Seagull Merlin Alternate Tuning: A Thorough Guide [2023 Edition]

Table of Contents

If you’re curious about Seagull Merlin alternate tuning, this post is for you!

I don’t own this instrument, but I’d like to get my hands on one!

As I was researching this instrument, I thought I’d include that information here on the blog!

The Seagull Merlin M4 is inspired by the dulcimer but made by a guitar company.

(If you want to learn more about Seagull, check out my post about Seagull vs Taylor where I discuss these guitar brands and how they differ.)

This unique instrument has four strings with solid wood construction and a pleasant tone. The dulcimer is ideal for Celtic, folk, renaissance, and medieval-style music. But this instrument is simple enough to play nursery rhymes, campfire songs, and more.

Part of what makes the Seagull Merlin (also called M4) an easy instrument to play is its small, manageable size and simple chord shapes.

Playing chords on this instrument is often easy since they sometimes only require one finger.

And this simple playing was what Seagull was going for as you can tell from their page about the M4.

Open Tuning

KAOS Gear Demo - Seagull Merlin
You can get a sense of this instrument’s sound from the video above!

The Seagull M4 utilizes what is called an “open tuning.” This is the same as the open tunings that you may be familiar with on the guitar. When you strum these instruments, you get a full chord sound. That said, you can still play notes and full songs on this dulcimer-like instrument even with its open tuning. 

Basic Seagull Merlin Tunings

The basic tuning for the Seagull Merlin is in “D” or DAD(D). The last string doubles like a 12-string, so it has the exact same tuning as its pair. For future tuning discussion, I will refer to these tunings in 3 letters. But know that the string pair on the 1st string is always tuned the exact same as its pair. You can also get a “G” model that tunes to GDG.

D or G Model?

The D model tuning is the standard mountain dulcimer tuning. However, some prefer a G model believing it gives you a richer sound. D models have a mahogany or a spruce top while G models only have a mahogany top. But both are great instruments. 

Modal Tuning

The following tunings are for the ‘D” model. And the basic DAD tuning is an “Ionian” tuning. There are a few different tunings to try on your Seagull M4 as outlined below.

D Ionian (DAA)

We can tune the Seagull M4 to the Ionian mode of D Major.

The key signature for D Major is D, E F#, G, A, B, C#, D.

In this tuning, we tune the first string to D, the next two to A, and the doubled string to A.

D Aeolian (DAC)

We can also use the Aeolian mode to tune the M4.  This is a minor tuning. The notes for D Aeolian are:

D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C#, D

This gives us a tuning of DAC. 

D Dorian (DAG)

Another minor mode is the second mode which is Dorian. The D Dorian scale is:

D, E, F, G, A, B, C#, D

This tuning would be DAG. This one is not as common, and many players will never use it, but it’s still something to try. 

Start with DAD Tuning

The most common tuning is DAD, and many players never use any other tuning. This guide should help you experiment a bit with other tunings which are possible on this instrument. However, most players will want to focus on the DAD tuning before trying others. The three most common tunings are DAA, DAD, and DGD.  


The Seagull Merlin looks really fun to play.

And if you’re looking to mix up your sound on this instrument, you can try some of these alternate tunings.

Do you have a Seagull Merlin M4 instrument?

What do you think of it?
Let me know in the comments!

4 Responses

  1. Jamie Bennett says:

    When changing to the aeolian or dorian what size strings would you suggest?

    1. Hi Jamie!

      A single string set should work for most of these tunings. I love Elixirs. But with an instrument as unique as this one, you may need to purchase single strings that are close in diameter to the strings put on by the manufacturer. (You can actually buy single Elixirs here as well.)

  2. Greetings Harrison,

    The Key of D has a C#, not a C natural. The Merlin M4 DAD is not mixolydian, but ionian. No scales/chords with a C natural exist on a Merlin M4 in its standard tuning.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Paul, thanks for the corrections!

      I’ve updated the post accordingly!

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