Customers Views About Our Products & Services
Kimberly C – Effects Pedal
Wow, this is the sound I was looking for!
Great effects pedal. Cool looking tube glowing inside. Reminds me of the good old days. Rock on! 60 years playing guitar. Keep making them like this one. Thanks
Alexander Nova – Zapped Up Yours Distortion Pedal
My new favorite distortion pedal!
Please take my review as what it is, this is just my opinion, and your tastes can be vastly different. The name and description are spot on, it does exactly what it says!
After having it for a while now, I’ve put the pedal through it’s paces and here is what I’ve come up with. For the best sound and easiest use, I prefer using a clean amp or the clean channel of an amp. The more distorting your amp already does to your sound, the less you are going to experience the effect of this pedal as a way to replicate a distorted classic tube amp sound. If you are already happy with your amp’s distortion you can still use this pedal to give your guitar an extra push, or that little extra something for a solo.
The distortion is very versatile! Depending on how much you add, you can set it to sound like your favorite classic rock guitar sound, or a modern heavily distorted metal sound. The mid frequency control gives you added control over your sound that you don’t find in many overdrive/distortion pedals.
The case feels really solid and looks amazing with the art work and the glowing tube. And customer service is excellent! They were able to answer all my questions quickly and very effectively.
Jonathan Osborne – Bootlegger Spade
Just wanted to let you know that I got my first guitar from you, a Spade, and that I’ve had it for about two weeks and it’s just awesome. It’s compact, great tone, great stability, the whole package. I was wondering if you had plans down the line to release your newer Gibson scale Spades with a trem bar. I’d love to get a collection going. Awesome stuff guys.
Marvin Sheats – DeVille And Spade Headless Guitars
One of the BEST guitars I’ve played. I own the DeVille and two Spade Headless and will getting another one very soon.
Michael – Single Barrel Red Burst Custom Case & Flask P90 & Single Coil
Nice little guitar! I Like the smaller semi-hollow body...the guitar is built in Korea and I have to say the build quality is great. neck is comfortable...not too thin and not a baseball bat - very Fender Strat like. Red Burst looks cool!
The Tesla pick-ups sound good, but might throw a dual rail humbucker in the bridge. We'll see! Very light guitar as well! Chuck was easy to work with and answered all question...this is a keeper for my collection.
Michael's Outstanding Guitar Emporium
Jack – Absinthe
It’s been a week and I haven’t been able to put the thing down. I couldn’t be happier. It’s exactly what I was looking for…. so much better actually.
Absinthe + Waza Air + Dog = practice heaven anywhere.
Michael Plummer – Single Barrel Red Burst Custom Case and Flask P90 and Single Coil
Nice little guitar!
I Like the smaller semi-hollow body...the guitar is built in Korea and I have to say the build quality is great. Neck is comfortable...not too thin and not a baseball bat - very Fender Strat like. Red Burst looks cool! The Tesla pick-ups sound good, but might throw a dual rail humbucker in the bridge. We'll see! Very light guitar as well! Chuck was easy to work with and answered all question...this is a keeper for my collection.
Review on Amazon About Spade Headless Guitar
What a really great well made guitar this is. It's unlike any of my other headless guitars in my collection, plays beautifully, great price.
James Laffrey – White Color Spade Short Scale Guitar With Case
My Spade came this morning. Guitar in superb shape. Great to have the hard case. I tuned 'er up. Admirable action and intonation. Experimented along with a rock song I have been recording. Decided to lay in a hot rhythmic lead break. Ferocious. It's a keeper!
PS. Ahhh, success at last!
Thanks, also, for the set of strings and picks.
Scott Loberger – Absinthe Honey Gloss With Case
I absolutely love the Absinthe. The setup was spot on. It plays like butter and it sounds incredible. This is my first headless guitar and my first Bootlegger guitar. I would buy another Bootlegger guitar in a heartbeat. In fact, I might have to do that soon.
I am looking forward to seeing your new designs and checking out another guitar sometime soon. There are several other models I am interested in.
G G T – European Absinthe Buyer
My guitar arrived this morning, over the moon with it, craftsmanship set up everything is super very happy. Delivery was really quick, ended up paying 1,650.00 USD but worth every penny.
Thank you for the strings and plecs also, so be well and best wishes to you.
G G T
Bootlegger builds high quality, original instruments that perform to a professional standard while maintaining affordable pricing and friendly, personal service. Very satisfied with my purchase Fun to play good sounding instrument.
William Poland – Royal Guitar
Bootlegger guitar is great and the owner, Chuck, is a very nice guy!
Having previously looked for a new guitar at Guitar Center, I was much more pleased with Bootlegger and the personal experience that it offered. Chuck was honest, helpful, and even gave me some tips on practicing.
I got the Bootlegger royal and am very happy with it. The locking tremolo system is impressive and the overall design is beautiful. Coming with the case, it feels like a steal for the price.
I’m very happy I went with Bootlegger and got a guitar local to CA that is also much more unique than the bigger brands!
Rob – Royal Blue with Coil Split
Thanks for picking me out a great guitar. Overall first impression - very well packed - Even the UPS delivery guy said the box and everything felt solid. Sometimes he delivers guitars and the boxes are rattling around inside. Guitar hard case was wrapped in plastic bubble wrap. Accessories were in a separate bag not inside the case. (Smart - nothing to slide around inside the case with the guitar.)
Overall Fit and Finish - Neck was nice and straight, Frets nicely polished and filed. No sharp edges. The 16 inch radius is awesome and combined with the C style neck is a great combination. Reminds me of a cross between an Ibanez Wizard 3 neck and a Les Paul neck. Not as thick as the Les Paul but thicker than the Ibanez. Great Feel!
Body - great Blue color and nice QM top. The body is not too big and is contoured in the backside for your body. There is also a top contour for your right forearm. Very comfortable to wear. The body finish is top notch.
FR Type Tremolo - First it is not a FR , but it is very smooth and stays in tune. Intonation was spot on. (remember they take the tension off the strings when shipping.) I was very easily able to perform a Gross tuning and then lock the nut and perform the fine tuning. I was able to lower the string height with the provided tools. The key to tuning any FR Type locking bridge is to block it to prevent it from moving while you tune it. There are great Videos on Youtube on how to perform the initial setup on a FR Type Bridge. It has been years since I had a Tremolo bridge (a 1980's Kramer Imperial with a FR.) This was much easier to tune and setup than I remembered.
Pickups - the two regular humbuckers with the split coils are awesome and offer up a nice tonal palette for the users to choose from. The Single coil sized rail humbucker in the middle has a strat middle pickup sound without all the noise. The Tone control works with all three pickups.
Overall - a very playable guitar - the neck is quick and easy to play. sound great thru my little 15 Watt Tube amp with the Shifty's 8 overdrive pedal.
Totally enjoying this guitar - it's a keeper.
Totally enjoying the Shifty's 8 pedal
Looking forward to trying the Valve Up Yours! pedal.
(old guy that plays guitar)
Rob Snyder – Shifty’8 Tube Drive Pedal Review
Happy July 4th. I got the pedal today in the mail. WOW - what a great find. This is definitely an unsung Hero of Tube Pedals. I put it in front of a MonoPrice - Stage Right 15 watt tube combo amp. It really does a great job. Very responsive in both modes. So far I like Mode 2 with the drive backed off and the master turned up. It just pushes the tube amp enough. Plus, I back off the volume on the guitar and then turn it up when I want the extra crunchy goodness.
When I was a young dumb kid, I had one of those Matrix Mini Boogee pedals running into a really sterile Gibson Lab Series 3 amps. Thinking it was the pedal, I got rid of it. (At 16, I didn't know crap and could not play worth a shit) Now the damn thing is considered like the Holy Grail of Tube Pedals. The Shifty's 8 Tube drive is on par or better. One of the best Tube sounds I have heard in a long time. I can see a Zapped Up Yours pedal in my future.
