Kuhnel performed on the viola da gamba. He was one of the leading players upon the instrument as well as a formidable composer for the instrument. His publications included a set of sonatas for the viola da gamba including six sonatas for two gambas and eight sonatas for one gamba. All of the compositions included a continuo part. At various times throughout his life Kuhnel played for the court chapel of Zeitz with a variety of breaks. He played in Munich, Frankfurt am Main, London, Darmstadt and Weimar.