Many people ask me “what’s the difference between a violin and a fiddle”? Good question! However, there’s really no difference in the instrument itself, but there is a difference in the way you play it. A violin player typically plays classical or jazz music, while a fiddle player plays folk, Celtic, country or bluegrass music.
One thing I’ve learned from fiddle players is they tend to have a little more fun with customizing their instruments. By customizing the set-up of their instruments, they often obtain their own trademark sound.
Strings: Metal, synthetic core or catgut strings (I’ll explain this later) are the standard choices. Fiddlers are more likely to choose steel strings over violinists. Okay, back to the catgut. Catgut strings were traditionally made out of sheep intestines (not cat guts thank goodness), and are now made with a synthetic core material wrapped in metal.
Bridge: A bridge is the thin piece of wood with a gentle arch that holds up the strings. Some fiddlers prefer to modify their bridge with a flatter arch in order to play triple stops more easily. Triple stops are 3 notes played simultaneously that are often played throughout a fiddle tune.
Cross Tuning: In fiddle music, it is not uncommon to switch up the standard G-D-A-E tuning set up, somewhat like guitarists. Some of the more common fiddle tunings are A-E-A-E, D-D-A-D, G-D-G-D, and G-D-G-B.
So there you have it, "it’s the same instrument with different styles of playing".
What’s your favorite style, violin or fiddle?
“Violin or Fiddle, what’s the difference?” author: Suzy, violinist and founder of Vogue Violin www.vogueviolin.com
Suzy, founder of Vogue Violin and accomplished violinist.