Martin Sigma Acoustic Guitars
So you’ve heard that Martin guitars are a favorite amongst guitarist worldwide. But since your band hasn’t made it big (yet), you can’t afford one.
You may want to consider a used Sigma.
From 1970 to 2007 Martin Guitars produced a line of imported guitars.
They were created as a low-end alternative to the more expensive Martin Guitars.
Martin Sigma guitars were built mostly in Japan, but also Korea, and Taiwan. After construction, they were sent to Martin & Company in Nazareth, PA for inspection and distribution.
Because of the precision construction in these countries and the quality control at the Martin factory, the guitars served as a fine substitute for their more expensive counterparts.
Sigma also dabbled in other stringed instruments including banjos, basses, electric guitars and mandolins.
The guitars manufactured in Japan during the 70’s had a headstock logo with the word SIGMA and the Σ symbol (Greek symbol for Sigma).
From the player’s perspective, though, the symbol can be seen as an “M” which, of course is the first letter of Martin.
It is not known if this was intentional or coincidental.
Guitar experts and enthusiasts have difficulty deciding whether to describe Sigma guitars as built with solid wood or laminates.
In actuality some were made from wood while others, particularly in the later years were made from a combination of both.
As with their older cousin, Sigma guitars come in a wide variety of body styles, wood types, and trim levels.
All of these elements factor into the price you will pay.
A factor that you would not consider when buying a new guitar is the instrument’s age.
Since Sigmas have been discontinued, you probably will not encounter many new (unplayed) instruments.
Instead, you will find guitars from 5 to 35 years old.
A 1970’s Sigma can have the soft touch and mellow tone of a vintage guitar and may fetch more than five times its original purchase price.
If you have the opportunity to test one out, you first will need to remember that this is a guitar priced at a fraction of a Martin, so don’t expect it to be the same quality.
With this mindset, you might be pleasantly surprised.
It will probably strike you as having good playability and tone.
You may not be impressed with the trim, but bear in mind even the base model Martins come pretty bare bones.
Never having owned a Sigma myself, I sought opinions from several guitarists who do.
Surprisingly, several of them claim that their Sigma is their favorite guitar and that they would part with a much more expensive guitar before their Sigma.
If you want to get a hold of a Sigma, try Craig’s List or eBay, where they are selling for $100 to $700.
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