A terrific second hand find for €130, the Sigma 000M-1ST lists new for $355. Originally the Sigma brand was set up by Martin in 1970 to respond to growing demands and the guitars were built in Japan. It was sold by Martin to the German company AMI Music Instruments, GmbH in 2007, but by then Martin has even lost the rights to the name Sigma in the US.
Hence, Sigma guitars were marketed from 2014 onwards under the name of Kindred Guitars, and there seems some current battle about the ownership of the brand.
Golden Guitar Gallery in Nazareth, Pa. seem to have lost the right on the use of the name to Six Strings Brokerage.
Among the earliest Sigmas built from 1970-1979 there is quite a bit of solid wood, but by the turn of decade they had depleted their stock. From 1980 onwards, almost all Sigma (unless explicitly indicated) are non-solid tops, backs and sides. The new line of Sigma/Kindred however, are all feature solid spruce tops. If we read the orientation chart, we can read the specs of this guitar:
I expected this guitar to be short-scale, but it isn’t – as a matter of fact, Martin 000’s are not consistently short scale to begin with. Scale length and nut width match the 15-series Martin 000. But strange is the nut width difference between 000-18 and 000-28. In the end, this Sigma’s specs are most like the OM-18 Authentic, with its solid spruce top, long scale and smaller nut width.
|Sigma 000-1ST||Martin 000-18||Martin 000-28||Martin OM-18 Authentic||Martin 000-15M|
|back&sides||laminated mahogany||solid mahogany||solid rosewood||solid mahogany||solid mahogany|
|top||solid spruce||solid spruce||solid sitka spruce||solid adirondac spruce||solid mahogany|
So this trusted Martin muppet is wrong: not all 000’s are short scale, not all OM’s have wider nuts, etc… Luckily there is a community out there to correct her:
As Dave constantly warns us: before you buy a guitar, make sure the truss rod works. Suprisingly, neither the 5mm allen wrench which came with my Simon & Patrick Pro Mahogany was too small and a 6mm wrench too big for the Sigma. I called the big store selling Sigma in Belgium, they told me to come round, but couldn’t tell me what type and size of wrench would fit this guitar. Also sent a mail to Sigma, as yet got no reply. In fact the neck relief is quite ok, but it could use a nudge and I just want to check whether it is working.
Update! Today I got a reply from Sigma Guitars:
it is a 4mm hex wrench, usually there is one in the box.
There was no box and no wrench with the guitar, but it’s a standard 4mm allen wrench. It was strange, because I had discovered this at the same time as the mail buying celexa online arrived, while I was trying to set up another guitar: The Gretsch Jim Dandy parlor guitar I had bought my daughter. Saddle on that was already pretty low from the factory, and putting some tension on the truss rod straightened it out.
Just like on Martins, the Sigma truss rod is quite a way back in the neck, so I had to use the long end and twist it with a pair of pliers. In fact, it needed little adjustment, just a little nudge extra was good.
The neck consists of three pieces of mahogany: heel, neck proper and the headstock.
Action, Saddle & Bridge
I had been watching the listing of this sale for a few weeks, hesitating to buy it, when the listing suddenly dissapeared. I thought it had been sold. A week later it was relisted, and I didn’t hesistate then. The day after the sale was concluded I learned what had happened. People had come to see and try the guitar, but were turned off by the extremely high action on the guitar. The seller took the listing off line and went to see the store where he had bought the guitar 2 years previously. The ‘tech’ there told him he didn’t have the proper truss rod wrench nor knew where to get one. He advised the owner to sand down the saddle to proper string height, which he did. When I took out the saddle, this was what I saw:
The bottom of the saddle (top of the picture) was sanded straight; this was obvious as the saddle wouldn’t even stand up by itself on a flat surface. I sanded the saddle off straight and took off some more material. I kept the strings caught in a capo, so I could quickly re-install a string to check the action in between sanding sessions.
One problem that popped up was that the saddle didn’t fit snugly in to the slot. I will be ordering a new saddle one of these days, so I put in a very small piece of thick paper to make for a tight fit as temporary solution.
I ended up with a little over 2mm on the bass side, just a little less on the treble side. Time to get me some proper measuring tools.
Even more importantly, the intonation turned out spot on, except for the G string (just slightly sharp).
Edit: after adjusting the truss rod, the action improved a little more.
On the basis of the information of the original owner, this guitar was bought in 2013, so presumably, the first two numbers in the serial refer to the build year: (20)12. 0304 might be date code as well… 4th of March? Would this be the 519th guitar built by Sigma? We will have to look at more serials.