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Thread: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

  1. #1

    Default seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    I was at guitar center and happened to see this thing I think they call it a "Merlin" and its seagulls cross between a guitar and an Appalachian dulcimer. I really liked its tone, and it had plenty of volume too, and it was pretty cheap, so I bought it to fool around with. you can play melody on the bottom strings while the top two drone and sounds like something from the middle ages. Mary had a little lamb sounds pretty cool on a Merlin with the drone strings humming. LOL

    Anyway, it made me wonder if their strange looking mandolins have a similar tone and volume because if they do I'd like to order one of those as well. It wouldn't be my primary mando because that would be my kentucky km-1050, but just something with a different sound.

    so if anybody here has fooled around both with a seagull Merlin and mandolin and can tell me if the tone and volume is similar, do tell. secondly if you have fooled around with the electric version if the electric components dulled the tone or volume.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Jerry Cobbs jerrycobbs's Avatar
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    Default Re: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    Don't want to hijack this thread away from mandos, but welcome to the Merlin club! My wife and I have three (two G's and a D) and we love them. There's a Merlin forum at merliner.co.uk and one or two Facebook pages. Have fun!

    I'm curious about the Seagull mandolins as well. Never seen one up close. I think there are a couple of threads on here about them. I know they make decent guitars so their mandolins are probably OK for their price range.
    -- 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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  4. #3

    Default Re: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    Hey, jfrebel!

    The Seagull S8 mandolin was actually louder than I expected. The Merlin is louder as well. I think the Merlin has a larger soundbox volume than the McNally Strumstick, which kicked off that genre of non-lap dulcimers.

    I also think the canted top on the S8 leads to more volume. Here's Bob Thomas of Silly Wizard reviewing the acoustic version of the S8.

    https://www.amazon.com/vdp/b0ebc3de2...b5b7b98e7ed589

    And here's a video showing how it sounds plugged in.



    It sounds pretty much like the unplugged sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by jfrebel View Post
    You can play melody on the bottom strings while the top two drone and sounds like something from the middle ages. Mary had a little lamb sounds pretty cool on a Merlin with the drone strings humming.
    Just to further your experimentation, you can retune your mandolin to GDGD, dropping the two high courses a whole step, and get a sound similar to the original mandore, the mandolin's ancestor.

    Cheers!

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  6. #4

    Default Re: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    Jerry, Thanks I'll check out the link! might give me some ideas what this thing can do.

    as for the mandolin I like how the merlin rings with plenty of sustain, and is bright but yet still round and smooth, and it has loads of volume too. if the seagull mandolin sounds the same it would be a keeper in my books even if it does look a bit goofy. LOL

    to explorer, if I understand you right, the S8 is as loud if not louder than the merlin? I do like the way it sounds in the video. though I've learned that things in real life don't always sound as good as they do on video for some reason. LOL

  7. #5

    Default Re: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by jfrebel View Post
    to explorer, if I understand you right, the S8 is as loud if not louder than the merlin?
    That was definitely my experience.

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  9. #6

    Default Re: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    that's good to hear. I think I'm gonna order one to try it.

  10. #7
    Jerry Cobbs jerrycobbs's Avatar
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    Default Re: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    Mandos and Merlins like to hang out together...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    -- 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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    40bpm 

  12. #8
    Registered User Tim N's Avatar
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    Default Re: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    I got to have a few minutes on a Seagull S8 mandolin between sets at an Irish Session. It had a strong treble emphasis, and didn't seem to have the roundness of my Paul Hathway mandolin. Others have made similar observations. I haven't heard the electric version. I couldn't hear it in the mix when it was being played (melody) - but that's probably unsurprising in a large group.
    "What's that funny guitar thing..?"

  13. #9

    Default Re: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    for the money the mandolins by seagull are excellent campfire mandolins. the merlin is almost a medieval citole, and a friend of fine turned his into a campfire citole by removing the fretts, adding a higher frett board, making tie on fretts, enlarging the sound hole and adding a few tuners and presto a great sounding seven string citole for the roughing it medieval faires etc.

  14. #10
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    My daughter-in-law plays a Merlin, often using it to accompany old ballads and other folk songs, and it sounds pretty good. You'll enjoy it. The Canadian chain, Long & McQuade sells a book of French-Canadian folk tunes for Merlin for about five bucks. It may be available elsewhere, but I can't find it online, even at L & McQ. Here's a page with more than you ever wanted to know about Merlins (including links to chord charts):

    https://www.pinterest.ca/lonnieashley5/seagull-m4/

    My main instrument is a Godin A8, including pre-amp for playing electric (Seagull is part of the Godin company). I have tried out Seagulls in stores. Volume is the least of your worries with these Godin products, though, like many mandolin players, I still have trouble hearing my mandolin in loud jams. The tone sounds much the same amplified as not. I usually play without the amp. I like my Godin for playing blues, but players in some other genres might find it a bit harsh, lacking in subtlety. My main complaint is its weight, less of an issue with the Seagulls. In my experience, at very least, you get your money's worth with these Godin/Seagull instruments. Enjoy!
    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.

  15. #11
    Jerry Cobbs jerrycobbs's Avatar
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    Default Re: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    There's a guy named Ondrej Sarek who sells a line of songbooks for a wide range of instruments including mandolin, mandola, and Merlin. NFI but I have a couple of his Merlin books and they're pretty nice. Might be fun to see if you could get the same volume of one of his books for mandolin and Merlin and see how it would work to play the tunes together.
    -- 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.

  16. #12

    Default Re: seagull dulcimer vs mandolin

    I found a local store that carried the seagull mandolins and they sound okay for the money but not worth the price to me. it does seem to me in person the Merlin is louder. maybe has something to do with the internal bracing. who knows. I do want a flat top mandolin though so I've ordered a Big Muddy jumbo mandolin and its on the way. can't wait!

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