Sound Test for Seagull Merlin Mahogany

Curious what the Seagull Merlin mahogany top M4 sounds like? We were too, so we ran it through its paces. See what you think. (And if you're looking for a comparison of the spruce vs mahogany top, we did that too!)


Merlin Video Transcription

Greetings, Friends! 

Time to see what this little baby can do. This is a Merlin Seagull mahogany stick dulcimer, the M4 model, and this is the mahogany top version. I wanted to let you hear how it sounds, but real quick just so you know 'cause this is different than the pickin' stick versions of stick dulcimers that are out there.

It's got four strings, so four tuning keys, you can see the four strings because at the very top here is doubled. That's a difference. The strings go all the way through, back here. And it has one octave's worth of frets on it. Different than a lot of the ones that are out there so I will walk you through the way it sounds right now.

It's bigger than the pickin' stick versions are so a lot of times it will sound much bigger. There are a number of ways you can play it: with the thumb, or with a pick, and even then with the different types of picks that are out there, different densities, thicknesses of the pick, makes a big difference. So I'm going to walk you through finger, light-gauge pick, and then a heavier gauge pick, so you can hear. And play a couple different things just so you can kind of get a sense of it, before you decide to buy (or not.)

Here we go, so, like I said it is one octave all the way up and down the neck. It is one octave that's fretted in such a way that you can't play wrong notes on it, which is great and why it's a wonderful instrument for beginners.

[Note for Beginners: Try our Free 4 video series that will get you playing your first song in under and hour!]

Now… I'm gonna play a bit of a melody to it, but you can also play chords. You can play just the top string to get the melody, but the other thing that's really beautiful about this is it's tuned in such a way that you can play all the strings at once, while you're playing a melody, and for the most part almost all songs will sound wonderful. It's just the way that it's done. You'll see what I'm talking about.

Here we go… I just played that with my thumb which gave it a bit of a warmer quality. It's less brittle or percussive feeling because it's got the flesh of my finger on there. If I play with the the nail on my index finger it gets a little brighter. If I play with the pick - this is a lighter gauge pick - then it starts to sound more like my fingernail, gets a little bit more projection to it.

See, now one thing I do want to make sure you're aware of is, because the way that this thing is tuned, which is root - 5 - root again, or root - 5 - octave, anything you play on the melody string you can play on the lowest string so you could transpose your melody up and down or just have some more fun with it that way.

So that's with the lighter pick. Let me go ahead and swap over to the heavier gauge pick. The thing that matters about that is then you get more mass behind when you're approaching the strings, so you can get more percussive, more aggressive sounding, which makes me want to play more rhythmic.

A Quick Word About Chords

Now I haven't talked much about chords, but that's what I was doing just there. The D chord, then we've got a G chord, A chord. Those are 1, 4, and 5 if you're speaking kind of music theory terms. And then a B minor, which is the "6 minor," so you've got four chords, which as I think Willie Nelson put it as "four chords and the truth." That's been cited for everyone but that means you can play all kinds of stuff on this.

That gives you a sense of what it sounds like. I hope that you will decide to pick one up, and then you will enjoy being a musician. Enjoy being musical! That's what we want: is for you to have fun. All the best to you!