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The Fiddle Vs. The Violin

The fiddle is a generic term for any bowed stringed musical instrument including the violin. According to the “Cambridge Companion to the Violin”, the instruments are identical; “it is the style and repertory which is different.”

The fiddle is a violin that is used to play folk, country or bluegrass music as opposed to classical or jazz music. However a fiddle can be used to play other styles of music as well including Western swing, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean music. The term violinist is also used to distinguish between classically trained musicians and “fiddlers” who play local dance.

However, others believe there is a difference between the instruments. According to violin shop Telford & Sons Violins, a fiddle can be made by Grandpa out of a fencepost and an old barn door, but a violin is constructed from traditional materials and according to accepted methods and proportions.

Most of the time, fiddles are adjusted slightly differently than traditional violins. For example, some fiddle players prefer violins with a lower string height and a flatter bridge arch. Fiddle players also prefer louder strings and variations of the traditional four-stringed violin like the 5-string or an amplified fiddle.

According to many famous fiddle players, the violin sings but the fiddle dances.