If you’re a bassist, you’d most likely love to own a premium-quality bass guitar. Most of the time, a good bass guitar means a pricey one. But what if money is not an issue at all? If money wasn’t an option, you could purchase one of these very pricey bass guitars.
Here’s a rundown of the 8 most expensive bass guitars in the world:
- Ritter Royal Flora Aurum
- Ritter Roya Concept
- Gibson Thunderbird (’63 – ’65)
- Alembic Series II SSB Stanley Clarke Signature (1980)
- Fodera Anthony Jackson Presentation
- Zemaitis “Heart Hole” Bass (70s)
- Fender Jazz Bass Custom Color (the early ’60s)
- Fodera Anthony Jackson Presentation II
Read on to learn more about each bass guitar and the story behind each one.
The Most Expensive Bass Guitar
The most expensive bass guitar in the world is the Ritter Royal Flora Aurum. It will set you back a cool $250,000 USD!
The Ritter Royal Flora Aurum – US$250,000
The most expensive bass guitar is the US$250,000 Ritter Royal Flora Aurum bass guitar. It was built by Jens Ritter, a stringed instrument maker from Germany.
Ritter’s basses are among the most beautiful and intricate instruments. But he topped himself with the release of the Ritter Royal Flora. He launched this product to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Ritter Basses.
This bass guitar has a body carved from a rare, solid piece of quilted maple wood. The nut features 10,000-year-old mammoth ivory, and the fingerboard has a 24-karat gold floral inlay pattern. Additionally, the tuner buttons and knobs are in gold. The knob also features 3.3-carat diamond embellishments with small green diamonds that serve as knob position marks.
If this particular guitar doesn’t suit your budget, then you may choose from his other masterpieces. He makes about 60 custom-designed Ritter guitars each year. These guitars are available at Wynn & Co. Jewelry in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Read on as we further discuss the other most expensive bass guitars mentioned above. These products are all between $12,000-$15,000 and higher.
Most Expensive Bass Guitars Worldwide
1. Ritter Roya Concept – US$12,000+
The Ritter Roya Concept bass guitar is not as costly as the other high-end Ritters. However, it comprises high-grade materials. These materials include a piece of flamed maple for the entire body of the guitar except for the fingerboard. The controls of the Roya Concept are located at the rear panel trim pots. Such a position preserves the simple head-on look of the guitar.
It has an alder body wood and an ebony fingerboard. Both are available in 34 inches and 35 inches scales. It features exceptional ergonomics that make it attractive to buyers. Also, it has the signature blue Ritter Swordsteel strings and features Ritter Slimbucker humbucking pickups.
This piece is truly stunning and a collector’s work of art.
2. Gibson Thunderbird (’63 – ’65) – US$17,000+
Gibson has one of the most iconic bass guitars in the market today. Its products feature a unique design that never fails to impress buyers. Launched in 1963, the Gibson Thunderbird is the answer for high-end Fender basses. Designed by auto designer Raymond H. Dietrich, the two original Thunderbird models are the Thunderbird II and the Thunderbird IV.
The Thunderbird is Gibson’s first long scale bass. Their older basses only have a 30.5-inch scale, while the Thunderbird has 34 inches scale. It also has a fully-adjustable bass bridge.
Finish and Materials Used
Gibson Thunderbird has a mahogany body with a sunburst finish. It comes in two classic finishes: Tobacco Burst and Ebony. The pickup and bridge covers, including the finger rest, are all nickel-plated as well. It’s the first Gibson bass that utilizes the so-called neck-through construction. This particular neck-through concept provides a low-end response and a piano-like sustain. It was first used on electric bass in 1957 by Rickenbacker.
Its material includes one central piece of wood, which comprises the entire length of the instrument. It also has wings attached to the side as part of the body of the guitar. Today, this manufacturing technique still applies to high-end guitars.
Changes in Design
In 1966, the company changed the design of the Thunderbird. A lawsuit brought by Fender argued the resemblance of the Thunderbird with their Jazzmaster.
Gibson then re-designed the body style, which eventually became known as the non-reverse body style. The non-reverse Thunderbird was in the market until 1969, while the production of the original reverse was halted. Since there’s now only a few of this type left, guitar enthusiasts consider this a collector’s item.
