Violins and Fiddles – Ten Fun Questions

Enjoyed this ‘fiddle music‘ article ‘Ten Fun Questions About Violins and Fiddles’ by Arthur Haule

So you think you know violins? Here are ten questions about violins, violinists, fiddles and such that’ll probably make you say “Ah Fiddlesticks!” How many will you get right?

1. You probably know that at one time violin strings were made of a substance called “catgut.” What was the major ingredient in catgut?

2. Although many parents find it a bit of a fight to get their violinist to practice, playing the violin is usually a non-contact sport. But the name of at least one part of a violin might remind you of boxing. What might that (those) part(s) be?

3. You’ve heard that Stradivarius violins can be very expensive. You’ve heard how rare they are and how well made. How many violins did Stradivarius make?

4. Violinist Mark Wood calls himself the “first heavy metal violinist.” He plays an innovative electric violin called a “Viper.” What notes are the strings on Mark’s Viper tuned to? (Hint…The Viper has more than 4 strings.)

5. Most violins are made of wood. How many kinds of wood are there in most violins, and what woods are violins usually made of?

6. Which character on the old television show Hogan’s Heroes played the violin?

7. Many people associate wearing black clothing with singer Roy Orbison. Some call Johnny Cash, “the man in black.” What famous violinist from the past was notable for wearing all black clothing?

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8. Three men were involved with writing the Declaration of Independence which declared that the American colonies were independent from their British rulers. One of the three was renowned for, among other things, playing the violin. Who?

9. Where are the strings on a Hardanger Violin?

10. The organ is often referred to as the “King of Instruments.” What royal nickname is bestowed upon the violin?

Well, those are my questions. How’d you do? Let’s take a look at the answers!

1. Contrary to popular belief, catgut strings are NOT made of cat innards, they are made of sheep intestines.

2. The “sides” of a violin are called “bouts,” another definition of which is, “a contest or trial of strength, as of boxing.”

3. Trick Question! How many violins did Stradivarius make? NONE. The famous luthier’s name was Antonio Stradivari, not Stradivarius.

4. From highest to lowest, the strings on Mark’s Viper are E, A, D, G, C, F, B-Flat. Seven strings!

5. Typically there are three woods used in a violin. The back and bouts are maple. The belly, or table, is spruce, and the fingerboard/tailpiece/chinrest are made of ebony, or boxwood or rosewood.

6. On at least one occasion, Colonel Klink played the violin in his office.

7. Paganini was the original “man in black.” He was said to be so good on the violin that many people suspected he had made a pact with the devil to give him that skill. His clothing choice did not help them change their minds.

8. A song from the Broadway musical 1776 has Martha Jefferson sing about her husband.
He plays the violin
He tucks it right under his chin
And he bows, oh he bows
For he knows, yes he knows
That it’s hi-hi-hi-diddle diddle
It’s my heart, Tom and his fiddle
My strings are unstrung
I am undone
Among other skills, future President Thomas Jefferson was an accomplished violinist.

9. On a Hardanger violin, four strings are in the traditional place above the fingerboard, and several sympathetic strings are below the fingerboard.

10. The violin is called the “King of Strings.”

So, how many did you get correct? All ten? That’s phenomenal! Have you considered a career teaching music? Five? You’re probably still above average! But no matter how many you got correct, you’ve probably learned something you didn’t know about one of the most beloved instruments in the world, and that’s a good thing!

About the Author of ‘Ten Fun Questions About Violins and Fiddles’

Arthur Haule was a member of several orchestras, an opera company, and founded a string while living near New York City. He is webmaster of, which presents practice tips and look at music history daily, biographies, articles, and online/printable puzzles. Some of his violin shirt designs shirts are featured at He currently lives and plays violin in Flower Mound, TX.

Hope you enjoyed this ‘fiddle music‘ article