After having filled several custom Gryphon 12-string orders for clients who wanted E-E, "full-octave up" tuning, we got an order from Tim Pierce for a smaller instrument with the higher tuning along with the distinctive cutting tone of a mandolin rather than the deeper sound of the Gryphon. The result... the Merlin unison 12!
The first thing to know about the Merlin is — don't be fooled by its size! With a body measuring a mere 10 ¾ across the lower bout, our new smallest instrument has a great big personality. Described by one our clients as a "mandolin killer", the Merlin's unison-tuned courses deliver a very convincing mandolin flavor, with greater range and versatility.
The 16.3" scale neck allows a full-octave-up tuning, means that all chord shapes and note locations are identical to a standard-tuned guitar — no transposing required! This makes the Merlin an amazing and effortless tool for doubling or accompaniment. The Merlin is more than just a color instrument, though — it's an inspiration machine, bringing out new concepts and techniques from everyone that picks it up.
The downsized body gives the Merlin a very unique voice and tonal contour — more strident and brilliant than its larger Gryphon cousin, with a more powerful midrange that cuts through a dense mix, and interwoven with shades of mandolin, charango and even autoharp textures. The scale length and body size are perfectly matched to the tuning, unifying into a sweet, shimmering and responsive instrument that will inspire any guitarist to think and play differently.