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Thread: Need advice

  1. #1

    Default Need advice

    Hi, Need information on my Sigma Mandolin SM-6S.
    Year? Origin? Value?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated
    Thanks
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  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice

    Martin started up the Sigma brand of instruments, originally in Japan, 1970, and had Sigma guitars and mandolins made in various Asian countries until 2007. The Wikipedia article on Sigma, which is pretty informative, lists the following progression:

    Construction moved from Japan from 19701983, to Korea from 1984-1994, to Taiwan in 1994 (made in both Korea and Taiwan for the 1994 model year) and finally Indonesia (?2007)

    There's a pretty decent section in the article on Sigma serial numbers, which are pretty disorganized and confusing, apparently. I see that "country of origin" on your label's been blocked out, but if it was made in Korea, there's a decent chance that the first two digits indicate it was built in 1992. I commend you to the overall article for more information/speculation on serial numbers.

    The SM-6S was all solid woods, carved top, I believe. Current advertised prices on the used market, seem to run between $300 and $500, based on on-line listings. The Korean-made instruments get better reviews than the others. What actual involvement C F Martin had with these instruments, other than opening the shipping containers and sending them out to dealers, I don't know. Almost every US instrument builder acquired an Asian line in the 1970's (Martin-Sigma, Guild-Madeira, Gibson-Epiphone [Asian-made]), selling instruments that resembled their US products, but were significantly cheaper, taking advantage of lower labor costs and updated technological automation. You may have a pretty nice instrument there, but its association with Martin is basically just a marketing one, IMHO.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Need advice

    Hi Allen,
    Thank you for your reply.
    I noticed the black mark on the label! Any idea why the country of origin has been blacked out?
    So basically it's a cheap vehicle with a nice badge? haha
    It sounds nice, great tone and has a decent action.
    I did try looking for the year with the serial number but there wasn't much information and it was a little confusing to say the least!
    Thank you for your wisdom Allen

  5. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice

    Could be a very decent instrument, in the mid-priced-import range.

    Some people try to remove country-of-origin labels from imports when putting them on the used market. The label has "C F Martin" prominently displayed, and the Martin reputation probably enhances resale value, while a big "Made in Korea" might detract. However, "redacting" that part of the label just makes other people (me) suspicious.

    We accept it for what it is, an Asian-made "budget line" mandolin, better because it's solid wood and carved top, imported by a famous US manufacturer, but not made by them. Gibson's probably made a gazillion bucks from its Epiphone import line -- some of them from buyers who remember US-made Epiphones and don't check the country of origin. The realities of the "global marketplace," I guess.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  6. #5

    Default Re: Need advice

    I've had a closer look with a magnifying glass and it did say Made in Korea before someone crossed it out. I agree, blacking that out probably devalues it more than adds to it!
    I got bored and frustrated of researching and started looking a chords! It's a lot different from the guitar! It's pretty loud to say it's such a small instrument and getting to grips with the small neck with my fat fingers!!! haha
    But, I'm actually having second thoughts about selling it now and I'm enjoying learning how to play a mandolin

  7. #6

    Default Re: Need advice

    That’s how it starts!
    Enjoy the journey.

    If you don't know it already, check out: mandolessons.com

  8. #7
    Confused... or?
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    Default Re: Need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by acl80 View Post
    ... So basically it's a cheap vehicle with a nice badge? ... It sounds nice, great tone and has a decent action.
    My impression, having played and/or worked on several Sigmas, is that Martin took at least some degree of pride in what they put their name on. Cheaply-built yeah, but poorly-built no. Maybe needing some final setup work, and I did replace a friend's guitar tuners after 20+ years. Not at all surprised that you like the tone!
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

  9. #8

    Default Re: Need advice

    OP:

    You didn't specify a price.

    That may be a "good-enough" sounding mandolin for, say, $300-400.

    Any more than that, and it had better sound pretty good.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Need advice

    Sorry for the late reply I'm just getting to grips with this site! haha
    I spoke with my father and told him it could be 1992 made in korea. He says he's sure my grandma had it before 1992?
    Thanks for the links Simon I'll have a look and learn the majority of chords and hopefully some great songs!
    $300 - $400 so about 300 at the most, I'm in no rush to sell it now so if I get an offer close to that I may consider it. In the mean time I'll find some spare time to learn mandolin. My old man gave me a Tanglewood mandolin too but theres strings missing otherwise I'd practice on that haha
    Thanks guys

  11. #10
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by acl80 View Post
    ...I spoke with my father and told him it could be 1992 made in korea. He says he's sure my grandma had it before 1992?...
    You said the "redacted" part of the label says "Made in Korea," and the Wikipedia article says Korean Sigmas were made 1984-1994. So if the article's right -- not that Wiki's the ultimate authority -- it couldn't be that much earlier than 1992.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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