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Fiddle vs. Violin: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
The fiddle and violin are essentially the same string instrument; the term "fiddle" is often used in folk music contexts, while "violin" is used in classical music.
Fiddle vs. Violin

Key Differences

The fiddle is commonly associated with folk, country, and bluegrass music, emphasizing a rhythmic and improvisational style. In contrast, the violin is predominantly used in classical music, focusing on structured compositions and technical precision.
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Nov 19, 2023
Fiddlers often employ a variety of techniques like shuffles and double stops suited to lively dance music. Violinists, however, adhere to classical techniques and formal training, emphasizing control and finesse.
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While physically the same, fiddles may be set up with flatter bridges to facilitate multiple string playing, whereas violins have more arched bridges for classical repertoire.
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The fiddle is central to traditional and folk genres across various cultures, playing tunes passed down orally. The violin, however, is integral to the performance of composed works in the Western classical tradition.
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The fiddle is often seen as an instrument of the people, integral to communal gatherings and celebrations. The violin, conversely, has long been associated with formal concert halls and academic study.
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Comparison Chart

Musical Genres

Predominantly used in folk, country, and bluegrass music.
Primarily associated with classical music.
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Playing Techniques

Utilizes techniques like slides, shuffles, and improvisation.
Focuses on classical techniques and precision.
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Instrument Setup

Often has a flatter bridge for easier multiple string playing.
Typically has a more arched bridge for single string playing.
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Musical Repertoire

Plays traditional tunes, often learned by ear.
Performs composed pieces from classical repertoire.
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Cultural Association

Seen as a communal, folk instrument.
Associated with formal, classical music settings.
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Fiddle and Violin Definitions

Fiddle

A fiddle is identical to a violin but differs in playing style and music genre.
He switched from classical violin to playing the fiddle in a folk band.
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Nov 17, 2023

Violin

A violin is a string instrument used in classical and orchestral music.
She performed a challenging violin concerto with the orchestra.
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Nov 17, 2023

Fiddle

Fiddles are central to folk traditions, often passed down through generations.
His grandfather taught him how to play the fiddle by ear.
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Nov 17, 2023

Violin

Violins are integral to symphony orchestras and chamber music.
The violin section added depth to the symphony's performance.
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Nov 17, 2023

Fiddle

A violin, especially one used to play folk or country music.
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Violin

A violin, while physically the same as a fiddle, is associated with formal music training.
She took violin lessons at the conservatory for many years.
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Fiddle

(Nautical) A guardrail used on a table during rough weather to prevent things from slipping off.
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Oct 19, 2023

Violin

The violin is known for its expressive sound in classical compositions.
His violin rendition of Bach's compositions was breathtaking.
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Fiddle

(Informal) Nonsensical, trifling matters
"There are things that are important / beyond all this fiddle" (Marianne Moore).
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Violin

The violin is a versatile instrument, also used in jazz and modern music.
The jazz band featured a talented violinist in their lineup.
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Fiddle

Chiefly British An instance of cheating or swindling; a fraud.
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Violin

A stringed instrument played with a bow, having four strings tuned at intervals of a fifth, an unfretted fingerboard, and a shallower body than the viol and capable of great flexibility in range, tone, and dynamics.
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Fiddle

To play a fiddle.
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Violin

A small unfretted stringed instrument with four strings tuned (lowest to highest) G-D-A-E, usually held against the chin and played with a bow.
When I play it like this, it's a fiddle; when I play it like this, it's a violin.
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Fiddle

To touch or handle something in a nervous way
Fiddled with the collar of his shirt as he spoke.
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Violin

Any instrument of the violin family, always inclusive of violins, violas, and cellos and sometimes further including the double bass.
The string quartet, one of the most popular groupings in chamber music, is composed entirely of violins: two violins proper, one viola, and one cello.
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Fiddle

To make unskilled efforts at repairing or improving
Fiddled with the broken toaster.
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Violin

