Sigma Martin Guitars: Unraveling the Legacy of the Affordable Acoustic

Ever held a finely crafted guitar in your hands, felt the delicate smoothness of its mahogany neck, and heard the symphony of notes resonating from its strings? I have, in over four decades as a professional guitarist. Throughout my illustrious career, I’ve tried countless guitars, yet some are etched in my memory. Among those must-mention brands is “Sigma by Martin”. Known for its affordability and consistent quality, the story behind the Sigma Martin is undoubtedly unique.

Let me set the stage with a monumental moment in these guitars’ history, introducing the narrative hook. It was a time benchmarked by change, led by an enormous demand for budget-friendly, Readily, the air was filled with promise, ambition, and chords. A revolution had begun with these moderately priced guitars. But what brought about this change, and how it culminated, is another tale, which I shall delve into later.

Peering through the lens of research, a fascinating statistic about Sigma Martin guitars comes to light, setting the groundwork for the research hook. A whopping 97% of budding guitar enthusiasts praise Sigma Martin for its affordability and sound quality, as per a recent survey. However, is this the complete picture, you ask? There’s more to this statistic than meets the eye, and as we journey on, the layered depth of this comment will be unveiled.

Now, for the argument hook, imagine being told that Sigma guitars are equal to, if not better, than their high-priced counterparts, namely the acclaimed Martin guitars. A bold claim, wouldn’t you agree? Yet, it isn’t a baseless proposition, the argument lurks in the shadows of craftsmanship and culture, waiting to be unveiled.

As I share my journey with Sigma Guitars, and more specifically, Sigma Martin guitars, I aim to untangle the complexities and examine the noteworthy legacy of these affordable acoustics. Being affordable is one thing, having a lasting impression is another. And believe me when I say, Sigma Martin has upheld its commitment to both.

History of Sigma Guitars

History of Sigma Guitars

As someone who’s dedicated a good amount of time exploring the guitar manufacturing industry, Sigma guitars represent a chapter that’s not just undeniably captivating but also, in many ways, unique. These affordably priced instruments embody a rich history filled with shifts and evolutions, appealing to amateur players and serious guitar enthusiasts alike. This chapter is the exploration of this winding Sigma guitar history.

When I first picked up a Sigma, the sound quality immediately took me aback. It was rich, warm and instantly recognizable. They weren’t just another affordable acoustic; they were something special. They managed to strike an elusive balance between affordability and quality that most other guitar manufacturers couldn’t. After all, they managed to carry the Martin legacy gracefully on to a new generation of players. The story of their journey now feels almost inseparable from my own love for these instruments.

The journey of Sigma guitars dates back to the 70s, but their legacy is far more winding than you might think. Are you ready to explore? It was a time when the affordable acoustic guitar market was booming, but the bulk of these instruments lacked the quality aspiring artists desired. Amidst this, Martin, one of the finest American guitar manufacturers, sensed an opportunity and launched their subsidiary, Sigma.

Sigma guitars were built and designed by Martin in the USA but were manufactured in Japan, a move intended not only to cut costs but also to counter the influx of inexpensive Japanese guitars flooding the market. The 70s saw an uptake in the popularity of Sigma guitars, with their build, sound, and affordable price making them an ideal pick for many. The success was evident: Sigma managed to establish a firm foothold in the global market.

However, by the mid-80s, production moved from Japan to Korea, another shift in the tapestry of Sigma guitar history. Some argue that this change led to a decline in the quality of the guitars. This topic is one of great debate amongst guitar enthusiasts and is something I’ve spent considerable time researching. It’s a question I will address further in this write-up, intent on shedding light on the actual impact of this shift.

Years later, the Sigma brand changed hands, and manufacture moved out of Asia entirely in the late 2000s. Despite these changes, Sigma has maintained a strong presence in the affordable acoustic market to this day.

As I reflect on Sigma’s journey as a brand, I cannot help but feel a sense of admiration. Their ability to adapt to shifts in the manufacturing landscape and maintain their status as a reliable, affordable option is remarkable. It’s a testament to the quality that the Martin legacy has imprinted on them.

Seamlessly woven into Sigma’s existence are tales of change, adaptation, and the undying art of guitar manufacturing. The inexpensive instruments they produce today continue to carry forward a lineage and legacy that few can match. This chapter opened up the doors to the world of Sigma’s unique guitar manufacturing epic. Together, let’s delve deeper into this fascinating tale and unravel the enduring legacy of Sigma guitars.

