A company that has some of the top selling best guitars on the market sure knows their way around crafting good string instruments. So it should not come as a surprise that Seagull’s venture into mandolin industry is successful. While their choice is by no means vast, their S8 model is pretty versatile in itself. And although I did say it was not a surprise that they created a good mandolin, it is still pretty astonishing how they manage to pull off such a good one with no prior history.
Whenever researching for a new instrument the build is always the number one priority. This includes a lot of details that you have to keep in mind. As a beginner, you might be carried away by one major aspect – design/look. And while this by no means is the main criteria you should be using to purchase your instrument it often is a vital part of decision-making.
And boy, oh boy does this model check all the marks in the design section. This sleek mandolin has elegant curved and double cutaways. The solid Sitka spruce top with a laminate maple body offers a very sturdy and durable construction. The S8 is one of those instruments that deceives you in the best way possible. You expect this slim, fragile-looking model to be toyish, and easily fractured, but you will be surprised once you pick it up how well constructed and rigid (in the best way possible) this model actually is. The hand-finished maple neck goes through the body of the mandolin, giving it even more sturdiness and durability. On top of the neck, you will see Rosewood fingerboard with white dots inlays. The semi-gloss burnt umber finish makes the entire look of this instrument come together. Not only does it accentuate the looks but the finish also allows for better tonality. This model is also available with a natural finish so you can have your pick.
Such a gorgeous instrument really deserves quality hardware. While this is not an expensive model compared to other mandolins, Seagull still made sure to equip it with easy-to-use details that also fit the overall design of the S8. If you look at the headstock you will notice vintage-looking open geared tuners. These babies work well, are pretty accurate and hold the tune as much as possible. The 1.19” Graph Tech tusq nut and GraphTech compensated saddle are not the most astounding part of this mandolin but they are standard, functional and won’t give you any troubles.
The action on this model is as close to perfect as I could have imagined. For some reason, I have a feeling that this model concentrated more on the design and looks of the model and while the performance would be okay, it would not be anything special. I was definitely wrong about that. While there is nothing over the top about the specifications of this model, Seagull went with something simple and functional and in the end, it paid off.
Seagull Mandolin Sound
Okay, now let’s talk about probably one of the most subjective aspects of the instrument – its sound. While there are ways to objectively state some of its characteristics, people usually have very specific ideas of what they are looking for and those ideas are rarely universal. What is resonant for one player is not for the other. I have had so many people tell me the exact opposite of the same instrument (literally the same model) that often enough I find it almost pointless to search for objectivity in this section.
That is why I just have to say what I heard or felt with this model. Once I picked up the S8 I immediately knew how well build it was. And nice I strummed it I could hear amazing intonation and clear, crisp sound. What I did not hear, fortunately, was any sort of buzz which is often the case with instruments in this price range. I don’t think this is the loudest model I have played so if you are looking for something with more volume, this might not be the one for you. In other ways, this mandolin pretty much checks all the marks.
I have been a long-time fan of Seagull. I have actually owned a couple of their guitars but when I say that they are as good in crafting mandolins I am not being subjective or biased about one of my favorite manufacturers. The Seagull S8 Mandolin SG, Burnt Amber Burnt Umber is a sleek looking but solid instrument with beautiful, crisp and bright sound and quality hardware. I cannot really see, even if it has minor flaws, any other instrument at this price that is better than this model and that is why it is one of the best mandolins.
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