Looking forward to my new Royal too.
What a great week so far.
Happy Happy Happy.
(old fart that plays guitar)
Rocky – Tube distortion Pedal
I bought the Tube distortion pedal first and it made me get rid of every distortion pedal on my board yeah it's that good almost toooooo good. Very powerful so you need to dial it in. I just got the overdrive pedal yesterday and not surprised it is just as good. I use these through my 2 1978 Marshall 50 watt heads and it takes them to a new level. The overdrive is so nice and warm and the distortion can just melt your face if that is what you want.
These pedals have so much flexibility the controls actually work! Guitars look good also but I have 27 guitars and my wife will leave me if I buy another....
GREAT tube pedals buy them well worth the money!!! You can get any sound you want, even using them at low distortion level creates this sustain and smoothness.....rock n roll!!
Les Haley – Ace Short Scale
I was already familiar with Bootlegger Guitar, having previously owned a long scale ACE headless bass, praising it for its original design, high quality, and amazing low price.
When I got a message from Chuck, the owner of Bootlegger Guitar, notifying me that the ACE was being released in a short scale version, I was eager to get one in my hands.
After several months of waiting due to supply chain issues, COVID shutdowns, etc. I finally got the call I was waiting for. The new shorties were arriving, so I immediately got one ordered. Six days later, the big brown truck arrived with my new bass.
The ACE short scale differs from its big brother in a few ways besides shorter 30” scale length.
While The new models feature a tummy cut contour of the upper body that was missing on the earlier versions, the biggest changes relate to the neck. The short scale neck is bolt on vs. neck thru on the long scale models. The shorty neck finish is a smooth satin, semi gloss vs. the high gloss on the long scale. It feels great under your thumb and is very fast.
The 5 piece maple neck has a new “slim taper” with a volute block at the head that allows the player to “feel” the end of the neck with his/her thumb.
The nut width of mine is a hair under 1.5” and is one of the slimmest, slinkiest I’ve ever played. This, combined with the short scale and close fret spacing will be very comfortable for young players or anyone with small hands. If you like a tiny neck you will love it. If you prefer a chunky neck, this may be too small for your taste, but I had great fun flying all over the fretboard.
The neck features a dual action truss rod that works really well at making accurate relief adjustments. The fret work was very good with no sprout or sharp edges. I was able to achieve low action with no fret buzz across the full two octave Jatoba fingerboard.
The body retains the same asymmetric shape used on previous ACE models and the Spade guitar, inspired by Johnny Winters headless ax. When sitting down in a chair, the bottom cutaway places the bass on your leg in a near perfect playing position. While standing using a strap, One of the issues I had with the long scale bass was the extremely long reach to the low notes due to the lack of an upper horn strap button. This was remedied by the addition of the optional strap extender bar which relocates the strap button to hang at the 12th fret rather that the back of the body. This was not an issue with the short scale, however. The shorter scale length makes the reach to the lower positions feel very natural and comfortable without the extender bar being necessary.
The black finished hardware is the same high quality monorail bridges found in the previous models. The tuning is smooth and accurate. The headpiece is a simple string through clamp system where the Std. Single ball strings are fed through the slot, then clamped down by hex key set screws. Once clamped down, the excess string is trimmed with wire cutters. Three Hex wrenches are supplied for head piece, truss rod, and bridge adjustments.
Pickups are passive dual hum canceling 3.5” soap bar with volume/blend/ tone controls, and they sound good! The tone is solid and hum free. The pickups appear to be a standard EMG size should you ever decide to go active, but there’s plenty of tones available as it is.The weight is a very manageable 7lbs, about a pound lighter than the long scale model.
The bass also comes with a very nice fitted hard shell case. This is a nice touch.
I don’t know of any other companies that include a case at this price point.
The short scale ACE should appeal to players looking for a well built, extremely portable, good sounding travel bass as well as kids or those who simply prefer a smaller instrument.
The bass is built solid and doesn’t need any modifications or upgrades.
You’ve got to hand it to Bootlegger for taking chances on creating an unusual ex.
This is a great little bass that is lots of fun to play and offers a lot of quality at a very reasonable price. When you consider that it’s closest competitor, the Ibanez EHB short scale, costs almost twice as much, the bootlegger is most definitely worth checking out!
Randy Kelly – Absinthe
Dude, meets and exceeds expectations. Freaking awesome.
I'm a sloppy SLOPPY player but I'm going to post some Youtubes for my friends on Facebook. I'll give you the link(s) if you want and you can ignore and do as you wish once I get them up there. I'm also going to play it through my Blackstar 20W and metal it up a bit to see how it sounds.
Seriously, this one will replace my Strandberg classic as my go to guitar. Even without the fan fret/multi-scale, it's a fun guitar to play. Plus the Strandberg doesn't have enough wood to have a decent tone, so it sounds tinny even through my tinnitus.
I can't quit gushing. Really really nice guitar, dude. Proud I waited for this rather than an every-other-day Ibanez QX52.
Michael Hudgens – Matte Spade HSH
I am Very Happy with the Matte Spade HSH, What a Great Design ...
I haven't set up the Tremolo yet, so I Blocked it, and Wow this Guitar Rocks ..... Thanks for the Extra
E String ..... I'll set the Tremolo after I play through the first set of strings.
There's alot of Good things I can say about "The Spade"
My first Coil Split Too ... Awesome !!!
Brian – Zapped Up Yours Distortion Pedal
Absolutely love this distortion pedal, its hard to put into words but i guess the best description i can think of its its fat and tight all at the same time.. clean and full tone... love it thanks! Also the pedal art and the tube view is fun and awesome looking.
Dave Hildreth – Ace 5-String Honey Bass
I couldn’t find a place to give a review, so I’ll give it here and you may do with as you will.
Blessings to you!
I purchased the Ace 5-String Bass in Honey. When I opened the case up, I was drooling all over myself. The quality, the finish, the looks, it begs one to pick it up and play, yet almost afraid to touch, this thing needs a showcase!
It is a beast with a lot of spunk just waiting to be unleashed by the master.
I actually loved the position that the bass settled in at with factory strap locations. It placed the mid register right at the fingertips, no digging or binding up; it was just there. The upper register is a breeze to play in, no restrictions. With just a slight reach, nothing uncomfortable though to thumb the bottom end.
B string is not a “flopper” and won’t leave you buzzing or cringing that you went low. It’s got you!
The neck is through body, has an adjustable Trust Rod but didn’t have to adjust as the neck was dead on! It flowed into the body seamlessly smooth and fast, not fat and thick, not skinny and can’t find it; again, old shoe and built well.
Frets and soundboard were dead on also. No buzz, no waves, and the soundboard has a nice coating on it that should add life to both the sound and life of frets, especially using round wounds.
The finish on the body and neck are amazing!
String spacing, nut, and bridge, width is very comfortable and very easy to just slide right in and play like old shoe.
The monolith tuners are a joy to tune and again was dead on out of the box. It held it’s tune even after it came to room temperature and humidity after shipping in the cold. Other than string stretch, I believe this would just stay in tune all the time. It’s a beast!
The controls were easily accessible, smooth, and accurate.
The buttons worked great, I had my concerns about the forward button on the back making it uncomfortable or digging into the chest. Never felt it.
Those alone above should make you want to make this purchase this! If you are looking, this covers from beginners to advanced players even recording or on big stage, it won’t leave you stranded at the audience.
Solid piece of work!!
Now, what I didn’t like and this is mostly just personal preference so unless you dabble here, you have absolutely no worries in the purchase.
Starting at the nut and moving to the bridge.
The bass was very neck heavy, despite not having a head stock and tuner head. It’s a bit of a change, but after playing a bit you adjust easily. It lets you know, it needs your support to keep it from diving. But not a deal killer at all.