The position of a violinist in an orchestra or group.
The first violin often plays the lead melody lines in a string quartet.
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Fiddle

To meddle or tamper
A reporter who fiddled with the facts.
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Violin

(ambitransitive) To play on, or as if on, a violin.
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Fiddle

Chiefly British To commit a fraud, especially to steal from one's employer.
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Violin

A small instrument with four strings, played with a bow; a fiddle.
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Oct 19, 2023

Fiddle

To play (a tune) on a fiddle.
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Oct 19, 2023

Violin

Bowed stringed instrument that is the highest member of the violin family; this instrument has four strings and a hollow body and an unfretted fingerboard and is played with a bow
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Fiddle

Chiefly British To alter or falsify for dishonest gain
Fiddled the figures in the report.
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Oct 19, 2023

Fiddle

Synonym of violin, a small unfretted stringed instrument with four strings tuned (lowest to highest) G-D-A-E, usually held against the chin and played with a bow; the position of a violinist in a band; any of various bowed stringed instruments, particularly those of the violin family when played non-classically.
When I play it like this, it's a fiddle; when I play it like that, it's a violin.
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Oct 19, 2023

Fiddle

(figurative) clown: an unserious person entertaining a group.
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Fiddle

(figurative) Unskillful or unartful behavior, particularly when showy and superficially pleasing.
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Fiddle

Synonym of scam, a fraud or swindle.
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Fiddle

(slang) workaround, a quick and less than perfect solution for some flaw or problem.
That parameter setting is just a fiddle to make the lighting look right.
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Oct 19, 2023

Fiddle

Any rail or device that prevents items from sliding off a table, stove, etc. in rough water.
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Oct 19, 2023

Fiddle

Synonym of arrest warrant.
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Fiddle

Synonym of watchman's rattle.
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Fiddle

A trifling amount.
Done at a fiddle.
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Fiddle

Something resembling a violin in shape, particularly:
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Fiddle

(biology) A dock (Rumex pulcher) with leaves supposed to resemble the musical instrument.
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Oct 19, 2023

Fiddle

A long pole pulled by a draft animal to drag loose straw, hay, etc.
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Fiddle

A rack for drying pottery after glazing.
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Fiddle

To play the fiddle or violin, particularly in a folk or country style.
To fiddle while Rome burns
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Fiddle

To fidget or play; to idly amuse oneself, to act aimlessly, idly, or frivolously, particularly out of nervousness or restlessness.
Stop fiddling with your food. Either tell me what's wrong or just eat.
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Fiddle

(informal) To cheat or swindle; to commit fraud.
Fred was fiddling the books.
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Fiddle

Senseid|en|sort out by tinkering}} (informal) {{synonym of tinker, to make small adjustments or improvements.
I needed to fiddle with these settings to get the image to look right.
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Fiddle

(obsolete) fiddlesticks.
Oh, fiddle. I left my whip in the stable.
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Fiddle

A stringed instrument of music played with a bow; a violin; a kit.
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Fiddle

A kind of dock (Rumex pulcher) with fiddle-shaped leaves; - called also fiddle dock.
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Fiddle

A rack or frame of bars connected by strings, to keep table furniture in place on the cabin table in bad weather.
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Fiddle

To play on a fiddle.
Themistocles . . . said he could not fiddle, but he could make a small town a great city.
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Fiddle

To keep the hands and fingers actively moving as a fiddler does; to move the hands and fingers restlessy or in busy idleness; to trifle.
Talking, and fiddling with their hats and feathers.
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Fiddle

To play (a tune) on a fiddle.
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Fiddle

Bowed stringed instrument that is the highest member of the violin family; this instrument has four strings and a hollow body and an unfretted fingerboard and is played with a bow
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Fiddle

Avoid (one's assigned duties);
The derelict soldier shirked his duties
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Fiddle

Commit fraud and steal from one's employer;
We found out that she had been fiddling for years
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Fiddle

