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‘The world’s most comfortable chin-rest’ needs your support. Er, why?

If you know a violin or viola player who has never battled a chin-rest problem, they must have double-chins. Balancing the violin against your body a universal problem and it gets no easier with experience.

So this guy in Denver, Jordan Hayes, has invented an adjustable chin-rest that he describes as ‘totally customized’ to personal needs and ‘insanely comfortable.’ It’s called the Kréddle and, to manufacture it on a larger scale, he’s trying to raise money on kickstarter.

So why my reservation? Because if the device is as good as Jordan says it is, it ought to attract commercial investment and take off like a comet. And if it isn’t, why bother? But see for yourselves. Here’s Jordan’s pitch.

kreddle

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Comments

  1. The point of kickstarter is to crowd source small projects… You really think Goldman is going to get in on a violin chin rest? It isn’t about becoming an investor, it is about interested buyers offering help in getting the manufacturing costs going so that a product can make it to market that might not make it otherwise.

    It may or may not be successful, but is it really necessary to nay-say a small guy trying to start up a business?

    And as a side note, not everyone wants to sell the rights to their idea and lose control of their creation.

  2. One problem with this chinrest is that it seems only to attach to the left side of the instrument. There are many of us who prefer a center chinrest.

    • Hi Elaine,

      Yes it attached to the left of the tailpiece. However we’ve made lateral adjustment available, and modified the base in the final version, both of which combine to allow the chinrest to hover over the tailpiece. If you’d like I can send you a photo of 3D rapid print of the final Kréddle, which shows how far over the tailpiece it can hover. Hope this helps!

      • I’m actually happy with my chinrest. Just make sure that your extension model doesn’t cause any instability with the instrument it is attached to.

        • Hi Elaine,

          I’m not entirely sure what you mean by instability. Once everything is tightened down the Kréddle is super stable. And due to the way we designed and implemented the fittings, the screws never loosen on you, as often happens with the SAS. Best ~ Jordan

  3. Peter - a different one from the other Peter says:

    Looks like a super idea to me. I guess it is too arcane and niche for venture capitalists, and large startup investore.
    So he’s going about this in a smart way.
    Doubtless it will take a few further iterations to get something which works for most people. Potentially a large-ish market, if it can be made cheaply enough. And the key to this is quantity. Making a few will be prohibitively expensive. Making many will drop the unit cost. And if it is any good, at some point a Chinese factory will reverse engineer it, make 10 times as many, at lower quality and at a tenth of the cost. Patents (which he has applied for) would prob not help much.
    But if Jordan Hayes is looking to revolutionise the chin rest market, this outcome would still be a success, though perhaps a slightly bitter one.
    Fantastic, good luck to him.
    And thanks Norman for sharing, even if with a slightly condescending heading.

  4. John Soloninka says:

    Norman: As the CEO of a company that invests in medical technology startups, as well as an amateur violinist and luthier, I can say that his idea is a great one, but that alone does not get it financed. In addition, major funders like venture capitalists are looking for a company that can grow rapidly and be sold in a few short years. Most companies don’t hit it out of the park, but many can become very successful businesses over time, with minimal funding.

    In this case, he has a great idea (which I pray is patented!), but it needs just a bit of refinement, and has diffuse market around the world. As Elaine points out, there may also be some variations required to address all requirements. But getting some crowd-sourced funding will support his prototyping and refinement…followed by some well-known players endorsing the product. Thereafter, I suspect he will manufacture on contract in China (but be wary of IP pirating) and sell over the internet and through Shar and others fine supply shops. It is not something to build a big company around, but if he sold 1M at $30 per chin rest, and netted only $1-5 per sale, that is $1-5M over say 5 years. That would allow him to play in a quartet he loves, rather than play in an orchestra section of one of the many orchestras that are unfortunately having financial difficulty. Great Job Jordon!!! I will head to Kickstarter and buy one!

  5. It's That Steve Again (ITSA) says:

    NSW has a good point. Getting a new product off the ground is not just about the soundness of the concept. Indeed some very good products have gone by the wayside over the years and been replaced by sheer crap.

    And then you have products which were optimal in the era in which they were invented, but not necessarily now. The QWERTY keyboard is a good example, as elucidated by the late Stephen Jay Gould in his essay “The Panda’s Thumb of Technology” (http://infm718z-s11.wikispaces.com/file/view/Gould1987.pdf).