The frets at the “G” side of the neck on the cut ends needed some attention as they tend to grab my playing glove, and slightly irritated my fret hand when playing without a glove.
A quick check and then a file I feel should be in order on each fret on each side before it leaves the factory should be in order.
The tone control didn’t have much tone adjustment, maybe rectified by a different capacitor?
I found myself playing almost behind the bridge pickups. I usually like to stay directly on top of neck pickups, but easy adjustments in playing it.
The string heights were set to the lowest possible position on the monolith tuners and the strings were to high for my likings with no adjustments left to lower them. This I feel could be handled by inlaying the tuners just a bit allowing 50% adjustment in height either up or down.
I would encourage while changing strings, you bend them and cut just past the bend. I feel if you don’t you’ll loose the string pulling inside the windings.
So why are you still reading and not buying?
I give this a 4.7 out of 5 and the 3 tenth’s off would not matter to maybe most players. I’m pretty picky, it has to be great for a 5.
This was close.
Here’s to the fat bottom girls, they make the rocking world go around!
Keep it low, and let it roll!
Blessings to ya Chuck, ya got a winner
Christian Mani – Red Spade
Arturo Garcia – Great pedal to add tube sound in amps
I was surprised by how well this tube pedal works. I used my practice "Gibson Maestro practice amp" as a start up when I received pedal by mail. I got a way better tone right away when I put mini amp in clean. I used my other "Orange Amplifiers MT20 Micro Terror" on my Peavey Supreme 4x12 cab but had to tweak out volume on both ends of amp and pedal. It's great on just pure tube sound.
Over all, I myself bought the pedal for just that tube sound for classic rock and early heavy metal. It's other sister pedal "Zapped “Up Yours” Analog High Voltage Electro- Harmonix Tube Distortion Pedal" sounded good on YouTube videos also but I opted for tube sound. Hope this helps
Rich – Single Barrel
Just wanted to let you know the axe was delivered and I am thrilled to pieces. I've taken a bunch of photos and will record a demo video tomorrow when the screaming in my arms subsides. 😉
Aggressive band practice last night...
Anyway, obviously prepped and packed perfectly and thanks so much for the extra set of strings. Can't wait to put it through its paces!
All the best and again, thanks so much,
Rob – Spade HSH Coil Split Tremolo
I got the guitar and thank you for the quick shipping. I own or have owned a lot of high end guitars and I tell ya this little picker stands up. In the bang for your buck category I’d say it’s number one in my collection. Really pleased with the purchase
Adam Slager — Kalamazoo
Chuck, I wanted to make sure that I reached out to you in regards to the Zapped' Pedal that I purchased and I do apologize for the delay. In short, what a wonderful pedal! It has all of the versatility that I would want, yet still comes through with a great tube punch that I would expect. The first words to come to my mind playing it were "ferocious clarity"! I want to thank you for your personal caring toward (my) customer satisfaction and for your company's professional attention toward turning out such clearly quality products to fellow musicians like me. Thanks to you and Bootlegger Guitar, the Zapped' Pedal, is now the best piece of artillery in my musical arsenal. I no longer drink whiskey, but am a huge coffee snob, so "Cheers to you Chuck with a medium grind dark roast"!
Mathew Jansky – Los Angeles Spade Guitar
Just wanted to let you know that the Spade-- now named "Blackjack" (for "21" in 2021)-- was outstanding in rehearsal and performance, and I got very good feedback about the shows!
I know the Spade is a lot more than a travel guitar, but I really appreciated its combination of lighter weight and sturdiness both on stage and on the road. This was the hardest traveling I've ever done for a show, fly date, or mini tour-- two six-hour flights, four trains, one three-hour car ride, two ferries, plus cabs and subways. I'm in my mid 60s and have some muscle and joint pain, so the weight of my gear was a serious consideration. The Spade's hardshell case is only a few inches longer than the guitar itself, and while that's great for local travel, I figured it was too heavy for this particular trip. That may have been a mistake. I wound up using an old Hofner Shorty soft case for the overhead bin, which I slowly destroyed over the course of two weeks-- it needed plenty of of duct tape for the flight home!
The Spade didn't take any hard shocks, but the weather was unbelievable-- I dodged two hurricanes, and there were wild swings of temperature and humidity. There was no reason to think the neck-through-body design wouldn't be stable, or that the tuners and nut would cause any problems-- in fact, I expected they would be more sturdy and reliable. However, I hadn't planned on subjecting the guitar to quite this much meteorological punishment! Our rehearsal space in New London had no air conditioning, it was 85 degrees outside at 8:00 PM, humidity was over 80%, and temperatures in the studio were unthinkable. We also had no ventilation and were still deep in the Delta surge, so I was fully masked for roughly four hours of rehearsal with two different bands. I was so drenched with sweat that my black T-shirt was stained white from salt sweat even after it came out of the washing machine. No damage to the finish whatsoever-- it looks as sharp as it did the day I picked it up-- and no tuning problems either. In fact, the Spade seems easier to tune than my more “normal” guitars, probably both because the tuning machine heads have such smooth action, and also because they're at the bridge-- if you're right handed, it's easier to make very fine adjustments.
The low action was really appreciated, because the lead guitarist for one band couldn't make the show, I had to fill a lot of holes in the songs, and I'm not really a lead player. I had written eight or nine new melodic lines, including a few with notes that were north of the 20th fret, something I wouldn't have dared try on other guitars I've traveled with. The Spade just made it so easy to write and play parts that were well outside my comfort zone.
The lineup for the bands changed many times in the two weeks before the gig due to COVID, so I wasn't even completely sure how long I'd be on stage or who I would be playing with until right before we went on. I wound up playing four sets in 27 hours with three different bands-- The Whales (blues, garage, psychedelic rock), Blonde Furniture (alternative), and my first band, The Clothespins, founded in 1979 (punk and power pop.) To say I needed a versatile guitar was something of an understatement! The stock humbuckers were perfect for me-- clean or dirty when I needed them to be, and they drive effects really well.
The opening of the Whales' set Friday night was a little shaky, but that had nothing to do with the Spade. I was a little nervous being on stage for the first time in 20 months, but the main issue was the the heat and humidity, and it took me a few songs to loosen up. Didn't get away clean on every note, but I might have crashed and burned with the Hohner G3T, which I played at this venue in 2019-- the neck was always just a bit too wide for me, and the fret buzz has gotten worse. The SG could have done it, but never would have stayed in tune, and the intonation would only have been acceptable on one of her good days. As for my Traveler Speedster, Fernandes Nomad, Castar, or any of my "travel guitars," it would have been utterly hopeless. But with the Spade, after the first few songs, I felt like I'd been rehearsing with the band all summer, and we finished really strong.
For the second set with the Clothespins, I checked the tuning-- almost dead-on. Mid set, after several songs with brutally fast single-stroking rhythm parts, I checked the tuning again, and I think one string was a hair flat or sharp-- shockingly stable considering how hard I was playing. I also did one song with Blonde Furniture that I helped arrange back in '99, and Ludent, the other guitar player and I had a nice duel between the Spade and his Yamaha Silent. BTW, he loves boutique guitars and has owned a handful of Steinbergers, and when he checked out the Spade before the show, he thought the action was insanely low. It was a great night-- not a huge crowd, maybe 120 in and out and 80 to 90 max for some of the sets, but they were very enthusiastic, nice to see people dancing.
Saturday night in Baltic CT was also outdoors, a smaller stage and smaller crowd, kind of a twilight picnic scene, maybe 40 or 50 people. The first surprise was that Blonde Furniture decided to keep me on stage for their whole set, which was a blast. I played a half dozen songs I'd never rehearsed before, and it was probably better that I had no idea that was going to happen, because I didn't overthink it too much. Then I joined the Whales again, and this time, we delivered a more polished set from start to finish, though the guys were throwing curves and fastballs at me, switching up the meter and accents on intros and breaks, throwing in tempo changes. The Spade killed it; I really felt comfortable improvising, trying stuff I never try live.
