Spade Headless


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Matthew Jansky On The Road With His Spade


Spade pickup

We work with top pickup builders to achieve the best tonal match for all our stringed instruments. Bootlegger pickups are matched for each position and balanced for volume and tone selection. Our favorite player comments are, “I thought I would need to change out your pickups, until I heard them”. 


Bootlegger spade neck

Roasted Maple is heat treated at over 300° F to remove sugars, moisture, and impurities. This maple is lighter, more stable, and has a beautiful natural color. Combined with our Roasted Swamp Ash body wings, the result is a neck that requires less adjustment, with a beautiful natural vintage look. 


Bootlegger Spade body

Our Ash is a medium-light weight wood, often found in expensive boutique instruments, We love it for its striking grain, tonal qualities and its low density or weight. 


Bootlegger spade neck

The combination of our 5 piece Maple neck and Swamp Ash body wings provide a solid built instrument. Great tone, sustain and looks. It can take a beating or give one. 


Our dual action rod adjusts in both directions, allowing back bow or forward bow. This assures correct adjustment range is possible regardless of string tension, extreme climate conditions, or the effects of long term aging. 


Our monorail bridge, tuners have a housing made of aircraft grade aluminum that makes them extra-light. The Bootlegger monorail bridge system reduces the sympathetic vibration that can cause unwanted ringing from other strings. Our headless instruments have a more defined and enhanced tone with the Bootlegger Monorail System. 

Bootlegger spade tuners


Our aluminum speed knobs feature a lower profile which is less likely to be accidentally hit by the player’s hand. 

Spade knobs


We use Graphite Synthetic Nuts. Graphite produces more harmonics in the mid and upper range of the guitars, providing the harmonically rich tone, without the inconsistency found in ivory, bone or other natural materials. 

Spade neck


Our proprietary jack plate features four mounting screws, instead of two. The extra screws prevent the plate from tearing out of the body. 

Spade Jack plate


Beautiful  high polished Brazilian cherry Jatoba fingerboard. jatoba (aka Brazilian cherry) is about double rosewood’s janka hardness number, about four times that of maple. Jatoba produces a full sound–rich in low and mids, with clarity in the top end. Our Matte Spade features a Maple fingerboard.

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Spade HH End String Lock

Spade HH Tremolo End String Lock

Spade HH Top String Lock

Spade HSH Tremolo Coil Split Top lock

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Recent Spade Reviews

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 (From Reverb Sale) 2021

Spade On The Road

Hey, Chuck!

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!

–Matt 2021

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