We know that choosing a fiddle, especially online can be challenging.

There are so many questions to be answered, such as, how can fiddles range in cost so much, why are their so many sizes to choose from, what is the appropriate size for me, whats the difference between fiddles and most importantly can you purchase something as sensitive and personal online.

When customers purchase fiddles and other instruments using our site, we want to ensure you are comfortable with your online purchase and are confident it’s the most suitable choice for you. Please see below for a few pointers on how to purchase the perfect fiddle, you an also contact me directly if you have any further questions at info@irishmusik.com or directly on 087-2569 672, or from outside Ireland +353 18322432

Get To Know The Basics Of The Fiddle

In most cases, fiddles are constructed the same way. They have four strings which are stretched over the fiddle body and contain a tailpiece, chin rest, neck and pegbox. The majority of fiddles don’t have huge design variations (other instruments have a lot more) however most fiddle players will tell you that each fiddle is created differently and are all unique in their own way.

To learn more about the construction of the fiddle or violin, check out my blog post: The Anatomy of the Violin – A Guide to the Structure of the Violin

buy a fiddle

Fiddle Tonewood – What Material is the Fiddle Made From?

One of the most important aspects of any fiddle is the quality of tonewood it’s made from and the skill performed constructing it. That’s why we here at McNeela Music only use the best quality wood and all our fiddles are constructed to the highest degree of perfection in order for you to achieve that perfect tone.

The type of wood used to build a fiddle or violin will determine its sound.

The majority of fiddles use the same type of tonewood. This includes spruce tops, maple necks, backs and sides. The quality of wood however varies greatly.

Spruce Soundboard

The top of the fiddle body is called the soundboard. The soundboard amplifies the sound from the resonating strings. The majority of soundboards are constructed using spruce wood.

Spruce wood has been used for hundred of years as it’s naturally stiff and a dense component. This makes it the perfect fit. As spruce is very strong it can be carved to shape and its density allows us to create better resonance in comparison to other woods.

The quality of spruce used to construct fiddles is very important and it can determine the price of the instrument. There are seven different types of spruce woods.

Some experienced fiddle players have a preference of which type of spruce they prefer and this preference is mainly gained through experience of playing different fiddles.

Wood that is produced in cooler climates is denser and this is the most desirable type of wood for fiddle construction. The longer the spruce is allowed to age, the stronger it becomes. This is because it becomes drier. So in McNeela Music, we use spruce which is grown at high altitude, which has been seasoned for years as this is the most superior top wood.

Another factor which needs to be considered with spruce is the grain. The most premium spruce will have beautiful flame-like figuring. The highest standard fiddles will have attractive patterns and will be varnished flawlessly to bring out the underlying grain.

Neck, Back and Sides

Fiddle back, sides and necks are made from maple wood. As with spruce wood, there are also different types of maple woods. In McNeela Music we use premium quality grained wood that has been aged and is made of tightly grained wood.

Ebony is usually used for the fingerboard and is the preferable type, but sometimes less expensive fiddles may have a less expensive fingerboard. Also some less expensive fiddles may have alloy tailpieces or plastic chin rests and lesser quality bridges.

In some cases, fiddles will be constructed with different types of wood. The woods which are used determine the fiddles durability, sound and value.

The quality of wood, and the fiddles finish will reflect in the price.

how to select a fiddle

Fiddle Categories

While searching online, you may see different fiddle categories such as Student, Intermediate and Professional.

Many sites describe instruments using these categories to help the buyer know whether it’s suitable for a beginner, intermediate or advanced player.

Fiddles do not have any universally accepted standards for any of these categories however. They are purely used in the as a general guideline to narrow your search. That being said, they are usually a relatively accurate indication of the quality and price of an instrument.

Beginner Fiddles

A beginner fiddle can range in price, but are generally anywhere between €200 – €900.

Usually beginner fiddles are constructed with lower quality wood. They also don’t feature as much handcrafting such as carving, assembly and finishing.

Generally, these fiddles have plastic parts which may include plastic tuning pegs and chin rests.

Beginner fiddles are best suited to people who want to learn how to play the fiddle but aren’t entirely sure if they will keep it up long term.

Intermediate Fiddles

Intermediate fiddles are suitable for players who are somewhere between student and advanced level.

Some online sites don’t include this category as they only focus on student and advanced levels. We think its important however that customers get a well rounded purchasing opportunity. We also think that having an intermediate category is important as it allows the customer to find something better than a beginner fiddle without forcing them to spend a large sum of money on an advanced instrument that they are not quite ready for.

Advanced Fiddles

Advanced fiddles are suitable for professional players or aspiring musicians. They are premium fiddles, constructed from slow dried wood which is grown in cooler climates. Advanced fiddles are very carefully handcrafted, and only contain the highest of quality components.

Advanced fiddles can range in price but a high quality violin will cost upwards of €2000. The cost reflects the quality of premium wood used. A large amount of time and handcrafted skill also goes into making them.

buying a violin

How to Choose the Correct Size

Violins and fiddles are available in 8 different sizes, ranging from 4/4 or full size, right down to 1/32.

To learn which violin size is best for you, and how to correctly measure your arm, read our blog post: Which Fiddle or Violin Size is Right for You?

The Advantages Of Buying Online

We know buying online can be challenging as the choice is large and buying a fiddle is a personal purchase however there are some perks of buying online, such as:

  • Saving time. You don’t have to spend hours going from store to store and you can shop around in the comfort of your own home.
  • Its easier to compare prices and read customer reviews. Shopping online is a great way of gathering valuable information.

At McNeela Music, we offer a 14 day back money guarantee, so this allows you to test your fiddle and ensure that you are happy with it. If not satisfied, you can return it hassle free. Knowing the quality of our products however, we’re sure you’ll be happy!


For further expert guidance read the Ultimate Irish Fiddle Buying Guide.


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    1. Hi Boyce. Depending on what fiddle you are looking at there is usually an accompanying video on our website showcasing it. Alternatively you can always come to our showroom if you are ever in the Dublin area.

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