Violin vs Fiddle

Violin vs Fiddle

6 minutes

What is the difference between a Violin and a Fiddle? Violinist Jamie Hutchinson has just finished a recording session at Abbey Road Studios, and demonstrates how a fiddle and violin have the appearance and similarities of the same stringed instrument – but the style is the key difference.

What is the difference between fiddle vs violin?

The short answer: There isn't any difference!

Both instruments are the same, if slightly tweaked (as we will find out a later).

Buying an instrument

You can’t go into a music shop and ask to purchase a fiddle. It doesn’t exist. You’ll need to buy a violin.

Lessons

You can’t get fiddler lessons. They don’t exist. You’ll need to get violin lessons.

Playing the...

When you hear the phrase ‘play the fiddle’, it’s usually a colloquial term for actually playing the violin. It is similar to people who ‘play the Joanna’ or ‘tinkle the ivories’; both meaning playing the piano.

So I think you’re starting to get the picture. The fiddle doesn’t really exist.

Or does it?

Are the Fiddle and a Violin the same instrument?

Well, yes - the body of the instrument is the same. But there are some adjustments to turn a violin into a 'proper' fiddle. The set up includes:

Violin Bridge

Violin Bridge vs Fiddle Bridge

The most obvious difference is the height and shape of the bridge.

On a fiddle, it’s lower in height than the classical violin and has a flatter arch. This flatter bridge makes the string lower to the fretboard, as Irish fiddle music often requires double stops (playing more than one note simultaneously on a different string).

Fiddle strings vs Violin Strings

Because the general volume of playing on the fiddle is quieter than the violin, you will likely find the original strings swapped out for steel-core strings. These produce a brighter and sharper tone. This helps the instrument project more in performance.

Violin Bowing

Fiddle bowing vs Violin Bowing

Fiddlers like to play with a loose bow, and classical violinists prefer a tight violin bow. Some fiddlers even play with the hair touching the stick of the bow!

The most important thing to a fiddler is that the bow can endure energetic and charismatic playing!

Fiddle tuning vs violin tuning

Fiddle Playing

Apart from the key differences in the instrument setup, the most significant difference between a fiddle and a violin is the style of playing.

When the instrument is played in a folk style, it is called a fiddle. When it’s played by a classically trained musician, it’s called a violin.

Classical

A violinist reproduces the composer’s music from the sheet music and adds additional interpretation. Classical violinists stick to the music and don’t deviate from the composer’s original notation. This is also how an orchestra can have 40 violins, all playing the exact same thing.

Folk

Fiddlers, on the other hand, love to improvise. Their improvisation is one of the key differences between the instruments. The players bring their interpretation to every piece, playing around with the original melody. This tradition brings freedom to the string family like no other instrument.

Difference violin and fiddle

General Technique

Most fiddlers never had formal lessons, so they invented their own style of technique.

Holding a violin on your face makes it impossible to talk and play simultaneously, so square dancing fiddlers came up with an ingenious solution; they hold the instrum down on their arm rather than under the chin, freeing up their jaws to “call” the dance moves.

Although it’s great fun for fiddle players, this technique is a total no-go for a classical player. It is one of the key visual differences when figuring out if the string instrument they are playing is a fiddle or violin.

P.S. You’ll never really see a fiddler using techniques like pizzicato. They always use a bowed string…

The History of the Fiddle Style

EUROPE

Fiddle music existed throughout Europe, but it holds an iconic place in traditional Irish music. Scotch-Irish people (people with Scottish ancestry who settled in northeast Ireland) migrated to America in the 19th century, bringing their fiddle tradition with them.

violin vs fiddle

AMERICA

Many settled in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. From there, a distinctly American musical genre, bluegrass, evolved. The instrument is integral to bluegrass genre, along with a guitar, banjo and mandolin.

fiddle vs violin

Summary - Fiddle vs Violin

The fiddle and violin are both string instruments. The both have four strings. The body of the instruments is the same. So what is the difference?

Besides minor alterations to the actual instrument, including flattening the bridge and swapping the original strings for steel strings, the main difference between a violin or fiddle is style.
Violin performance is all about classical music. Violinists read the dots on the page that the famous composers wrote; not deviating, but adding interpretation.

