Like many folks, I wondered what the difference is between a violin and a fiddle. It’s simple.
When young Carson Peters was asked this question, his response was a violin has strings, and a fiddle has straaangs.
There’s an old musician’s joke about the difference:
“What’s the difference between a fiddle and a violin?”
“You don’t spill beer on a violin!”
While there may be some small changes to the basic instrument after it is created depending on the violinist or fiddler playing it (called the “set up”), there is no difference between a violin and a fiddle. Changes might be to the type of strings, the shape of the bridge, the chin rest or even just the way the instrument is held.
Fiddle is a colloquial term for the violin and refers to the type of music that is being played. “Fiddle” is generally used when the type of music being played such as old time, bluegrass, folk and country. “Violin” is generally used when playing classical music or jazz. Violins are often seen as expensive instruments. Fiddles are generally seen as cheap violins. Neither sentiment is necessarily true.
From Wisconsin Public Radio: What’s The Difference Between a Violin and a Fiddle?