To Hardtail or not to Hardtail

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Jackobeam, Jun 25, 2020.

  1. Jackobeam

    Jackobeam Strat-Talker

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    If you were going to own one strat from the custom shop, would you choose a hardtail? If you don't use the trem and are going to block it, are there any downsides to a hardtail? Is there really a difference in sound from hardtail to trem?
     
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  2. YALCaster

    YALCaster Strat-O-Master

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    I’ve had a couple hardtail stratocasters, and a couple with a tremolo, and although I don’t use the trem at all, I think they sound better than hardtail. I play my strat with a trem far more than I do my hardtail. I’d get a strat with a trem and uprade to a big thick trem block
     
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  3. RandyM

    RandyM Strat-Talk Member

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    I'm building a hardtail strat. Not sure why I prefer them, maybe the rarity? And I never use the trem, but have several strats with a trem if I want it.
     
  4. Jackobeam

    Jackobeam Strat-Talker

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    I've heard they have a more "tele" sound but it may be one of those scenarios where they pretty much sound the same and no one is really gonna notice. Is the feel any different?
     
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  5. Dougeryb

    Dougeryb Strat-O-Master

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    If I were to own one Strat, in your shoes, it would be a Strat with blocked trem.

    If you had a hardtail, what would you do if your inner Gilmour, Hendrix or SRV started screaming for attention?
     
  6. OneWatt

    OneWatt Strat-Talk Member

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    Been wondering the same thing.

    First thing I did when I became a Strat owner was to block the tremolo. Then, having recently assembled a partscaster, I essentially blocked that one too.

    But I'm wondering if I should open myself up to the possibilities of learning to musically utilize the tremolo bar. Getting that "staying-in-tune" thing worked out with a tremolo feels like a distraction that may not be worth the valuable time.
     
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  7. Dougeryb

    Dougeryb Strat-O-Master

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    I think it largely depends on musical tastes
     
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  8. Jackobeam

    Jackobeam Strat-Talker

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    I've got the choice of a lake placid blue (with trem), sherwood green (with trem) or sunburst hardtail (all rosewood necks, same specs). It's killing me.
     
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  9. Jackobeam

    Jackobeam Strat-Talker

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    Not to mention it's a big commitment...I am the worst at deciding things. I have a lake placid blue original 60s tele so getting a LPB strat seems like I'd be building a small Smurf army of guitars...but it's also my favorite guitar color. Burst is classic and I'll always love it, and the green is unique and cool. But the burst is a hardtail so that's what I'm struggling with, whether it's more awesome or just "rare."
     
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  10. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Jaguar Convert Strat-Talk Supporter

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    doesn't make a difference to me. I couldn't tell you the difference between a hardtail and non.. ever, based on sound. It's the sound that matters. I own both types.

    And from the front, 99% of people wouldn't be able to tell hardtail or tremolo without bar attached, from looking at the guitar while you're playing it.

    I don't use the trem much on my strats. So if you do get one with a trem, there is no obligation to use it. You can take out the bar, and tighten up the springs. It's the same to me. I would focus on factors that have an undeniable impact on sound.
     
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  11. Hydr0

    Hydr0 Strat-Talker

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    it wouldn't stop my from buying a guitar i loved, but given the choice, i'd rather have the trem
     
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  12. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Jaguar Convert Strat-Talk Supporter

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    also, I would pick the Sherwood Green or LPB, because they are cool colors. Sunburst strats are everywhere.
     
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  13. Paul47

    Paul47 Strat-Talker

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    I never use the trem, but on all 4 of my strats I have the bridge floating just because I think they play easier and sound better. It could all be in my head, but you do what works for you.
     
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  14. Jackobeam

    Jackobeam Strat-Talker

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    I agree....sunbursts probably look the best but they're the most common. but you'll never tire of it.
     
  15. guitarchaeologist

    guitarchaeologist Artist Formerly Known as π Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I have one AV trem (alder) and one hardtail (ash), both vintage style, both with RW fretboards. These are the best of dozens of guitars I've owned over the years. I love them both & highly recommend a hardtail, especially if you already have a trem unit guitar.
    I see no downsides to a hardtail at all & my two actually sound remarkably similar even though they have different p'ups & different body woods.
    I say go for it.

    IMG_20200116_103905557.jpg
     
  16. soulman969

    soulman969 Strat-Talker

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    I only own one Strat and it's the Robert Cray model pictured in my avatar. It's a hardtail. I did own another many years ago that had a tremolo which I never really used and wouldn't use now. I'd block the trem anyway so why not play a hardtail that I prefer and not have to even deal with it.

    Based on having played others I can't honestly say there's any real tonal difference that isn't 90% or more attributable to the pickups. The hardtail bridge may give the guitar a bit more percussive snap which is something you might notice in Robt. Cray's playing but IMHO that's about it.

    Don't know what more I can tell you other then quite obviously the Robt. Cray also comes in Inca Silver but other than finish both models are identical. The features that stand out to me are the neck which feels like a slightly beefier early '60s large "C" profile and the pickups which I understand to be CS Texas Specials wound to the specs Robt. Cray wanted. I would describe them as fairly bright with great harmonics.

    Although these are MIM models IMHO they are as good as any other US production Strat that Fender offers.
     
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  17. fenderkev

    fenderkev Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I used the Trem on my Strats in the '80s, but ever since then I have 5 screws tightening the Trem right down essentially blocked. Clapton reckoned they sound better than a hard tail. When I had a Warmoth hard tail I cant say I noticed much difference sound wise.
     
  18. RaySachs

    RaySachs Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    I could have written this post except that I've owned a few other strats that were not hardtails. And played many more than that. But the Cray is my one and only for most of the last few years. It's almost my only electric guitar, period, but I do have an SG with P90s in the closet for those rare moments that I gotta have that P90 sound. It happens periodically, it passes, but I've decided I have to keep a P90 axe around so I'm not all the time buying them.

    I also don't hear any non-pickup related difference between the Cray and the other strats I've had where I've decked the trem, or once blocked it. It doesn't sound like a tele to me - it's a strat with all of the classic strat sounds. I'd always pick a hardtail given a choice, but I wouldn't pass up a really excellent strat just because it was NOT a hardtail - it's easy enough to deck 'em.

    There's a guy over on The Gear Page who's got a 1959 (my birth year) hardtail strat up for trade. It's a thing of beauty - it might be my ultimate dream strat. I didn't even know Fender made hardtails in '59. But I got nothing to trade for it (he didn't seem to think a straight up trade for my Robert Cray was gonna do it for him). And he said if he was gonna sell it he'd ask $22,000 - that wouldn't be happening either. So I guess that's not a guitar I'm ever gonna own. But damn, I'm a strat guy and a hardtail guy born in '59 and it's a hardtail strat born in '59, seems like something I should try to find a way to do, but there's no way.

    -Ray
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
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  19. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    With a floating trem, you can waver the sound up and down, you get a certain springiness in the sound--and you can divebomb. If you palm mute with too much pressure you go out of tune, and if you break a string all the other strings go out of tune.

    With a decked trem, you can still dive-bomb but you can't waver notes upwards--and you can rest your hand on the bridge or break strings w/o going out of tune.

    With a hardtail, you can't use a trem at all b/c you don't have one. The guitar as a whole is a few ounces lighter (trem blocks are heavy).

    With a blocked trem, you can't use the trem b/c it's blocked. Otherwise just like a decked trem or a heavier hardtail.

    My general preference is for a decked trem, it's there to use if I want to.
     
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  20. voskarp

    voskarp Strat-Talk Member

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    With those choices I'd go for the hardtail, based on colour... ;)
     
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