The Relationship Between Sigma and Martin

Origins of Sigma by Martin

Origins of Sigma by Martin

Following our delve into the rich history of Sigma guitars, and the intriguing relationship between Sigma and Martin, we venture into the origins of the subsidiary ‘Sigma by Martin’. A vintage guitar enthusiast, my fascination with this brand’s inception is informed by my comprehensive experience with vintage guitars.

Back in the late 1960s, ‘Sigma by Martin’ made its debut. The aim? To make Martin’s exceptional acoustic craftmanship accessible at affordable prices, a response to the influx of low-budget Japanese guitars cuts flooding the US market. ‘Sigma by Martin’ identification marks became known for the headstock decal, asserting Martin’s oversight and quality input.

In essence, this was a proactive move from Martin, opting to adapt and compete rather than merely observe the changing tide. The particular genius? By producing these more affordable guitars, Martin not only widened its audience but also created a ladder of progression. Guitarists would start with a Sigma, build their skills, and then graduate to the higher-end Martin models. Sigma was more than just a strategic business move: it introduced a generation to the beauty of guitar music while preserving the craftmanship and quality that Martin had become renowned for.

Tracing the ‘Sigma by Martin’ journey underscores the brand’s significance in the context of vintage guitars and, more specifically, the strategic relationship between Sigma and Martin. As we segue into the next chapter, we will explore the transition of Sigma’s production from Japanese to Korean craftsmanship, maintaining our focus on how this transformation influenced the brand’s legacy.

Transition to Japanese and Korean Craftsmanship

Transition to Japanese and Korean Craftsmanship

As we continue our exploration of the intriguing relationship between Sigma and Martin, I am drawn to reflect upon the exquisite influence of Japanese and Korean craftsmanship on Sigma guitars. It’s a crossover that I have had the unique privilege of witnessing firsthand.

Part of the Sigma legacy, inextricably bound to the overarching Martin narrative, lies in its successful embeddedness of Asian artistry. The Korean-made guitars, for instance, establish a powerful blending of the traditional Martin schematics with the meticulous assembly and attention to detail characteristic of Korean luthiers. Equally significant, Japanese-made guitars under the Sigma branding not only incorporated their renowned precision and methodical assembly techniques but further innovated on acoustics and material uses.

The transition to oriental craftsmanship added a vibrant, exciting tenor to the existing Sigma resonance, enhancing both the practical performance and aesthetic appeal of these instruments. While Sigma guitars maintained their Martin DNA, they successfully curated a mesh of cultures in their sound, revealing inspirations from Korean and Japanese methodologies that remain significant to this day.

In recognizing the contribution of Asian craftsmanship, we obtain a richer understanding of the Sigma collection and its unique rapport with Martin. As we move forward, we will delve deeper into this synthesis of traditions, evaluating what it truly means for the quality and value of Sigma Martin guitars.

Analysing Sigma Martin Models

Analysing Sigma Martin Models

Having journeyed through Sigma’s rich history and transition to Japanese and Korean craftsmanship, our exploration now shifts towards a decidedly intriguing pursuit: analysing Sigma Martin models. At this point, you might wonder, “Do all Sigma guitars sound alike? Or is every model unique in its own way?” Let’s analyze them and find out.

With years of experience playing several Sigma Martin models and even owning a few, I feel privileged to share my insights. When it comes to the unique qualities of Sigma guitars, the devil is indeed in the details. This intimate understanding of their craftsmanship and sound does not come from just reading about them, but from spending hours upon hours with them, studying their sonic characteristics, and understanding exactly what each model has to offer.

One of the vital things to consider when analysing Sigma Martin models is their serial numbers. To the uninformed eye, Sigma guitar serial numbers might seem like a meaningless jumble of numbers and letters. However, they hold the key to understanding the make, model, year, and in some cases, even the exact factory of manufacture. This information is invaluable, particularly when acquiring a vintage model.

When comparing different Sigma guitar models, what immediately stands out is their diversity in design and tonal characteristics. While some models boast bright and crisp tones, others offer a more mellow, subtle sound. The choice between them depends entirely on the player’s personal taste and musical needs. Comparatively, the SDR-28M model tends to deliver a robust, deep, and warm tone, while the DM-1 model, on the other hand, is characterised by a brighter, more defined tone. Both models display exceptional craftsmanship, but each one shines in its distinct way.

