I believe that the distinguishing characteristics of a fine musical instrument are sound, playability, and beauty, in proper precedence. If an instrument does not sound good, it does not matter how easily it might play. If it does not play easily, it does not matter how beautiful it may be.
Tradition, innovation, extravagance or rarity of materials, or economy or simplicity of construction are not primary considerations, although attention to these considerations may improve the value equation for a particular player.
While the precedence of sound over playability, and playability over beauty is significant, all of these characteristics should be present in considerable measure. They do not exist independently of each other. Fully optimizing a design for sound and playability will naturally produce a beautiful form. Completely resolving playability concerns can improve sound.
The McCarthy Stringed Instruments three strand peg head decoration is a symbol of our primary focus on “Sound, Playability and Beauty Intertwined”.