"In all honesty I am too large to be a violinist and would be a rich man if I had a pound for every time someone suggested I play the viola.  My issue, rather than having a long neck, is my face's proximity to the bridge.  This is of course, largely because I have a large jaw, but it is also to do with instrument geometry.  It's worth noting that bigger instruments do not necessarily increase the distance from the button to the bridge; long pattern Strads have their extra length in the upper bouts. 

The only real solution in terms of instrument pattern would have been a Brescian patterned instrument.  I did try a lot of instruments of these large dimensions: A large Maggini,  Vuillaume/Maggini, Chanot/Maggini and Bernadel/Maggini. None of these worked out for one reason or another but then Tibor Szemelweiss recommended I contact Bill.  There's been no looking back.  Now I feel physically 'open' when I play rather than being closed and cramped around my instrument.  I know the adjustable chin rest is invaluable for those with long necks like Bill, but I can personally vouch that anyone who feels large in proportion to their instrument should seriously consider this very innovative and for some of us, playing -transforming, adjustable chin rest."

Jane Carwardine

(Principal 2nd Violin - City of London Sinfonia) June 2015

"Bill fitted me with a prototype of his present adjustable chin rest in the early 1990’s and it changed my playing and performing career overnight.

I had realised through having Alexander lessons that my playing position made it difficult to maintain a balanced body and I sought Bill out, having read his article published in ‘The Strad’ called ‘Emus and Owls’ We came to the conclusion that my neck was even longer than his!

It was strange initially that my ear was so much further from the violin so the sound was very different but it is surprising how quickly I came to prefer this; but the most exciting change was that I could bow up to the heel without the usual restricted feeling. It suddenly felt so much easier and was something I could immediately do without having to practice it!

I put down the cause of the initial problem to all the residual tension I had in my arms due to the violin being raised some considerable distance from my collar bone before I had even played a note. My left shoulder felt much freer which I could not recreate using a regular shoulder rest.

Bill has had a lifetime of professional playing experience which had informed his research into how to design an adjustable chin rest. I am now training to be an Alexander teacher which is giving me greater tools to again re-look at the complexities of holding up my violin. This is where Bill’s adjustable chin rest comes in to its own as it is possible to experiment with all the variables of height, angle, including that of the violin and even the distance of the point of bow contact from your body which helps if you have very long arms. It is a fantastic resource for the violin and viola world and may go some way to helping with the sad fact that a high percentage of upper string players in orchestras experience some sort of pain when playing.

Word of warning. It is not always an overnight solution as there are many variables of playing habits and so what feels comfortable is often what you are used to even if it is unhelpful for your playing and may be detrimental to your body. However, having an open mind, trying to understand the principles that Bill writes about and taking some Alexander lessons can give you a very useful learning experience about yourself and your violin playing".

Etienne Abelin

"I play on your chin rest, which I'm very happy with."

Jonathan Pendrou

 "Heartfelt thanks for providing it (the chin rest)... it feels great at present."

"I think you are on to a winner there".


Ms Alex Proudfoot  BA (music performer) MSTAT AAT MBBA

"Over the years I have used your chin rest I have found the instrument sits quite securely under my chin with just the weight of my head. 

My arms are free to move as they need.  The placing of the chin rest under my chin/jaw is different to a standard chin rest and as such this takes a little time to get used to. 

However, there is so much more flexibility of adjustment that I imagine it could suit most violin players and viola players.  I do not have any rub marks on my neck, which is so lovely."

bill benham

Dave Spencer

Best wishes,

David Tempest

"Bill has spent half a lifetime developing a chin rest to suit the needs of violinists with long necks. I first  came into contact about 15 years ago when improving adjustability had become a key issue. The design has now metamorphosed, offering superb adjustability of every parameter to enable the user to find the optimum position to suit their needs".

Peter Layle

Leading session viola player & ex member of the Britten Quartet.