Wednesday, July 30, 2008 | 2 a.m.
The jeweler who brought the $650,000 slot machine watch to Las Vegas now is offering a bass guitar inlaid with gold and diamonds.
The $250,000 bass guitar, the Flora Aurum, was built by Jens Ritter, a luthier, or stringed instrument maker, from Germany. His line of custom-designed Ritter Royals is being sold by Wynn & Co. Jewelry in the esplanade at Wynn Las Vegas.
“More and more people do not just want a tool for their job or hobby, they want a piece of culture,” Ritter said.
Ritter began as a musician who couldn’t afford his own instruments, buying broken guitars and fixing 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.
A music magazine gave his instruments a glowing review, leading to his first “sale” — bartering a bass for chimney repairs.
His reputation grew far beyond his studio in Deidesheim, a village of about 4,000 people near the Rhine River. When Madonna’s bass player rang his doorbell and asked to see his collection, he realized his hobby might be his life’s work.
Ritter makes about 60 handcrafted guitars each year. His clients include Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead.
“I stopped playing two years ago,” Ritter said. “I just have no time to practice and if (I) can’t devote enough time to be good, I won’t do it.”
A version of this story appeared in In Business Las Vegas, a sister publication of the Sun.