View Full Version : Seagull Merlin Dulcimer Modified!

03-24-2014, 03:26 AM
Last week I got a Seagull Merlin, which I reviewed here (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?94240-Seagull-Merlin-Dulcimer-Review&highlight=seagull+merlin)

As I mentioned, I already have a better stick dulcimer, so it got me to thinking what I could change on the Merlin to overcome the niggles I had with it, and add a new instrument to my stock... after much monkeying around with strings I opted for ADF# (what the cigar box guitar people call Devil's tuning). However, the much fatter strings meant the Merlin needed a higher action, so I removed the fitted large fret that did serve as a nut, and replaced it with a bone one. While I had my saw out I also added 5 new frets, giving me a full chromatic 12 frets. I also added a new ebony and bone saddle, made from offcuts I keep in a box (doesn't everyone have a box of bone and wood fragments?!).

While everything was removed I gave the whole instrument a sanding down, and then three coats of solvent free Danish oil (I got mine from Suffolk Pigments, and is the nicest wood finish I've ever used).

All in all, I'm quite pleased! This was my first attempt at fitting and finishing frets, so was a little nervous! But I took my time, and have no buzzes or sharp edges. The ADF# sounds great, a bit Seasick Steve-ish, but I'm still playing around (ADF# does make a lot of chords available, but it loses some of the bright banjo-ish twang the Merlin does so nicely)

Anyhow, here are some pics:

The only thing now is what to call it... I don't think it's a dulcimer anymore!

03-24-2014, 03:49 AM
Lower tuning a great idea. Some of these instruments are a bit "jingle jangley" for my ears. I also plan on playing mine through my bass amp.

03-24-2014, 11:28 AM
Yes, the DAdd tuning is just that bit too bright for me! I've found that CGcc works really nicely - the best balance between the sound the Merlin's best at and versatility for playing.

I've also picked up a spruce topped one of these today at a bargain price, so I'm also going to modify that one too - I'm thinking of adding a custom humbucker to all the things listed above! To fund this I'm going to sell the mahogany one (I wish I was rich enough to keep all the instruments I've tried, but I always have to sell one to fund the last project... sad thing is at some point I always seem to end up buying certain models back!). Anyway, I've listed this one here (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/331161219283?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649) if anyone fancies a look.

03-24-2014, 02:25 PM
I'm kind of spoiled since I heard one of these babies made with a ukulele body. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lIEnrLvXLQ

03-25-2014, 03:53 AM
Oh now, that's nice - I feel a new project coming on! I'm off to look for cheap ukuleles...

08-31-2016, 09:48 AM
How did you measure for the new frets? I'm interested in this mod! Thanks