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I have a metal allergy. Unfortunately, the chinrest on my violin has two metal bars on it that contact my skin when I'm playing, and cause me an allergic reaction. (My chinrest is similar to that shown in this picture).

I've tried covering the metal bars by putting a sock over the entire chinrest (looks weird and feels awkward) and by covering just the metal bars in painters tape (it eventually wore away and left weird residue).

Aside from buying a new chinrest, what can I do to prevent myself from reacting to my violin?

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    A one minute search on google revealed chinrests with no metal parts for way less than £20. Maybe doesn't answer your question, but answers your problem! – Tim Sep 29 '16 at 15:43
  • Violin hickeys can be caused by various things, are you sure you're allergic? If so, titanium chinrest screws should help, though a hypoallergenic chinrest would probably be cheaper. – Bacs Sep 29 '16 at 15:47
  • Indeed. How severe is the allergic reaction? How long do you spend practicing every day? – General Nuisance Sep 30 '16 at 10:31
  • @GeneralNuisance It's simply a rash - not severe, but quite annoying. I average 1-1.5 hours of practice a day, 6 days a week. – Hatchet Sep 30 '16 at 11:26
  • You can't prevent an allergy. You can, however prevent contact with the offending material. This is an important medical difference which is why I'm pointing out the difference. – Carl Witthoft Sep 30 '16 at 11:46
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Maybe try using a non-toxic metal coating like a paint or primer or something?

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    Some brass players with a nickel allergy will paint their mouthpiece with clear nail varnish. It's a thinner coating than paint or primer and transparent. You can hardly tell it's there at all. – Brian THOMAS Sep 29 '16 at 17:11
  • That's a good idea! – jomki Sep 29 '16 at 20:37
  • It is very common to spray metallic objects (esp. brass fittings on the exterior of a building) with a clear spray lacquer. Nail polish is, basically, the same thing and works pretty well. – Yorik Sep 30 '16 at 13:56
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Well, the function of the chin rest is to provide a place for your chin to rest. Some people with short necks just lose the chin rest and/or the shoulder-rest.

Alternatively, INSTEAD OF A LARGE CLOTH to block the metal portion, use a smaller piece of fabric securely and semi-permanently fastened to the back of the violin, just to cover the metal. You could shove it in to the gap between the metal pieces and the wood of the violin. This would eliminate some of the awkwardness.

Anyway, you have options. Given the fact that most of them are in fact very DIYish, I would personally just buy a cheap new chin rest. They really only have a very simple function, so it's hard to go wrong with cheap (A more expensive option makes sense if you play for long periods of time, but for the casual session, cheap is good.)

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  • Plenty of violinists/violists use a cloth laid over both chin rest and shoulder rest. – Carl Witthoft Sep 30 '16 at 14:37
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hey i don't know if you've solved your problem - i play the violin too and had an allergy to the chin rest metal - it's easily solvable problem, lots of music stores sell a titanium part, basically you can use the same chinrest you just replace the metal with titanium and basically people in general aren't allergic to titanium (or just generally less than the amount of people allergic to nickel) and for me that just got rid of the problem entirely:) hope it helps

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Look up "violin chin rest cover" on the Internet music warehouse of your choice. I find a large number of offerings. It may also help to buy some cheap enough chin rest with non-allergic material and then steal its joining elements (basically hollow tubes with different threadings on the inside): I think that the threadings will be more or less standard.

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"moleskin" tape or sheet that is used for sports or in shoes to prevent rubbing can be easily applied over the metal parts. It usually is available in various thicknesses and the glue does not creep.

Do not let the tape contact the violin finish though, wrap it only on the metal and chinrest wood, as the glue could damage your violin lacquer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moleskin

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You could also consider foregoing the chin rest completely. If I remember correctly both Izthak Perlman and Hillary Hahn do that.

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  • Playing without a chin rest depends very much how long your neck is. If you can't hold the violin firmly under your chin without using your hands, and without contorting your neck, that idea won't work. FWIW the picture on Hahn's official website hilaryhahn.com does have a chin rest. – user19146 Mar 24 '17 at 12:32

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