Top Ten Fiddle Players

The Top Ten

1 Justin Branum

Justin Branum has an ear like none other. He breathes the fiddle in his life. You can hear it in his playing. He pays homage to every single one of the greats, and to the great pedal steel guitar! Yeah! Big Full sound. Justin Branum translates those crazy wavy melodies--full of all the intervalic capabilities to be silly and expressive in Its song to sing. Justin Branum is the Grand Master Fiddler Champion 2010. This year, He was awarded first place as the "Show Me State's" Best Rhythm Guitar Player in Missouri. He's in the book just recently published called Play me something fast and devilish about Missouri style fiddle playing. He is an amazingly precise player who shines alone in his Western Swing style. Colorful and virtuosic solos drive, with a groove, a rhythm, and a force that begs to be set apart by its very nature of mystery, as well as the simple purity, love, and honesty from the heart through which the music pours. A man of excellence who is an open vessel for the music ...more

Justin is a wonderful player and a fantastic human being. Justin is a young man with an old soul. He is knowledgeable about all styles of music and is a master of them all. The fiddling world will be hearing his name for decades to come.

Why isn't Howard Forrester on the list? Also, where does Gordon Terry rate?

Very good player and teacher

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2 Hyram Posey

I've known Hyram for 50 years. Not only is he a great musician, composer, producer, and promoter - he is a great human being and a wonderful friend. - Profmmartin

I've had the pleasure of having Hyram and his wife Lori as friends for many years. You will never meet a better couple, no ego just great people. Hyram has played music in all types of settings and always brings his creative genius to the music. Hyram is not only the best fiddle player - bar none- but produces not only the one of a kind music he writes but brings out the best in other artist music he produces. No matter where you put Hyram, stage- recording studio- writing music - movie themes- supporting other artist or playing lead, Hyram is simple the best. Listen to Hyram's music- it soothes the Soul. God Bless Hyram and Lori.

I've had the honor to do 1000 sessions around the country and I've played with some really great musicians and on some really great records in my time...I recently played guitar on Hyram's new record and he's amazing, to say the least. Him and I are going to doing a fiddle/guitar album soon and I can't wait to get started! Having said that...
To me, music is not just about what you do but what you don't do and knowing when to do either... What I mean to say is there is bound to be fiddle players who can play faster, play more notes and put in more flash than Hyram. But what I've not seen is many who can make every note drip with soul and passion like he can! Hyram doesn't play for the money because he knows that that is something that comes and goes! He plays simply because he LOVES it-every bit of it! Money and fame are fleeting things but heart and soul is forever! And that's why I feel he's the best I ever heard and played with! I love Hyram and his wife Lori and have loved them ...more

One of the nicest people I have ever met. not afraid to think outside the box and do new things and can do them better than anyone.

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3 Charlie Daniels

Amazing skills!

No good


Charlie owns this award from "Orange Blossom Special" alone - and that's not even his best work.

Undeniably the one of greatest fiddle players of all time.

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4 Stuart Duncan

A very smooth style who can play with anyone!

He is simply amazing!

Stuart is the tastiest fiddler I've ever heard. SMOOTH!

Amazingly diverse!

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5 Kenny Sears

He was my first teacher... I was 3!... And I am now 35! Very good man! Absolutely brilliant Mr. Kenny... The Shaffer twins from Lindsay Hollow have ALWAYS admired you! TOP notch across any genre of music!

Actually there are about eight fiddle players that handle all the session work in Nashville and Kenny Sears is one of them. He is also classically trained.

Incredible player

My Dad was a fiddle player. He had a great ear. I never heard him comment to much about anyone's playing...except for Kenny Sears who he scheduled his entire day around being able to watch Mr. Sears play on the Ralph Emery Show for years! On top of that Mr. Sears is one of the sweetest, kindest and most humble fellows around.

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6 Buddy Spicher


7 Rob Hajacos

Seriously, why don't I see his name here. He is one of the best Nashville Studio musicians and appears on countless albums by all the favorite stars and others. Truly a master of the fiddle!

