Seagull Merlin Dulcimer vs. Mountain Dulcimer

Seagull Merlin Dulcimer Guitar

seagull merlin mahogany w/ bag

The Seagull Merlin dulcimer, also known as the Seagull Dulcimer Guitar (and known at the Seagull factory as the Seagull Merlin M4), is a fretted string instrument in the zither family called the Stick Dulcimer. The body of the Stick Dulcimer extends the length of the fingerboard and the fretting is usually diatonic. Although they share a name, the stick dulcimer (and its many cousins) and the hammered dulcimer are different instruments. Whereas the hammered dulcimer originates from a Perisan instrument called a Santur and is the forerunner of the piano, the stick dulcimer finds its origins in Western European fretted lap dulcimers. Through centuries and a variety of makers, countries and regions, the stick dulcimer has become an instrument valued for its versatility, easy construction, ease of playing and roots in the folk music tradition of the United States.

What Makes a Seagull Dulcimer Different?

Well, let’s consider the differences between these instruments in a side-by-side method.

Instrument

Seagull Dulcimer

Mountain Dulcimer

Tuning (Standard)

DAD(D) (also comes in GDG model)

DAD

Fret Count

7

12+

Scale Length

20”

24”

Instrument Length 30" Varies, but generally 34"+

# of Strings

4

3 or 4

Playing Position

Upright (like guitar)

Lap

Played With

Fingers or pick

Fingers or pick

Origin of the Stick Dulcimer

terry mccafferty mountain dulcimer

The stick dulcimer - the family of instruments of which Seagull Merlins are a part - owes its existence to the Mountain Dulcimer, also known as the Appalachian dulcimer, lap dulcimer, plucked dulcimer, and Kentucky dulcimer. The mountain dulcimer dates back to the early 19th century in the Appalachian mountains of southwest Virginia. Before showing up in North America, the mountain dulcimer found its origins in fretted lap zithers from Western Europe: Langeleik from Norway, Swedish Hummel, French Epinette, and German Scheitholtz, the forefather of modern dulcimer. After its origin in Pennsylvania, the mountain dulcimer slowly spread to Virginia and then the rest of the South in the years after the Civil War.

Is a Seagull Dulcimer Guitar the Same as a Pickin’ Stick?

Pickin’ Sticks are very similar to Seagull Dulcimers. However, Seagull Dulcimers are not guitars. Pickin Sticks and Seagulls are both members of the dulcimer family.

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