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aidan.04 04/30/2008

Sigma DM-5 : aidan.04's user review


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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.