I have been playing guitars on and off for about 45 years starting with folk, rock and roll, and bluegrass. I wish I had all the guitars I've ever owned. I'm not as good as I should be, but I so enjoy it.
I bought 2 Sigma DM-5's on E-bay, one I paid about $220.00 it was the older Japanese model with the 'Sigma' on it and the other one was slightly newer Japanese model with the 'Sigma Guitars Est. 1970' script on it which I paid about $190.00.
The guitars sounded EXACTLY alike not only to me but 2 experienced guitar people, one a used guitar store owner and the other a 75 yr old master luthier. There were differences in the weight of the guitars, the older one was noticeably lighter and slightly thinner sides. I sold the older one on E-bay because it is worth more to collectors than the newer one. I have been so impressed with my DM-5 that I sold my Gibson 1969 Country Western acoustic guitar that I bought new in 1970. Don't get me wrong, the Gibson had a nice smooth lower end on it, but recently I've been playing bluegrass and the Sigma has more punch in it which I like. Two changes that I made to the Sigma are bone bridge pins and a bell brass saddle. This really jacked up the sustain and volume of this guitar and got some double takes from the boys playing the Martins at bluegrass night.
I read somewhere on the internet that acoustic Sigma guitars won't or may not stand up to medium or heavier strings. I only saw it one place (I can't remember where). I am using D'Addario EJ14 which are medium lows and light highs.
The overall construction of these guitars is excellent, very, very little belling of the top of the guitars, not enough to warrant any luthier remedy. The action can be set as low as you want to go.
I would highly recommend a Sigma DM-5 MIJ to anyone who wants a nice acoustic guitar for about $200.00
Made in Japan
Mahogany back and sides
Black and white binding
Natowood neck (joined at the 14th fret)
Open in-line tuning machines
Adjustable rosewood bridge
Adjustable truss rod through peghead from 1970 through 1979
This is part of Martin's Japanese import line of the 70s - Sigma. The DM5 is basically a Martin-designed dreadnaught guitar, with the same bracing as a USA model, but different woods. It has a "natowood" neck - I'm honestly unfamiliar with this type of wood, but I can say that the neck of the guitar I'm playing on plays well, is still in good shape after at least 30 something years, and the guitar's sound overall is very bold and bright, so the wood can't be that bad!
This is a shocker of a guitar. Breaking this guitar out of the case at a gig, most anyone assumes it's a USA Martin until they get really close. It looks just like one with the exception of the logo, and it sounds just as good. The tone has a warm yet thick fundamental, a punchy midrange, and the airy top end just floats on top. This guitar is great for flatpicking, slower or lower-tuned fingerstyle, and percussive guitar styles.
Overall, this is a great guitar for the money. They can still be found for dirt cheap because the Sigma name never got that much recognition. Martin makes great guitars in the USA and Mexico now, but back in the day, their Japanese imports were great quality as well. The DM5 plays, sounds, and looks just as nice as a lot of mid-level instruments that are made nowadays, and they can still be found in dusty pawn shops and flea markets for merely a song.
My Martin/Sigma DM-5 dreadnought acoustic guitar was made in Japan in the early 1970's I believe.
It has 20 frets, with access up to the 14th fret. It has a solid spruce top, rosewood back and sides, and a rosewood bridge and fingerboard. There is a very understated binding and rosette, and simple dot inlays on the fingerboard.
The neck is substantial but very manageable with a slight radius, very typical of Martin guitars. It allows chords to be barred at the first fret position with moderate ease. Access to anything beyond the 14th fret is next to impossible due to the lack of a cutaway.
Ergonomically, its is a full fize dreadnought guitar which takes getting used to while sitting down due to the thickness, but it is very lightweight due to the thin sides and back and well-designed bracing. It is also what lends itself to the full and robust sound of this guitar.
The Sigma series is basically by all birthright a Martin guitar. It was deisnged by them, and the materials are high quality but manufacturing of them was done overseas in Japan back during a time when most guitars were manufactured in America still. I've played a couple Sigmas in pawn shops that didn't impress me, but this specimen has always given me great sound. Its the only DM-5 I have ever come across.
If you like the Martin dreadnought sound, then you would like this guitar. It has a mellow, sweet sound that projects, with excellent balance between attack and warmth. The thin sides and back allow for maximum body vibration and resonance, especially compared to some new guitars I've played recently that sound dead in comparison to my old DM-5 because the inferior or laminated materials add a lot of weight and resistance to vibration.
I play a lot of folk type strumming and fingerpicking, to acoustic rock, to bluesy single-note runs. The DM-5 stands up well to hard playing with fullness of sound and can be very dynamic in lower volume ranges like in mellow fingerpicking. It is a good all around and versatile acoustic. This guitar is the ruler by which I measure any other guitar in the under $1000, because its hard to find anything in that range that can beat it. Martin no longer offers a guitar under a $1000 that can touch it.
I've owned this guitar for 3 years, and its been in my family for almost 10 years. It was bought at a pawn shop for 75 bucks I think, brought home, and cleaned up and looks great even now at almost 30 years old. So for the money, I don't think a guitar could ever make me as happy. I would gladly pay 500 for a used guitar that sounded this good if I had to. Fortunately Sigmas aren't highly valued and you can pick them up at pawn shops or ebay for well under 200 bucks. If they have been cared for, then they are more than worth it.