According to Merriam Webster's online dictionary.....
Definition of VIOLIN
Definition of FIDDLE
There is often a debate on the differences, if any, of a violin and a fiddle. Many who play classical violin music may say that there is a difference. Those too, who play bluegrass or folk music may say there is a difference. What I have usually heard to be said as to the difference is that fiddles are not always shaped the same way as a traditional violin, nor are they played in the same manner. Fiddle's can be made of a variety of woods, violins on the other hand should always be maple and spruce with ebony trimmings. The bridge on a fiddle is slightly flatter than the bridge on a violin allowing the bowing of two or more strings at one time, giving way to the almost hollow droning sound of mountain style folk music.
These differing opinions and sound qualities are just some of what inspired me to delve a little deeper into a project that I have thoroughly enjoyed. To begin, this project started when I was doing some work for a man in the town I grew up in. He has been a tinker for a long time. Because he is a hippie and a well educated man, he was easy to get along with and showed me a few of the projects that he had done over the years. The thing that caught my attention most was his workshop filled with stringed instruments in various stages of completion, and one he calls a sweet-stick, basically a dulcimer. The sounds the sweet-stick produced were amazing, especially since it was made of scrap plywood and a stick of hardwood that he had shaped into a neck. The ease of play and the beautiful droning sounds that it produced made my mouth water and my creative juices flow. I asked him to give me some pointers on how to build one of these instruments but he would just smile and say they were not difficult to make. Finally I resigned myself to accepting that he was not just going to give away his "trade secrets" so I asked him if he would help me put the frets in, and string it if I built one for myself. He agreed and so I went to work that same week. The dulcimer I created impressed him and his wife so much, because it was so pretty and sounded so good, they said that I should build eleven more, keep my favorite one of the twelve, and sell the rest. Well that is what my dad and I decided to do. For the past year or so we have been building and selling dulcimers of many different shapes along with other things. That lead me to fiddles. (More about dulcimers another time.)