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To Hardtail or not to Hardtail

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

  1. Stevn

    Stevn Strat-Talker

    Age:
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    I asked Eric Clapton. He prefers blocking a trem with an alder wood block. I do this also. Not to mention the EC loaded signature pick guard. The damn thing roars like a dragon or sings like a sweet little bird!
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
    Jackobeam likes this.
  2. ifferman

    ifferman New Member!

    Messages:
    4
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    Jan 31, 2012
    Location:
    Germany
    Short answer:
    The hardtail.
    Long answer.
    Custom shop strats are way out of my budget. Nevertheless I have both, hardtail and trem version.
    The trem version is a black Mexico Squier Series which I picked up cheap in the 90s of the last century.
    I replaced it many times but it was my first, so after a while, I always sold the replacements.
    The hardtail version is a self-assembled one, I built it a few years ago with two criteria in mind:
    Country/classic rock sound and ultra-light weight.
    Specs:
    - Allparts neck,
    - no name body (made from an extremly light wood I was told is a mahogony variation),
    - Wilkinson EZ Lok tuners (I wanted locking tuners without any extra weight),
    - no lacquer (just a little glaze),
    - no neck plate (just flat washers from the hardware store),
    - no second strap knob (that's integrated in the neck fixing by a spacer pice and a second washer),
    The last two are more for looks. The view grams I saved there are most likely not significant.
    Pickups are Seymore Duncan SSL-1.
    Under the tone konbs are Allpart push-push-pots.
    - All down => standard strat (with the mid tone also controling the brige pu),
    - Neck tone up => Bridge/Mid and mid/neck in series (for humbucker sound in switch positions 1 and 5)
    - Mid tone up => Neck pu always on (for bridge/neck tele sound).
    Directly compared to a strat with alder body and the same pickups the sound is a little less dense, but...
    - The whole guitar weighs 2600g only, which is lighter than most bodies alone. It can be played for hours without ever noticing it.
    - It's lovely to the touch.
    - Wherever I play it, it triggers strat talk and discussions. And that's also part of the fun

    2020-07-01 15.30.11.jpg 2020-07-01 15.30.48.jpg
     
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  3. pblanton

    pblanton Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
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    Apr 14, 2012
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    I recommend hard-tailing a strat for someone who is learning to play, in an effort to simplify things. Once they get through the basics, you can remove the wood block from the trem, restoring it to full operation; and it's like getting a new guitar that has the feel of an old friend.
     
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  4. Wayfinder

    Wayfinder Strat-Talker

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    Location:
    Kansas City MO USA
    As sound is a subjective thing... whether to go with hardtail or not is a personal choice. The standard Strat Trem... even with the trem bar removed and not used, still has the springs to affect the sound. The hardtail transfers that sound directly to the body. Logically speaking... the hardtail should have better sustain... but logic and reality aren't always directly compatible. The trem block should have a bit of "spring" to the sound... but whether one can audibly detect that difference would depend on the individual. Of course one can always wood block the trem and remove the handle, but what fun is that? : }

    Myself, I'm a hardtail fan as I never use the trem. The hardtail is also lighter in weight. One thing mentioned of importance: the hardtail on a Strat is unusual. So if you want to go for the slightly unusual look and a conversation piece-- go hardtail. : )
     
    Tim S likes this.
  5. pblanton

    pblanton Strat-Talk Member

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    Colorado Springs
    That's a beautiful guitar. I dig simplicity and that natural finish really speaks to me. If it were mine, I'd prefer the strap button on the horn, like normal. I'd also have a custom engraved neck plate made with my name (if I made it) and the date the guitar was born. Otherwise it's perfect.
     
  6. Nuno

    Nuno Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
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    Portugal
    Well, this are just opinions, cause as you already know, its all personal preferences.
    Knowing what you want, need, commit to it, and how to get it is a big part of our maturity as musicians.

    I'll reference what and why I choose to skip those hardtails.

    I never played one, but all my guitars are decked with all those springs tighten.. No blocking wood, just lots of springs and spring claw tight, just enough so my bends don't detune the open strings.

    Once I tried to float the trem of one of my strats and the sound was different, lots of airiness, the sustain was still there and maybe even more, and more straty tone. There's something on the floating trem of a strat thats more genuine. I play live a lot and I decided to keep one guitar floating one of theses days. The tunning stability is doable, but my biggest fear is the string break, because I play on a trio, and floating, breaking a string detunes all the other strings too much. The dive only trem use is a solution...but dont sound the same to me.
     
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  7. pblanton

    pblanton Strat-Talk Member

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    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    If it were me, I'd go with the Lake Placid Blue. If you don't want to use the trem, you can non-destructively hard-tail it with a piece of wood. Later, if you wanted the trem back, remove the wooden block, tighten the springs back up and you're back in the tremolo business.

