The full-length book discusses musical instruments extensively and systematically, so it seems best for the reader to go directly there for a survey. A link offers a photographic survey as a summary guide. Here, a few remarks on instruments will help align the material culture of music with the rest of the presentation.
Sometimes, in a town of some size, I would have problems finding people willing to admit to being musicians. And when someone did volunteer, occasionally no one would know where to find a dambura, ghichak, or zirbaghali to make the music happen. This kind of scarcity was grounded in deep poverty, as well as a reluctance to physically foreground instruments: to the extent that instruments are connected to a dubious activity or devalued profession, they embody it. All objects are metaphors and emblems of social orientation and identification. For example, you can tell local residents apart by the way they tie their turbans. You can spot a colorful Tashqurghan-made wooden object across the bazaar. The little jaw harp played by women and children, and occasionally by men, was localized during my time in Afghanistan, since they were made by blacksmiths in each town. Aqcha had the most elaborate ones, with protruding curves that suggested a mountain goat.
What I am suggesting is that musical instruments are distinctive in a patterned way, like the different construction styles of the Uzbek and Tajik dambura. They flow along the same distribution circuits of other household objects. They separate along social lines, so it is no surprise that the tools of professional musicians are harder to find than the everyday toy or the domestic drum. Instruments also fall along a continuum of talent, from kids' noisemakers to the intricately-ornamented tanbur or robab produced by a family of makers. The simple dili-tuiduk of the Turkmen can be carved in a couple of minutes by a shepherd in the springtime, when reeds grow tall, but a set of brass instruments for a police band needs an investment of money and time to arrive in town.
I found instruments to be thought-provoking and important in trying to understand the local music culture and the mind of the musicians. The artists among them understood how to maximize the meager resources of their tools. Knocking one finger against the lid of the dambura while strumming with two others can create the sound of an ensemble with just one hand. Cross-rhythms of strum patterns enrich a "simple" melodic line. Tying a little set of jingles to the right hand adds a layer of rhythm; they are called zang-i kaftar, or "dove bells," a poetic metaphor. While the book gives measurements, photos, and descriptions of instruments, you have to listen to the music carefully to see how musicians unpack their potential. Best would be a soundscape of the bells hung on the livestock; for a terrific example of this, listen to Steven Feld's recording of the tuned animal bells of Greek shepherds (on Smithsonian Folkways). Everyone, from the shepherd to the women of the mud-brick compound to the professional virtuoso in the teahouse, is sensitive to sound, even if they don't call everything "music" the way westerners do.
I only recorded a soundscape once, in Andkhoi, hanging a microphone out the window late at night. It captured a man singing to pass the time, the slow rhythm of a truck grinding across the rutted road, some local steppe birds warming up for the day, and the bells of a passing caravan. The Afghan North at this time seemed to be a soundscape with a limited set of resources - no electronic sounds, only occasional amplified music of rare loudspeakers but even this brief slice of recorded ambience shows how permeated life really was by organized sounds of animal, man, and machine.