I acquired a Dr Arm mandolin armrest on trade for McClung XL armrest. Nothing wrong with the Dr Arm, it just would not fit the customer’s rounded edges of their mandolin. I decided to do a comparison between the two armrests.

Does size matter?

The Dr Arm is 5 1/4” x 1 1/4”. The McClung XL is 4 1/2” x 1 1/4”. Our regular McClung armrest is 4” x 1 1/8”. I’ve some customers think the regular McClung is too large. Go figure.

The Dr Arm is packaged really nice. The installation instructions are printed, with photos, on the packaging.

We have a simpler approach 😉

The Dr Arm design is brilliant. Nice smooth rubbed look finish, it appears to be CNC prescion and uses Hill viola hardware.

Hill style hardware uses a single post that is screwed into the base of the armrest/chinrest. Usually it’s counter sunk. I used these way on early. They’re classy but more expensive and difficult to mount. They can be a handful to attach to your instrument if you never used them before.
The Hill style also allows a wider placement for the posts. These are still using the original cork padding. While it’s a higher grade cork, I’d recommend switching to leather.
The McClung with its patented upward angle lifts the arm into playing position above the bridge. You can barely feel it even without the sharply curved edge.
Our armrests use standard viola/violin hardware. We use leather on our contact points. The top leather strip is about 1/4” wide and the armrest sits on the edge of the instrument.
I found my arm resting on the top of the Dr Arm. Where the tape indicates. It felt uncomfortable at first but better as I adjusted to it. It did not provide enough lift to fully clear the bridge for me. I did have a friend try it and her experience was different. Her arm rested more on the outside curve. Arm length and playing position does have a relevance to the experience. I know the McClung sits higher and the follows the upward angle. More of a full contact with the whole armrest.
The McClungs are designed to fit closely to the tailpiece. That’s why we offer left and right hand models. The taller height allows better hand position above the bridge. Plus we also provide an Over The Tailpiece (OTP) model. I play half on half off the tailpiece while others are completely on the tailpiece.
Hill Country Stringworks is a small workshop located in the Texas Hill Country. We offer many different wood choices and finishes. Even inlay services. All of our products are handmade. We are not limited to just armrests. Our pricing varies based on type of product, materials, and finishes. The McClung used in this comparison is Curly Maple with an oil varnish finish we’re trying out. It retails for $48.

The Dr Arm used in this comparison is Curly Maple with a Nitro Matte finish. It retails for $99. I think it’s a good product.

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