Anatomy of a Seagull Merlin

Video Transcription:

Welcome to the world of Stick Dulcimers! In our video today we're gonna walk through the basics of this instrument. For those of you who have never played an instrument, it's really important to understand the vocabulary so that when you're talking to someone about it or when you're watching a video, you don't have to learn all of a sudden what is a fret, for example. All this stuff is very straightforward and should be pretty quick, but I wanted to make sure we covered it.

So this is a Stick Dulcimer. It is the Seagull Merlin. We’ll  look at other ones in the future. This one has got a far more of an acoustic guitar style body. It's much wider than most. Let me walk you through the basic components there are, starting at the top here. These are tuning keys 1 2 3 4 because this is a four string instrument. They are open back so you can see the gears on them, which is what it means by “open”. These are the tuning pegs where you wrap the strings around. Obviously these are strings. That one feels obvious. A lot of instruments have a nut here, but this is not a nut. Technically this is a zero fret, which brings us to these. These are the frets. This is what the string will run over, and when you push the string down, you want to push it down so that you are getting near a fret, and the frets are how we know which note we're on. This is the open one, this is the first fret, second fret, third fret, fourth fret, etc. The fret count will differ from one instrument to another. Something made by Wandering Minstrel or East Nashville Instrument Company usually has an octave and a half of frets. It would have an extra fret right here, making it a six-and-a-half fret which is how it's referred to in the dulcimer community, or a flat seven if you're thinking about it from a more traditional music theory perspective.

Moving on of course this is the neck, this is the headstock, forgot about that one. This is the body here and this is the sound hole. Then the sound cavity, and then right down here is the bridge. So this whole thing is the bridge or bridge saddle depending on how you want to refer to it. That's where the strings run over, then go down. In this particular model they come down and they go through the instrument. This is a very awkward angle, but those are actually basically guitar strings with a ball on the end of the string, we'll talk about that in another video. Then this is a strap button, so for a Seagull Merlin M4 Model you have one end that goes there and then you tie it around up there. Personally I like putting a separate strap button right here so that it lays flat on both sides of me and doesn't have a cord sticking out. We’ll look at that some other time.

This is the Seagull Merlin which is made in Canada. This particular model is maple neck through and back, with the spruce top. That’s the gist of things here. It's easily possible that I forgot something, so if I did feel free to email me or just submit a question on the site.

Anyway that's the basics of a stick dulcimer so thanks everyone! More to come soon.