Traditional Contest Rules

  1.  The Grand Master Fiddler Traditional Championship is designed to recognize fiddlers who play a fiddling style outside the recognized US “contest” or “Texas” styles, or Canadian “contest” styles.   If you play the competitive style heard at places such as Weiser, Shelbourne, or Hallettsville then you should not enter this category.  Contestants playing in those styles in this competition will be disqualified – if in doubt ask the contest coordinators before you enter this category.  Limited to the first 20 contestants that check in or register ONSITE. The Championship round will consist of the Top 10 fiddlers from the Preliminary round.
  2. Examples of TRADITIONAL styles could be the Appalachian fiddling, the Central Missouri fiddling, Metis, Bluegrass, Southeastern, Scottish, Irish, New England, the Kentucky fiddling of Doc Roberts, and Ed Haley and so forth. This list is not inclusive.
  3. No electric instruments and no instruments playing "lead" will be permitted.  No fiddler will be allowed more than 4 accompanying instruments.  Any stringed instrument is acceptable as backup.
  4. No songs are banned.
  5. For your information, the judges will be sitting in front of the stage to watch the performance so as to be able to fairly judge and compare the performances.
  6. In each fiddler's presentation, they must play a fast tempo tune, a slow tempo tune (does NOT have to be a waltz) and a tune of their choice.  Each fiddler must be prepared to give their tunes, in order of performance, to the Contestant Coordinator who will have the M.C. announce the numbers.  
  7. THERE IS 6 MINUTE LIMIT - penalties may be assessed for excessively exceeding this limit.
  8. Just as last year's Grand Master Fiddler Traditional Champion is not eligible for this year’s contest, the winner of this contest will not be eligible to compete next year but can enter the Open Competition.
  9. There are two rounds of competition.  Points from both rounds will be added to determine the final score.
  10. Contestants should be ready to compete when called to the stage.  Contestants will be required to begin their first tune within 30 seconds from the time they are announced to the judges.  Consideration will be given for broken strings, switching instruments, etc. Violation of this rule will result in loss of 30 points and/or disqualification.
  11. In the event a contestant breaks a string, they will be allowed to restart their tune.  If they continue, the tune will be scored as is.  If their accompanist breaks a string, the contestant has 30 seconds to decide whether to stop and restart the tune or continue.  Any stoppage after this 30 second grace period will result in the tune being scored as is.
  12. The decision of the judges is FINAL.  Any contestant or accompanist who harasses, threatens or verbally abuses a judge or contest official will first be warned and next be expelled from the contest for the current and next year.
  13. Upon contestant registration, all commercial recording, photo and video rights during the contest are reserved and shall become the property of the Grand Master Fiddler Championship.


The 2022 Grand Masters will return to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's Ford Theater on September 3rd and 4th (Labor Day Weekend). Visit this website often for updates.

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