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Sigma OMR-21 review

Big value in a small guitar

  • £383
For a relatively low-priced instrument the OMR-21 certainly does not lack class

MusicRadar Verdict

The perfect steel- string? Damn close. Affordable and classic-looking with a sound that punches above its price.

Pros

  • +

    Great starter instrument. Price. Great build.

Cons

  • -

    Heard better low-end from an OM.

Having previously played two huge Sigma jumbos (the recently reviewed JR12-1STE and JRC-40E), the OMR-21 feels like a child's travel guitar feel to this writer at first. Still, the nonetheless fully formed 14-fret OMR-21 exudes class and heritage.

"As a fairly small proposition, the OMR-21 offers a comfortable and intimate playing experience"

It has a solid Sitka spruce top, a satin neck, back and headstock crafted from laminated Indian rosewood and the mahogany neck appears of a high visual grade. It's beautifully understated: the dark tortoiseshell-style binding has no inner purflings, and its small tortie pickguard gives it real sophistication.

As a fairly small proposition, the OMR-21 offers a comfortable and intimate playing experience. Hugely popular with fingerpickers, the OM typically has a wider nut, and it's the same here. Whether intended or not, the neck profile is slightly flat-backed, which makes thumb-behind positioning feel natural.

The neck is unbound and there's little to criticise about the fingerboard and fretting: yes, the frets are typically small gauge - never great for big bends - but the compensated bone saddle and nut add upmarket class, and the setup is almost too slinky.

Sounds

"The lower end has a fundamental oomph to it; the mids sound strong and upper fret higher position lines also have a little power"

OMs, understandably, seem to have a narrower sound than your typical jumbo or dreadnaught, but the lower end has a fundamental oomph to it; the mids sound strong and upper fret higher position lines also have a little power. To our ears, the guitar is working as a whole.

It's not the richest, roomiest low end we've heard from an OM, but at this price you really shouldn't be disappointed. For these hands, that extra nut width spacing feels spot on. It's one of those easy instruments that can be fingerpicked, strummed or used pick and fingers. It feels and - for the most part - sounds right.

As a starter guitar for the serious student there's little to bemoan here and we suspect the OMR-21 will impress even the more experienced players.

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.