Seagull have long been making acoustic instruments from their base in LaPatrie Quebec, Canada. With a heap of models in their line all sporting that identifiable headstock they’ve recently added something a little different to their stocks - a hollow body 4 stringed instrument called the ‘Merlin’. Ready for something new?
WHAT IS IT?
Good question! Inspired by the Dulcimer, the Merlin is a small 4 stringed hollow body instrument. Looks-wise it sits somewhere between a dulcimer, mandolin, ukulele and travel guitar. Available in spruce and mahogany (this particular version in spruce), it features a spruce top, maple body and neck, tusq bridge and vintage styled open tuners. With a through body design the 4-string setup is actually two single strings and then a pair of strings as the highest (recommended to be tuned in unison, an octave above the lowest string).
With 7 frets (and the open string note), each string gives you an octave major scale. That is – whatever note the string is tuned to then has the notes of that major scale available to it for one octave (which is the entire length of the neck). For the lesser musically trained you should then be able to play up and down each string sounding relatively pleasant without too much trouble (and across the strings providing they’re in tune as a starting point). Following the recommended tuning of D – A – D means you can pretty much cover the entire fretboard without sounding out (that
one G# might be a little funky sounding to some) meaning it’s very user friendly. You can easily come up with simple melodies and chords and the smallish scale and light strings make it all very comfy on the hands. Great for kids too.
Warm yet zingy, the Merlin has an interesting tone that works for single lines and melodies but can also do interesting chords and note groupings. It could be a great instrument for the studio when adding light strums and atmosphere or doubling motifs. Live it could do the folky thing or add some acoustic colour to the mix. Either way it’s cool to see a guitar builder such as Seagull branching out with something new. The Merlin’s size and portability make it easy to get around and the tuning and ease of use then make it a goer for anyone keen to take the plunge – musical or otherwise!
For more info on Seagull products, visit www.dynamicmusic.com.au.
Hits and Misses
User friendly, even for novices
Pleasant, interesting tone
Not your everyday instrument