Play the violin or fiddle
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Fiddle

Play on a violin;
Zuckerman fiddled that song very nicely
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Fiddle

Manipulate manually or in one's mind or imagination;
She played nervously with her wedding ring
Don't fiddle with the screws
He played with the idea of running for the Senate
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Fiddle

Play around with or alter or falsify, usually secretively or dishonestly;
Someone tampered with the documents on my desk
The reporter fiddle with the facts
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Fiddle

Try to fix or mend;
Can you tinker with the T.V. set--it's not working right
She always fiddles with her van on the weekend
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Oct 19, 2023

Fiddle

A fiddle is a bowed string instrument used primarily in folk music.
He played the fiddle at the local barn dance.
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Nov 17, 2023

Fiddle

The fiddle is known for its lively sound in traditional music.
The fiddle's lively tunes set the tempo at the folk festival.
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Fiddle

Fiddles are often used in bluegrass and country music genres.
Her fiddle solo was the highlight of the bluegrass concert.
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Nov 17, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can violinists easily switch to fiddling?

With practice, many violinists can adapt to fiddle styles, though it may require learning new techniques.
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Nov 19, 2023

Are the strings different for fiddles and violins?

They can be. Fiddlers might use steel strings for a brighter sound, while classical violinists often prefer gut or synthetic core strings.
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Nov 19, 2023

Are there different types of fiddles?

Yes, different cultures have variations of the fiddle, such as the Hardanger fiddle in Norway.
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Nov 19, 2023

Do fiddlers read sheet music like violinists?

Some do, but many fiddlers learn by ear and improvisation is common.
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Nov 19, 2023

Is it harder to play the fiddle or the violin?

Difficulty depends on the music style and the individual's aptitude and training.
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Nov 19, 2023

Can any violin be used as a fiddle?

Yes, a violin can be used as a fiddle in folk, country, or bluegrass music styles.
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Nov 19, 2023

Is the fiddle primarily a solo instrument?

It can be, but it's also commonly used in ensembles, especially in folk and bluegrass bands.
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Nov 19, 2023

Do fiddles have a different shape or size?

They are typically the same as violins, though some folk variants may differ.
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What is the difference between a fiddle and a violin?

Technically, they are the same instrument. The difference lies in the style of music played and sometimes in the setup of the instrument.
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Nov 19, 2023

Is the playing technique different for fiddle and violin?

Yes, fiddling often involves different bowing techniques and ornaments like slides and double stops.
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Nov 19, 2023

Is fiddle music always fast and upbeat?

Not always. Fiddle music can range from fast, lively tunes to slower, more melodic pieces.
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Nov 19, 2023

Can fiddles have different numbers of strings?

Yes, some fiddles like the Hardanger have additional sympathetic strings.
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Nov 19, 2023

Are there famous violin pieces adapted for the fiddle?

Yes, many classical pieces have been adapted into fiddle tunes.
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Nov 19, 2023

Do fiddles use the same accessories as violins?

Yes, accessories like cases, bows, and chin rests are typically interchangeable.
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Nov 19, 2023

Are there famous fiddle players?

Absolutely, famous fiddlers include Vassar Clements, Alison Krauss, and Mark O'Connor.
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Nov 19, 2023

Is there a cultural significance to the fiddle?

Yes, it plays a significant role in many folk music traditions around the world.
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Nov 19, 2023

Can fiddlers play classical music on their instruments?

Yes, fiddlers can play classical music, as the instrument is fundamentally the same.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Is the fiddle used in classical music?

The violin is the term more commonly used in classical music contexts.
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Nov 19, 2023

Can children learn to play the fiddle?

Yes, children can learn to play just as they do with the violin.
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Nov 19, 2023

How are fiddles maintained differently from violins?

Maintenance is generally the same, focusing on proper storage, cleaning, and care of the bow and strings.
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Nov 19, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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