    In essence, the QWERTY keyboard arose in the 1860s, when manual typewriters, were themselves being marketed. There were several competing layouts, but the limiting factor for optimal efficiency was the propensity of keys to jam. QWERTY in fact SLOWED TYPISTS DOWN to rate that was compatible with the technology of the time: i.e. keys jammed less with QWERTY than with other layouts. Key jamming was still the limiting factor – you could still jam keys with QWERTY, as anyone who has used a manual typewriter can attest. But the layout lowered the threshold to below the typing rate of most people: the high-end being limited by the QWERTY layout.

    However, manual typewriters are becoming rare, and computer keyboards ubiquitous. So the limiting factor is no longer keys jamming at high speed. It is the QWERTY layout itself. Indeed according to Gould, most typing speed records have been attained with a different layout (e.g. the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (DSK)). So now, QWERTY is suboptimal. But replacing this with an optimal design is unrelated to design optimality itself: the limiting factor is market saturation, and the cost-effectiveness of change, etc. Gould’s essay on the QWERTY keyboard follows on from an earlier essay entitled “The Panda’s Thumb”, in a book by the same title: the panda’s thumb is not a thumb. It is a radial sesamoid bone: a wrist bone. It is less optimal than a thumb, but is the end result of contingency in natural selection, and does the job. The QWERTY keyboard is suboptimal, but is the end result of market selection, and does the job.

    So Hayes’ invention may be more optimal than the current situation: I don’t know – but it may. The issue is not necessarily optimality. As for position, that is an important piece of input, but from a design perspective it is trivial, EASILY sorted by a competent, adaptable design and/or fitting.

    What Hayes needs to do, if he can’t get an investor interested at this stage, is some hard yards. He needs to identify some players who want to try his idea, make some fittings for them, test drive it, and if the concept works, he and they will find a way to get it to take off – indeed at some point it will gain its own momentum. But getting the first pilot fittings out there is the first step. May not be easy. But can be done. Has been done. I can think of some products which a fellow I once worked for designed, which were pioneering in their day, but which are taken for granted nowadays in some industries.

  6. Great idea! Bravo! We’d happily stock it!

  7. Nandor Szederkenyi says:

    As being a violinist for over five decades, I was curious to see this “new” chin rest.
    The fact that violin playing can be very painful for our back, shoulder etc., having a comfortable chin rest and shoulder rest is a necessity.
    There are countless chin rests available, and for most of us there are some quite good models available.

    Shoulder rests, in my opinion are much more important, there we have also many models available, the “bridge” style being proved as most popular. Actually I was one of the first “guinea pig” for the development of the well known Kun shoulder rests because Mr. Kun was my close relative and friend. Also, another friend of mine in Hungary just developed a chin rest – shoulder rest – tailpiece combination with excellent results.
    Actually, I made by my self several chin rests, trying to find the best form, just for my own use.

    Another thing, because violin playing is not the easiest, when we have problems there is always some danger that we start looking for reasons outside of our “problem solving territory” and one of those are right at these points. Very often, instead of just simply trying to find how we could improve our practicing (tension, posture etc.), the easiest is to blame something else. Result: thousands of different kind of shoulder and chin rests!

    In this lovely video Jordan has some good points, the variety of possible adjustments seem to be good, however, nothing is really new. Since violinists are using chin rest at all there were indeed many similar attempts of improvements that he perhaps doesn’t know, and so he made something that I personally would never even touch. There are many small details, starting with left side attachment to the violin, the shape, the sharp edges just to mention a few that makes this attempt less than exciting for me.

    And all this to kickstarter?? I am even wondering how was it possible to get such an idea there! This is a very specific subject for a very specific target audience, not something like funding a CD recording or a viola purchase but that’s Kickstart’s judgement not mine.

    • Hi Nandor,

      You have some interesting thoughts and I wanted to respond briefly.

