Enrique Garcia was born in Madrid in 1868. Although he was the son of a guitar maker, Juan Garcia, in 1883 he began an apprenticeship with either Manuel or Jose Ramirez I (or likely both), and continued to work in Madrid for many years. In 1893, his guitars won first prize at the Chicago World Fair. Garcia was evidently very proud of this achievement as he represented this in pictorial form on his labels after receiving the award. Shortly afterwards, in 1895 he left Ramirez and Madrid for Barcelona where he set up his own workshop as an independent builder. Garcia is considered to be the founder of the "Barcelona school", or "Catalan" style of guitar making. His style influenced subsequent generations of Barcelona makers including Francisco and Miguel Simplicio, Enrique Sanfeliu, Enrique Coll and Ignacio Fleta. Perhaps the most important hallmark of his style is the increased stiffness in his soundboards - his guitars commonly featured 8 asymmetrical fans instead of the traditional 7 - as does this guitar (notably - years later Ignacio Fleta would increase the number of fans to 9). Garcia was arguably the most sought-after and famous maker at the turn of the century (1900). His reputation very early on was truly international, largely thanks to Domingo Prat and Francisco Tarrega, who both played his guitars. By 1912 he was exporting many of his instruments, primarily to South America, where a thriving and very important guitar scene based mainly in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay was forming. His guitars have always been prized by performers and collectors for their intimate charm and unique style.
This particular guitar was built in 1912 by Enrique Garcia but its original top was replaced in 1937 by Dionisio Gracia of Casa Nunez in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This new top was built with an oval-shaped soundhole which gives the soundboard a larger uninterrupted area to vibrate freely. This design (known as the "Sinopoli" design) was named in honor of the virtuoso Antonio Sinopoli who had been among the celebrated customers of Francisco Simplicio. Many luthiers in Spain and Argentina favored this design including Simplicio's disciple Enrique Coll and more recently, Francisco Estrada Gomez. Some makers have continued to build this model into the 21st century, most notably Argentinian luthier Diego Contesti and others. Diego Gracia was careful to honor Garcia's bracing pattern and indeed this top has been braced with the same 8-fan asymmetrical bracing system as developed by Garcia. The sound of the guitar is astonishingly rich and velvety, with deep basses and sparkling trebles. It has that haunting old-world sound that has captivated lovers of the classical guitar for over a century. Gracia's work, as well as the passage of time are likely to thank for keeping the original work of Garcia alive and well in this intoxicating guitar. Ease of play, responsiveness to both hands and ample volume make it hard to put down. It recently had some old repairs re-done by Pat Quinn, as well as some finish touch-up to the back and sides by GV Rubio, leaving it in concert-ready condition.