#065 - Learn About Bluegrass Fiddle - Fiddle Versus Violin - What's the Difference?

#065 - Learn About Bluegrass Fiddle - Fiddle Versus Violin - What's the Difference?

Learn About Bluegrass Fiddle - Fiddle Versus Violin - What's the Difference?

The number 1 question we get asked is, "What is the difference between the violin and the fiddle?"

The world of stringed instruments includes various types of guitars, cellos, and fiddles. Now, to most people, whether you are a musical instrument lover and player or not, fiddles do not seem as appealing or well-known as the guitar and other instruments, but surprise, surprise, fiddles are actually hidden gems.

1. More on the Fiddle

Fiddles are basically violins. I bet you didn't expect that! The fact of the matter is that they really are just violins, although they are smaller than the common violin. Moreover, the word fiddle is just an informal and conversational way to refer to such violins. Fiddles are bowed string instruments that can be used to play in several music genres, such as bluegrass, country, folk, and even rock. They are played using a bow. The fiddle was mainly known back in the old days in the Southern part of America and came from the Appalachian Mountains, but fiddle music is featured everywhere and anywhere. When people wanted a good time, the fiddle was whipped out to do its job. There was a huge infusion of both old and newer songs while playing the fiddle. We aim to tenaciously help the students grasp the various and crucial techniques of playing the fiddle, or as professional fiddle players tend to call it, fiddling!  If you have never played Fiddle before, start with this Violin Course, then move into this Fiddle Course

2. Fiddle Styles

There is a huge variety and collection of fiddle styles from all around the world. For example, there are fiddle styles according to place of origin, such as Canadian fiddle styles, Cuban, Polish, English, Irish, Scottish, and Scandinavian styles. There are also jazz, folk, rock, and bluegrass fiddle styles. This article will pay particular attention to the bluegrass style of fiddle playing.

3. Bluegrass Fiddle

This style is set apart from the rest of the styles by its bold improvisation of the blues, off-beat chopping, and intricate use of double stops as well as old-time bowing patterns. Bluegrass fiddle playing made its debut in America in the 18th century. Fiddles were highly associated with country music. As time passed, the fiddle broke on to the bluegrass scene together with the mandolin. Nowadays, you cannot mention bluegrass without bringing up the fiddle, as it plays a vital role in the whole ensemble. Some might even boldly say that without the fiddle, there is no distinctive bluegrass sound.

Bluegrass fiddle playing style is mainly an infusion of several entities working together as a unit. For instance, the style draws on elements of rural Appalachia (where fiddle playing was mainly practiced) in terms of the hoedown fiddle and banjo, gospel songs accompanied by rich, sweet harmonies as well as the high lonesome sound, the country and string band sound from the guitar and mandolin, and the strong model and bluesy element to many of the songs. With all these incorporated into one, it made it so much easier for the soloists to take breaks like a jazz or Western Swing band. This was indeed an ancient and modern sound, making it have a solid foundation of a driving bass rhythm. We make sure our students understand all that goes into producing a bluegrass sound where the fiddle is highly featured, and we take them on a step-by-step journey to help them discover and fully grasp such ideas that have been mentioned above. Hence, such steps are reiterated over and over again.

4. Finding the Instrument

Many of our students ask for fiddle recommendations. Here are a few, from beginner to more advanced fiddle suggestions: 

Fiddle #1 for the Beginner

Fiddle #2 for the Intermediate Player

Fiddle #3 for the Advanced Player

5. Accessories for the Fiddle

Shoulder Rest - A shoulder rest is a curved pad that is placed on the body of the fiddle player to support and comfort the musician's shoulder.
Rosin - Rosin is a sticky material that enhances the friction between an instrument's strings and bow, such as a violin or cello. The bow can grasp the strings and cause them to vibrate, creating sound, thanks to the increased friction.
Case -
When looking for a violin case, be sure to pick the right size.

  • 4/4 or Full Size: This is the standard size for adult players. The body length is typically around 14 inches (35.5 cm).
  • 3/4: Suitable for older children (around 10–12 years old) or petite adults. The body length is about 13 inches (33 cm).
  • 1/2: A common size for children between 7 and 10 years old. The body length is around 11 inches (27.9 cm).
  • 1/4: This size is ideal for young children, roughly between 4 and 7 years old. The body length is about 9 inches (22.9 cm).
  • 1/8: The smallest fiddle size, suited for very young children (around 3-5 years old) just starting out. The body length is approximately 7 inches (17.8 cm).

These are some of the books Lesson Pros recommends:


As you have clearly seen, the world of bluegrass fiddle playing is not only exciting but highly insightful as well. We look forward to seeing you in our bluegrass fiddle lessons and helping you become the next bluegrass fiddler master.

Lesson Pros
Learn from the Pros

If you are interested in learning how to write songs, check out our Fiddle Course or All Lesson Pros Courses.

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