      Perhaps the most important point of disagreement we have, is our opinions on the uses of a chinrest vs. shoulder rest. Before I continue, I just want to say I am perfectly aware that this is MY opinion–that said–I firmly believe, after years of experimentation, that the height needs to come from the top down, NOT the bottom up. In other words, if you need extra help filling in the space between the top of the violin and your chin, it is crucial that this space be filled in by a chinrest, NOT a shoulder rest. It would take me 10 pages worth of writing to go into great detail about all of the reasons that I believe this is true. Suffice for now to say that, anytime you jeopardize the connection between the violin and the collarbone (a violinists most sure source of support, as Menuhin and others have specifically commented on) by lifting the violin up from underneath with a shoulder rest, you open up a door full of potentially detrimental results, both health-wise, and believe it or not, musically. However, until now, violinists have not had options for chinrests that adequately fill in this space as per their own individual body. In the absence of options, it’s not hard to see why violinists have now gotten into the habit of using shoulder rests for this very function. But I think we need to ask ourselves if using a shoulder rest to deal with neck length is a good thing, or are we doing so simply because we do not currently have any other options? I do not mean to say here that shoulder rests are bad or good or chinrests are bad or good. I’m simply stating that I believe it’s important to clearly understand what each tool is good at doing, and what it is not good at doing. I’ve personally played most of my life with a shoulder rest, now I’m playing without one. The point is, the Kréddle is hopefully the first step of many to provide the violin community with a tool that offers just as much customization as any shoulder rest. Until we have tools on both the top and bottom of the violin, that offer us nearly complete customization, how can we be sure that we’ve really found just the right setup for our playing?

      In designing the Kréddle I’ve tried to make something that will give as many players as possible, options. As with anything it will not work for everyone–some people may think it’s too high, and I’ve received many messages in the last three days from other people who think it’s too low. This is just the first step, and I thought hard for 3 years about all of the different aspects, trying to balance everything. I sincerely hope and believe that the Kréddle will help thousands of violinists. People have cried out to me in the last three days–it’s time for the Kréddle.

      Please feel free to message me or post with any questions! Thanks for your responses and interest. ~Jordan

      • Nandor Szederkenyi says:

        Dear Jordan,

        I appreciate your efforts and thoughts very much! Indeed, we need people who are ready to make the research for a more comfortable life for us violinists. However, unfortunately, there are some facts that I guess are impossible to solve, simply because of the very nature of violin playing.

        As I’ve mentioned, I made many different kind of chin rests before, because I was unhappy, I had lot’s of pain, tension, but after a while I stopped experimenting because I realized that no matter what kind of chin/shoulder rest I use, the fact that I hold a piece of wood under the left side of my chin will give me always pain. Now, I am going time to time to different massage places, to get rid of the several “knots” in my back and shoulders.

        Your ideas, as I said, are not new, and certainly not bad at all. For me personally doesn’t appeal the look, not because of “how”, but because I don’t believe it is what I would like to have under my chin. You see, when I made chin rests, I was looking first of all how the form should follow my chin, without any edges and a nice “inside” possibly close to the form of my chin. I made them quite high indeed, I have long neck, but I tried not to exaggerate, like a very nice colleague here in Vienna, she has a chin rest of about two inches high. I would never like to be so far from my violin ;-)

        I would even suggest to get in touch with my friend in Budapest who has the PerTech system, (his name is Peter Toth, a violinist and violin maker) it is always a good idea to get more than one opinion about things.
        Also, we are already old workhorses, tried already everything, so you may get even some good ideas from us.

        But one thing I really would strongly suggest: try not to attache your chin rest to the violin on the left side! It takes a lot of sound away and it’s really bad for the instrument too because some fasten it way to strongly, and there is no support inside the violin right there.

        Good luck!
        Nandor

  8. carolyn cole says:

    Interesting topic and kudos to Jordan Hayes for digging into the analytical problems of playing the violin.

    I began as a youngster with a typical shoulder rest / chin rest set up. I don’t know if my cramping hand muscles as a teen from practicing and playing for hours a day had something to do with my setup but I wouldn’t be surprised. Fast forward a few years to university tension-filled days – should’ve thought of setup but had no idea of the importance.
    After studying in Germany for a few years, my professor switched me to the magnificant Menuhin, no longer made, sadly. If I were to dedicate my time to a start-up, it would be to get the rights to re-introducing this one to the market. The Chinese version is hideous and heavy.
    Anyway, I bought as many as could but eventually they will deteriorate.

    In the meantime, my teaching years forced me to look at set-up issues, in myself and my students.
    Voila! I discovered the Wittner chin rest. Not attractive – plastic, a bit clumsy to put on, however, comfortable, light, soft. It is a winner and even with the less then satisfactory Kuns as the partner, the Wittner solved many problems.
    in my opinion, the above stated criteria are very important.

    Let’s consider, on the other hand, the popularity of playing the HIP Baroque rep with no shoulder or chin rest, and what’s more, chin off. After years of struggling to follow this arrangment, so many of my chin-off colleagues are now crafting crude chin rests. And here we are, back to the beginning, or the end….
    Comfort is everything.

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