As a musician-owned small business, our goal has always been to provide the highest-quality musical products and top-shelf service to our customers. The enthusiastic word-of-mouth and repeat business this philosophy garners has built Bolt Electric into the small-batch creative enterprise it is today, and things are still evolving. It’s currently a three-headed beast, so whether you have a custom pickup, amplifier, repair or other project, we’re thrilled to work with people as passionate about gear and music as we are. But who are we, and why are we here?
Bolt Electric began in 2009 in Knoxville, Tennessee. After reaching burnout factor:10 from touring and performing — a focus that had been my life on and off since the mid-’90s — I decided to channel my obsession with music gear and electronics into something different. I began focusing on the backstage, so to speak, and immersed myself in handcrafting one-off guitar pickups for friends, then offering them to local customers. Pickups had been a constant fixation for me over the years, and I’d been making my own and using them on the road for some time. As word of my custom winds spread, I made things more official and began selling my own line of humbucker and single-coil models as Bolt Electric Pickups.
Pickups weren’t my only fascination, though. I’m fanatical about old tube amps and have long reveled in the opportunity to study the circuits of amplifiers I own, eventually repairing them for myself and providing servicing and modification for other touring-musician pals. Good amp techs are hard to come by, so this didn’t stay quiet for long — calls started pouring in for repair work and we quickly developed a backlog that warranted shifting a significant portion of the Bolt Electric focus to servicing. This spawned Repairs by Bolt Electric in 2011, a small repair operation centered around vintage tube amplifiers and instruments. I found the work thrilling, and still do. Years of servicing some of the best gear ever allowed me to hone my craft, studying and documenting component interactions and the sounds that made these amps legendary tonal benchmarks.
In 2013 I started drafting my own original tube amplification designs, and 2015 saw the launch of Bolt Electric Amplification, a proper vehicle for our amplifier creations. Our first original model, the Black Phantom, was unveiled at the 2015 Nashville Gear Expo and is now available for purchase, with two other models currently in development.
And that brings us to Bolt Electric Sound, a virtual home that pulls together all we do — pickups, amps and repairs — into one place. As we head into the second half of the decade, we’re excited about the future and encouraged by the great musicians and retail shops we’ve been fortunate to work with … and we look forward to working with you!
– James / Bolt Electric