This bass guitar is not as expensive as the others. But if you want to own one, a Thunderbird costs between $15,000 and $18,000.
3. Alembic Series II SSB Stanley Clarke Signature (1980) – US$20,000+
The great bassist Stanley Clarke collaborated with Alembic for so many years. This partnership paved the way for introducing new instruments in the market. But the most notable one was — and still is — the 1980 version of his Series II line.
Alembic Series II Line and the Stanley Clarke Signature
Alembic has been making Series II bass guitars since 1972. Series II is the company’s top-of-the-line bass, and the Stanley Clarke Signature is the most desirable bass guitar that the company has released.
It is very easy to play due to its 30.75 inches scale length. A short scale length means that frets are close to each other. So, you can enjoy a less stretched position at the lower frets.
The side of the neck features a brass nut, a tailpiece, and brass position markers. Moreover, the logo of Alembic and the Stanley Clarke signature are in gold-plated sterling silver.
The controls include two-tone filters, a master volume, and two 2-position Q filter switches. Front and back laminations complement the set of Zebrawood, while the neck-thru-body comprises pieces of maple and purple heart.
It has a DS-5 power supply, making its bass tone exceptional. If you want to tune tenor or piccolo style, this expensive bass is a perfect choice. It has plenty of low-end and longer sustain.
Stanley Clarke Signature Basses
The other Stanley Clarke Signature basses have standard and deluxe versions, but the pickups, electronics, and sizes are all identical. Maple is the primary neck wood of both versions. However, the deluxe model has top and back body laminates.
Stanley’s Brown Basses also feature mahogany as the main neck wood. Their traditional oil finish completes the three-piece body construction. The product also includes individual volume controls and a stereo/mono output.
Retro Stanley Basses
Alembic and Stanley released the Retro Stanley basses, featuring the 1973-inspired template with curved horns. The neck of the bass is a triple combination of maple, walnut, and birch, including an oil finish that resonates with an old-school vibe.
If you have the budget, then this piece of artwork, costing more than $20,000, could be the one for you. It’s still one of the most expensive guitars until now. You just can’t go wrong with products conceptualized by Alembic and Clarke.
4. Fodera Anthony Jackson Presentation – US$20,450
In the 1980s, legendary jazz bassist Anthony Jackson started collaborating with Fodera. He wanted to own bass guitars that would suit his specific playing needs. Years later, they came up with the top-of-the-line Anthony Jackson Presentation bass.
Birth of the Anthony Jackson Presentation Bass Guitar
In 1984, they first collaborated on a double-cutaway, 34 inches scale bass called No. 5. Five years later, Jackson told Fodera that he wanted a new contrabass guitar that could offer an ultimate playing experience. Thus, the birth of the Anthony Jackson Presentation bass guitar.
Jackson decided to recreate the guitar’s ergonomics. He requested to remove the graphite and all the other stiffening materials that could negatively affect the tone. Also, he eliminated passive electronics and a single pickup voiced by ear alone features, among others.
This product features a 36-inch scale, six strings, and 28 frets. It has a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard and a chambered alder body. Moreover, it has the signature Fodera/Duncan Dual coil pickup. It’s the largest bass range that the company has ever manufactured.
The Anthony Jackson Presentation is the most challenging instrument manufactured by Fodera. But due to its great tone, it’s considered the most exceptional one, too. Jackson and the company have built a wonderful relationship while working throughout the years.
With all these high-grade features, owning a US$20,450 bass guitar is all worth it.
5. Zemaitis “Heart Hole” Bass (70s) – US$25,000+
Anthony “Tony” Zemaitis was one of the best guitar makers in modern luthiery. He was born in 1935 in Lithuania and began building guitars in the 1960s. Zemaitis was also well-known as a manufacturer of metal front electric instruments.
Ivan the Terrible
One of Zemaitis’ most recognizable acoustic guitars was Ivan the Terrible, a large-sized 12-string acoustic guitar exclusively made for singer Eric Clapton. This guitar was the first heart-shaped soundhole guitar that Zemaitis had ever made.