    Here's an 11 year-old video from Rob Chapman on how to non-destructively hard-tail a strat, and why one might want to. His wood-craft skills are abysmal, but luckily you don't need quality woodworking skills for this mod.

     
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  8. Wonderdeacon

    Wonderdeacon New Member!

    Age:
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    I am always looking for a good hardtail. One of my favorite thing about 70s Strats is that hardtails were more readily available
     
  9. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Athens Ga
    The hard tail sound different and not a true Strat IMO. The hard tail was also an afterthought in the strat line only produced to appease a limited demand for a non Trem strat. Also, all iconic Strat players from Clapton to Hendrix to SRV ALL use Strats with tremolos. If you only have one strat get a vintage style with a trem, then you will know what the hubbub is about.
     
  10. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Rather than blocking it crank all 5 Tremolo springs down as tight as they will go.
     
  11. johnl4

    johnl4 New Member!

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    Floating tremolo is great but the trade off is you have to bend a string further to get to a note. Since the tremolo is floating as you increase tension on the string the trem block moves. Tuning is more iterative as well since every string tension change affects all strings since trem block moves to every adjustment. The price we pay but you get to use a wammy!
     
  12. StratPlayerTPA

    StratPlayerTPA Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
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    Its simply a choice of Taste and your Playing Style no matter what anyone says what do you prefer have you tried both with everything else identical?
    Probably not. So what works for one is not the magic sound or Guitar your looking for in the end you mod it and setup the Guitar for what works best for you.
     
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  13. briand135

    briand135 Strat-Talk Member

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    Punta Gorda, FL
    I started decking the trem on any Strat that I've owned with the exception on a Pro series Strat that I had last year. I found no difference in tone either way. I currently have a 1994 '62 reissue and the trem is decked. It plays way better than the Pro. I also have a new Player and I've decked that too. If I had a choice I'd go with a hardtail. I have a Carvin Bolt, Carvin's version of a Strat and it's a hardtail. It's powerful and solid as a rock.
     
  14. thcguitars

    thcguitars Strat-Talk Member

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    ST 6 screw softy has more sustain than the hard-tail. Transfers less string energy into the body - allowing the neck to resonate more. Also the soft-tail has a higher market resale value - typically.
     
  15. jayar

    jayar Strat-Talk Member

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    Location:
    Weimar
    Agreed, just listen to Jeff Beck. Of course he’s a master with vibrato; that’s not learned overnight.
     
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  16. stratmister

    stratmister Strat-Talk Member

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    Nov 15, 2012
    Location:
    San Fran
    If I wanted a hard tail, I would buy a Nashville tele, so I have the 3 pickups and a hard tail. I would never get a Strat without the trem, there are subtle characteristics derived from the trem, springs and all that which disappear when you go hard tail. So if you don't want those flavors, I suggest you just buy a tele.
     
  17. SatinNeck81

    SatinNeck81 Strat-Talk Member

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    I prefer the floating trem. Honestly I haven't had too many tuning stability issues with the other strings either. I can bend a step and a 1/2 without changing the tuning whatsoever, at least with nice new strings and a properly setup floating trem.
     
  18. RaySachs

    RaySachs Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    If I had ever found a way to integrate a trem bar into my playing in even the most remotely, distantly, musical or useful way, I'd probably agree with you. But I've tried and I can't. It's like when you were new to playing and got a wah wah and everything you played for weeks just sounded like a wah wah - no actual music, just wah wah. That's me with a trem. So for those who can use 'em, by all means, get a strat with a trem and let it float. But for those of us who have no use for them, a trem is just a bit of a hassle to work around. It's not a big hassle - it's a small matter to deck it or block it. But if you can get a hardtail you like as much, do that. I can hear a difference between a floating trem and a blocked or decked or hardtail strat. But I can't hear a difference between a blocked or decked strat and a hardtail. Some folks claim they can, so they should but accordingly. But I couldn't and a hardtail suits me to a T. So for me, it's not a strat EXTRA, it's a strat problem to be worked around, so I was happy to lose it.

    -Ray
     
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  19. JD1952

    JD1952 Strat-Talk Member

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    Hi. I build custom guitars in Australia. There are differences in sound with the three bridge options. Subtle maybe, but the Standard Trem has that unique Strat sound, with that extra but of top end; a Blocked Term changes the sound slightly and gives a bit more sustain (using a Hardwood Block) and a hardtail gives a bit more Bass with quite a bit more sustain. Having said that, every Strat I've ever played and built sounds different from any other Strat. - subtle differences, but there. It's like when you go into a shop and play a Strat - some feel right and others, urrghh... Look, this could be "wishful thinking" and me hearing what I think I should hear but they are all different.
     
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  20. Gregorski

    Gregorski Strat-Talker

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    What colour are the fretboards ?