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Thread: Sigma Mandolin?

  1. #1
    Registered User nordian's Avatar
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    Default Sigma Mandolin?

    Hello all. I've got a Sigma F style mandolin, model SM-6S made in Korea, that I purchased a few years ago for cheap. The mandolin sounds good and plays easy. Just wondering if anybody else has one and if anybody can tell me what years these mandolins were produced or any other general information of interest? I see them every blue moon on ebay which is where I purchased the one I have? I can follow the grain looking into the f hole and follow it to the backside so it at least seems the back is solid and not laminate. Thanks for any and all replies.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    I have an old A style, model SM-1S, solid wood but pressed top (i.e. not carved). There don't seem to be any tone bars. A bit thin in the sound department, but a perfectly serviceable instrument. I bought mine back in 1995, and the serial number starts with 93, so I always thought that was probably the year it was made.

  4. #3
    Registered User nordian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    The F does have tone bars or bracing right to the inside of the f holes. The f holes are pretty large on the F model, are the ones on the A model the same way. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of info out there on these mandolins.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    The f holes seem to be about the standard size on mine. I don't think there is a lot of info out there about these mandolins. They are not especially good, so no-one's really interested. But they're no worse than other comparable mandolins. Mine has a CF Martin & Co logo in the sticker, so they we're lending them their name at that time.

  6. #5
    Mandolin Botherer Shelagh Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    I used to have one, purchased in Belgium around the mid-90s. Perfectly reasonable mandolin and decent enough for the low price. It was a carved top if my memory serves me right and braced with tone bars and the workmanship was decent. Tone was sweet enough but not a very loud instrument though I fitted an internal transducer to it which worked well enough.

  7. #6
    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    I had a Sigma A. It had a laminated back and sides, but a solid (pressed) top. I bought mine used in 2001 and sold it in 2011 for about the same money. I really enjoyed it. The sound was a bit thin, but pleasant. It was a good instrument to start on. At some point, it must have had a good setup. The action was low and the neck was straight. It was a good starter for me and I had an awful lot of fun with it.
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  8. #7
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    Sigma was a line of Asian imports that Martin commissioned around 1970. Their production moved from Japan to Korea (1984), then to Taiwan (c.1993). Martin stopped importing them around 2003, I think, but some German company has acquired the trademark and is building Sigma guitars in China now, I hear.

    Most Sigma guitars copied Martin's "D" models. Sigma mandolins, however, were nothing like the Martin mandolin models, but more closely followed Gibsonian precedents: A- and F-models, laminated or with solid tops. I think all the tops were heat-pressed, but there may have been some carved. There were also Sigma banjos, electric guitars and basses.

    Don't think Martin every imported many of them. The company had pretty much shut down making mandolins in Nazareth by the 1970's, with only a few Style A's being produced. Guess the Sigmas were supposed to fill in a bit for the absence of Martin-made instruments.
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    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    I am thinking about buying a mandolin on the FB marketplace. It is a Sigma and looks to be in mint condition. Asking about 330$. Not sure what to do! It looks great - seems to have a straight neck. It is a bent top. Owned by a smoker. It says Sigma 1971 at top of headstock. Doesn't seem to have any cracks in it. Wonder where it was made? Probably Asia judging by the threads read here. I love the A style mandos and have a Supertone I got on Ebay. It sounds sweet and is pretty to boot. Prettier than this Martin but it goes out of tune pretty easily. Not sure if that is due to the weather or to the mando. Also has a A string has a wee buzz. I have to hold it down when I want to tune the E string or my tuner will only hear the A. So....I digress. About that Sigma. What do you experts think? I am a beginner and am learning from Don Julan's Mandolins for Dummies -= just to give you an idea of where I am in my mando life. Thanks for any tips and advice. I am not going to Carnegie Hall and I don't like blue grass, so I don't need the shiny sounds. Just playing classical duets presently and Ashokan Farewell. Love all of those. Thank you!

  11. #9
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    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    Yes, the old Sigmas were Asian made, first in Japan during the 1970's, then in S. Korea starting around 1983 or 84, then supposedly in Taiwan starting in '94.

    The only Sigma bent top mandolin I have played was a passable instrument, but definitely a student instrument. Bear in mind that they were built as budget instruments, and they are getting old, so if it needs much work, you might be better off saving some more money and putting it into a Martin A. They can still be found for around $800 +/-, and will be a better instrument.

  12. #10

    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by peiohde View Post
    I am thinking about buying a mandolin on the FB marketplace. It is a Sigma and looks to be in mint condition. Asking about 330$. ...
    USD?? You'd be better off (IMO) getting a new, properly setup entry Kentucky from some place like TMS.

    In the meantime, you might search around here for the setup PDF (by Rob Meldrum) and learn how to adjust your mandolin so you can get it playing at its best.
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  13. #11

    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
    USD?? You'd be better off (IMO) getting a new, properly setup entry Kentucky from some place like TMS.

    In the meantime, you might search around here for the setup PDF (by Rob Meldrum) and learn how to adjust your mandolin so you can get it playing at its best.
    New Kentuckys aren't that cheap any more, sadly. You could easily get a nice used one for that though.

  14. #12

    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    There is a Kentucky KM- 272 on the classifieds right now for $350 shipped, I'd look there instead of a Sigma for that price.

  15. #13
    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sigma Mandolin?

    I started many years ago with one of these pressed-top Sigmas. I played it for a bunch of years and then sold it for exactly what I paid for it. Not a bad starter instrument, but certainly no more than that. All these years later, it doesn't seem to have done me any harm!

    Still, I'd recommend an entry-level Kentucky over this. As others have pointed out, a used one won't set you back too much. These beginner Kentucky mandolins are really a much better instrument. Whatever you decide, good luck on your mandolin journey!
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