All around commercial sound either up lifting style!

8 Byron Berline

Byron Berline is AMAZING! I got to meet him last year in Weiser, Idaho and he's one of the BEST fiddlers I have ever heard! I took a workshop from him, and he was really nice to autograph the three cds and fiddle book I bought from him. He didn't make me feel like a "nobody". I even got my picture taken with him!

This guy is pretty awesome! I got to meet him personally in Kansas when he was playing in a show, and since I haven't heard any other fiddlers really, then I think that he is the best! By the way, who on earth is Hugh Farr?

Are you kidding? This guy needs to be at the top of the list and he is only third! Well, so is life, but this guy is the BEST! I heard him play in Nashville, and he is GREAT!

He's great! Awesome! I can't think of any more adjectives that describe him! He's the greatest fiddler on earth!

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9 Johnny Gimble

Johnny has Western swing soul and knows what melody is even if he is playing harmony or is complimenting a vocalist. He has played on concerts and sessions for me... Gospel singer David Ingles.

There are many great/excellent fiddle players. However, johnny can do it all with grace...WoW!

Haven't heard Gimble's tone quality and perfection from any of the others mentioned here.

Johnny has great tone, wonderful touch, an always plays the right lick for every song, he does not overplay. H e is one of nicest an finest human being I ever met.

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10 Mark O'Connor

Had a great music show called the American Music Shoppe.
Fast hands blends with any one.
Won some awards.

How in the world could Charlie Daniels be #1 and Mark O'Connor be #10?! This is a travesty!

Seen Mark several times, sat in on a workshop he had at Rocky Gap Blue Grass Festival, a great talent


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The Contenders

11 Hoot Hester

Best fiddle player ever to live. Self taught and has the best ear in the business.

He is my grandpa. He never was out of toon, and he made some awesome songs

Grand ole Opry fiddler... One of the Best!

What about billy canteras, you kidding me?

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12 Aubrey Hayney

Best fiddle player I've ever heard

Best fiddle player ever! Comes from a great family!

Saw him at Station Inn in Nashville... Unreal!

He is the best in the business

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13 Doug Kershaw

Saw him in '74 and I never forgot how he made people just want to get up and dance, whether they know how or not - his music is totally awesome... Love, love him.

If ever anyone can put heart and soul in music its Doug Kershaw, most amazing fiddler player ever!

Love his god-given talent vocally & instrumentally - THE BEST FIDDLER EVER!

I just love his music and his spirit! He gets his whole body into playing

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14 Jimmy De Martini

One of the best, most energetic and passionate players I have ever seen or heard.

Underrated. Can play with the best of all time

Jimmy is amazing. Should be ranked as a top 5

Jimmy De is the best! Listen to him play the Intro to Free by ZBB or Devil Went Down to Georgia and you will agree.

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15 Bob Wills

You don't have to be from Texas to know that Bob Wills is still the king.

Bob wills is without a doubt the beginning of modern country fiddle playing. His single string style was perfect for having two and three part harmony.The king of Western Swing


16 Martin Hayes

All Ireland fiddle champion six times. How was he not already on this list? Why is he so good at what he does? He plays from his heart, that's how! Give it a listen, and you too will bump this vote.

Tone, passion, the best, also very humble See what he has to say about the "lonesome touch"... A term "used to describe a person's music. The word lonesome expresses a sadness, a blue note, a sour note. Even though the music bares the trace of struggle and of pain, it is alsothe means of uplift, transcendence to joy and celebration"

I agree with what has been said about Martin

Top 5 of all time without a doubt

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17 Jimmy Gyles

He's definitely one of the most energetic and creative fiddlers well above the others

I would place him above all listed. In his prime no one can out play him

Fantastic fiddler! Charlie Daniels couldn't shine his shoes, but God bless them both

I went to school with Jimmy he was amazing 30 yes ago and is even better. A true artist

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18 Tim Passmore

Under rated. This guy is good

Best fiddler of all time!

