What is the Difference Between a Violin and Fiddle?
The violin and fiddle are the exact same instrument which only differs in the style of how you play them. There are certainly differences in technique, which we will talk a little bit about below, and also a few instrument setup differences.
What Styles does Violin Include?
Many people associate the violin with a symphony orchestra or string quartet which is certainly true. Classical violin music has been around for hundreds of years, and this particular style includes music written by composers such as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and Haydn just to name a few. Also associated with violin playing is church music (hymns), and also a lot of popular wedding music. The classical violin style of learning is endless, and is highly associated with reading music.
What Styles does Fiddle Include?
The fiddle can be associated with many styles of music out there, and is certainly a different sound and technique compared to the classical learning of the violin. Included styles of fiddle are Bluegrass, Celtic, Irish, Cajun, Country and more. Each of these genres has a unique sound, but when the violin is played, it is typically always referred to as a “fiddle.” The fiddle style promotes improvisation and although there is plenty of music to read out there on the fiddle, having a good ear, and being able to mix up notes and rhythms on the fly is quite standard.
What are some Characteristics of both styles?
Classical violin music masters moving your hand up and down the instrument with a concept called shifting. This certainly takes time to learn, and allows you to play notes that are very high in pitch. Also in classical violin music you will do a technique called vibrato quite often, which is the shaking of the fingers to make a wave sound that improves the quality of tone. The fiddle style delves more into “chords” or “double stops,” which is basically playing 2 strings at once. Also the fiddle style promotes playing fast, and includes techniques like grace notes, slides and drones.
Is there any difference between a Violin Setup vs. Fiddle Setup?
The biggest difference in the setup of a violin vs. fiddle has to do with the bridge. Because fiddle playing has a lot of chords, having a lower bridge helps to keep the strings on a more level plane, making it easier to hit chords. The classical violin style is associated more with single notes so having a more arched bridge is preferred. You can have these setups adjusted at your local violin/fiddle shop.
There are different tunings of strings with the fiddle in some cases, but you can get by with using the E,A,D,G string tuning in 95% of all music. Also fiddle players prefer steel strings for their durability and tone (like Heliocore strings), where as classical violin players prefer synthetic strings (like Dominants strings) for their warmth and playability.
So which style should I choose?
Some people come to this website wanting to learn a particular style of the violin or fiddle. Others just have interest in learning anything associated with either instrument, and have no preference. Either way you have to learn the basics. Start with the Violin Tutor Pro beginner lessons, and learn all of the basic fundamentals. They apply to both the violin and the fiddle! After this, you can decide to continue with our advanced violin lessons, or start learning some fiddle techniques. Or both! There is plenty to learn but don’t get to ahead of yourself by trying to start with the fiddle style right away. Most of the best fiddle players in the World all have the fundamental classical base. You will sound much better on the fiddle if you start with this area of learning.