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 Post subject: Sigma guitars
PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:03 pm 
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Location: Michigan
I just picked one of these up as my first guitar (chose it over a new student-grade Yamaha, in part because the smaller body size fits me better), and now I'm trying to learn more about it. I see there's not a whole lot here on Sigmas short of the occasional mention, but I thought I'd ask here first to see if anyone has info on this model, since I'm already registered here. :)

This particular model seems to be difficult to find information on. It's a GCS-4 (or as the stamp inside says, "GC-S4"). I've been having a hard time dating it. The head has the "Sigma Guitars est. 1970" which suggests it was made after 1979. There is no paper label on the inside, which also suggests 1980-1984 (it seems the labels reappeared in '84). I also don't see a visible way to adjust the truss rod which seems to also suggest post-1980.

Everything suggests the instrument was made between 1980 and 1984. Except this little bit on Wikipedia (I know, not the greatest source, but beggars can't be choosers when there isn't much out there; it seems like most people have the DR or DM line, or the GCS-6 or GCS-7), listed under "Additional Models Approximately 1975 to 1978" which also states that "These guitars still had the early peghead logo, instead of the "Second Generation Sigma" Martin style logo that started in 1979.":

GCS-4 Grand Concert. Martin style peghead bound in white. Spruce top. Mahogany back and sides. Rosewood fixed bridge. Adjustable truss rod.


However, the logo is definitely the 2nd-gen logo (there is no Greek sigma letter on it). And if the GCS-4 was made 1975-1978, then why does everything else suggest 1980-1984? (Then again, I found something else online that stated the GCS-4 was produced starting in 1996...)

So which is it? (I know the age on these are impossible to pinpoint, but I expected to at least get close without finding conflicting info...) Is the second a completely different model? This one doesn't have the white-bound head, the adjustable truss rod, or the rosewood bridge, so I'm wondering if that's the case.

The only stamps inside are the Martin logo and the "GC-S4." There is nothing resembling a serial number, though I see other people referring to serial numbers on their instruments but I haven't a clue where they find them if there is no label.

I believe the bridge assembly has been replaced at some point as there are no screws as I see described as being common for these instruments. The top is laminate, as far as I can tell from looking at the edge of the soundhole.

I haven't a clue if this is a "good" Sigma as I'm just a beginner and it's not like I need something great anyway. I like it, anyway, so, yeah. Just would like to know more about it.

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 Post subject: Re: Sigma guitars
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:11 pm 
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I found this link where, for a small fee, you can get info including current book value:

http://sigmaguitars.com/

Apparently, the manufacturer didn't keep strict records on the instruments and only a ballpark estimate is available for many models, but it's worth a try for $3.99

I remember playing a couple of Sigmas in the early 80's. They seemed like a very decent quality student instrument, if a little pricey because of the Martin connection. Best of luck with the guitar and your research.

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 Post subject: Re: Sigma guitars
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:40 am 
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Thanks, Tim.

I had gotten the impression that that site was more for finding out what the instrument is worth-- I think what I paid for it is probably fair, considering what I being asked for others. And if it's not fair, I don't want to know! :)

I was hoping more to get a better idea of when mine was made and any other info I could find about the specific model since there doesn't seem to be much out there for this one.

If anyone has a rec for a guitar forum where someone might have an idea, I'd appreciate that too.

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 Post subject: Re: Sigma guitars
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:15 am 
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Katherine, have you tried calling Martin and asking to talk to the in-house historian? I used to call the legendary Mike Longworth on occasion when he was still there, and he was always very helpful. I'd guess there's someone now with more or less the same role.

Katharine wrote:
The only stamps inside are the Martin logo and the "GC-S4." There is nothing resembling a serial number, though I see other people referring to serial numbers on their instruments but I haven't a clue where they find them if there is no label.

Have you looked on the neck block? That is where Martin serial numbers are located. Loosen the strings and pull them aside. Then look inside the sound hole up toward the neck. A flashlight may be helpful for this.

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 Post subject: Re: Sigma guitars
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:03 pm 
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Thanks, MT.

I've thought of contacting Martin, yeah. It seems like for a while they considered Sigma sort of the basmati stepchild, though... at least everything I've read suggests they didn't keep a whole lot of documentation and I've read of some people who didn't find a whole lot of help 'cause the info simply didn't exist. It might be worth a shot, though. I'm pretty sure I'm safe to assume it's somewhere between '80 and '84, though.

I'll have a look further up for the serial number, but all of the others I've seen that are stamped on that back brace are right on there and easy to see, near the Martin logo and the model stamp (inc. the DR-28H that I played around with at a store the other day. OMG, love. But a dreadnought's just too big for me). (Nope, nothing there that I can see, at least not any angle I can see without sticking my head INTO the soundhole, lol.) Hell, just the lack of serial number might be worth contacting Martin about. That is just WEIRD.

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 Post subject: Re: Sigma guitars
PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:15 am 
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I think if you call you guitar a c1982 Grand Concert Model 4 Sigma you'll be as close as anyone would expect you to be.

It's important to remember that these are not Martin's high-end instruments with their attendant price tags. They're a very good student grade, better-than-entry-level guitar made by a highly reputable builder. In order to keep the price in the target range, builders have to cut certain corners. In the case of Martin Sigma they decided to do away with bookkeeping expenses instead of reducing the quality they had planned for the line. It doesn't make the guitar anything less than it is. If you like the tone and playability, if everything suits you for the price you paid, then enjoy your guitar. For someone like myself who plays guitar as a second or third instrument, a nice Sigma is all the guitar I'd ever need.

Believe me, this problem is not so bad. If you ever get into trying to make sense of Gibson's serial numbers you'll drive yourself bats! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Sigma guitars
PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:00 pm 
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LOL, I know it's not that big of a deal... I just like to know as much as I can about my instruments! It's like making a new friend and then not asking them anything about themselves, haha. (I tend to like vintage/secondhand stuff 'cause I like stuff with a history--kind of silly but I find it interesting-- so it'd be nice to at least get an idea. But then, I'm weird. I'm also giving her a name, which one person I know almost couldn't bend her mind around...)

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