In October of 2018, when asked for the difference between a Sigma guitar sold in Europe and an AMI guitar sold in the United States, a representative from AMI Guitars replied, “Same guitar -- different name, or as I like to say, AMI is a new brand, but not a new guitar.”
AMI, or Acoustic Musical Instruments, Gmbh, started out in 1984 as a distributor of acoustic instruments rather than as a manufacturer. The AMI company distributed Martin Guitars -- yes the Martin guitars we all know and love -- in Germany. In fact, they still do to this day.
Martin had started the Sigma brand in 1970 as a response to the ‘lawsuit era’ when guitar manufacturers from Asia were marketing convincing look-alike guitars at rock-bottom prices.
The Sigma brand, a subsidiary of Martin (the way Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson) manufactured guitars in Japan to CF Martin specs, but because of the lower production costs, they were able to compete with the lawsuit guitar manufacturers on price. In 2011, when AMI reignited the Sigma brand, they were not able to sell Sigma guitars in the United States due to trademark issues. The reason for this is explained in an article posted on AMI’s website:
“First and foremost, it’s important for folks to understand that Sigma had been a brand offered by C.F. Martin for years and they made a decision to no longer offer that brand...When that happened, AMI decided to purchase the trademark rights in Europe for the brand Sigma. Once that was completed, they enlisted the services of the Cort factory to make a new version of an old name.”
The result has been an incredible surge in popularity as the Sigma brand has seen impressive growth in sales worldwide. However, in the United States, trademark restrictions stopped them from selling their guitars under the Sigma brand name, which is why they bear the AMI name when they are sold in the United States. This is how it can be said that they are the exact same guitars, with a different name on the headstock.
According to published sources shared on the AMI website (and cited above), in 2017 alone AMI sold 40,000 guitars in more than 50 countries, with a very favorable response from players, dealers, and industry professionals. Since 2011, when AMI´s owner and founder, luthier Günther Lutz, re-ignited the “Sigma Guitars” brand, AMI has built a “...proven track record of quality with a very low rate of warranty issues. A dealer can be assured that they are offering a quality product they can stand behind and be proud to sell to their customers.”
Now that the trademark problem has been resolved, dealers are lining up to carry these affordable, high quality acoustic instruments, with a strong selection of left handed models. Here at Adirondack Guitar we are proud and excited to offer these high quality, yet affordable acoustic instruments to our customers.
2018 NAMM Launch Video:
AMI seeks to carry on the Sigma tradition begun in 1970 when CF Martin built the brand. This is a tradition of using high quality tonewoods like Mahogany, Sitka Spruce, with high end appointments like Grover diecast tuners, bone saddle and nut, Micarta fretboards and Fishman electronics to create great sounding, yet affordable instruments. For example, take a look at this Grand Auditorium Acoustic that retails for under $500:
AMI-Guitars GMC-STE-BKB ST Series Acoustic Guitar features a highly resonant Sitka Spruce top with Mahogany back and sides in an impressive Blackburst finish, giving this Auditorium acoustic a warm, rich tone with excellent projection and wonderful harmonic complexity. This single cutaway grand auditorium style has classic dovetail construction, and a low profile Mahogany neck offering comfort and easy playability. The cutaway provides easy access to the highest register of the neck where the body usually blocks off access.
The Micarta fretboard is extremely comfortable, and plays extremely well, delivering a tone that is comparable to Rosewood or Ebony with its own unique characteristics. Micarta is a synthetic material that is more dense than solid wood, giving the fretboard greater durability and resonance without absorbing finger grease and environmental moisture. Micarta is also 100% renewable which is important in this age of dwindling tone wood supplies.
This AMI-Guitars GMC-STE-BKB ST also comes equipped with premium hardware appointments such as an all-bone saddle and nut and chrome Grover diecast tuners, ensuring rock solid intonation and excellent tuning stability. The electronics include a Fishman Isys+ preamp with chromatic tuner, featuring Volume, Tone shaping, and Phase controls and a Fishman Sonicore pickup with low profile control knobs, delivering a natural acoustic sound.
The matte finish on this model allows the grain of the Sitka Spruce top to shine through, while maintaining a gorgeous vintage look. Typical guitars at this price point tend to lack volume and projection, but the AMI GMC-STE in blackburst has a full yet mellow tone, with excellent projection, and electronics that allow you to shape the tone to the demands of the music when plugged in. The bottom line is that this is a lot of guitar for under $500!
Every attempt to create great sounding, yet affordable, instruments is sure to be met with skepticism, but AMI Guitars is quickly gaining a reputation for building guitars that far exceed expectations at their price point. For example, look at this all Mahogany lefty AMI 000-15 that comes in under $450:
The AMI-Guitars Left Handed 000M-15L 15 Series Acoustic Guitar features a highly resonant Mahogany top, back and sides, giving this auditorium acoustic a warm, rich tone with excellent midrange and bass emphasis. The Mahogany top has a gorgeous reddish-brown color with impressive grain patterns showing through the satin polyurethane-lacquer finish.
The AMI-Guitars Left Handed 000M-15L was designed with classic dovetail construction, and a low-profile Mahogany neck offering comfort and easy playability all the way to the 14th fret. The Micarta fretboard is extremely comfortable, and plays extremely well, delivering a tone and feel that is similar to Rosewood or Ebony with its own unique sonic characteristics.
This Lefty 000M-15L from AMI-Guitars also comes equipped with premium hardware appointments such as an all-bone saddle and nut and chrome Grover diecast tuners, ensuring rock solid intonation and excellent tuning stability. The sound of this all-Mahogany auditorium acoustic is mellow and warm, with excellent volume and impressive projection, and excellent clarity in the low and midrange register.
Check out this classic-styled slope-shoulder Dreadnought for under $700!
The lefty AMI-Guitars JM-AG45L AG Series Acoustic Electric is a slope-shouldered dreadnought offering a variety of premium features at a fraction of the cost of similarly appointed guitars. Featuring a resonant solid Sitka Spruce top in a beautiful burst finish, Fishman Sonitone electronics, a bone nut and saddle and Grover Nickel Open-Gear tuners, this slope shouldered dreadnought offers the tone, power and playability of a premium quality acoustic electric at an impressive price point.
The AMI Standard series guitars feature solid Sitka Spruce tops with Mahogany backs and sides, giving these models the classic look and impressive sound of much more expensive guitars. Setting a high standard in quality, AMI’s standard series models deliver the look, feel and sound of guitars with premium appointments at prices that the average guitar player can afford. A perfect example is this Standard Series auditorium acoustic for under $500:
At this price point, the AMI-Guitars 000M-18 offers a variety of premium appointments delivering the sound and playability of a much more expensive guitar. Featuring a highly resonant solid Sitka Spruce top, with Mahogany back and sides, a Mahogany neck, and bone nut and saddle, the AMI-Guitars 000M-18 delivers a warm, rich tone with vibrant treble and mid tones and excellent low end clarity. If you’re looking for a great sounding Auditorium acoustic, with impressive volume, at an affordable price, be sure to give this beauty another look!
All of us here at Adirondack Guitar are excited to offer these high quality, impressive-sounding yet affordable AMI guitars to our customers. To learn more visit us online or visit our showroom where our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you discover more about the quality and value of AMI Guitars.