I guess the rain started after about the fourth song. I don't mean drizzle. I mean, this-is-fucking-crazy-we're-all-gonna-die rain. The strings got so wet they were hard to play, and I had to wipe down the Spade and my pedal board with paper towels after every song. But they'd already paid us, and about 15 or 25 people just weren't leaving-- they're sitting there in lawn chairs without any umbrellas, and we didn't have the heart to end the show early.
The rain did stop eventually, and I got the axe bone dry before I put it away, but the next morning, I started to worry a little. Again, it's a new design, and you may remember that we'd had some trouble getting Blackjack set up before I left-- the second fret needed to be re-seated. But you were as good as your word, and so was your tech, Rex, who did a fantastic job. (Both Rex and my own tech told me that guitars three times the price sometimes have similar problems right out of the factory-- and worse. I checked it out, and they're right-- reading the Les Paul forums was enlightening, to say the least.) When I got back to New York, I barely needed to tune the Spade, and the intonation was still good. Took it to Vermont to play around the fire hanging out with my buddies. Still good, nothing had moved. Back to New York and then home to Los Angeles, now it's over six months later, and I've recorded with it, practiced with it 5 nights a week for months, and the intonation and action haven't budged.
Like I said when we met, I'm a bar band rhythm guitar player, and these days I only play about a half dozen shows a year. I never dreamed it would take over 40 years for The Clothespins to get a record deal, and that I'd be playing shows to support an album when I was in my '60s! I don't know if I could have pulled it off without the Spade. Thanks so much for designing such a great guitar, because it was exactly what I needed for some of the most demanding-- and satisfying—shows I've ever played.
Jeffrey Johnson – Spade Guitar 16 Feb 2022
Excellent craftsmanship, beautifully packed in hardshell case and styrofoam outer pack between case and shipping box. This is a semi hollow body guitar with a faux F-hole but I'm cool with that. Plays real good.
This is a very nice bass, I’m very impressed by the feel and the tone!!!
Here’s a pic, as requested, with the other ladies!
Spade HSH Tremolo
Chuck, you're awesome man! Hard worker too - thank you for the rapid response time! The guitar arrived yesterday in perfect shape. It's everything I hoped for and more. So excited to take this on trips. I work nearly a third of the year away from home. My primary instrument is the mandolin which is of course easy to travel with - now I can travel just as easily with a full sized electric guitar. I have to say that one of the major selling points for me is that you include a customized hard case. I did a lot of research before purchasing the Spade and found nothing on the market that rivaled it in value and price. Thank you for providing such a high quality product.
Kimberly C – Zapped Up Yours Pedal
Great effects pedal. Cool looking tube glowing inside. Reminds me of the good old days. Rock on! 60 years playing guitar. Keep making them like this one. Thanks
Alexander Nova – Zapped Up Yours Pedal
Please take my review as what it is, this is just my opinion, and your tastes can be vastly different. The name and description are spot on, it does exactly what it says! After having it for a while now, I’ve put the pedal through it’s paces and here is what I’ve come up with. For the best sound and easiest use, I prefer using a clean amp or the clean channel of an amp. The more distorting your amp already does to your sound, the less you are going to experience the effect of this pedal as a way to replicate a distorted classic tube amp sound. If you are already happy with your amp’s distortion you can still use this pedal to give your guitar an extra push, or that little extra something for a solo. The distortion is very versatile! Depending on how much you add, you can set it to sound like your favorite classic rock guitar sound, or a modern heavily distorted metal sound. The mid frequency control gives you added control over your sound that you don’t find in many overdrive/distortion pedals. The case feels really solid and looks amazing with the art work and the glowing tube. And customer service is excellent! They were able to answer all my questions quickly and very effectively.
Jonathon B. – Single Barrel Guitar
Bootlegger Guitar Single Barrel Matte Brown Stain Burst P90 & Single Coil All Maple Padded Gig Bad. So, if you’re looking for a well-playing instrument with lots of character/mojo that is sold well below what it’s actually worth (sounds like most musicians I know), then you need a bootlegger guitar. Chuck is a super cool guy, eager to answer questions and share knowledge/experience. The buying experience was hassle free and fun. The guitar is beautiful and plays and sounds like a million bucks. Get in on the ground floor before people start realizing what these guitars are worth!Try their products , then you’ll ask yourself the same thing I did… Why did I waste so much money on the other brands ?
Truly one of the best kept secrets BOOTLEGGER !!!
Russ H. – Hounder Guitar
Try their products , then you’ll ask yourself the same thing I did… Why did I waste so much money on the other brands ? Truly one of the best kept secrets BOOTLEGGER !!!
Greg Kinder – Single Barrel Guitar
Great guitar!! UPS managed to bust off the selector switch, even though it was packed Extremely well. Sent a message to Chuck and he called almost immediately with multiple solutions to get this corrected. Since I’m good with a soldering iron, opted for him just to mail me a new switch. 2 minute fix.
Niels – Spade Guitar
Wow! The Spade arrived yesterday and it is wonderful. You were right, the online pictures do not do it justice- the guitar is lovely and the neck and frets are truly pro quality. I put some light gauge jazz strings on it (and tuned down a whole step) and the guitar has a beautiful warm tone. I have been looking for an affordable travel guitar for three years and was never able to pull the trigger on a Chinese model because they always felt cheap. The Spade is a great guitar (at a great price; and thanks for throwing in the flask. I will toast you whenever I use it!). Thanks Chuck. On Thursday i fly to the in-laws and this will be my first trip with guitar in hand. And thanks again for the GREAT service. I will definitely spread the word on some online jazz guitar forums.
Niels (A happy customer!)
Tony – Spade Guitar
Looking for a good quality travel guitar which would not break the bank and came across a video review of the Bootlegger Spade 2 by a guy named the ‘Tone King’. I typically do a lot of research when looking at buying things, especially for something like a guitar, and knew there was a risk that what I saw on a video review would not translate to something I liked when I sat down to play it but was pleasantly surprised by the Spade 2. In fact, I’d say its pretty darn good for an reasonably priced travel guitar. I received it last week and sat on the couch playing a few blues scales and a little ‘Stormy Monday’ was pleased with the ease of playability and the tone I was able to achieve. It’s definitely not in the same class as my USA made G and L legacy but I did have a fun time playing it and think it will be great for a travel guitar to take on the biz trips to Asia. I plugged into a little Blackstar Fly 3 amp and thought ‘not bad’. I then plugged into my Fender Hot Rod and ‘not bad’ became ‘pretty darn good’. I’d definitely recommend the guitar over other cheaper travel guitars and look forward having something to do in the evenings after a long day at the factory.
Single Barrel Guitar
Beast ! No cons what so ever !!!!!!!!!
Who-da-thunk ! After playing for 50+ years, thought the Spade would be a good guitar to practice on, Yup, but actually I’ll be using her live. Chuck gives a rather complete description of the pros and cons, but in reality there are more pluses. Build quality is excellent, from the fret work to the hardware. It’s really stable, and didn’t take long to get used to the feel (gotta stop tryin’ to fine tune the invisible tuners on the headstock though).Only needed some minor set up tweeks right out of the box (neck was arrow straight, needed some relief for my style) Even though it has the “dime” pots, the cavity is shielded, the pups are well balanced and can roar ! As primarily a Strat player, love the scale on this, and the ability to get vintage bucker tones without switching guitars.
Nick S. – Spade Guitar
Guitar is awesome!! Stock pickups sound great and clean up very nicely. Holds tuning amazingly well and string changes are a breeze all things considered. My only gripe is the ergonomics if you play without a strap like me. Leg cutout sits at a strange angle so it moves around a bit but nothing that will make me put this thing down. Great job bootlegger!!
