1990s Sigma SDR-41 Dreadnought Guitar

A local consignor brought this one in. It's not especially rare, but I don't see too many of these pearl-trimmed Sigmas around that often. This one is later (Korean-made, not Japanese-made) and probably dates from the late '80s or early '90s. It's in good shape, though it does have a nicked pickguard, some scuffs and scratches, and two (repaired) hairline cracks on the top, lower bout.

This model was intended to look like a Martin D-41 clone and features (real) pearl purfling on the top edge, a pearl ring in the rosette, and big pearl inlay on the fretboard. It departs from the Martin connections by using ply rosewood on the back and sides (the top is solid spruce) and a rosewood fretboard and bridge instead of ebony. The bracing is also taller than anything Martin would use, but it is effective as the guitar does sound pretty darn good. The ply gives it more of a D-18 tone (as you can hear in the soundclip), but it's still clearly a "good old dreadnought" sound. The neck is also not at all "vintage Martin" in feel, as it's got a fast, shallow, C-shape to its rear and thus feels like a modern electric. The nut is still 1 11/16" in width and it has a regular long scale length, though.

Work included cleating and sealing the lower bout cracks, a fret level/dress, and a proper setup with a new, compensated, bone saddle. The strings are 54w-12 lights and it's playing on-the-dot with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. The neck is straight and the truss works well. It even comes with a good, molded, hard case.

Not a bad look at all!

Note the chip to the point of the pickguard.

The saddle has plenty of height.

The two darker lines are the cleated and sealed cracks on the lower bout. They're good to go.

The sealed tuners are gold-plated but with a worn finish to them, now. The "volute" looks great, too, on that mahogany neck.


Rob Gardner said…
You know, I'll bet this is old enough that we are seeing real abalone in that inlay rather than the Abalam that Martin uses now.
Jake Wildwood said…
Yep, it's the real stuff.
Unknown said…
I have what looks to be the same Korean made Sigma SDR-41. Mine has no cracks or reapairs, pretty much flawless, except the stick-on pick guard is not sticking at the top edge. There is one light scratch on the back that might possibly buff out. I can see that the top has aged nicely as under the pick guard is lighter in color. The bridge and nut aren't plastic, with the bridge being a flat white and hand shaped. The tuners are gold rather there than silver. No wear on the tuners or frets that I can see. When I got it I looked at the grains inside the back vs the grains on the back and concluded the back n side to be laminated. Top is for sure solid. Mop is all inlaid and real mop. Just a really nice looking guitar. I would add a photo, but not sure how to do that.
Dan Smith said…
My dad brought one of these, 1994. I was that impressed by it I saved like crazy and come 1996 I’d got my own.
I still have it and play it to this day.
The machine heads, like this one are very dull now but work perfect
I swapped the scratch plate for a genuine Martin plate in black around 2000ish.
It’s set up on 11-52’s 80/20 and plays beautifully.
The top was very light in colour but has now darkened up quite a bit.
A/B the two guitars (mine and my dads) and they are very inconsistent, lots of differences, top thicknesses being one so it’s no shock that one is noticeably heavier than the other.
With out going too off topic, my dad has a few of the newer German sigmas, again great sounding guitars for the price. The D-35 copy is the best. It’s got a faux three piece back. Look through the sound hole and one brace straight down the middle. it’s a two piece !!!
But anyways original Sigma D-41. I’d never be able to sell this one, too much history and honestly don’t know what they are worth.
Any suggestions? If I dig about I can probably find the original receipt