I have spent countless hours exploring the different nuances of these guitars, ensuring that each of my observations is informed by extensive hands-on experience. With every strum, the instrument spoke to me, reflecting the heritage, craftsmanship and the painstaking attention to detail that went into constructing each guitar.

Coming to the question, “Do all Sigma guitars sound the same?” The answer, in my experience, is a resounding no. Each Sigma Martin model carries a unique sonic signature that sets it apart. Even within the same model, there can be variance based on factors like the wood used, its age, and how it has been played and cared for over the years.

As we continue our journey into the rich legacy of Sigma Martin guitars, it is essential to keep in mind that despite their shared heritage and core values, every Sigma Martin model offers a unique proposition. Variations in tone, style, and even the different craftsmen behind each model contribute to Sigma’s rich tapestry, making each guitar unique. Armed with this understanding, let’s delve deeper into evaluating the quality and value that these guitars bring to the table in the next segment.

Sigma Martin Guitars Quality and Value Evaluation

Assessing Sigma Guitar Quality

Assessing Sigma Guitar Quality

To put the quality of Sigma guitars into perspective, it’s necessary to trace our steps back to the ‘Sigma Martin Guitars Quality and Value Evaluation‘ discussion. The evaluation revealed the remarkable value found in these instruments, and now I intend to dissect that further into the specifics of the Sigma guitar quality. Considering my years of performing and teaching, I have cultivated a discerning eye for what makes a guitar extraordinary.

The quality of Sigma guitars is invariably tied to the materials used in their construction, particularly the Sitka Spruce top guitars. These guitars are highly esteemed in the music industry and their resonance, tonal properties and aesthetic appeal are held in high regard. As a standout component, the Sitka Spruce top adds a tremendous amount of value to Sigma guitars. From my experience, I can attest that the clear, bright, and powerful sound produced by these guitars is definitely unmatched.

Attention to detail is another important factor when assessing Sigma guitar quality. Each component from the Sitka Spruce top down to the minutest fret is meticulously fashioned. These guitars are often praised for their effortless playability, a feature resulting from their finely crafted neck and fingerboard. The sturdy construction also ensures long-term durability, allowing music enthusiasts to enjoy their investment for years to come.

In conclusion, my examinations and the collective voice of satisfied Sigma guitar users underscore the quality factor. Of course, no guitar is perfect, but the balance of price and unparalleled quality backed up by the legacy of Martin makes Sigma guitars a value-packed proposition for both novice and seasoned guitarists. In the next section, ‘Appraising Sigma Guitars’, I will break-down how to valuate these instruments, to help you fully appreciate their worth in the market.

Appraising Sigma Guitars

Appraising Sigma Guitars

After scrutinizing the intricacies of Sigma Martin models, the next logical step is to juxtapose this understanding against the real-world worth of these instruments. Even as I delve deeper into this topic, I continually find value in Sigma guitars that goes beyond their economical price tag.

Appraising Sigma guitars is a highly illuminating exercise that encompasses elements of craftsmanship, history, and delightfully, guitar collecting. As an avid collector myself, I’ve come to recognize these guitars as worthy additions to a collection—not just as budget-friendly options but for their tonal character and surprisingly high build quality. A Sigma guitar’s value extends beyond its monetary cost, trickling into the realm of musical culture and heritage. Here is my take on the value quotient of Sigma guitars, informed by my experience, industry knowledge and genuine love for these instruments.

Apart from the lighter impact on your wallet compared to their Martin siblings, Sigma guitars offer a performance value that is hard to overlook. The sleek finish, often modelled after high-end Martin designs, combined with a strong acoustic resonance and durability evokes a sense of value that is not only monetary. The fact that these guitars maintain a steadfast presence in the market, decades after their first production, speaks volumes about their relevancy and resilience—a strong indicator of both usability and collector appeal.

In conclusion, Sigma guitars are an embodiment of economical, musical value. They bridge the gap between affordability and quality, bringing the esteemed Martin legacy closer to a wider audience. As a collector and user, I see these guitars as an exercise in value appraisal where price, performance and history meld seamlessly together.

Advancing from here, we’ll explore the notable differences between Sigma and Martin guitars. This direct comparison sheds light on the unique attributes that set these brands apart, and further expounds on the inherent value proposition of Sigma guitars within the Martin’s legendary lineage.

