the top is usually covered in some sort of rubber to provide friction between the shoulder rest and the viola. Additionally, some viola shoulder rests can actually fold into a more compact shape to fit in viola cases.

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Kun is by far the most common viola and violin shoulder rest brand. A real classic, this should rest boasts collapsible and adjustable feet to limit space taken up in a viola case and fit a wide range of viola sizes.

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Made of beautiful maple wood, this shoulder rest by Mach One is not only stylish, but extremely comfortable. The shoulder rest is handcrafted and is ergonomically designed to be one of the most comfortable rests on the market.

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This Mac One is ergonomically designed in beautiful maple wood. The “S” shape fits comfortably on your shoulder and minimizes the size of the feet. These are molded from a single piece of maple and have a lifetime guarantee.

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One of the most practical shoulder rests, the Everest EZ-VA is both extremely durable as well as simple to use. The body is made of a strong, high grade ABS material which provides both strength and flexibility while the legs are made of identical and interchangeable parts which means that there is no longer any need to be confused as to which leg attaches to which side of the body. Great buy overall.

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If you don’t like being a copycat, this is the shoulder rest for you. Guaranteed to be the envy of all your viola pals, this should rest will surely turn heads with its intricate tiger stripes. Not for the conformist!

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