Fiddle vs. Violin


The violin and fiddle are pretty much the same stringed musical instrument. It's generally called a fiddle when used to play folk music and violin when playing classical music.

Comparison chart

Edit this comparison chart



Strings Synthetic or Steel core E A D G. Synthetic preferred over steel core.
Clef Treble Clef Treble clef
Range G3 - A7 G3 - A7
What is it? 4 (or 5) Stringed bowed instrument 4 (or 5) Stringed bowed instrument
Playing style Bluegrass, folk, country, jazz, electric fiddle Folk, classical, jazz, country
Bridge May be more flat (less of an arc) to allow for double and triple stop bowing More arched for cleaner single noting.
Purpose Express the performers' musical interpretation, improvisation and individual interpretation, not always a written form. Vastly played. Express the performers' musical interpretation, adhere to composer's interpretation. Also expresses clearer notes and treble reading.

Contents: Fiddle vs Violin

edit What's a Fiddle?

The violin is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest and highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola and cello. A violin is called a fiddle when playing folk music. A "fiddle" is also a colloquial term for instruments used by players in all genres, including classical music. Fiddle playing, or fiddling, is a style of music.

edit History

Historically, the term Fiddle describes the modern day Violin. Like the Violin this instrument also had four strings. Now both are used but in making different genres of music.

edit Differences in Playing Style and Technique

When played in a folk style, it is said to be a fiddle and when played in classical tones it's called a violin. In fact, the playing style is the main criteria that differs the fiddle from the violin.

The violinist reproduces the composer’s music with exacting accuracy, down to the loudness of individual notes. A well-performed violin piece will not deviate in the slightest degree from the composer's notation of the music. This is also how a symphony can pull off having 50 or more musicians performing in exact unison.

Fiddlers on the other hand, bring their own interpretation to every piece, sometimes varying so far from the original melody, as to make it almost unrecognizable.

This cannot be interpreted to indicate either style of play derives any less intensity or greatness from the talent of the performers, indeed, both violin and fiddle style benefit greatly from the talent of the performer.

Some untrained fiddlers may not hold the instrument firmly between the chin and shoulder, and instead rest the instrument on their chest. This greatly reduces the playability of the instrument and is never seen in violin performance.

edit Accompaniment

The violin almost always appears in orchestral, symphonic or chamber settings with other violins, violas, cellos, and double basses or symphonic horns.

The fiddle, on the other hand, may be accompanied by a wide range of instruments, including mandolin, guitar, drums, mountain dulcimer, banjo, and electronic keyboard.

edit Playability

Bowed string instruments are among the most difficult instruments to learn because the tone quality will degrade quickly in unpracticed hands. While it may be said that violinist have a higher need for professional training due to the exacting nature of excellent performance, this cannot, by any means, be interpreted to infer that the either style is more or less difficult to play.

edit Physical Structure

Both a fiddle and a violin are alike in physical appearance. Indeed, the exact same instrument may be played as a violin or fiddle, it is almost completely an issue of style and intent.

A very recent development in modern instruments is the introduction of the 5-string Fiddle. It includes a lower 5th (Viola) C-String, left and below the G string. This change has not been reproduced for the violin.

Another common difference may be the preference of synthetic polymer strings by most classical violinists, whereas some fiddle players like the newer steel core strings for the sharper, crisper sound.

edit References

Share this comparison:

If you read this far, you should follow us:

"Fiddle vs Violin." Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 21 May 2015. < >

Related Comparisons Follow Diffen
Top 5 Comparisons
Make Diffen Smarter.

Log in to edit comparisons or create new comparisons in your area of expertise!

Sign up »

Comments: Fiddle vs Violin

Anonymous comments (7)

January 22, 2013, 5:28am

Thanks for the information. Very useful!

— 72.✗.✗.229

January 28, 2012, 11:45pm

Years ago someone told me that a fiddle was a violin strung backwards. I guess this mustn't be true since I saw nothing about it here, so I was just wondering if anyone else had heard that, or was he just yanking my chain. Thanks!

— 69.✗.✗.61

March 10, 2011, 9:04pm

This poster missed one of the most important differences between Fiddle and Violin: Intent. The intent of violin playing is to as accurately as possible reproduce note for note the composers conception of the musical piece. Fiddlers express their own, more individual, interpretation of the piece. Further, over the last 30 or so years a new 5-string Fiddle has been introduced with a lower (viola) C string. This has not been carried over to the classical violin genre.

— 12.✗.✗.2

March 10, 2011, 8:56pm

WOW! So, country, folk, bluegrass and blues, are not beautiful music? Only for dancing? Do you even KNOW any musicians, personally? Steel/Gut which is it? You switched midstream, I would agree that steel is not the preferred violin string, however; many Fiddle players (myself included) prefer synthetic polymer core (gut style) strings for the warmer richer tone. Fiddles and Violins played correctly are ALWAYS (not momentarily) held firmly between the shoulder and chin. The entire chordal (is that a real word or did you make it up?) arguement you assert is completely backwards. Fiddles are almost always accompanied by a guitar, and violins are more often heard in orchestral, symphonic, and chamber settings, none of which contain chordal instruments (with the minor exception of the piano).

— 12.✗.✗.2

March 10, 2011, 8:49pm

To the poster below (12.x.x.2): this is a wiki so you can improve the article if there are (m)any errors. Feel free to edit and correct.

— 24.✗.✗.0

March 10, 2011, 8:07pm

You obviously have no real experience with either the Fiddle or Violin, I am a veteran of both orchestral performance and country and bluegrass professional recordings. The idea the a Fiddle is easier to play is beyond ridiculous. I would never use the term choir on violins, I think you may have meant to say symphony. There is absolutely no bases for the assertions that: 1 Fiddles are solo, 2 Only Violins use double stops. 3 flatter bridge is for Fiddling and Oh my? Did you actually state that the predominate Fiddling Style is laying it on the chest and holding it with the left hand? Don't post what you don't know.

— 12.✗.✗.2

March 26, 2010, 8:28pm

To - This article is a wiki. Why don't you go ahead and improve it if there's room for improvement?

— 24.✗.✗.108


Up next

Mandolin vs. Ukulele