Nick S. Nov 1st, 2019
DLC – Royal Guitar
I took a chance buying this guitar site unseen, but I’m am very pleased with the quality of this instrument. Its lays right in my lap, and is easy to play. The pick-ups are great quality and it sounds fantastic. If I were to comment on anything about this guitar, is the neck up and around the 12th fret and on being just a little fat. This is personnel, not overall quality. Thanks for an American made quality instrument, and keep up the good work.
Cody Foster – Rye Guitar
I first learned of Bootlegger through a random stumble on Reverb. Like many musicians, I constantly and casually scroll through Reverb just to see what is up for sale that day while in search of the next “tone adventure”. My first interaction with Bootlegger was the Blues 15 tube amp. Being in the marketing and advertising business as my day job, I was intrigued by the subtle simplicity of the design and overall look. What I couldn’t understand was how someone was able to sell a 15 watt all tube head with a 1×12” cabinet with an Eminence speaker for under $600. I was skeptical but, even though I really wasn’t in the market for another amp at the time, I stuck it in my watch list to potentially purchase later.
Fast forward to about 1 ½ to 2 years later; I join The Heather Roush Band as the 2nd guitarist and vocalist and meet Roger Kohrs. Roger is the bassist and, having been a professional, touring musician for over 20 years, has had the ability to become involved with some great companies as an endorsee. One such company being Bootlegger. Roger now has a signature Ace Bass and had nothing but positive things to say about the company and its owner, Chuck Wilson. I decided to look at the site and see what they had to offer. The Single Barrel was the first guitar that caught my attention. A semi-hollow guitar with a Telecaster style bridge pickup, a P90 neck pickup, all for under $600? Sounded like a steal! I wasn’t in the market for another guitar, but I kept it in mind for later and began following Bootlegger on socials in more detail. Then came the release of the Rye.
As a guitar player I’ve always had a love for elegant simplicity. I’ve never owned super flashy guitars and seemed to always choose function over flash. Coming from a Punk and Blues background, I loved utilitarian grit. The Rye had every single bit of that and what I loved in a guitar. Top to bottom black, white binding, a dual humbucker setup with a set neck construction, an ash body, maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard all coming in at $549. That seemed crazy to me. Knowing the nature of the guitar market, I wasn’t sure how Chuck was able to make that happen. I asked Roger more about the guitars and he explained how the guitars are all precision built in South Korea and, including by selling direct, that’s how Chuck can sell great guitars at an affordable price.
Later, Roger mentioned to Chuck in a conversation that I was interested in the Rye and Chuck was kind enough to send one from Hermosa Beach, California all the way across the country to Ohio for me to road test and get my hands on. As soon as the guitar arrived and hit my fingers, I was instantly impressed. The guitar felt extremely rugged but incredibly comfortable. The neck felt familiar and was easy to play. The body had weight, but no dive and felt like something that could easily take the stress of many all-night gigs. I took the guitar home, strung it up with my strings and set it up to my specifications. After that, it felt even better. Once that was done, all that was left was to take it to a gig and run it through the paces.
I’ll start by saying that I am not a gentle player. I hit hard, I jump around, and I really get into the music. The Rye took every single hit and gave it back to me in spades. It rocked and rolled with me all night through every single song. I don’t use an overly complicated pedal set up but do play through unforgiving amplifiers that don’t necessarily hide my own flaws. That night, I was playing through my 2000 TopHat Club Royale 20 (essentially a hand-wired, hot-rodded AC30) and, let me tell you, the Rye rocked. It produced thick, LP style cleans as well as rich, and crunchy overdriven tones but never got muddy. I was incredibly impressed with the South Korean-made Tesla pickups and how they carried the sound as well as pick attack. On top of that, they were incredibly quiet pickups. They truly did work as great humbuckers.
Whether I was playing a clean, swirling, textured rhythm part or a soaring, saturated lead line, the guitar stayed in tune and in top form all night. Again, I was incredibly impressed. It not only fit my style but also my personality as a player, without being overly flashy or making sacrifices on quality for superfluous details. As I previously mentioned, it was a utilitarian, Rock and Roll machine. Full stop.
The Bootlegger Rye ships with a solid and reliable hard-shell case and the signature Bootlegger Flask, set up and ready to go for $549. I can assure you that is one heck of a steal. Especially for a guitar with a set neck construction. What Chuck is doing with Bootlegger is exactly what is needed in the modern guitar industry: fantastic guitars at an affordable price for the working, everyman musician. As a regularly gigging musician, I can’t recommend the Bootlegger Guitar Rye enough. If you are looking for a slick, rugged guitar that sounds great, will get through many long nights, and won’t break your bank to pieces, look no further. The Rye will do and be all those things. Like I said before, it’s a Rock and Roll machine.
When you choose your next guitar, consider Bootlegger. You can go get a guitar from a big box company like many others – and if that’s your thing, no harm no foul. Or, you can take a chance on and support a small builder and business that truly cares about the products he puts out and be rewarded ten-fold. You can stick with what you know or be an Outlaw and snag a Rye. It’s got my vote.
Cody Foster (The Exit Strategy/The Heather Roush Band)
Chris – Royal Guitar
The quality of this instrument makes itself know as soon as you have it in your hands! The “shallow C” neck. is absolutely love! And the sound from the HSH Tesla pickups, 5 way switch and push pull pots give you versatility to jam your way! This guitar is obviously labor of love. Thank you Chuck and the collaborative work from Steve Stine and Reno Paulson! I am glad I bought from Bootlegger and proud to own a Royal!
December 20, 2019 by Chris
ALEX – Single Barrel Guitar
The guitar sounds exactly as in the demos – meaning absolutely great :))) I will take it to a friend of mine [ he is a professional luthier ] to adjust it a bit, I like the action lower than it is now.thank you one more time, have a great day !!! all the best,
Marc USA – Hounder Guitar
First-class all the way! Chuck reaches out to customers to answer questions, provide information, and offer support. Love the business model and customer focus. Highly recommended! The Hounder is a beautiful, high quality instrument with excellent fit, finish, and attention to detail from end to end. The hard case is sturdy, looks good, and has an insert shaped specifically for the Hounder. Icing on the cake; all of this comes with a groovy little flask. Again, HIGHLY recommend Bootlegger! A+++
January 2020 by Marc USA
Lawrence S. – Single Barrel Guitar
I bought this guitar to celebrate the birth of my first grandchild. Like many here, this guitar exceeded my expectations. It is not a Fender or a Gibson clone, not a Fenson. either. It stands right alongside my higher-priced guitars. Setup was great right out of the case. The appointments on the guitar make it unique (headstock design, diamond inlays, neck shape). Plays great, sounds great, looks great. Rec’d the guitar 3 days after order & was also contact by the owner of the company!
Lawrence S. – Jan 13th, 2020
Keith Varney – DeVille Guitar
I am so happy with this guitar! I scoped it out for a good six months before finally making the purchase. Every part of the transaction was smooth – I even received direct emails from real people. I know; what a concept! There is not enough space here to go into specifics about the guitar, but I will say that, for the money, I’ve never found a better instrument. I’m already using it for recording and have gotten nothing but compliments on the looks. Thanks for the great instrument and service!
June 10, 2020 by Keith Varney
I wanted a headless guitar and searched Amazon first. At that time this Spade guitar was not listed on Amazon. I purchased it from bootlegger president Chuck Wilson. I am very pleased with it, and impressed with the outstanding service I received. Chuck emailed me when his tech did the final set up before delivery to me. When it arrived Chuck had placed 2 of his business cards in the case. I emailed him that I was very happy with the guitar. Shortly after he personally called me to follow up and if I had any questions. Chuck personally design this 2nd version Spade. I feel like I bought a custom shop guitar for a unbelievably low price.
