Fiddle vs Violin: Difference and Comparison

Many of you know how to play some musical instruments. Some of you may prefer to play a guitar, drums, or piano.


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Another musical instrument with a fair share of fans across the globe is the violin.

You will be surprised to know that another musical instrument resembles the violin and is called the fiddle. However, there are several points of difference between the two.

If you ask a violin player about the points of difference between a fiddle and a violin, you may be told that a violin is a fiddle. However, a fiddle can’t be called a violin.

Key Takeaways

  1. Fiddle is a colloquial term for a violin used in folk, country, or traditional music, while violin refers to the classical instrument used in orchestras and chamber music.
  2. Fiddle playing involves more improvisation and rhythmic variation than violin playing, which is more structured and formal.
  3. Fiddle and violin are identical, but their usage and cultural connotations differ.

Fiddle vs Violin

Fiddlers use different techniques and ornamentation than classical violinists, and may use different types of bows or strings. The term “violin” is more commonly used in classical music, and is associated with a more formal playing style. Classical violinists follow a strict set of techniques and traditions.

Fiddle vs Violin


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonFiddleViolin
DefinitionIt is a bowed string musical instrument that looks more or less like a violin.It is a wooden string instrument used to play music of different types.
StringsGenerally steel core or synthetic.Synthetic strings are preferred over the standard steel core.
Playing StyleFolk, jazz, electric fiddle, bluegrass, and country music.Classical, country, jazz, folk.
PurposeIt helps musicians to express their musical interpretations and improvisations that may not always be in the written form.It also helps musicians express their musical interpretations and adheres to a composer’s interpretation. It helps to express treble reading and more precise notes.
BridgeIt is less of an arc and more on the flatter side to allow double and triple-stop bowing.The bridge is more arched, which allows cleaner single noting.


What is Fiddle?

When you talk about a fiddle, it refers to a musical instrument that quite resembles a violin. It will not be wrong to say that a fiddle is an informal term used for a violin.

You need to note that although fiddles and violins are often used as synonyms, their music style is quite different. It is also true that the music style played on them also speaks a lot about the differences in how these 2 musical instruments are made.

The term “fiddling” is used for playing the fiddle, and fiddlers are most commonly the musicians who play this musical instrument. Playing the fiddle produces rhythms that generally focus on dancing and some associated fast note changes.

Comparatively, classical music contains more sustained notes and vibrato. According to experts, the derivation of the term fiddle is still not very specific.

However, it is said that it may have originated from fidula, which is one of the old Latin words for the violin. During medieval times, the word fiddle was also used for a musical instrument resembling the modern-day violin.

Just like a violin, fiddles also used to have four strings. However, they were available in several sizes and shapes.


What is Violin?

When you talk about a violin, it refers to a wooden string musical instrument. Interestingly, violins are also referred to as fiddles.

Violins are also the highest-pitched and the most minor in the violin family. Most of the violins come with a hollow body made of wood.

Although several smaller-sized musical instruments are somewhat like a violin, such as kit violin and violin piccolo, these are still unused. The violin is a rather influential member among the different musical instrument types.

It is used in various musical genres and is highly prominent in the Western classical tradition. You will find people playing the violin in orchestras and in solo performances in folk music such as bluegrass, country music, and jazz.

During the 16th century, the violin became known for the first time in Italy. However, it underwent several modifications in the 18th and 19th to allow violins to produce more powerful projection and sound.

It also served as the basis for developing different types of stringed instruments in Europe that were used in several Western classical music, including the viola.


Main Differences Between Fiddle and Violin

  1. A fiddle is a bowed string musical instrument, which, most of the time, looks like a violin. Fiddle happens to be the colloquial term used for the violin. On the other hand, a violin is sometimes referred to as a fiddle, a string musical instrument made of wood.
  2. Musicians who play the violin prefer the synthetic core or gut strings, whereas musicians who play the fiddle generally prefer steel core strings. This is because fiddlers like the crisp and sharp sound produced by the steel core strings.
  3. The bridge of a fiddle is flatter as opposed to the traditional bent or arched bridge that is common in any violin. Fiddlers prefer the flatter bridge since it helps to decrease the angle between the strings and lets the musician play two or even more notes simultaneously.
Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
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