What is this Seagull Merlin all about and how does it compare to a regular dulcimer? It turns out that it is very similar to a traditional Appalachian Dulcimer. The main differences is that the fingerboard does not run the length of the body and it is meant to be played in the position you would hold a guitar. A regular dulcimer has a fingerboard and frets that run nearly the full length of the instrument and it would normally be played sitting in your lap.
The difference in playing position results in a major difference in technique as well. Because a dulcimer is sitting your lap, you end up reach down toward the instrument, where the Seagull Merlin, is hanging and you reach under and around the back on the neck. While I have played around with dulcimers for decades, I am predominately a guitarist, so something like the Seagull is much easier for me to play than a dulcimer. I would also argue, that the Merlin would be a better stepping stone to other fretted instruments. This would be a great bridge to guitar or mandolin. I can't say the same about a dulcimer, because there are few popular instruments that are played in the lap like it is.
Dulcimers ares surprising inexpensive, yet the Seagull is priced at an incredible low price considering they are made in North America. If it sounds like something you might enjoy, it is hard to resist. If possible, I recommend you try both, but if cost is an issue, or you may want to move on to other fretted instrument in the future, The Seagull Merlin would be a great addition to the collection.
Check it out here: Seagull Merlin Dulcimer
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