A Hohner Pokerwork two row Melodeon. This is a small square squeeze box, much favoured by those hard of hearing. At one end there are two rows of buttons for playing the melody at the other end there are 8 buttons for playing the bass. It has a sharp, strident tone and sounds very wet and punchy. The Melodeon works like a mouth organ as it plays different notes on push and pull, but you really can't get it into your mouth (well not both ends at once anyway).
A 24 bass Piano Accordion made by Excelsior. This differs from the Melodeon in that it plays the same note push and pull. It has a piano type keyboard at one end for the melody and a set of 24 buttons on the other for bass notes and chords. However you still can't get it into your mouth! Maggie came to play the accordion from her first instrument the piano, which explains why her piano is sitting up on it's end (a good idea this, it saves a huge amount of floor space).
A 21x(4) course Hammered Dulcimer made by Stan. This instrument is the forerunner of the piano and/or the egg slicer. It's basically a sound box with 84, yes 84, strings over it. The strings are in sets of 4, and cross over 21 separate movable bridges (11 treble and 10 bass). It is played by hitting the strings with small wooden hammers. The dulcimer was mentioned in Samuel Pepy's diary as being "a real pig" to tune and leaving no room on the table for his pint of Theakston's Old Peculier, hence he invented the piano which has lots of room for beer on top.
A beautiful custom made Uke by Peter Cartwright. A lovely looking and sounding instrument which is even louder than the Melodeon. The Uke is a four string instrument normally tuned to A,D,F#,B is used to provide a percussive, yet melodic presence to the rhythm section (it doubles as a ping pong bat between gigs). This instrument was made famous by George Formby (a well known traditional English folk singer!) and is rapidly becoming infamous in Stan's hands.
A 6 string steel strung Guitar by Yamaha. Well what can you say about it, it's a guitar, it's got 6 strings and it's too big to play ping pong with.
A pretty, flat backed Mandolin (circa early twentieth century, we think). An 8 stringed instrument, with 4 pairs of strings tuned G,D,A,E. This particular example seems to be louder than most and competes well with the Melodeon but drowns out most other instruments. The Mandolin was originally developed in China in the 14th century from a machine designed to grade manderin orange segments for the export trade. However modern instruments now lack the apparatus for dealing with the pips and the name has become anglicised.
A 48 Bass Piano Accordion by Hohner. This is the same as the 24 bass accordion but with more keys, three voices and twice as many bass buttons, Oh and it's red. This instrument is always played by Jim as Maggie's arms aren't long enough to extend the bellows.
The violin, the answer to the perennial medieval question, has anyone got any idea what we should do with this pile of cats intestines and horse hair? This particular fiddle was made by Stradivarus in about 1654. Unfortunately it was Wayne Stradivarius and it was made in Ipswich just before five o clock last Wednesday afternoon. The fiddle is of course the most dangerous instrument in the band and is the origin of the saying "Oi, watch what you're doing with that, you'll have someone's eye out".
The "Banjo", just this simple word is enough to strike fear into the heart of any "Folkie", combine this with "Melodeon" and you can send music lovers scurrying, screaming from the room! The plectrum banjo has four strings and is slightly longer than a Tenor banjo. The word banjo has roots in Latin meaning "inconsiderately loud" and from the Hindi meaning "get off the b*****y stage". Famous banjo players include Genghis Khan, William Shakespeare, Florence Nightingale, Lord Nelson (retired after an accident) and the Queen Mother.