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Thread: Merlin dulcimer

  1. #1

    Default Merlin dulcimer

    My girlfriend got one and I was wondering if anyone knew of a good book to learn from?

  2. #2
    Registered User Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Merlin dulcimer

    Quote Originally Posted by xav88 View Post
    My girlfriend got one and I was wondering if anyone knew of a good book to learn from?
    Well, I'll bet there are many dulcimer forums out there, it has its own online community just like mandolin and mando-family players. Google is your friend.

    Dulcimer was the first instrument I picked up, and I loved Jean Ritchie's Dulcimer Book, but no idea what people are using now, probably Aaron O'Rourke's stuff is very popular. Happy, er, dulcimating.
    "But wasn't it all stupid nonsense, rot, gibberish, and criminally fraudulent nincompoopery?"
    - Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Merlin dulcimer

    The only book I know of is the one that comes with it.

    The Merlin is NOT a dulcimer, by the way. It is, in their own words, a "dulcimer inspired instrument". It is more akin to an instrument known as a "Strum Stick". You don't play it like a dulcimer, you play it in more or less a guitar position. This places the strings backwards from a true dulcimer, the highest strings being farthest away instead of closest to you as on a dulcimer. You finger the frets from the side instead of from above as on a true dulcimer, so using your thumb for fretting is impossible on a Merlin. Many dulcimer players easily do thins when fingering from above, and it is indeed almost a necessity to do this in order to make some of the reaches. Finally, one big difference is the fret layout. While being very close to the dulcimer fret pattern, the 6th fret on a Merlin is in reality what dulcimer players call a 6 1/2 fret. Most modern dulcimers have both a 6 and a 6 1/2 fret. So on the D melody strings for example, most dulcimers have the ability to play either a C natural or a C sharp, while the Merlin plays only the C sharp.

    All of these differences as noted above means that most dulcimer methods will be of little if any use in learning how to play the Merlin. As noted above it should have come with a rudimentary book. You could try and find material that was written for the Strum Stick. It should be similar. But other than that, she is on her own.

    How exactly did you decide to put this in CBOM? Seems like a stretch to say the least. You might get more help at "Everything Dulcimer" or "Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer".
    Don

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    2011 Weber Bitterroot A
    1974 Martin Style A
    Fender Octave Mandolin c.2004-2008

  4. #4

    Default Re: Merlin dulcimer

    www.everythingdulcimer.com has a lot of dulcimer info, a forum, thousands of tabs, builder catalog, etc. The Merlin doesn't have quite the same frets as most modern dulcimers but you should be able to make some songs work; it is also strung upside down but that doesn't matter too much since the DAD tuning works out the same either way. I really enjoy playing Appalachian dulcimer, it's great for playing while watching TV.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Merlin dulcimer

    I just looked over at the Strumstick Web site, strumstick.com. They have a FREE instruction book, that anyone can download as a PDF. Much of it should be applicable to the Merlin, keeping in mind that the Strumstick has both 6 and 6 1/2 frets and a few more notes. Still, at a beginning level, a lot of it should be the same. And you can't beat the price!

    Also, a quick Google search revealed a relatively new book, "Merlin"s Guide to the Merlin", which includes 10 songs and a list of online resources. I also found instructional YouTube videos and online chord charts. So it seems there is more out there than I was aware of. Try a Google search of "Seagull Merlin instructional book" and you will see what I found.
    Don

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    2011 Weber Bitterroot A
    1974 Martin Style A
    Fender Octave Mandolin c.2004-2008

  6. #6

    Default Re: Merlin dulcimer

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    I just looked over at the Strumstick Web site, strumstick.com. They have a FREE instruction book, that anyone can download as a PDF. Much of it should be applicable to the Merlin, keeping in mind that the Strumstick has both 6 and 6 1/2 frets and a few more notes. Still, at a beginning level, a lot of it should be the same. And you can't beat the price!

    Also, a quick Google search revealed a relatively new book, "Merlin"s Guide to the Merlin", which includes 10 songs and a list of online resources. I also found instructional YouTube videos and online chord charts. So it seems there is more out there than I was aware of. Try a Google search of "Seagull Merlin instructional book" and you will see what I found.
    Thank you!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Ill give her this info too

  7. #7
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Merlin dulcimer

    I know this is an old thread, but if anyone's still interested, Merlin prints books for under $10. Books 3 & 4 are Christmas carols, and an earlier one contains French-Canadian folk tunes. I bought a couple -- one today -- for my stepdaughter at Long & McQuade (Canada). Contact info :

    Publications de mon Pays
    www.chantdemonpays.com
    450-464-2146
    http://www.chantdemonpays.com/franca...st7p0t8tgnl2e0

    (for those who have no French, the website has nothing to do with chanting "demon pays")
    Last edited by Ranald; Jan-24-2020 at 4:30pm.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Merlin dulcimer

    I also play and write books for Merlin. The strings on Merlin (D-a-d) have a parael for tuning the string Irish Bouzouki (G-D-a-d). At first just need to get used to the diatonic fingerboard.
    Some of my youtube.


    My books - books
    My videos -YouTube
    Duo UF UF - YouTube

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  10. #9
    Jerry Cobbs jerrycobbs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Merlin dulcimer

    My wife and I have three Merlins, two in G and one in D. They are a unique instrument, but I would still call them a type of dulcimer. I also have two of Ondrej's books and they are quite good. The Merlin is a great companion instrument to a GDAD tuned OM or bouzouki. It has a nice sound and is capable of some really interesting playing.

    There used to be a very active Merlin forum, but unfortunately it was on Google Plus and got shut down when Google closed the platform. Some of the admins for that forum tried to start another one but last I looked it wasn't nearly as active or user friendly as the G+ forum was. It's been a while so things may have picked up, I don't know, but it's a shame there's nothing along the lines of Mandolin Cafe for this really fun instrument.
    -- Johnson MA-100 Mando
    -- Eastman MDO-305 OM
    -- 3 Seagull Merlin dulcimers (2GDG, 1DAD)
    -- 1952 Harmony Roy Smeck guitar
    -- Ortega Lizzie Ubass
    -- Leigh Campbell electric violin
    -- Pfretzschner violin
    -- Glaesel viola
    -- Ibanez acoustic/electric guitar
    -- Misc: a cello, 2 cigarbox guitars, charango, djembe, slide dulcimer.

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