The fiddle is a classy and beautiful musical instrument that is very similar to the violin. It is mostly used to play the traditional and the folk genres and most musicians who play Irish traditional, Cajun, and Klezmer are known to use a fiddle.
In this article, we’ll talk about the parts, pieces, basics of fiddle build. Regardless if you enjoy playing the fiddle yourself, need to fix your own instrument, or simply enjoy the music the fiddle creates you’ll learn something here! If you want to know the differences between the Fiddle and the Violin check out our article on it HERE. For a great parts breakdown of the Violin head over to the InstrumentPlace.
The Basics of the Fiddle
The Popularity of fiddle
Fiddles are small and thus very portable, making it easy for a musician to move with it from one corner of the world to another. In addition, since they are easy to travel with the fiddle was a favorite instrument among immigrants for centuries.
Fiddles are quite loud instruments considering its small size hence they worked well when used as a music dance instruments. The also hold their own quite well when played next to guitars, drums, and pianos making them great for bands.
Fiddle has four strings and they are tuned GDAE. These strings are played with a bow that is generally made with horsehair. The fiddle is mostly utilized in a cross-tuning manner when it is playing ethnic and folk music and it is played in an open tuning mode just like the way you can play guitar. This design has made it easy for the fiddle to produce classic tunes that are entertaining. Open tuning also allows a fiddle to play chords swiftly at the same time while playing the melody.
The Fiddle is a solid piece of wood that is broken up into upper and lower bouts, separated by what is called the waist. The neck extends out from the upper bout and is permanently attached to the body. The fiddle has many parts that are interchangeable, known as the set-ups. These include the strings, the bridge, the tuners, chin rest, pick-ups and shoulder rests.
A standard fiddle is built with four strings, but you can also get one with five strings. The older generation strings were made of catgut, mostly from sheep intestines. In recent years, strings have been made of synthetic materials that are wrapped with a thin coating of metal.
Most of the modern fiddle players are known to string their fiddles using four steel strings that require the use of fine tuner and a tuning peg. It makes the sound and the tone of music more enjoyable and entertaining. It is important for the player to change the strings frequently since they do break very often and they can lose their tone as time goes by.
The Fiddle Bridge
The Bridge is a small piece of wood that is usually made of plain maple. The bridge is used to hold the strings of the fiddle off the instrument body. A fiddle bridge is carved in such a way that makes it flatter and using a fine piece of wood makes it more durable. The flatter bridge helps to lessen the angles that are found in the strings; this allows the player to play around two or three notes of tunes at a time. The Bridge acts as a suspension so it is easily for it to be changed or replaced. Depending on the type of music some fiddlers may prefer to use a more arched bridge.
The Scroll is the most beautiful part of the fiddle, and it is located on the tip of the neck. Made of pure wood that is normally carved in a unique spiral shape, some high-end fiddles will have the scroll carved into a special design or animal head.
Pegbox is a hollowed out an area that is located below the scroll, and it is made of wood just like the scroll. Each side of this pegbox is made of 2 holes that are used to fit the pegs.
A fiddle has one peg for each string, 4 on most instruments. The shaft of each peg is made in a slight taper that makes it easy to insert the peg into its hole and giving it a tighter fit. Each of the pegs has a smaller hole that is through the shaft; this is where the end of the string is threaded to hold it tightly in its place. Pegs are used to tune the fiddle strings by rotating the string around the shaft for the desired amount of tension.
The nut of a fiddle is the raised area located at the end of the fingerboard and it helps to hold the strings clear from the fingerboard when they pass out from their pegbox. It is made of four small notches that hold the string in its right place.
The fiddleneck is used to stretch the strings out and gives the unit its correct length. This piece carries most of the tension from the strings.
The fiddle body acts as its sound box, and it’s used to amplify the sound that is created when the strings vibrate. It is normally made of a solid hardwood. The body is divided into the upper bout, the waist, and the lower bout, giving the fiddle its shape.
It is the short length of the hardwood that has been glued to the neck of the instrument. Fingerboards are commonly made from ebony and stained black.
The Tailpiece and Tuners
The tailpiece is where the strings are attached to the fiddles body. The fine adjusters(tuners) are used to tune the strings to their correct pitch.
This piece is separate from the fiddle, and it is usually kept in its place with an ingenious screwing mechanism. Chinrests come in different design, and it usually sits in the tailpiece or directly on top.