Here are some of the most common instruments played by our balladeers. Each has their specialty, but many are multi-instrumentalists and can play a variety of instruments for your function.   


  • Violin

  • Guitar

  • Flute

  • Serpent

  • Hurdy Gurdy

  • Bones

We can also provide mandolin, bagpipes, penny whistle, pochette violin, lute, banjos and more.   

If you don't see what you are looking for...ASK and we will do our best to provide.  


The violin is the most common instrument in the 18th century especially for gentleman.  It is the primary melodic instrument in Colonial America for both formal and informal music.  Unlike the modern violin with metal strings, the 4 strings of the violin are made of gut-usually sheep.  The bridge is not as highly arched on a period instrument. Also the neck is attached without the angle of the modern instrument, the fingerboard has a wedge to created the needed angle for the strings.  

The violinist uses a bow with a convex shaped stick and most play without a chin rest.    


A popular instrument for accompanying singing.   The guitar gradually moved from the double coursed 10 string "baroque guitar" to the single strung predecessor of today's guitar.  Guitars have a smaller body and shorter neck than modern instruments. The strings and even the frets are made of gut.  


Flute can refer to either the Recorder or the Traverso.  The recorder is frequently called the Common or English Flute, and German Fute for the transverse instrument.  The flute is the second most common melodic instrument (violin being most) in Colonial America.


Serpent is the bass of the brass family.   The double S curved leather bound wooden tube was invented for church use, and became a member of military bands in the 18th century.  

Hurdy Gurdy

The Hurdy Gurdy has been around since at least the 11th century.   Essentially a mechanical violin, strings are set in motion with a rosined wooden wheel that is turned by a crank on the end of the instrument.  Melody stings are played with keys that press a tangent against the strings much the same way a fret shortens a guitar string.   Additional stings accompany the melody with a drone note or chord. Most hurdy gurdies feature a chien or buzzing bridge to add rhythmic interest to the melody.   Click on the Hurdy Gurdy for a Sound Sample


Percussion can add excitement to dance tunes and songs.  Instruments like Bones (rib bones clicked together), Triangles, and frame drums can be employed to help drive the rhythm of music.

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