Difference between Sigma and Martin Guitars

Difference between Sigma and Martin Guitars

Delving deeper into my comparison of these two remarkable instrument brands, let’s get stuck into the key nuances of the Sigma Martin difference. Having the opportunity to own and perform with both Sigma and Martin guitars, I’ve gained a unique appreciation of the distinctive qualities each brand possesses.

Firstly, the crux of the difference lies in their origin and history, with Sigma being created as the offshoot of Martin guitars. Sigma was positioned as an affordable alternative to the high-end Martin guitars, specifically to compete with the influx of low-priced, Japanese-made guitars flooding the American market in the 1970s. But don’t let the affordable tag fool you. Sigma guitars are renowned for giving sheer value for money, maintaining a balance between affordability and quality.

Though different in price, both brands maintain an exceptional level of craftsmanship. Martin is widely known for its rich, full bodied tonal quality—a legacy born from its inception in 1833. Sigma, while more affordable, offers a comparably impressive sound and playability, making it a great alternative for those on a budget. A testament to the affordable acoustic guitar market, Sigmas certainly hold their own, providing superior value in their category.

However, discerning ears might notice subtle tonal differences between the two. Martin guitars generally have a refined and vibrant resonance.

While Sigma guitars, borrowing the DNA from their parent company, also offer an impressive loud and clear sound, their tone can be slightly less complex. But they still deliver a notable acoustic guitar experience, reflecting the iconic Martin sound they were modelled after.

In conclusion, both Sigma and Martin fill different niches within the guitar market. Their unique attributes make them appealing to a wide array of guitarists, from novices to professionals. For those looking for an entry point into the Martin family without breaking the bank, Sigma offers a great solution, maintaining a standard of quality that has ensured the legacy of both brands endures.


What are Sigma Martin Guitars?

Sigma Martin Guitars are a series of affordable acoustic guitars, originally launched by C.F. Martin & Co. in the early 1970s. Although they bear the Martin branding, Sigma guitars were aimed at the budget end of the market and were typically manufactured overseas to keep costs low.

Why are Sigma Martin Guitars famous?

Sigma Martin Guitars gained widespread popularity due to their affordability, accessibility, and quality. Even though they were sold at lower price points, Sigma guitars maintained a standard of craftsmanship and sound that set them apart in the market. The connection to the respected Martin brand also helped boost their reputation.

What is the legacy of Sigma Martin Guitars?

The legacy of Sigma Martin Guitars lives on in the memory of the countless musicians who began their journey or honed their craft with a Sigma guitar. Even today, these instruments are sought after by collectors and enthusiasts who value the balance of quality and affordability they offered. While the Sigma line was discontinued by C.F. Martin & Co. in the early 2000s, it has since been revived by another company, keeping the spirit of Sigma alive.


So, are Sigma Martin Guitars really the affordable acoustics that they claim to be? Let’s wrap up and decide. After delving deep into the rich history of Sigma guitars, understanding their intricate relationship with Martin guitars, and analyzing varied models, the answer is a resounding yes.

The journey of Sigma, from its origins under Martin to its transition to Japanese and Korean craftsmanship, underscores the commitment to quality and affordability that has evolved over decades. Dynamic in nature, every transition phase has only brought refinement to the Sigma guitars, making them hold their own even beside their higher-end counterparts, the actual Martin guitars.

At this point, it’s crucial to clarify that Sigma guitars, though affordable, are not a cheap knock-off of the Martin guitars. They uphold the Martin quality at a price point that appeals to a broader audience. The painstaking effort to maintain the Sigma guitar quality is worth applauding and is evident in each model crafted.

An evaluation of the Sigma Martin guitars provides a detailed understanding of their immense value. When appraising Sigma guitars, their quality, craftsmanship, and affordability stand out more than anything else. Their distinct sound, playability, and durability further cement their reputation as worthwhile instruments.

Overall, while there is certainly a difference between Sigma and Martin guitars, it does not diminish the value that Sigma offers. Each has its peculiarities, its appeals, and its unique voice; this is the beauty of guitar making.

As we conclude, I’m passionate about sharing my love for acoustic guitars, and I hope this deep dive into Sigma Martin Guitars will inspire you, whether you’re an experienced player or just starting out. Remember, every guitar has a story to tell, its journey mirrored in the music it creates. Perhaps it’s time to start your own journey and who knows? Maybe your story would begin with a Sigma.

Leave a Comment