NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
RobMacKillop
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NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:20 pm



Images:
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One day early in 2019 I got a phone call from a man saying the local guitar store had given him my name, that he had an interesting guitar, and that he would like me to see it. “Okay, bring it round”. I didn’t expect much, as this had happened a few times in the past, and it was an education to me to realise that most people think antique = the 1960s. This time was different.
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Iain Adam presented me with a guitar from 1870s Madrid, with a label carrying quite a bit of interesting information. The instrument was made by “Antonio Carlos Garcia, Fabrica de Guitarras y Mandolinas, Madrid”; that he had won gold medals is all expositions; and that the instrument was made for the Alban Voigt company of London. I quickly discovered that said Alban Voigt was an importer of all sorts of musical instruments, with offices at 14 Edmund Place, Aldersgate Street, London (near the Barbican).

The guitar model was called, “La Madrileña”, which I assume means a girl or woman from Madrid.

Iain said the guitar came down through his grandmother, who possibly played it, to his mother, who certainly didn’t, to himself, who used to “bash around on it” when he was a kid. There is evidence that the latter is true:
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Apart from the faded bling, the first thing I noticed was that it had its original tornavoz intact:

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The tornavoz is a brass cone attached to the edge of the sound hole, reaching deep within the instrument, almost touching the back. Its purpose seems to have been to lower the cavity resonance of the instrument, in other words giving a very warm bass, and consequently a mellow tone. The great luthier, Antonio de Torres of Almeria, used such things in most of his instruments, including the two he made for Francisco Tárrega.

I played a few few pieces by Tárrega on it, and was pleased to hear a beautifully romantic sound, clearly aged, yet still sounding quite strong. The neck is true – it is not bent or warped, so playing in tune is possible without surgery to the instrument. And the original tuners work perfectly. The bridge looks original, yet had clearly been moved. Iain informed me that local violin maker, Brian Rattray, had shifted the bridge to correct the intonation, some time in the 1970s. Well, it plays in tune very well.

It has some features of the Valencian school, and might possibly have been made there for a Madrid-based exporter. If so, did Antonio Carlos Garcia really make it, or did he even exist at all, with a Spanish name being used for the British market? More research is required.

At this point I was feeling two things: that I wanted the instrument, and that I probably couldn’t afford it. I asked Iain how much he wanted, and he said that he wanted it to go to someone who knew how to play it properly, and offered it to me for a mere £400. Deal! And thanks.

I have since found that prices vary widely and wildly for these instruments, from around £400 up to over £2,000. No one seems to know what to charge for them. They are not top-level instruments, such as those by Torres, Manuel Ramirez, etc., but they have excellent timbers – a solid good-quality Brazilian rosewood back, for instance, and a good (German?) spruce sound board. The inlay is a little rough overall, and the bling is not to my taste, though thankfully time has been kind to it, fading the excess to a golden memory of a past age.
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astro64
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by astro64 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:44 pm

Very nice sound, great find. The tornavoz perhaps also helps the instrument not to have the "boxy" sound that sometimes is present with a guitar with such a narrow body. Now you can get rid of all your modern guitars, it suits your style very well!
Last edited by astro64 on Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Kent
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by Kent » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:46 pm

So people bring guitars like this to you?
Must be rough Rob!
It looks like a little gem that would great for romantic music. Have fun.

MessyTendon
Amateur luthier
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by MessyTendon » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:05 pm

Dont even think of selling it...silk basses gut trebles...get to work old man serenade the ladies

gjo
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by gjo » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:16 pm

Lovely guitar - congrats.

The style looks more like Valencia, short before 1900. The name could have been just a brand name under which Voigt sold these guitars, a common practice of (not only) that time. They can have a surprisingly good sound for very little money, definitely worth to look at.

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:18 pm

Immediately brought this one to mind - from Pamela (you know who I mean Rob) but twice the price.
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Some similarities of ornamentation - also late 1800s but apparently made by one Salvador Ibanez would you believe? Label says it was destined to be imported into Bombay!

Very lucky find by the way but also how very appropriate - congratulations.
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Mr.Rain
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by Mr.Rain » Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:06 pm

hi Rob

this guitar is labeled for export but in reality is a valencian made guitar . It very similar to Pau Lisart,and Senchordi hermanos,Salvador Ibanez...

https://photos.app.goo.gl/7JSm67figD4CjeuY6

I collect Valencian guitars(the second one by the left is a "la madrilena" too)

RobMacKillop
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:00 pm

astro64 wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:44 pm
Very nice sound, great find. The tornavoz perhaps also helps the instrument not to have the "boxy" sound that sometimes is present with a guitar with such a narrow body. Now you can get rid of all your modern guitars, it suits your style very well!
Yes, anyone want to buy a guitar? I now have a few for sale! :D

You might be right about the de-boxing power of the tornavoz. I hadn't thought of that.

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sxedio
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by sxedio » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:02 pm

Nice guitar, sounds very mellow, try bossa nova on it :)
(Gr) (En) (very little Fr)

RobMacKillop
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:03 pm

Kent wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:46 pm
So people bring guitars like this to you?
Must be rough Rob!
It looks like a little gem that would great for romantic music. Have fun.
About ten days ago a guy turned up at my door with a Panormo, a really excellent one. He said his grandfather used to use it when playing to cinema queues...but he wasn't selling.

The biggest guitar store in town know about my predilection for old and strange instruments, so when anyone comes into the shop with one, they send them my way. But it doesn't happen often...

RobMacKillop
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:04 pm

MessyTendon wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:05 pm
Dont even think of selling it...silk basses gut trebles...get to work old man serenade the ladies
They are on order (not the ladies...)

RobMacKillop
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:05 pm

gjo wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:16 pm
Lovely guitar - congrats.

The style looks more like Valencia, short before 1900. The name could have been just a brand name under which Voigt sold these guitars, a common practice of (not only) that time. They can have a surprisingly good sound for very little money, definitely worth to look at.
That's what I said.

The Brazilian rosewood is very good.

RobMacKillop
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:07 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:18 pm
Immediately brought this one to mind - from Pamela (you know who I mean Rob) but twice the price.

Some similarities of ornamentation - also late 1800s but apparently made by one Salvador Ibanez would you believe? Label says it was destined to be imported into Bombay!

Very lucky find by the way but also how very appropriate - congratulations.
That looks very similar, Mark. The thot plickens...

RobMacKillop
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:09 pm

Mr.Rain wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:06 pm
hi Rob

this guitar is labeled for export but in reality is a valencian made guitar . It very similar to Pau Lisart,and Senchordi hermanos,Salvador Ibanez...

https://photos.app.goo.gl/7JSm67figD4CjeuY6

I collect Valencian guitars(the second one by the left is a "la madrilena" too)
I also said it was Valencian (does no one listen to me?) :roll: :lol:

Nice Madrilena you have there, but without the tornavoz...

RobMacKillop
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Re: NGD: Spanish Guitar from c.1870 by Garcia

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:09 pm

sxedio wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:02 pm
Nice guitar, sounds very mellow, try bossa nova on it :)
In a word, no. :)

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