Thoughts on the Wittner Zuerich Chinrest
The Wittner Zuerich center-mounted chinrest with adjustable height and tilt (made in Germany). This product is advertised as being good for a young musician, because it can “grow” along with the them. Highly modular, this is several chinrests in one- over 15 combinations of varying heights and pitch. The main plate on the chinrest is made of high-quality hypoallergenic material. Average price is around $35
The product box comes with chinrest plate (which is apparently the same one they use for the viola model based on the text on the bottom on if it), two legs with cork padding on bottom and removable rubber pads for the top, eight interchangeable shoes (two 0”, two 2”, two 4”, and two 6”), a small black screwdriver, and four screws for securing the shoes (two of them are extras)
The instructions are fairly clear, with English translations provided should you not speak German! I recommend keeping the small plastic bag to the box in order to hold the other feet when not in use. The pieces fit together with a satisfying flushness and the feet are most easily leveled when using two of the same height. The instructions show a hand using a pencil for a leveling tool while tightening the screws on the feet. They also make it clear that it is important to make the feet as level as possible, because they will be sitting on the nice level sides of the violin/viola.
The instructions say to attach the shoes to plate first, making sure they are level, add the rubber pads, and lastly add the legs and tighten on the instrument. I tried three combinations of shoes on one of our violins; the first being the two tallest ones, the 6”s.
First attempt: 6” + 6”
As a tall person, I generally flock toward the largest settings on everything in life to save myself some time. I found this combination quite comfortable, as it feels very similar to my medium-height SAS viola chinrest. The plate feels very smooth, almost soft to the touch. Keep in mind that I have a full beard, so I might be biased here.
Second combination: 0” + 6”
For the next combination, I wanted to try the most extreme tilt, a 0” shoe on the left and a 6” on the right. This combination was significantly more difficult to level- but once I got it fitted, I was actually surprised by the result. The imbalance of the shoe created a tilt that seemed to compensate for my violin hold (which is ever-so slightly tilted downward). This combination also alleviates tension from my left shoulder that is caused by an incorrect setup height. Sometimes this pain only surfaces after several minutes of playing, so you may want to keep that in mind when trying this for yourself.
Third combination: 4” + 6”
The third combination I tried was a more modest tilt version of the second try, with a 4” shoe on the left and a 6” shoe on the right. I did not like this quite as much as the 0” + 6” combo, but it was still more comfortable than the 6” + 6” even combo.
Last combination: 6” + 0”
The last combination I tried was the opposite of the one I liked the most so far, a 6” + 0” instead of a 0” + 6”. As you might expect, this was the opposite of comfortable, immediately putting strain on my shoulder to keep my table even after only a minute or so of playing.
My overall impression? I like the modular capabilities of the shoes, the feel of the material, and the ease of installation. It feels great when you find the ideal pitch, and it enhances comfort and ease of playing.
Drawbacks- the shoe screws have the potential to strip. After trying 4 or 5 combinations, the screwheads are starting to show some slight wear. Go slow when you are tightening these little guys to avoid stripping the heads. Again, they include two extra of these screws (perhaps in anticipation of them eventually needing to be replaced).TIP - Keep all of the spare parts in the little baggie provided.
Would I buy it? Yes. For the pricepoint, you’re getting a highly modular/adjustable chinrest that is great for growing students. Something like this is also great for those of us that like to mess around with our setups from time to time. If you had this chinrest, you wouldn’t have to necessarily worry about buying a new compatible shoulder rest too.
I bet it’s even better on viola.
-Christopher Williams, DMA - Upper Strings Sales Professional