***** Introduction *****

A bit long intro but if you wish, read about Sigma SDM 15 from finish and playability paragraph. However, in the intro there are my views on a few other guitars I tried.

I wanted an all solid body acoustic guitar however my budget was around 700 – 800 USD (5000 to 6000 Swedish Kronor). There are some really good choices available in the market now within this kind of budget. So I started searching on internet may be like you are doing right now on which is the best guitar in this price range. Unfortunately, I don’t live close to any music store. The closest store is about 200 km away.

My criterias were as below.
1. All solid body
2. 700 – 800 USD
3. Mellow and warm sound with big bass and low tinny sound. I never really liked the harsh treblish acoustic guitar sound.
4. Good looking (of course at that price you do want a nice looking guitar)
5. Must have good action
6. Must stay in tune very good

What I didn’t care much about
1. Where it is made
2. Colour
3. Pickups
4. Extra’s e.g. hard case, extra strings, guitar straps etc.

My search was narrowed down to the following
1. Recording king RD 316 (had great specs with Adirondack spruce top as the biggest selling point)
2. Martin D15m (over budget by almost 100% but I started to convince myself that I will buy this guitar as a keeper and keep it with me for the rest of my life. It had the best reviews in many magazines, websites etc)
3. Recording king RD 126 (Basically a martin D18 rip off. Great aesthetics with fantastic headstock and herringbone top purfling)
4. Recording king RD 26 (Same as RD 26, just cheaper and simpler looking)

I pulled the trigger on the recording king RD 316 and ordered it online. The guitar unfortunately arrived home and it had issues. Both aesthetics and tone. It was not very well finished at all. Had chips and dings on the headstock. Shability finished where the fretboard met the soundhole etc. Adirondack spruce top looked ugly. Worst of all it was set up horribly. Very high action and a bowed neck. The sound too was not something that I was expecting. It’s not bad but just didn’t fit my expectation of mellow and warm sound with big bass. All of this was enough for me to think it is so not work 599 Euros. I returned it back and asked for a full refund.

Back to square one!!

I went 200 Km to check out some guitars in person this time around.

There were several Sigma guitars in the same shop and they were all finished really well. All had good set up and great action. They all sounded pretty good for having laminate back and sides.

I tried several Martins and Gibson guitars in the shop too. Most I could never afford. But it was special to hold a 5000$ guitar in my hands :-). My conclusion was I just love guitars with mahogany body. I tried a few Martins with mahogany or similar wood. Martin DRS1, OOO15m, Martin D15m, OOO15m. Martin D15m was really great however, DRS1 was very very close. Both fit the sound criteria perfectly. Only thing I didn’t like was the look of the laminate neck on DRS1. I didn’t buy any guitar in the shop because I know they are quite a bit more expensive than buying online.

So, I had now made up my mind that it will be a dreadnought and has to be a mahogany guitar.

More research on internet and shortlisted 2 guitars.
1. Martin D15m – great sound, fantastic finish and it’s a Martin!!
2. Sigma SDM-15 – Through and through Martin D15m copy with better specs :-) Grover tuners, abalone inlays, onboard electronics, volute on the neck. And half the price of the Martin D15m.

Final thoughts came down to cost!!! And the fact that I am not really a professional guitarist. At most I am an enthusiastic guitarist who can strum and sing a little. So I decided to buy the Sigma SDM 15 at 499 UK Pounds. I ordered it online from Richtone Music in the UK.

**** Finish and playability ****

Very very nice satin finish which is even. The bracings are tidy. Neck joint is neat. No chips or dents. Cosmetically the guitar was really perfect. If I was to be super super picky, I would say the only place where I thought it could be a bit better was where the fretboard meets the sound hole. But really its not an issue.

Frets are very nicely done. No sharp edges. Abalone inlays are very tidy. Nut and bone is perfectly cut. Strings sit perfectly on the nut. Tuners are smooth. The guitar strap pin looks solid. Its also where you plug in the cable to the amp.
Only thing that is a minus is that there is no guitar strap pin where the neck meets the body. I would have really liked that to be there.

***** Sound *****

I absolutely love how it sounds. Very warm and mellow sound. No harsh trebles which you get on a spruce top guitar sometimes or on laminate top guitars. Make no mistake of thinking that this guitar has no treble. It’s there, but just not as pronounced as on a spruce top guitar. I wouldn’t call it dark sounding either. To me, it has a perfect balance of lows, mids and highs. May be a little better lows which I absolutely love. The notes ring out really well. Sustain on this guitar is very good and the chords sustain atleast 4 to 5 seconds. You can really feel the guitar vibrating on your stomach :-)
I would definitely say that this guitar would sound good with blues, rock and pop genre.

I must add however, that I didn't test the fishman pickup system. I didn’t play it through an amp as I don't have an acoustic guitar amp. So I don’t know how it sounds through an amp.

I guess many would be interested to know how it sounds compared to Martin D15m given that it is a direct copy of that guitar. Since I didn’t do an A/B test with these 2 guitars at the same time, I can’t tell for sure. However, it did generate the same emotions in me when I first played this guitar. It is warm, mellow, big bass, great sustain, not tinny. And I love it :-). I really felt like I like it and I am going to love it even more later. I guess that's what many say that the guitar spoke to me :-). I do really feel I got a guitar very very close to what the Martin D15m was.

Is it a guitar that can blow away a 5000$ guitar? No. It probably won’t. But is it a guitar that can blow away a 1000 – 1500$ guitar? Most certainly yes. But really these questions are quite stupid :-) It is a great guitar and it sounds great. Plain and simple.

**** Final thoughts ****

I am really satisfied with my purchase

Finished immaculately
Sounds fantastic
Fishman pickup I think is a bonus
Grover tuners, bone nut and sadle at this price
Great set up (could be the guys at Richtone Music in UK)

No strap pin where the neck meets the body

**** Special Note and thank you ****

I would strongly recommend Richtone Music in UK. They processed the order really fast. And the QC on the guitar was excellent; especially the set up. The guitar was even in tune when I removed it out of the box! And that guitar had travelled from UK to Germany to Denmark before it reached me in Sweden. Thank you very much Richtone Music for your service and good set up. I don’t need to do any further work on the guitar. It is in fantastic playing condition. I will definitely buy something more from your guys when the UK pound is as week against Swedish Kronor as it is now :-)

Hope you like my review and find it useful.
Last edited by vimal_vmp at Feb 1, 2013,
Nice Review.
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