Melchor de Moya (1830-1891), friend and contemporary of Antonio de Torres, is likely the earliest luthier to adopt and transmit many of Torres’ building techniques to the post-Torres guitar making community. Moya established his shop in 1848. His two sons would apprentice with him and eventually take over after his passing, building instruments under the label "Hijos de Melchor de Moya". According to Domingo Prat, in his "Diccionario de Guitarristas" of 1934, the sons themselves (Andres and Juan) befriended Antonio de Torres during his break from guitar making (between his first and second epochs) while he was running a china and crystal shop in Almeria. The Moya brothers learned a great deal from Torres, which they applied in the construction of their guitars. After the passing of their father Melchor in 1891 and their mentor Torres in 1892, the Moya brothers were awarded a "first medal" and first prize for a guitar of theirs that was entered in the Almería Provincial Exhibition of 1895. In August of that same year, on the occasion of the opening of the railway to Guadix, at another exhibit, the local literary circle wrote of one of their guitars: "The sons of Melchor de Moya provided a guitar that was admired by all visitors to the exhibition, the richness and variety of materials, combined with great delicacy for the construction of the popular instrument of Andalusia." The younger brother of Melchor, Miguel Moya was also close to Torres and according to Jose Romanillos, may have assisted in the final construction of several Torres guitars left unfinished at the time of Torres’ death. Indeed Miguel was purportedly allowed to use the title "disciple of Antonio de Torres" on the labels of his own guitars. Clearly the singular importance of the Moya family in the early assimilation and transmission of Torres' building techniques cannot be overstated.
This particular guitar has several very notable features including the striking and beautifully large and colorful rosette with contrasting reds, greens, yellows and blacks alternating from one square shaped pattern to the next. Although not written on the label, the guitar's year of construction (1896) is written on the underside of the soundboard. Other noticeable features are the slightly more compact box depth despite a more or less standard Torres-style plantilla, MOP circles inlaid in the bridge and three-lobed headshape. The guitar is very easy to play with a comfortable neck for the left hand and quick responsiveness making it very easy on the right hand. Sound is huge, especially considering the shallower body depth - in fact the sound of this guitar seems absolutely unhindered at all by the smaller box depth - a sound quality consistent with other instruments we've seen by this maker. Basses are deep and the trebles are very lyrical and pure with a very strong fundamental dominating the center of every note. It has a beautiful, "open" old-world character that only seems to lurk in an instrument of this vintage. Included with the guitar is the original "handle-less" wooden case with very interesting inlay work around the perimeter. This is a fine and collectible instrument by every measure - very rare, from a historically important shop, and simply a joy to play.