Ritz Guitar Co. produced guitars in 1988 & 1989 over an 8 month period in Southern California in Wayne Charvel's workshop in Ontario. The company became known quality based upon Wayne's notoriety and for their amazing cracked shell mosaic finishes on their 'Neptune' series which was originally patented, designed and built by Andy Soler. Each little piece of shell was hand-cracked and stuck on the guitar body by hand.
Introduced to Andy Soler's nephew Eric Galletta and eventually produced by Wayne Charvel, Andy Soler and Eric Galletta with Ritz being financially backed and majority owned co founders Brad Becnel's Sunset Ladders (Sunset Guitars) of South El Monte, CA and Cliff Wildes (Microtech International Inc CEO and the band "Off White") of East Haven Conn, they made around 150 guitars with only about 25 being the cracked shell 'Neptune' models.
The first two collectable models were hand made by Wayne Charvel in Gold Abalone and gold plated hardware for Cliff Wildes and a White Abalone for Brad Becnel, both featured in Ritz magazine ads. The other models were the 'Exotic' series, which used rare woods (e.g. Cocobolo) and kept them as a natural finish, there was a one off 'Exotic' model made from small pieces of rare woods stuck together like a mosaic to form the body of the guitar, in a similar idea to the shell finished 'Neptune' series. The lower cost 'Classic' Series had painted or Zolatone finishes with Wayne Charvel making his first ever 1 of a kind Midi guitar in corvette red for Wildes.
All body shapes were Strat style, however, there is a rumor that a V shaped Ritz Neptune exists. The examples of shell types available were; Violet Oyster, Brown Lip, Black Lip, Green Shell, Abalone Shell, Nautilius Shell, and Snake Lip.
Most Ritz Neptunes had Alder bodies for their light weight and some with Maple or Bubinga bodies under the shell finish. They mainly used Seymour Duncan, PAF (pickup) or Schaller Guitarenparts pickups (The Schaller's were custom made for Ritz and looked a little like EMG's and re-named as 'Ritz pickups' for the catalog, the Schaller's were the pick ups that Michael Angelo Batio used on his Rocket model.). All came with the Kahler Tremolo System Spyder model. The guitars retailed for over $2000.00.
Most of the later Ritz guitars featured Warmoth Guitars necks made for Ritz as Ritz were running out of money and time to make their own. These necks were thinner than the Ritz made necks but still very good. The Warmoth logo can be located at the join on the on these necks if you take them off. Also a few Ritz Guitars were made after the demise of the company in 1991. This is thought to be because Wayne Charvel had a few Ritz necks left over and he attached them to one off custom orders at a little less money. A great book to read by the man himself Wayne Charvel is “The Custom Guitar Shop” which includes the Ritz story.
This is a Ritz bass guitar made in 1989 (dating the pots). There is no serial number. It has the Warmoth neck. The short lived company only produced 150 units, out of those, only 25 were the shell covered Neptunes, and out of these 25 this is one of 3 basses made. The two others are a green abalone one pictured in Wayne's book with Billy Sheehan and finally a pure white shell one with the same pickup configuration as the one in our collection.