I just recentky heard of Tim. Excellent fiddler! I'm gonna try to look him up and find out where I can hear him.

19 Mark Weeg

This guy takes regular fiddle tunes and uses his limited classical education to really make something out of them. He wrote a book full of fiddle tunes he collected, and I hear he still plays with the orchestra. He used to run a mandolin orchestra, and he was in bluegrass bands, Irish bands, Scottish bands, country bands -- and that's not to mention all of the fiddle-contest prizes he is reputed to have won. This guy gets my vote, that's all.

I have had the great opportunity of playing with Mark for 8 years. Great inspiration and teacher as well as an awesome fiddler. One of the easiest fiddlers to accompany that I have ever played with.

Mark is a phenomenon. Lighting fast and dead on accurate. I've enjoyed working with Mark for many years and have always been in awe of his showmanship and ability to wow the audience.

I've known Mark since 1963 and I swear he was born with a fiddle in his hands.

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20 Michael Cleveland

His performance at the Wenatchee bluegrass festival left me and the entire crowd awestruck. I simply cannot see how anyone could play a fiddle better. It was a special night for all of us.

In my opinion there's nobody better

Simply amazing player and shares such joy on stage

I am sure he is one of the best, especially that he cannot see... I think this anyway...

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21 Hugh Farr

Hugh Farr is still the best fiddle player there ever was hands down he was absolutely amazing it's too bad he never really got the recognition he deserved. He should be in the #1 spot on this list.

Hugh Farr was AWESOME! One of the greatest violinists of all time said his bowing arm was the best in the world! If it wasn't for his choice to stay with the SOTP he could well have become one of the most famous fiddlers around. He deserves to be much better known than he is.

Many people don't know who Hugh Farr, one of the members of the original Sons of the Pioneers, is. He was one of the best fiddlers in history!

Just listen, no comment from me needed.

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22 Vassar Clements

Vassar should be # 1

Whaaa? If you ever had the oppertunity to have heard Vasser Clements and Bobby Tompson doing duos just practicing, you would have Vasser # 1 on the fiddle and Bobby # 1 on the Banjo!

If Vassar Clements is only #24, this list is worthless. I consider him the greatest pop instrumentalist - yes, ANY INSTRUMENT - of the 20th century.

As was already stated he should be #1 or at least at very top of list, not # 24. This is past ridiculous!

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23 Máiréad Nesbitt

Not only plays her heart out but dances the full stage without missing a beat. Excellent entertainer.

Stop being male oriented. She is Fantastic! Try listening with an open mind.

She is the best fiddle player IN THE WORLD

Great! Amazing to watch!

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24 Ashley MacIsaac


Outstanding passion. Could listen for hours.

Maddening skill and speed


25 Alison Kraus

She has a voice like a angel..

Not only does Alison sing like an angel...but she is the "fiddle" player on all of her recordings and live performances! She's amazing!

Love her voice!

26 Craig Duncan

Thanks for always playing clean and right!

27 Nicky Sanders

Fabulous with Steve martin + Martin Short show!

Glad Nicky's on the list. He deserves to be. Excellent musician and performer.


I just heard Nicky perform at Dollywood tonight, with the rest of the band. He is a very gifted violinist. I could listen to his playing all day. The rest of the band is very talented too. Don't miss an opportunity to see them
If you are given that chance- you won't regret it. 😊

28 Leon Boulanger
29 Bobby Hicks

I tool a few lessons from Bobby back in the 60's and he is awesome.

I met Bobby when he played with the Judy Lynn band in Reno Nevada & also
Did a fiew jobs with him in the 60's.
He is also a fine banjo picker & singer as well as a great person.
He was also part of that great Ricky Skaggs sound.

30 Dave Swarbrick

There is absolutely no fiddle player that compares to Swarb. I do not believe there is anyone more acclaimed than this master of English Folk and former member of Fairport Convention.

Just terrific. My 2nd best. Dur why isn't Aly Bain here? Because he's in a different league maybe.

