Manuel de la Chica is arguably the greatest guitar builder from Granada to date. He was born in 1911, and his early professional background was in cabinet making, as is the case for countless other fine guitar makers. His focus shifted to guitar making in the late 1930s when he had seen and become attracted to the Spanish guitar, primarily those of Santos Hernandez. Often his instruments are compared to the later guitars of Marcelo Barbero (who assisted in the construction of several Santos guitars left partially built at the time of his death) which we feel is a very strong and fair comparison. In 1973 he was forced into early retirement from guitar making due to health complications he was experiencing from inhaling dust and chemicals in his taller.
Like Santos and Barbero, Manuel de la Chica was at home building both classical and flamenco guitars, indeed his finer instruments have the flexibility of being played by either style. This is such an instrument, and it has a lyrical, singing quality to it yet at the same time can bite if pushed. It is very light in weight, and has piercing volume. It features a unique brace under the bridge - according to Antonio Marin (who was a student and friend of de la Chica and has seen this very guitar), de la Chica was very interested in the Bouchet bracing styles of under-bridge supports and experimented with them himself. The purpose of this brace is to provide added structural reinforcement which allows lighter bracing under the larger area of the top. This frees up the soundboard to vibrate more efficiently yet remain structurally stable. It also improves the speed of the attack of each note - this is a lightning-fast guitar with immediate response, likely due, at least in part, to this brace. It's in extraordinary condition for its age - only one hairline crack on the top (invisible from exterior) which according to the previous owner was repaired by de la Chica himself. Overall a fantastic instrument from this great builder.