To me this could be easily sold as $1,000 plus guitar. There are you tubes videos on this guitar but their recorded sound quality does not do it justice. I played it through a VOX modeling amp and it sounded awesome. My wife thinks it sounds better than my Fender Deluxe telecaster. I have been playing since 1962 and owed all the top end guitars from Fender, Gibson, Gretsch ,Brian Moore, Ovation etc. This one has the most bang for the buck. Easy to tune, perfect action, easy to string. Very easy to play the higher frets. Wood looks great Neck is finished beautifully, pick ups and all black hardware are quality. Playing comfort is great ,its light weight, but not too light. I spent hours researching headless guitars and this one was my top choice by far. FYI clip on tuner fits nice, strap fit is just right and guitar sits safely on my old stand. If your ready to dive in to a headless guitar this is it.
Single Barrel Guitar
First-class all the way!
I bought this guitar to celebrate the birth of my first grandchild. Like many here, this guitar exceeded my expectations. It is not a Fender or a Gibson clone, not a Fenson. either. It stands right alongside my higher-priced guitars. Setup was great right out of the case. The appointments on the guitar make it unique (headstock design, diamond inlays, neck shape). Plays great, sounds great, looks great. Rec’d the guitar 3 days after order & was also contact by the owner of the company!
Wow. What a Guitar
Thank you Bootlegger! My guitar arrived as beautifully as I expected. The quality of this instrument makes itself know as soon as you have it in your hands!
The “shallow C” neck. is absolutely love! And the sound from the HSH Tesla pickups, 5 way switch and push pull pots give you versatility to jam your way!
This guitar is obviously labor of love. Thank you Chuck and the collaborative work from Steve Stine and Reno Paulson!
Beautiful guitar. Excellent communication. Awesome seller. Highly recommended! EXTREMELY cool! ? Would DEFINITELY buy from bootlegger again!!!! ?
Virginia – Royal Guitar
I was a bit worried about this guitar before I bought it. It was undoubtedly beautiful in the pictures, but there can be a lot of things that look great online and don’t live up to the pics in person, but I had some very high end pickups I was looking to put into a hsh body and the pics looked great. Wow was I impressed. The pics do not do it justice. I have a vintage SG, a gretsch white falcon, an American straw, and a few more toys I have gained through the years, but this has become my daily player and I have decided against putting the pickups in it.
The Bootlegger Royal has such a impressive array of tons. I can use the coil tap and get a bright fender-type sound, or dig in on the humbuckers and get a real meaty sound. On top of the sound I really cannot say enough about the look. The frets are polished and have rolled edges once the strings were stretched out it held a tune well. The only thing I changed was adding some new knobs.
Single Barrel Guitar
Chuck and the crew are great guys who will take excellent care of you.
I highly recommend them!!!
Jim Gustin – Rye & DeVille Guitar
Bootlegger Guitars are quality, professional level instruments at a entry level/intermediate price. They are well made and play and sound great!I play a Rye and a Deville and I love them!!
Chuck Partington Jr. – DeVille Guitar
Are Bootlegger Guitars just Gibson or Fender knockoffs? No; In my opinion They’re Better. Better from the top down; Ownership, Dependability, Reliability, Playability, and Rockability. Added to kick ass guitars, each comes in its own custom hard case, with a flask thrown in for good measure.
These guitars are under priced at 75% less than Fender, and 80% less than Gibson, while playing equally well or better than their legacy counterparts. I’m proud to endorse Bootlegger Guitar.
Brad Puckett & Chuck Partington Jr. – Rye Guitar
I got the Bootlegger Rye shipment today. I played it for about 30 minutes, I have to tell you it’s a real beast. The craftsmanship is excellent, fret edges are even smooth and silky. It looks beautiful and has a crunchy growl that really grabs you. The tone has real body to it, full and punchy. My next guitar will be another Bootlegger, these are going into my work rotation for sure.
Brad Puckett & Chuck Partington Jr.
Marvin Sheats – Spade HSH Tremolo
My new Bootlegger Spade headless in Blue. Features include floating trem, HSH pickups, 5 way pickup switch and coil tap for both HH pickups on the tone control. A tone lover’s dream. I call her Blue Angel. Check her out and other great guitars, basses, amps and effects pedals at Bootleggerguitar.com
Mike Trainor – Single Barrel Guitar
Chuck at Bootlegger was great to work with. He responded quickly and was very helpful. Shipped the well-packed Single Barrel out the next day. btw… the Single Barrel has a voice of it’s own… not a Blueshawk clone or Thinline wannabe. Lotta power in it’s punch.
Marc Brutin – Spade Guitar
It was a pleasure to speak with Chuck before buying and I really appreciated all his great attentions. The guitar arrived quite fast in Germany The guitar his great, easy to travel with. I am happy. Thank you!
Scott Engle – Royal Guitar
Played the Bootlegger Royal at practice tonight and it was an absolute BEAST! 😎🤘🔥
Steve Donovan – Royal Guitar
This is a fantastic guitar for any price, but at the price it’s being sold for, it’s a steal. The neck is fast, pickups are great for any tones you want and you get the coil-splitting too. A great guitar, a great value and customer service at Bootlegger is second to none. Bootlegger hit a home run with this guitar.
Kathryn Rinal – Ace Bass
Great Product,,, Nice set up, and cool little extra gifts added as a bonus. Would do business again.
Andrew Nash – Spade Guitar
I received my spade guitar yesterday. I’m very happy with it. It’s exactly what I was looking for. I have attached a photo below.
Russell K Norris – Ace Bass 4 String Red
Great quality, well balanced, and plays very well standing or setting. Love it!
Donald Fritzges – Ace Bass 4 White
The Ace bass is not only eye catching, it sounds as great as it looks. From reggae to funk, jazz, or rock music, the Ace, can do it. The bass is lightweight, and has a sweet, very playable neck and fingerboard. You can really sustain notes on this bass, and create a variety of usable sounds. The tone is next level. Try a Bootlegger Ace Bass, and you’ll see it will be your number 1, go to, feel good bass.
Dave Butler – Spade
Very nice little guitar at a great price. The pickups are really decent, way better than the ones in the Steinberger Spirit, the workmanship is excellent, no issues at all. Most guitars are best played in the casual position , with headless guitars doing well in the classical position, This little guy plays very well in a variety of positions – normal casual, classical, and in between that may be not strictly classical but perfect for me.
– Dave Butler
Royal Blue Coil Split
Got this guitar for my dad and he loves. It comes with a hard case which is awesome! Beautiful with a killer sound. Said it’s by far his favorite guitar. Very easy to play and well made. Thanks
Amazon Purchase – Royal Blue Coil Split
I was a bit worried about this guitar before I bought it. It was undoubtedly beautiful in the pictures, but there can be a lot of things that look great online and don’t live up to the pics in person, but I had some very high end pickups I was looking to put into a hsh body and the pics looked great. Wow was I impressed. The pics do not do it justice. I have a vintage SG, a Gretsch white falcon, an American straw, and a few more toys I have gained through the years, but this has become my daily player and I have decided against putting the pickups in it. The Bootlegger Royal has such a impressive array of tons. I can use the coil tap and get a bright fender-type sound, or dig in on the humbuckers and get a real meaty sound. On top of the sound I really cannot say enough about the look. The frets are polished and have rolled edges once the strings were stretched out it held a tune well. The only thing I changed was adding some new knobs.
Ace Bass land shark band & Les Haley LandSharks Band – Ace On The Road
I was looking for an affordable and portable long scale bass to use on this seasons summer fly out gig schedule and ran across Bootlegger guitars while surfing Reverb. They looked interesting and at the price, definitely had my interest. The questions remained, “can they be any good?” I have had previous experience with the steinberger spirit and was disappointed, (to say the least)but could these be any better? Would the bootlegger product be good enough to use as a working, professional instrument and not a toy?
I had a few questions and decided to call them directly. Bootlegger is a small company and when you call you get Chuck, the owner on the phone. He was happy to take time and answer all my questions (even the dumb ones) and I made the decision to purchase a four string ACE bass in the latest red finish.
