The enshai was an aerophonic instrument, like cornetts and lysards. The enshai employed two sets of double reeds, making it a quadruple reed woodwind. By controlling the breath, various tunes could be played on it. The term "quadruple reed" came from the fact that there are four pieces of dried palm leaf vibrating against each other, in pairs.
The enshai was created from a wooden tube that gradually widened toward the lower end. It usually had eight holes. The instrument was made of ebonwood or rosewood and had a brass or copper bell fixed to the end and tied together internally with string. The length of the instrument was one and a half to two feet.
The reed mounted in the mouth piece, the upper end, on the outside.
This instrument had a sealed air chamber. When playing, the lips were placed on the upper end, with the reed inside the mouth. The mouth then became part of the instrument and acted as an air chamber. Prior to playing, the reed had to be be soaked to soften it. The fingers of the right hand covered the four bottom holes, while the fingers of the left hand played the upper four holes. Some players adjusted the instrument's sound by partially or completely filling some holes with wax.
The enshai was a very sensitive instrument and required a great deal of skill on the musician's part. It was actually the way in which the lips and tongue played upon the reed mouthpiece and the manner in which the holes were opened and closed with the fingers which rendered the semitones and quarter tones effectively and attractively. The enshai was considered one of the most difficult instruments to play.
The body of the enshai was always made of a dark hard wood, most commonly ebonwood, rosewood, black ash, and black willow. The bell was always made of either brass or copper. As the enshai was most commonly used during festive occasions and wedding, it was often highly decorated. The bells were often etched and polished, while the wood of the body was often carved and adorned with jewels.
A polished black willow enshai, a carved black ash enshai, a jeweled ebonwood enshai and a copper-belled rosewood enshai could be purchased from the shop Haunting Sounds at Velathae during the Ebon Gate festival. A spectral instrument, a pale crystal enshai pin, was available in the same shop.