On the other hand, a fiddler is a specialist in improvisation around a melody; and their style of music is based around the folk genre.

Both instruments are great fun – but learn the violin, then learn how to fiddle; not the other way around!

And don’t forget to let us know in the comments below if you liked the video…

Fiddle vs Violin

FAQ's

What's the difference between a fiddle and a violin?

There isn't one. The violin and fiddle are the same instrument. However, sometimes the fiddle players make adjustments the instrument by flattening the bridge, removing the fine tuners, and most fiddles have steel strings.

Why are violins called fiddles?

The word 'fiddle' comes from the medieval French string instrument called the 'vielle', also known in France as a 'Fidel'. Over the years, violinists use the word as a colloquial term to mean their violin. Somewhat confusingly, violin playing in country, Irish, bluegrass and folk styles is called fiddling and performed by a fiddler. To read more about the adjustments they make to their instrument, read our dedicated article.

Should I learn fiddle or violin?

The playing style and techniques are the significant difference between a violin and fiddle. Many fiddlers haven't ever had lessons or learned to read music, so they're limited to the style of music they play. If you learn classical music, you have the whole library of violin music applicable for you, but it doesn't stop you from playing a bit of country, bluegrass, Irish or other styles of music when you feel like it!

What size violin is a fiddle?

The violin family have eight main sizes of violin; the smallest is 1/16, and the sizes work their way up through 1/10, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 7/8 and finally 4/4 or full size. The smaller sizes are designed for young children, so if you're an adult - grab a full-size violin.

DID YOU LIKE THE Violin VS Fiddle VIDEO?

▪ The Full YouTube Playlist → 
▪ Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more content → 

Did you make a comment below the video?  If you forgot, no worries!  Just click here to comment below…

SHARE NOW

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Let Us save you Time & money by choosing the right instrument

FREE Report Reveals.....

GETTING STARTED WITH MUSIC LESSONS

Join Our Members Facebook Group Now

FREE REPORT REVEALS
Violin Top 10 Tricks

Top 10 Tricks

To Playing The

Violin

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

0 Comments

Join 4,729 Subscribers Who Receive
Free Tips On Learning A Musical Instrument

Affiliate Disclaimer: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
This keeps it 100% reader-supported and free of ads. Thanks for your support!
Copyright © 2021 Arts Digital Limited trading as Ted’s List™®. All rights reserved.

Ted's List is a project run by The Emery Foundation - a Micro-Trust of GivingWorks, registered charity number 107877.

The idea of Ted's List was setup to raise funds for musicians during the Covid-19 pandemic as part of the Get Musicians Working project.

Quick Guide...

Getting Started with Music Lessons

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

Free Report Reveals...

10 Secrets To Successful Music Lessons

Join 4,729 Subscribers Who Receive Free Tips

Our community can help YOU learn any musical instrument in the best way possible - sign up now

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

Your Video Is Waiting!

How To Save Time & Money When Choosing A Musical Instrument

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

Your Video Is Waiting!

How To Save Time & Money When Choosing A Musical Instrument

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up now to find out how to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up now to find out how to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

THE SPOTLIGHT IS WAITING

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

Your Video Is Waiting!

How To Save Time & Money When Choosing A Musical Instrument

Every Friday

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

ONE-2-ONE ADVICE PACKAGE

Need Professional Guidance On What To Buy?

Our 0ne-2-0ne Advice Package is a 15 minute phone-call with one of ted’s list’s professional musicians.

They can guide and advise you on what instrument to purchase and where from; often securing a discount along the way.

£50 £25

THE SPOTLIGHT IS WAITING

Your Tips & Tricks Are Waiting

Sign up to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up now to find out how to save time & money when choosing studio gear

THE SPOTLIGHT IS WAITING

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up now to find out how to save time & money when researching singing techniques

Your Video Is Waiting!

How To Save Time & Money When Choosing A Singing App

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

THE NEW ARTS ACADEMY...

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up now to find out how to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up now to find out how to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up now to find out how to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up now to find out how to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

Your Video Is Waiting!

How To Save Time & Money When Choosing A Musical Instrument

Your Video Is Waiting!

How To Save Time & Money When Choosing A Musical Instrument

Your Video Is Waiting!

How To Save Time & Money When Choosing A Musical Instrument