Difference Between Fiddle and Violin (With Table)

Fiddle vs Violin

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

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

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

If you ask a violin player about the points of difference with respect to fiddle and a violin, you may be told that a violin is a fiddle.

However, it is not possible for a fiddle to be called a violin.

The key difference between the Fiddle and Violin lies in the fact that the shape and height of the bridge are different.

This is a specific part of a fiddle or a violin that assists in the proper positioning of the strings and also helps to determine the action or tolerance of the strings.

A violin’s bridge will always be flatter with respect to the fingerboard. However, the contour of the bridge on a fiddle matches the contour of the fingerboard.


 

Comparison Table Between Fiddle and Violin (in Tabular Form)

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 preferred over the normal 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 be in the written form all the time.It also helps musicians express their musical interpretations and also adhere to a composer’s interpretation. It helps to express treble reading and clearer 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 that 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.

It is important for you to note that although fiddles and violins are often used as synonyms, their style of playing music is quite different from each other.

It is also true that the music style played on them also speaks a lot about the differences in the way these 2 musical instruments are made.

The common term “fiddling” is the term used for the act of playing fiddle and fiddlers are most commonly the musicians who play this musical instrument.

Playing the fiddle tends to produce various rhythms that generally focus on dancing along with 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 certain.

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 kind of musical instrument that resembled the modern-day violin.

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

Fiddle in practice
How Fiddle Looks Like
 

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 smallest in the violin family. Most of the violins come with a hollow body made of wood.

Although several smaller sized musical instruments somewhat like a violin, such as kit violin and violin piccolo, these are still unused.

Amongst the different types of musical instruments, the violin happens to be a rather important member.

It is used in a wide array of musical genres and is highly prominent in the Western classical tradition.

You will find people playing the violin in orchestras and also in solo performances in various types of folk music such as bluegrass, country music, and jazz.

During the 16th century, the violin came to be known for the first time in Italy.

However, it went through several modifications in the 18th and 19th in order to allow violins to produce more powerful projection and sound.

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

Playing a violin
Playing a violin

Main Differences Between Fiddle and Violin

  1. A fiddle is a bowed string musical instrument, which is 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 and it is a string musical instrument made of wood.
  2. Musicians who play the violin normally prefer the synthetic core or gut strings, whereas, musicians who play the fiddle generally prefer to use steel core strings. This is because fiddlers like the crisp and sharp sound that is 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 it also lets the musicians play two or even more notes at the same time.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Fiddle and Violin

  1. Is fiddle easier than the violin?

    Yes, the fiddle is easier then violin performance. This is because of the fact that learning how to play violin takes a lot of time and also playing it requires a good amount of strength.

    On the other hand, the fiddle music is usually easier. Fiddle music can also be improvised, while on the other hand violin music cannot be improvised.

  2. Which came first the fiddle or the violin?

    History shows that fiddling has been in the process of use from the early 1500’s. The early musicians used to fiddle using the instruments while on the other hand, the violin came much later than the fiddle.

    Violin belongs to the viola family of instruments and has been originated in the much later times.

  3. Can you play the violin like a fiddle?

    As such, there is no difference in playing the violin and a fiddle. Both the violin and the fiddle are 4 stringed instruments that can be played using similar techniques.

    But the point to be kept in mind is that violins are usually used for jazz and classical music while the fiddle is used for folk music.

  4. Is a guitar a fiddle?

    A fiddle is a term that is usually used for the instruments which are played using a bow. While on the other hand, a guitar is rarely played using a bow and is played more with the hands, fingers or by using a pick.

    In earlier times, an instrument guitar fiddle was used but it has now become obsolete.

  5. How many strings does a violin have?

    In the most common scenario, the violin consists of only 4 major strings. These 4 strings are named as follows: G-D-A-E strings or the perfect fifths.

    But in recent times violins with as many as seven strings have been introduced in the markets.

    The additional strings are of not much use but have the use of producing lower pitch when compared with the G string.

  6. What is a 5 string violin?

    In the most common scenario, the violin consists of only 4 major strings. These 4 strings are named as follows: G-D-A-E strings or the perfect fifths.

    But in recent times, violins with 5th string have been introduced in the markets. The fifth string is the C string which is tuned to a pitch much below the violin range.

  7. Are fiddles smaller than violins?

    Various variants are available both in the fiddle category and the violin category in the market. The sizes of some of the fiddle are bigger than that of the violins and also some violins are bigger than the fiddles.

    The electric versions of both are now available which has made the size more compact but increased the power and the voice.


 

Conclusion

Although to a layman a fiddle and a violin will appear to be the same, there are certain minute differences between the two.

Apart from the type of strings used in the two musical instruments, there is also a minor difference in their construction concerning the arch of the bridge.

Both the fiddle and the violin has changeable pieces that are known as the set-up.

It is seen that fiddlers normally prefer a different set-up as most of the violists.

Thus, it can be said that fiddlers do not like to play violins and vice-versa.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between Fiddle and Violin

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Fiddle and Violin. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
Word Cloud for Fiddle and Violin

 

References

  1. https://vbn.aau.dk/ws/files/52846595/NIME2011OvertoneFiddlePhotoReady.pdf
  2. https://elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=7301104
  3. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=AcmNN_9J5MoC&oi=fnd&pg=PA5&dq=Fiddle+and+Violin&ots=RffnE7C8pO&sig=S54hBcMBXErnKsdjUfEfGDfG-5E