German luthier Jens Ritter has long been known for his high-class instruments, but he's now topped his previous form. He's built a gold and diamond-encrusted bass.
The bass, called the Flora Aurum, is to go on sale for $250,000 in Las Vegas. The retailer is Wynn And Co - not a guitar shop, but a jewellery dealer.
"More and more people do not just want a tool for their job or hobby, they want a piece of culture," reckons Ritter. Whether this slab of bass bling is 'cultural' remains open to debate.
Ritter actually began as a musician who couldn't afford his own instruments, so he'd buy broken guitars and fix them. Then he wondered whether he could take a piece of wood and make it into a guitar. "When I got finished, I had no idea if they were good," he said. Indeed, his first 'sale' was bartering one of his instruments for some chimney repairs.
Ritter now makes about 60 handcrafted instruments each year, with users including Doug Wimbish, Madonna's band, and The Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh... as well as chimney repairers.
Gold, diamonds, mammoth ivory?
The spec of the bass is, needless to say, quite spectacular. For the not inconsiderable asking price you get:
- Floral pattern fingerboard Inlay made of 24 carat gold
- Every single inlay-leaf is decorated with a black diamond (set in platinum)
- The bridge, the tuner buttons and the knobs are handcast in gold
- Two flawless brillant-cut diamonds (3,3ct) are placed on top of the two knobs
- Tiny green brillant-cut diamonds serve as knob position markers
- The handshaped body is one-piece highest-figured quilted maple
- The nut is made of at least 10,000 year-old mammoth ivory
Is the Flora Aurum desirable? Or simply vulgar? Either way, you'll have to win on the Las Vegas tables to afford it.