Sometimes picking sessions will end up with a shortage of one instrument or another, but sometimes you might have LOTS of some instruments present. This might mean complete musical confusion, but on the other hand, if the pickers know what they're doing, they'll all sound great. It was that way a few years ago at a picking party in Nashville, when we had four fiddlers all playing along:
--from left to right, the four fiddlers are: Mark Wingate, Bob Forrester, John Hedgecoth, and none other than Murphy.
(The other pickers visible are Joe Forrester, his hands visible at far left; excellent banjo picker Sally Wingate, with her back to the camera; and our son Christopher, taking excellent leads on his Martin D-18. I was there, but out of the picture to the left.)
Now, in some jams I've seen, if you had four fiddlers playing at once, you might have to say that they were four too many. But not this time! Not only were all four of these fiddlers really good musicians, but also, they all knew just how to play in a jam, and when they all played together, it was a beautiful redneck string section in action. They sounded great.
Next time you have four of the same instruments in a picking session, just remember: they CAN all sound good together! But the players have to know what they’re doing!