The bass arrived from California promptly and well packed . When I unboxed it I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the build. The bass is built in S.Korea and IMO is comparable in build quality to brands like Schecter, Reverend, ESP LTD (all companies that use Korean factories). The bass is finished in a high gloss poly that is applied perfectly smooth and doesn’t feel draggy or sticky. The bass is a five piece maple neck through with a Jatoba fingerboard with 24 surprisingly nicely dressed, level and polished frets.
Another nice touch is the dual action truss Rod. The nut width is 1.5” with the nut material being advertised as graphite. The neck profile is what I would describe as a “slightly chunky” jazz bass. If you like a jazz neck you’ll get along with this one just fine. The basses are advertised as weighing 7.8 lbs. when I put mine on a hanging scale it was exactly 7.83 lbs. that’s pretty consistent.
The “body”, made from ash, is a small asymmetric design which is shaped on the bottom to rest comfortably on your leg. No need for a folding leg rest. It works quite well. It puts the bass in an almost “ classical guitar” playing position Pretty thoughtful design. The hardware is made in Korea and consists of four individual “monorail” bridges with tuning knobs on the end. They work very smooth, not notchy and stiff like the ones found on the steinberger spirits. The saddles are adjustable for height but not spacing.
At the other end of the neck there’s a string capture mechanism involving four separate grub screws which are tightened with a hex key to lock down the string before trimming. Double ball strings are not used. Just standard bass strings. I needed to be careful not to over tighten the screws. If you torque them down too much you will break the outer wrap and the string will fail, so take it easy there. The electronics are passive std. jazz bass configuration V/V/T and the pickups are 3.5” Humbucking soap bar and seem to be the same size as EMG soap bars.
The pickups are advertised as “Booheung” humbuckers. Who? After a little research I discovered that Booheung is a Korean OEM manufacturer, not a brand. I looked up some of their customers and it seems that they sell a lot of stuff to Fender and Gibson. Interesting. The pickups are dead quiet and sound very, very good. No need to upgrade here.
One complaint is that the neck pickup IMO is positioned too close to the fingerboard, making slap style a bit uncomfortable. Bootlegger is aware of this and have already repositioned the pickup on their new five string model. The bass came set up decently from the factory and matched all the advertised specs for string action (5/64….std fender spec). The first fret action was too high though. I needed to get out my files and deepen the slots to achieve 18 thousandths at the first fret. It made a big improvement. Overall, the bass plays and sounds extremely good and punches well above its price point.
Bootlegger offers a strap extender bar licensed by Warwick. It’s the one designed for the Nobby Meidel bass. It’s an absolute necessity if you want to play standing. The reach without the strap extender makes playing in First position a literal pain. With the strap bar installed the geometry is similar to a std. Fender bass. Much more comfortable.
Another excellent feature is the fitted hardshell case. Yes! They give you a case! And it’s a pretty darn nice one too. I hear a leather bound tool kit is in the works also. They also offer a gigbag that, while it does the job, doesn’t blow my skirt up. I purchased a ProTec guitar bag for better protection while flying.
I hope to make a demo video but my schedule is so damn tight, I don’t know when I’ll have the time. Thankfully @LowEndLobster has done an excellent video which Is on YouTube.
To sum up…
This is NOT a low quality instrument. This bass specs out very well and is priced so affordable that I don’t know how they do it. It’s an odd beast that can be viewed as a bit of a niche instrument but really doesn’t have to be. It’s a full scale, good sounding, good playing, well built bass that does everything a bass should do.
Other than a few minor personal quibbles, there isn’t much to dislike about the Bootlegger Ace Bass.
Ace Bass Land Shark Band & Les Haley Land Sharks Band
Matt – Spade On The Road
Just wanted to let you know that the Spade– now named “Blackjack” (for “21” in 2021) was absolutely outstanding in live rehearsal and performance, and I got very good feedback about the show!
I just wrote to one of the photographers working the show requesting permission for the photos, and I’m working on the video footage as well– it may take them a while to respond, we’re all totally worked, but I’ll let you know as soon as I hear back.
I really babied Blackjack during the trip, but that was some hard traveling, man! My road bag was 35 pounds with pedalboard as well as a 4 or 5 pound backpack with my own little mirrorless camera and other gear, so a hardshell case was out of the question. I used a Hofner soft case, carry-on for the overhead bin. It didn’t take any hard shocks or dings, but the weather was unbelievable– I dodged two hurricanes– so there were wild swings of temperature and humidity.
Rehearsal in New London with NO air conditioning, 85 degrees outside at 8:00 PM, humidity was probably 85 as well, temperatures in the studio were probably well over 90. We were fully masked for roughly two hours of rehearsal, and partly masked for the other two hours because there was no ventilation, and I was so drenched with sweat that my black T-shirt is stained white with sweat. I admit I was nervous, because it seemed like the frets had moved around just a bit before Rex worked on them, but after his setup, they stayed rock solid!
I rehearsed with two bands that night, and we were in very good shape– which was critical, because we had to be. I’d added approximately nine new melodic hooks or leads to seven songs, and discovered that there had been many changes to the arrangements of songs for the Whales– I’d been rehearsing from tracks recorded in the ’80s and ’90s.
I wound up playing four sets in about 26 hours with three different bands, The Whales, Blonde Furniture, and The Clothespins.
The opening of the Whales’s set (psychedelic rock, alternative and blues) Friday night was a little shaky, but that had nothing to do with the Spade– new pedal board, and just normal terror at being on stage for the first time in 20 months or so! Smaller crowd due to Covid and the heat, I’m sure– maybe 130 people in and out, hovering around 100 for each band… my crude head count was around 60 or 70, but it’s a big outdoor space, and based on ticket sales and the guest list, it was 20 or 30 more than that.
Conditions on stage were brutal at first– outdoor temps were in the 80s plus the lights and humidity– my fingers were like damp sausages. For me, this was super-demanding, I’m a rhythm player, and I can’t pretend I got away clean on every note of every riff. But I was playing hooks up at the 20th and 22nd fret, on any of my other guitars, I don’t think I could have even gotten the notes to sound at all, at least not in that kind of heat and humidity. I would have crashed and burned with the G3T. The SG could have done it, but never would have stayed in tune, and the intonation would only have been acceptable on one of her good days. As for the Traveler or any of my “travel guitars,” it would have been utterly hopeless.
For the second set with the Clothespins (punk rock, psychedelic power pop), I checked the tuning– almost dead-on. Mid set, after brutally fast double and single-stroking rhythm parts, I checked the tuning again… I think one string was hair flat or sharp, but probably no one would have noticed. I also did one song with Blonde Furniture (alternative rock) that I helped arrange back in ’99 or so, and the other guitar player and I had a nice duel– BTW, he loves boutique guitars, has owned a handful of Steinbergers, and when he checked out the Spade, he said, “You realize the action is crazy low, don’t you?”
Saturday night, I played another set with the Whales in Baltic– much smaller show, maybe 40 people in and out– which was really smooth– and the guys were throwing curves and fastballs at me, switching up the meter and accents on intros and breaks, throwing in tempo changes– and the Spade killed it. The plan was for me to do one song with Blonde Furniture after that, but they decided to keep me there for their whole set.
That was when the rain started. I don’t mean drizzle. I mean, this-is-fucking-crazy-we’re-all-gonna-die rain, rain like the strings are so wet it’s hard to play, and I’m wiping down the axe and my pedal board every two songs with paper towels that just happened to be in my pocket. But they’d already paid us, and about 15 or 25 people just weren’t leaving– they’re sitting there in lawn chairs without even any umbrellas, and we didn’t have the heart to leave, that’s not the New London way.
