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How to Hold a Fiddle vs Violin

What are the differences between holding a fiddle and a violin? While both instruments are essentially the same, the playing style and cultural traditions surrounding them can affect the way you hold and play them. In this article, we'll explore the nuances of holding a fiddle versus a violin and provide tips for musicians of all levels.

Holding a Violin For Classical Playing

The violin is typically held with the neck at a slightly higher angle than the body, with the scroll pointing towards the left shoulder. This allows for optimal bowing technique and finger placement on the fingerboard. The violin should be supported by the chin and left shoulder, with the left hand holding the neck and the right hand holding the bow. As you can see in the video above although the woman is playing passionately, her chin and neck position remain very stable, maintaining good balance so that she can play very accurately.

Key Points:

  • Hold the violin at an angle, with the neck slightly higher than the body
  • Support the violin with your chin and left shoulder
  • Keep your left hand relaxed and curled around the neck
  • Hold the bow with your right hand, with your thumb on top and fingers wrapped around the stick


Holding a Fiddle

Fiddling, on the other hand, often involves a more relaxed and casual playing style. The fiddle is typically held with the neck at a lower angle than the body, with the scroll pointing towards the chest or stomach. This allows for a more aggressive and energetic bowing style, with a focus on rhythm and drive. Looking at the video above you see the woman with much more of a relaxed style, bobbing her head back and forth to the rhythm of the tune and generally not as stiff as the classical violin player.

Key Points:

  • Hold the fiddle with the neck at a lower angle than the body
  • Support the fiddle with your chin and left shoulder, but allow for more flexibility and movement
  • Keep your left hand relaxed and curled around the neck, with a focus on finger independence
  • Hold the bow with your right hand, with a more aggressive and driving motion

The History of the Word "Fiddle"

The word "fiddle" is believed to have originated from the Latin word "Fida," which was used to describe an early version of the violin. Over time, the term "fiddle" became commonly used in certain geographic regions, particularly in the southern United States, to refer to the violin.

Differences Between Fiddle and Violin

While the terms "fiddle" and "violin" are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two. The main differences lie in the style of music played and the setup of the instrument.

  • Style of Music: Fiddle music tends to be more energetic and rhythmic, with a focus on folk and traditional styles such as Bluegrass, Country, Celtic, and Irish music. Violin music, on the other hand, often refers to classical music.
  • Setup: Fiddlers may use steel core strings, which provide a stronger and more stable sound, making them ideal for outdoor performances or playing with amplified instruments. Classical violinists, on the other hand, may prefer synthetic core strings, which produce a warmer and more complex sound.

Tips and Tricks

  • Experiment with different holding styles to find what works best for you and your playing style
  • Pay attention to your posture and hand position, as this can affect your tone and technique
  • Practice holding and playing with a relaxed and flexible grip, allowing for maximum expression and creativity
  • Don't be afraid to try new things and push the boundaries of traditional playing styles


In conclusion, holding a fiddle versus a violin requires a nuanced understanding of the differences between these two instruments. By following the tips and guidelines outlined above, musicians can develop a comfortable and expressive playing style that suits their individual needs and preferences. Remember to always prioritize proper technique and posture, and don't be afraid to experiment and try new things. Happy playing!