Zemaitis Acoustic Basses in the 70s
During the 1970s, he ventured into building acoustic basses. He then handcrafted made-to-order acoustics for musicians like David Gilmour and Ron Wood.
The 1972 fretless instrument has a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. The back and sides feature solid mahogany, while the bridge and string retainer are all hand-carved rosewood.
In 1978, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour ordered an acoustic bass from Zemaitis. Zemaitis delivered a bass with a spruce top and a heart-shaped soundhole. The fretless ebony fingerboard had lines and a position marker on its face.
It is common for Zemaitis basses to have a jagged headstock silhouette. Zemaitis guitars are well-recognized because of their red wood-stain strip in the center. Although their fingerboards lack frets, the side dots provide position reference.
The length of the bass is 48 inches, and the scale is 34 inches. The heart-shaped soundhole is an aesthetic character of all Zemaitis bass guitars. But there’s no difference between those and other instruments with different soundholes.
With a $25,000 price tag, you can enjoy playing this rare, handcrafted bass guitar.
6. Fender Jazz Bass Custom Color (the early ’60s) – $28,000+
Fender Jazz Bass is the second model of electric bass released by the company. Its body shape has an offset lower bout which is the same with Jaguar and Jazzmaster guitars.
The bass guitar has two single-coil pickups. Its neck is narrower at the nut as compared to the Fender Precision Bass. It was named Deluxe Model when released in 1960 but was later changed to Jazz Bass to make it marketable among jazz musicians.
The first Jazz Bass had two stacked knob pots with volume and tone control. Eventually, three control knobs were added. The two knobs control the volume of each pickup, while the other one controls the overall tone.
The so-called spring felt mutes were present on these basses from 1960 to 1962. These guitars had a bright, high-end sound, making them ideal for fingerstyle playing. However, they were later replaced by foam mutes underneath the bridge cover. Over the years, the use of mutes has decreased.
Fender Custom Colors
The custom-color finishes on Fender instruments were first released in the 1950s. Customers can actually request non-standard finishes back then.
Fender uses custom colors from the automotive industry due to the following reasons:
- Wide variety of shades to choose from
- Automotive paints are easy to apply and fast drying
- Paints are easy to get hold of
In 1960, Fender published its first color chart. It launched 14 factory-available shades plus blond. In 1963, chart revision transpired, replacing Shell Pink with Candy Apple Red.
Again in 1965, they added six metallic shades. In 1969, however, Fender began reducing its choice of colors. Early favorites were unfortunately eliminated, such as Fiesta Red and Foam Green.
Limited Edition Fender Jazz Bass
In 2010, the company released the 50th-anniversary limited edition, Jazz Bass. It has an alder body with a 1960s-era lacquer finish, which is their famous Candy Apple Red lacquer. The rarity of these Fender Jazz Bass guitars in custom colors makes them one-of-a-kind.
7. Fodera Anthony Jackson Presentation II – $35,200
The Fodera Anthony Jackson Presentation II bass guitar is the complete, revamped version of Presentation I.
This signature series was intentionally released in connection with Fodera’s 30th anniversary. Also, it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the first original Presentation bass guitar. With the original Presentation in mind, Fodera changed the pickups, nuts, wiring, and frets.
The guitar has an acrylic gloss finish and adopts the so-called “Hybrid” design, changing its body from 33 inches to 36 inches. Other modifications also include a new 3-piece red oak neck profile. Fodera put a slight narrowing at the nut and a widening at the 28th fret. Also, the truss rod was repositioned, and the headstock break angle was increased.
The wiring specification was also upgraded. It was modified with rounded body edges for increased comfort. Moreover, they made the bridge, truss rod, and tuning machines all titanium.
The Anthony Jackson Presentation II bass guitar is created with an alder body. Alder was used as the main body wood due to its exceptional bass tone. The Honduras mahogany was also used because it is stronger than spruce.
Ebony was chosen for its fingerboard to balance the warm sound of the bass. The headstock was improved to have a bigger and deeper angle. That way, there would be more sustain and string tension.
This bass lacks knobs because it has no electronics. However, it is well-fitted with a Fedora/Duncan dual-pickup, which directly wires to an XLR jack.