Fiddle vs Violin- Are They Essentially The Same Instrument?

Fiddle vs Violin- Are They Essentially The Same Instrument

If you are wondering what the difference between a fiddle and a violin is? Then the simple answer to your question is that ‘there is not! ‘.Both these instruments are essentially the same.

This article will tell you what a fiddle and a violin are and how to differentiate between fiddle vs violin.

Then why do they have different names and associated styles of music? How does one make a distinction between the 2?

While there is hardly any difference between the two musical instruments, and they are primarily the same thing, there is a variation in the style or genre of music played using these instruments and a slight variation in their physical structure.

This variation in physical appearance stems from the choice of material used by violinists and fiddler players, which may vary due to the music style.

What Is A Fiddle?

What is a fiddle

A fiddle is a wooden stringed musical instrument played informally. It can be said that it is just another name for a violin.

To put things in perspective, sometimes it refers to the form of instrument used before the violin came in and represented a more classical style and genre of music.

Fiddle is a homophone. Another meaning for the word fiddle is ‘to meddle or fidget with something.’

These were some fiddle facts to enlighten the reader and help determine the difference between

a violin and a fiddle in the best possible way.

What Is A Violin?

What is a violin

A violin is the same wooden stringed instrument as a fiddle. The strings are struck with a bow to produce a harmonious melody. It is associated with orchestras and in creating more classical compositions.

Another common debate is the viola vs violin. To put it in perspective, the significant difference between a violin and a viola is that while the viola belongs to the violin family, it is a lot bigger in size.

Are Violins And Fiddle The Same Instrument?

To put things into context, a violin and fiddle are primarily the same stringed instrument. The primary difference is that the violin is a classical music instrument while the fiddle is a blue-grass band instrument.

There are a couple of other contrasting features that may or may not be there. So let us quit ‘fiddling’ with the terms and dive into the differences. These include the style of playing, associated genre of music, and physical appearance of the instrument.

Cello Vs Fiddle Vs Violin Sound- A Comparison:

These instruments can be united under the string instrument family. A cello is an entirely different instrument, so its sound is similar but different from a violin or a fiddle. Violin and viola belong to a similar family, while the fiddle, cello, and guitar belong to a separate family.

The Difference In Playing Style And Technique?

What differs between the 2 is the playing style and technique.

A fiddle is an instrument that involves folksongs, blue-grass band songs, country, Cajun and the Celtic music genre, etc.

A violin is more of a classical instrument. It covers styles of music pertaining to jazz, orchestral and western classical music.

Another vital thing to note is that violinists usually play by the book. They typically have compositions by previous composers to follow through, so their technique is more set.

On the other hand, fiddler player have more liberty and are much more carefree in their technique and music style. They are usually known to experiment and create their music.

The Associated Genre Of Music

As already discussed, the violin is more suited for jazz, classical, formal, or an orchestral environment.

The fiddle is suited for a more informal small gathering sort of a country, blue-grass genre of music.

The Physical Appearance Of The Instrument

In terms of the physical appearances of the two instruments, the main body, neck, scroll, and pegbox are pretty similar. What differs are some of the features that have been briefed about down here.

Bridges: A violin may have a more arch in their bridge for a more straightforward note progression.

On the other hand, the fiddle bridge may have a lesser arch for a note progression that suits the playing style.

String: The string material used may differ among violinists and fiddler player. In accordance with the genre of music, fiddler players prefer steel strings. At the same time, violinists usually go for a more traditional material such as a gut or synthetic core as their strings.

The steel strings can provide a sharper sound that is more suited to the music style of the fiddler player.

Tuners: A fiddle usually uses fine-tuners on all his strings. Cross tuning is also very common among fiddlers, while cross-tuning or open-tuning is very uncommon among classical music playing violinists for some odd reason.

Bow: The technique of using a bow may also differ among violinists and fiddlers.

While both fiddlers and violinists prefer a bow with bow hair that is not too loose or too tight, fiddlers usually prefer bows with looser bow hairs.

Debunking The Myths

Price Difference: Violins Are Expensive While Fiddles Are Cheap:

This is untrue. Violins are more often formally played and considered to be more elite than a fiddle. However, fiddlers playing professionally will invest in a high-end and good-quality fiddle on the other side of the argument.

There’s a fiddle vs violin joke that is quite popular, and it goes like, ‘What is the difference between a fiddle and a violin? No one cares if you spill coke on a fiddle.’

Violinists Are Not Friendly People:

This, again, is an untrue statement. It is often stereotyped that violinists are not as amiable and approachable as fiddlers are. This is untrue.

This depends on the musicians and cannot be stereotyped and held against one group.

Fiddlers Only Play By The Ear While Violinists Only Play By Sheet Music:

This is another stereotype, and most fiddlers and violinists will say against it. However, this one is partly true. Fiddlers are known to play folk tunes that have been passed down and taught to them by elders.

Violinists are known to primarily play concert music that is learned by reading sheet music. Opposite ends are valid too.

Fiddlers playing professionally do use sheet music, and violinists playing leisurely do play by the ear.


Hopefully, this article has managed to educate our dearest reader about the contrasting features between fiddle vs violin in all aspects – term, sound, technique, style, and genre of music associated with it, and the various myths that revolve around the 2.

If you are a musician making the distinction to pick one of the musical instruments, what are you waiting for? Take your pick and grab your instrument.

If you are not a musician but a musical instrument enthusiast who is here to learn more about the two instruments, we hope you had good knowledge to take away from this article.

You can also check out 7 Famous Accordion Players You Should Know in 2021 and What’s Keyboard Weighted Keys And Why You Need to Use.

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