Sahlström won great respect for his musicianship in an era when folk music was not yet an established art form. He was hired by Bo Nilson in 1962 to play in a new work at the Venice Biennale. In 1968 he received the Swedish Local Heritage Federation's medal from Gustaf VI Adolf and the same year the Royal Swedish Academy of Music's Medaljen för tonkonstens främjande ("Medal for Music Promotion"). He was nominated as a music professor at the Royal College of Music, Stockholm. In 1976 he was recognised for "artistic quality and importance for Swedish culture", as the first musician to receive that award.
Eric Sahlström is one of those who most contributed most to the renaissance of the nyckelharpa ("key fiddle") in modern times. The instrument at that point had some small popularity amongst a handful of musicians in Uppland, but Sahlström as a design engineer and luthier further developed the instrument, including refining the chromatic nyckelharpa which can play any key. He also composed a large number of folk songs. Among the most famous include the waltz Spelmansglädje ("Fiddler Joy") and the polskas Stormyren and Hardrevet.
- Jan Ling (1967). Nyckelharpan: studier i ett folkligt musikinstrument. P. A. Norstedt. p. 262. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- Lena Roth; Ewa Bjarnholt (1987). Musical life in Sweden. Swedish Institute. p. 101. ISBN 978-91-520-0201-8. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- Simon Broughton; Mark Ellingham; Richard Trillo (25 November 1999). World music: the rough guide. Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Rough Guides. pp. 299–. ISBN 978-1-85828-635-8. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- Hans Åstrand (1979). Sohlmans musiklexikon. [Del] 5. Particell-Øyen. Sohlman. pp. 260–. ISBN 978-91-7198-025-0. Retrieved 14 April 2011.