View Full Version : fiddle playing

Nov-02-2004, 8:01pm
Hello everyone,
It's possible this topic has been tackled and I missed it, but after one is able to play the mandolin is it easy to transfer that knowledge to the violin/fiddle. Is chording the same?

John Flynn
Nov-02-2004, 8:24pm
Well, fiddles don't exactly "chord." They do double stops, but I have found that fiddlers who do not play other instruments often do not have a strong concept of chords. The fingering for a fiddle is generally the same as for a mandolin, except that obviously the fiddle does not have frets, so the finger tip has to hit right where the fret would be, not behind the fret, as on a mandolin. Also that finger placement has be exact, wheras with a mandolin, there is a big "fudge factor." The biggest difference between the two instruments seems to be with the right hand. Bowing is a real art. The skills required for bowing don't seem to be all that transferable with the skills required for strumming and picking. Certainly there are things that are transferable and knowing the mandolin would help with fiddling.

Nov-06-2004, 9:06am
I have recently taken up the fiddle after playing mandolin for about 10 years. I have found that, while the different left hand position and absence of frets certainly take some getting used to, the fingering has come fairly naturally to me (Being a whistle player has also helped me with some of the L.H. ornamentation). As Johnny says, the biggest challenge is in the bowing. There are many different regional styles of bowing in Scots, Irish and American fiddling, most of which bear very little relation to how one would use a pick. But it is enough of a challenge just to be able to produce a clean tone and smooth transitions between strings, before even considering style.

The fiddle does offer some respite, however: i. It is possible to play (in theory) any number of notes with a single bow stroke (although some styles require one stroke per note); ii. You can slide up to a note, which means, if your finger doesn't quite hit the note, you can slide up until you get there - or even go past it provided you don't stay there too long.

Take up the fiddle, by all means, and you *will* be rewarded. But don't ever think it will be easy.

Nov-08-2004, 8:23am
Just like to share a fantastic moment that I had some years ago when I picked up a mandolin for the first time - I'd learnt the violin at school and am quite a keen guitarist so was used to a pick, that meant I could play tunes on the mandolin immediately (albeit not at a virtuosic level) which was a great feeling.. I'm still loving it 9 years on.. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Conversely if you can play the mandolin then that would help learning the fiddle you know the fingering - although as already discussed, the bowing and tuning are fiddle and difficult to master http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Nov-13-2004, 11:08pm
id not the tuning the same?


Nov-16-2004, 11:41am
yes, the tuning is the same - thats why the left hand fingering is the same and people often try one instrument then the other http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Pete Martin
Nov-16-2004, 10:52pm
My advice is get some lessons from a good FIDDLE teacher on how to use the bow. Saves a LOT of headaches!!

Nov-26-2004, 9:53pm
I agree with switching from fiddle to mando and vice versa; the fingerings are identical except for frets. Just be patient with bowing and it will come; it would be worth a few dollars to have a teacher start you out right on it, then practice with different rhythms and note values. Try to find a teacher who teaches/plays FIDDLE, not violin, and someone who understands that you don't have to spend five months playing "Twinkle." I'm a classical bassist/orchestra teacher who now plays fiddle and mando and I LOVE both!