The rain did stop eventually, and I got the axe bone dry before I put it away. Checked it out in New York– rock solid, intonation good, barely out of tune. Took it to Vermont to play around the fire hanging out with my buddies. Still good, nothing’s moved. Back to New York and then to Los Angeles, where I just checked the intonation quickly with a basic tuner. Everything’s good, no problems.
More later, if you like parts of the story, we can clean it up and use it for the website. I’ll let you know about pictures and video when I get them and when I get permission. Thanks so much for designing such a great guitar, and helping get it set up for such a demanding job!
Spade – Reverb Buyer 2021
Yes, i own a bootlegger Spade Gen 2. In my opinion it is a great guitar, especially for the price. Let me give you a little background. My day to day guitars are a Fender Nocaster (custom shop) and an L5. I like to play with low action and low tension because i suffer from something called focal dystonia in my left (fretting hand). Last summer i was preparing for a trip to the in-laws back in the day when people flew in airplanes. I did not want to bring either of my expensive guitars on the flight, so i searched the web for travel guitars. There are many choices, most of them feel like toy guitars or they are geared toward the more fuzz tone generation ( dont get me wrong, i am 63 and wanted to grow up to be Duane Allman before i discovered Wes Montogonery).
I went to guitar center ready to bring home a travel guitar costing many 100s of dollars but i couldnt pull the trigger because the neck felt to cheap ( and the fret edges were sharp!) and the pickups were unable to deliver the warm clean sound that i prefer.
The bootlegger is a very well built guitar. It is also gorgeous. I dont work for them, im just a happy customer.
I suspect that i am the reason why they do not recommend going higher then 10s. Frankly i was nervous purchasing a guitar online without wrapping my hands around the neck. The owner of Bootlegger is *incredibly nice*. And he was also very attentive when i told him about my hand condition. I asked him to string it up with Thomastick Swing 12s. He was unsure the guitar could handle the tension (i.e. he told me that upfront ) but he was willing to give it a try. A tuner snapped. He promptly called and offered to refund my purchase. I told him to put some 10s on a new guitar and send it over. I have not regretted it.
I have since strung it up with Thomastick 11s However, to get a rich sound I tune down to C. The guitar sounds great and plays great in this configuration. Does it sounds as good as my L5 or Nocaster? No it does not. But for the price it is a very well made and good sounding axe. It was also a breeze to take on the plane. I used a soft shell case ( it comes with a hardshell case) and easily put it above my seat. Apparently the plane was full of guitar players because several people asked me about it. Although the guitar is short, it has a full size neck.
The week with the in-laws was great. I played my guitar every day.
Happy to answer any questions.
Cheers (Reverb Buyer 2021)
Great guitar!!! I am on the road a lot and I picked this up guitar for mostly portability but now after playing it, it’s become my “go to,” guitar. Construction is excellent it plays and sounds outstanding!!!
Ricky Vee – DeVille
Beautiful Guitar! Stunning appearance! Plays very nicely! Amazing value!
Joe – Zapped “Up Yours” Distortion Effect Pedal
First let me say I LOVE the Zapped"Up Yours" pedal. It sounds amazing. I think the gold knobs would be fine. Second, thanks for getting it out so fast. This guitar has some serious tone and what a deal. Look forward to exploring the tone I can get. Thanks for helping me make music.
JP Tyler – Spade guitar…Can’t put it down!
Greetings & Salutations once more Mr. Wilson,
I wanted to reach out to you & tell you how much I enjoy my Spade guitar. It is quite possibly the best instrument I’ve ever gotten my hands on…& I mean it.
After years of having played every major/name brand guitar in various makes/models (with my eye on someday getting a headless), I very pleased that I chose the Bootlegger Spade model as my first headless. Here are just a few reasons why:
* It is super light. I’ve come to a point in my life where lugging around much less playing a heavier guitar is no fun.
* It’s super resonate! While holding the guitar & striking an open chord, I can FEEL the vibration from the resonance moving from the chord position, down the body & back through the neck. I have NEVER had a guitar do that before. Perhaps it’s the Spade’s construction (neck-thru, maple with ash wings) along with being headless, as I love it.
* For the very first time I have an instrument where I can have my thumb wrapped over the neck or have it on the back of the neck & still get all the way to the 24th fret with the greatest of ease!
* Lastly, ergonomic as all get out. Having the excess of body removed make it not only easier to play, but probably helps with the aforementioned resonance as previously mentioned.
In all, I absolutely love my Bootlegger Spade & as you can imagine, it sounded PHENOMENAL when plugged in!
That is, I assure you I did…once I picked my jaw up from off the floor, as I was so impressed with all that I mentioned. I It is my honest opinion that your design of the Spade with all its features are what made it sound not only good unplugged, but magnificent when it was plugged in.
Thank you so much for making this fantastic instrument & please feel free to use my testimony as needed in any/all future reviews of the Bootlegger Spade. Take care & feel free to reach out to me in the future.
Spade HSH Tremolo Coil Split
Well made and fun to play!
I ended up getting the natural finish version after communication with the seller. The guitar is very well made and the design is well thought out. Neck is thin-to-medium and very fast. I definitely recommend getting this three pickup version. With the pull up splitter on the tone knob, nine very unique sound combinations are possible. The tremelo bridge system works great and stays in tune – a much better design than Floyd Rose systems. Pickup quality is surprisingly good for a guitar in this price range. Weight is light but not TOO light. This guitar is great for recording, especially sitting in tight spaces in front of a computer because of the low profile. Get this guitar if you’ve ever thought about getting a headless guitar!
Darrell Seike – Zapped Up Yours & Tube Drive Pedals
I first purchased the Up Yours Real Tube metal pedal and found it to be amazing. So naturally I also ordered the Shifty's 8 Ball Real Tube Blues pedal. They also sent me a pack of bootleggers strings that come with two high E strings! These petals are amazing. The construction is robust and second to none in quality. I can get anything from Rock and Roll to metal and everything in between. The blues pedal reminds me of the early days of blues. Mode 1 is cleanish and mode 2 is dirty. There is so much versatility with these pedals I'm still dialing then in but they're plug-and-play and simple to work. Bootleggers is a great company and I'm interested in many more of their products.
Beautiful looks and beautiful tone & feel.
Got one for my husband and he loves it! Has weekend jam sessions at home.
Unique guitar designs, great tones, unreal prices! Probably the only guitar brand where the owner is taking your call.
One of the BEST guitars I’ve they played. I own the DeVille and two Spade Headless and will getting another one very soon.
Been following Bootlegger for a few years and always promised myself I would get one of their lovely Korean made quality instruments over to the UK. Chuck did me a great deal on a Single Barrel for my 50th birthday, and I’m gonna get a full set including the new amp. Chuck is a great guy with a huge passion for the blues, music in general and that everyone should be able to afford professional quality gear for a reasonable price, with exceptional service. I shall be doing business with Chuck and Bootlegger Guitar for quite some time to come.
I am very pleased with the craftsmanship & performance of the guitar I purchased from bootlegger. I also have an older Fender Stratocaster that I didn’t want to use so much anymore due to both it’s age, and of course, sentimental reasons. My bootlegger has quickly become my go to. I’ve made a few modifications on this guitar, however, I realized I really didn’t need to do so. I thank this company for making the search easy, PLUS the customer service was amazing. They actually sat down with me and had me try over 30 different guitars in order for me to find “the one“! Obviously they don’t mind spending over 2 hours making sure a person reaches the most copacetic find in their search.
Clinton – Royal
Guitar has arrived.. in excellent condition.
The guitar has exceeded my expectations (which were high).
Your service has been professional.. pleasure dealing with you.
Best wishes.. Clinton
These guitars are custom made and top notch! They sound amazing for any style of play. Designed for the "Rocker", but work with blues, rock, reggae, country. "They look and feel amazing too." Up your game with these guitars. If you have questions, Chuck is always happy to take a call.
I have the green Spade headless guitar, this is guitar is fantastic! Great to play and great quality!