Ray plays the hurdy-gurdy. It features on many of the tunes that we play between dance sets, as well as for some dance tunes.
Many people think that the hurdy-gurdy is some sort of old organ, played with a monkey sitting on top. Actually it's more like a mechanised violin. Imagine a violin with a wheel that comes into contact with the strings instead of a bow. You are halfway there. Instead of using fingers to make notes, as on a violin, there are keys that press down on the strings. But there are two more pieces that give the hurdy-gurdy its unique sound. The first is the drone. There are one or more drone strings that add a resonance to the overall melody. The second is the buzzing bridge. When the wheel is turned slowly the drone strings play normally, but when the wheel accelerates it introduces a rhythmic buzzing. Skilled players can produce a strong percussive sound as they are playing the melody.
Ray made his first hurdy-gurdy and played that in the band for some time. He now plays a newer model made for him by a specialist hurdy-gurdy maker.