Princess Isabella - Jens Ritter

Well. I’m not even sure that I would buy this – even if I did have the money. Has beauty got much to do with taste? I don’t know – this guitar is not instinctively in line with my taste – but in terms of that ‘wow’ factor given by how clear it is that a work of art has come close to a spectacular benchmark set by its creator, so far, this guitar does it for me.

And it’s not just that this is probably one of the best photographed guitars I’ve come across. In fact, to appreciate it best, you have to see it in action, in someone’s hands and doing the job it was intended for – making music.

In the words of its creator, Jens Ritter:

“The PRINCESS ISABELLA Baritone Guitar Concept was conceived during a conversation with Rudy Pensa (the well known guitar collector from New York). He asked how I might design and create a “jazz guitar” using my established style and techniques of instrument making.

“In my mind, the challenge was to create an instrument that would have similar sustain, attack and basic sound characteristics as a traditional “hollowbody” jazz guitar, but with a solid body.

“After 4 years of continual design, research and development, the PRINCESS ISABELLA Baritone Guitar Concept is finished”.

The special features of the PRINCESS ISABELLA include:

  • Body Thickness: The body is unusually thin, measuring approximately one inch in thickness.
  • String Attachment: The backside attached string bows function as an “attack delay” mechanism.
  • “Semi-Floating” Bridge: Instead of using a traditional “floating” bridge or attaching the bridge with studs into the body, the hand cast bridge foot is “mounted” into a small hollowed area carved into the body that exactly matches the contour of the bridge foot. The bridge foot is held in place by a “friction setting” and only makes contact with a 2mm thin elliptical contour ridge along the hollow area. Thus, most of the surface area on the interior side of the bridge foot and the bridge studs “float” in the hollow area.

So it seems to me that this guitar is not just beautiful because it was designed to be that way, but is a true example of form following function. The outrageous concept of creating a guitar that had the tonal characteristics and playability of a traditional archtop but in a solid body form is, for a luthier, like suddenly deciding you are going to go to the moon. The Apollo Project many advances that have filtered down into our modern lives that are now essential. I wonder if some of the innovations on this guitar will filter into the way mainstream guitars are built?

UPDATE: Want o hear how this instrument sounds? Check out the samples from TonePedia!