I have found that using a shoulder rest is extremely important for correct posture. It gives you support and security allowing your left arm to move more freely. Later on this freedom will come in handy as you learn vibrato. 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. I won't go into the details of that method on this page, but here is the direct link if you are interested.

A shoulder rest attaches to the back of the violin towards the base end. It helps to lift the violin up, keep it from slipping, and free up the left hand from holding the violin to easily finger, shift, and vibrato the violin!

My Favorite Shoulder Rest

The Everest Violin Shoulder Rest is everything a shoulder rest should be: naturally contoured for optimal fit and comfort, slightly cusEhioned, adjustable in length and height, non-abrasive to the surface of the violin, and here's the real kicker...affordable! This is the shoulder rest that I recommend to students and my own kids play on. It's very similar to the popular Kun but a lot less money. 

Most Popular Shoulder Rest

The Kun Violin Shoulder Rest is by far the most popular and widely used shoulder rest. The Kun offers a wide range of adjusting in fitting it to your violin size, and the height of your neck. I have played on a Kun for over 10 years now, and I can honestly say it is a great shoulder rest. I have never had to replace the shoulder rest or any of the individual parts. It is very comfortable and fits the contour of your shoulder. Many companies have tried to make cheap imitations of the Kun, they are not as nice. The Kun isn't that expensive so why not purchase the real deal and have it last longer. The Kun also sells junior sizes, mini size, and a collapsible shoulder rests for a better fit in your case. 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 (many musicians agree that shoulder rests made of wood increase and improve the sound of the instrument). The Classic, Super, and Collapsible models are made from composite materials with brass fittings and latex-rubber feet. The Kun is priced between $20.00 and $100.00 depending on size and style selected.

A great violin shoulder rest for musicians with long necks.

1. The Bon Musica  gets great reviews. The only thing people complain about is that it is so high and not made for people with short necks. So, if you have a long neck, this could be the perfect shoulder rest for you. It has a longer metal platform that wraps over the shoulder, and the platform can be bent to a small degree to customize the shape. People either LOVE this shoulder rest or they don't. Those who don't complain that it is to immobile because of the wrapping around of the rest. But if you are looking for height and stability then this could be the violin shoulder rest for you! The Bon Musica runs in price around $60.00.

2. The Wolf  can adjust in height up to three inches, and the platform can be bent for customized fit as well. For these reasons, the Wolf is very popular amongst musicians with long necks. The Wolf Forte Primo and Secundo are amongst the best-selling and most popular shoulder rests on the market and usually run around $50.00.

Solutions for kid violinist or musicians with short necks.

1. Play on Air shoulder rest is great for younger kids just starting, violinist who hate the bulky hard shoulder rests, or musicians with a shorter neck. I played with one when I was little and it was a great shoulder rest to get me used to having something there. It is very comfortable and cushy. It's simple to adjust and put on the violin. Some complaints are that it doesn't last long and you have to blow it up manually with air. In response to these complaints I would say, by the time it wears out you may be ready to move on to something bigger anyways, and I never felt like blowing it up was a big deal. You can usually find them for less then $20.00.

2. Many people like to simply use 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 want a little protection and cushion. You can usually hand make these for a couple of dollars using foam from your local craft store or purchase a Foam Shoulder Rest online for less then $2.00.