31 Stéphane Grappelli

No brainer. Yes, yes, yes! He was jazz fiddler! The best ever.

What about Stephen Grapelli? If we're talking about great fiddle players,he learnt everything by ear as a gypsy jazz fiddler and yet even the great classical violinist yehudi Menhuin was in awe of him

32 Donnell Leahy

Great fiddle player from a wonderfully musical family!

Insanely talented and a wonderful, warm person as well.

Nobody can beat donnell ihe is 100 years before his time

33 Jason Carter

Has also won bluegrass fiddle player of the year. Plays for del mccoury.

34 Natalie MacMaster

Wonderful, expressive and energetic fiddler. Amazing warm, caring teacher and performer.

35 Terry Morris

Terry was, by far, the gel between old-school masters and the younger masters of today. His song versions and his intricate bowing is unsurpassed.

I knew Terry well... He was an elite and super talented player...

36 Gene Elders

Check out the little known Ace in thr Hole Band.

37 Billy MacInnis

Best fiddler! Listen and you'll understand.

Great player and great person

Where is He from I knew a MacInnis from Chipman N.B.

He is from p.e.i

38 Kenny Baker Kenny Baker Kenneth George "Kenny" Baker was an English actor and musician. He is best known for portraying the character R2-D2 in the Star Wars science fiction movie franchise.

One of the smoothest first generation fiddle players. just passed away in the last year or so.

39 John "Chank the Fiddler" Jeansonne

Fiddler for Country Music Group Rascal Flatts from January 2002 - January 6, 2015.

My favorite fiddle player! He's the sweetest boy I ever met, too.

Best of the best.

An outstanding Fidler! Great person and friend!

40 Hubert Cox
41 Eileen Ivers

Ridiculous how she can make her fiddle talk. 9 time Irish champion. See her and you will be astonished.

Fabulous Bronx ex-river dance fiddler

42 Casey Driessen

Send him to the top! Best groove!

43 Chris Higbee

Pittsburgh local fiddle player

44 Rufus Thibodeaux

Hey, what gives? Rufus was only considered to be the "WORLD'S GREATEST CAJUN AND Texas SWING FIDDLE PLAYER EVER" and he isn't on your list! Once when asked, Johnny Gimble named him as the best! He also played with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, not to mention the hundreds of country greats that he did session work for! He played on the famed "Louisiana Hayride" before joining the Grand Old Opry in 1956. He played with all the greats but primarily with Jimmy C. Newman. Later, he joined Neil Young's band the "International Harvesters". (That man could play anything! ) It was during this time that Kenny Sears filled in for him with Newman's band. Take it from someone who had the honor and privilege to hear and see him perform live, not one fiddler has ever made a fiddle laugh or cry, literally weep like the late great Rufus Thibodeaux!

45 Jeremy Abshire

He has a fantastic style, and can play multiple instruments. He is a great composer and arranger and just a super nice guy. Raw talent for sure

Raw talent. Has an ear for the fiddle and can make it sing. You don't find natural talent like that anymore.

One of the best fidfle players out there. He was on the cover of Fiddlers Magazine in the summer of 2012.

He’s an extraordinary player. He wrote and arranged the music and played cello, viola, octave violin, and Violin on my project. It sounds like an Orchestra. He’s brilliant.

46 Jean Carignan

Greatest Fiddler of French-Canadian Music, but also combined elements of Scottish and Irish Fiddling. Certainly one of the greatest North American Fiddlers. Was a friend of Yehudi Menuhin.

47 Eric Nofsinger

I have seen and heard Eric for about 15 years. He even played at my dads funeral. Just plain awesome!

48 Doug Meek
49 Bonnie Riley

Sorry - fat fingers - obviously it should have been RILEY

Texas Fiddler puts on a great show - also seen on Penny Gilley and other Branson places. Regular at Fiddler's Frolic Annual Texas Championships. Beautiful inside and out and a good friend.

50 Buddy MacMaster
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