After selecting a shanty, the first Pirate to start using their instrument will become the lead instrument, and begin to play the main melody of the chosen shanty. After this, any Pirate that begins to use their instrument will join the lead's shanty as a backing instrument, playing the song with noticeably less notes, no matter which shanty is selected.
Multiple states change how the shanty is heard, including being under the effects of Grog, which will result in the shanties playing out of tune. Other states that alter the shanty include being underwater, or being in the Ferry of the Damned.
Types of instruments
Like other equipment items in Sea of Thieves, variants of each instrument can be purchased from Equipment Shops at Outposts for Gold, the Black Market for Bilge Rat Doubloons, or the Pirate Emporium for Ancient Coins. Legendary and Ghost variants of all instruments are available for Pirate Legends at Athena's Fortune Hideout.
A list of currently available instruments is as follows:
For a list of music that can be played using Instruments, see Shanties.