For no real reason, here is a list of my three favorite musical instruments:
#3. TOY PIANO Toy Pianos have a great and unique sound that somehow can't be reproduced on any synthesizer. I've heard synths that can duplicate darned near any other sound out there, but for some reason if you want that real toy piano sound, you need a real toy piano.
#2 AUTOHARP As you may have noticed, my selection criteria for fave instruments has nothing to do with how difficult they are to play. The cool thing about the autoharp is once it's tuned all you have to do is press the chord buttons and strum. I couldn't imagine hearing an Ian & Sylvia album without Sylvia's awesome autoharp. I remember reading in some old liner notes about Sylvia's "mastery of the autoharp" or something similar, which to me sounds somewhat akin to being a "kazoo virtuoso", but I give Sylvia mega-points for knowing how to use the instrument effectively. Any woman who has the good sense to use an autoharp on any recording is okay in my book!
#1 HAMMERED DULCIMER The Hammered Dulcimer is the most incredible-sounding instrument ever developed by humanity in any culture and in any era. When played by someone who knows their stuff, it's the most melodious sound imaginable. It's the perfect blend of a solo and ensemble instrument in that it fits in well with the other instruments while still standing out. And when a song featuring the hammered dulcimer is done and you hear the dulcimer still ringing out... fading away ever-so-slowly... it's absolute perfection!
Strangely, although I have written and recorded numerous songs with various bands over the past quarter century, not a single one of those songs features any of my three favorite instruments. I don't know why that is...