Monday, January 18, 2016

Fiddle vs Violin – What is the Difference?

Fiddle vs Violin - so what is the difference between fiddle and violin? Really it's more semantics that anything else, almost like tomato or tomato. A fiddle is a violin and a violin can be a fiddle. Types of music played by fiddlers include bluegrass, Cajun, country, Celtic, folk, jazz and can be distinguished by region such as American, Irish, Scottish, Mexican, Norwegian, Slovenian and Swedish fiddling, just to name a few. There's even hip-hop and alternative rock style fiddling today. Although a generalization, more fiddlers will have not been trained classically, although there are classical violinists who play the fiddle and vice-verso and there is such thing as classical music fiddling. Hey, even Itzhak Perlman has referred to his instrument as a fiddle!

What is the Difference Between the Fiddle and the Violin?
Fiddle Construction - Is there any difference bewteen the fiddle and violin as far as construction? No. They are essentially the same. Some fiddlers may make modifications to their fiddles such as using a flatter bridge. It is a minor difference that makes it easier to play double and triple stops and shuffles in addition to other rapid string movement styling. Fiddles come in all the same standard sizes as violins: 4/4 (full size), 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10 and 1/16 (also called teeny-tiny!).
Fiddle Strings

What about strings? The sound of fiddle music is better achieved with metal strings (so some say) than gut or synthetic gut which is often used on violins. Metal strings produce more volume while synthetic will give less volume, but a softer tone for violinists. So most fiddlers will use metal strings on their fiddle, although it really comes down to your personal preference. Some people who play the fiddle will swear by metal, others by synthetic. Too harsh or too mellow? It's really up to you. You can start with metal strings and then decide later. Just know this - in order to tune easily a fiddle with metal strings, four fine tuners are required on the tailpiece to achieve the most accurate pitch. You can read and view a video, How to Tune a Violin, which includes tuning with fine tuners.
Fiddle Bow

Is there such thing as a fiddle bow? For most, a standard violin bow is used when fiddling and has traditionally been made out of wood although there are fiberglass and synthetic bows available on the market today. The parts of a fiddle bow, just like a violin bow, include the stick, pad, frog, hair and screw.

A common joke is that the difference between a fiddle and violin is price. So you want to buy a fiddle, but sell it as a violin! ;)

Hope you have enjoyed our little discussion on fiddle vs violin. If you have any questions or additional comments to add to the discussion, please add them below.

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