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Interview with Steven McMillan - violinist and inventor of the SureTone Rest

Zlata Brouwer

Written by
Published: August 27, 2014 at 8:56 AM [UTC]

He swore never to use a shoulder rest again when his shoulder rest fell off during a solo concert.

He owns a box filled with over ten different shoulder rest all covered in dust, but none of them provided a good solution.

str-home-photoAfter years of playing without a shoulder rest violinist Steven McMillan decided to design a shoulder rest himself. As a lot of ‘new’ shoulder rests look like a copy of Kun or Wolf, this SureTone Rest is really something different.

I’m very thankful that Steven took the time and effort to be interviewed by me and tell his story. He is a bussy man as he plays in a professional orchestra, plays a lot of chamber music, teaches private students and runs a business designing and selling new shoulder rests.

He just had his morning coffee in Houston, Texas (USA) and I was just closing my violin shop in the Netherlands in the evening after a busy Saturday at the time of the interview we did via Skype. Hmm, I hope you can’t see I’m tired after a day of hard work.

In this interview:

  • Steven tells his story about how he tried every shoulder rest in the world, swore never to use one and in the end invented a new shoulder rest

  • You learn what the advantages are of playing without a shoulder rest in the ‘old fashioned way'

  • Steven explains how he made his first SureTone Rest out of a violin soundboard to ensure a good tone of his violin

  • Steven explains how important it is not to have a shoulder rest fill up all the space between your shoulder and chin

  • You learn how important the chinrest is after the example of Hillary Hahn and that it is extremely personal

  • You learn that you shouldn’t imitate other people in choosing our shoulder rest and chinrest

  • I talk with Steven about the future of chinrests and shoulder rests (devices that are chinrest and shoulder rest in one, 3D imaging, scanning and 3D printing)

  • Steven tells about his cooperation wil kinesiologists to optimize his shoulder rest

  • Steven demonstrates how to adjust the SureTone rest exactly to your individual needs and how place it on your violin to optimize the tone

  • You learn why it is worth the effort to experiment endlessly with the adjustment of your chinrest and shoulder rest

  • You learn that you can’t feel if a shoulder rest is right for you in an instant, but you have to practice with it a lot before your know if it’s right

  • We talk about the different SureTone Rests that are available now: violin, viola, children’s sizes, electric violin shapes and custom rests

Watch the interview below:

This is what Hillary Hahn says about chinrests and shoulder rests:

Do you have questions for Steven about your individual situation? Go to his website and fill out the contact form.

Would you like to order your own SureTone Rest? Go to and order online. Are you living in the Netherlands? You can visit my shop to try out the SureTone Rest.

Is this useful to you? Please let me know in the comments below!



PS: Have you invented a product or service that violin and viola players can benefit from? Have you invented an accessory (mute, chinrest, case, whatever), written a book, recorded a CD or made something beautiful that serves violinists and violists. Just e-mail me at If I think your product or service is interesting for the viewers of Violin Lounge TV, I might invite you for an interview. Being interviewed on Violin Lounge TV will get you visibility and sales. In this way I hope to support innovation in the area of violin and viola playing.

PS2: Take a look at more interviews I did here!

From Ramón G Castañeda
Posted on August 28, 2014 at 1:28 AM
Hilary Hahn's voice level on her video is so low as to be practically inaudible, even with smallish speakers and modest amplification. :-(

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