What Is The Difference Between A Violin And A Fiddle

What Is The Difference Between A Violin And A Fiddle

Have you ever ended up asking yourself how a violin and a fiddle differ from each other? Well, if you are from this category, then you are surely not alone. It is something that keeps people curious and on their toes about it. You will be surprised to know what is the difference between a violin and a fiddle.

They are practically the same instrument. In fact, 80-90% of violinists refer to their instrument as a fiddle. Interesting, isn’t it?

In easier words, a violin and a fiddle are the same instruments that are used for different kinds of music. 

Though a fiddle is used as a generic term for any stringed instrument that is played with a bow, that does not mean that a violin is different from it. It is kind of like an affectionate way of saying violin, as it if were a companion or workmate.

So, where does the differentiation part come from? A violin and a fiddle are basically the same four-stringed instrument that is generally played with a bow, either strummed or plucked. They are exactly identical if we see their physical appearance. In fact, there is little or no exact physical difference between the two instruments in almost all instances.


The only feature that distinguishes a violin from a fiddle is the music style played on the instrument. So, it’s all in how you play it. ‘Fiddle’ is usually played with lesser complexity than a violin, though sometimes it can be very fast. There is a steady flow of melody through basic forms along with a rhythmic drive.

You may want to tap your feet or move your body with the tune or even your fingers whilst to play or even listening to a fiddle, which is a bit different from how one would perceive a violin.

The term violin is often associated with classical music, symphonies,  orchestras, and chamber music. Fiddle, on the contrary, is associated with a wide variety of music styles, including Cajun, bluegrass, folk, and country.

Thus, there is no difference in the physical appearance, sound, or way of playing. Yet, there are a few subtle variations. While we have established that the body of the instrument is the same for the violin as well as the fiddle, the setup of these instruments may vary.

What Is The Difference Between A Violin And A Fiddle
  1. 1
    One difference has come about after introducing the five-string fiddle, which has an added lower fifth C string. Many electric violins or electric fiddles manufacturers offer five-string models with that exact additional C string.
  2. 2
    The next difference is the type of strings preferred by classical violinists, usually gut or synthetic-core ones. Fiddlers prefer to choose the steel core strings as they can add sharp and crisp sound to the music.

Some fiddle players prefer a flatter bridge instead of the violins with a more traditional, arched bridge. This is because the flatter bridge reduces the angle between strings and permits two or more notes to be played simultaneously, which is desirable to quite a few fiddlers.

So it is entirely based on how you choose to play the instrument

Classical violinists are very precise in how they play a particular piece. They prefer a more technical way of playing and do not deviate from the composition. Fiddlers, on the other hand, have much more freedom to interpret a piece of music and believe in creating their own playing style.

Music played on the violin tends to be more traditional. Their interpretation of the instrument is also quite convenient when compared to fiddlers. Fiddle players will often employ the alternative technique and may extend multiple stops bowing passages, depending on the style of music that they are in the mood of playing.

To sum up, there is no such difference per se in the two instruments- violin and fiddle. The main components being the body, neck, pegbox, and scroll, are all identical, regardless of the term that is being used.

The only true physical distinction between the two instruments is in their overall setup: factors such as string choice (classical violinists may wish to choose a traditional material while fiddlers usually prefer steel), tuners (a fiddle is more likely to feature fine tuners on all four strings), and bridges.


But is there a major difference between violin playing and fiddle playing? The answer is Yes. As a general rule of music, a violin is used for classical music, whereas a fiddle is mostly used for folk, country, and bluegrass. But no matter how you play the violin or even the fiddle, you will still be dealing with the same four-string wooden instrument that dates back to the 16th-century models from northern Italy. 

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