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To Hardtail or not to Hardtail

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

  1. Caffiend

    Caffiend Strat-Talk Member

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    I blocked my trem in the 80’s and then removed block and decked in the 90’s. Also in the 90’s I had guitars with Floyds so finally learned about floating trems and dealing with them. Now, my Strat floats but on 10-52’s and a mediumish action. I have a hardtail (PRS Singlecut SE) and a partscaster Tele in the works.

    To me, it’s down to sound and feel. Blocked Strats do sound different and they play differently. Certain blues licks don’t work well on floating guitars because detuning when the bridge moves, but that’s only a problem if you only have one guitar or insist on playing the wrong style in the instrument. My floating Strat isn’t as acrobatic as my RG550 if I decide to unleash on the whammy, but it’s so much more functional than a decked trem if I want to give a shimmer to notes and chords, as the decked trem cannot raise even by a smidge which is often all that a gentle wobble needs to sound natural.

    Out of the choice of three, I’d personally get the green strat but mostly because I have an irrational dislike of sunbursts and once you’ve imagined the Smurf army you aren’t gonna forget and it would be a pity to let that spoil the guitar for you...
     
  2. BuddyGuy

    BuddyGuy Strat-Talker

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    I’ve seen him many times. Never been disappointed.
     
  3. soulman969

    soulman969 Senior Stratmaster

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    I own a Robt Cray Strat and I approve of this message. Puts on a great show live too.

    craystrat1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
    RaySachs likes this.
  4. ifferman

    ifferman New Member!

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    True, the position of the strap button is unusual and needs some getting used to.
    The guitar slants a little forward, but that's not an issue. It's in position as soon as the right arm is placed on the body.
    It is also a bit top-heavy, especially with the extra light body. But that is compensated by the textile belt's friction.
    The advantage for me, who am "handicapped" by pretty short fingers, is that I can turn the neck up to an 11 o'clock position when I want to do some more complicated fingering (rather than using a shorter strap). In that position I do not need to bend the wrist joint so much which gives me the extra centimeters I need.
    The strap knob is then vertically below the shoulder and the guitar stays in position. With the traditional strap mounting I have to keep it from moving with the right arm.

    So, all those who suffer from short fingers, it's worth a try.
    But I think we're departing from the thread's original topic now...
     
  5. Mike Manhost67

    Mike Manhost67 Strat-Talker

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    Would only think about decking or a block on a Strat if it was the only guitar I had.

    Leo designed them to float, and I agree
     
  6. slingacat

    slingacat New Member!

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    If you don't use the trem, then I would suggest a hardtail.
    I have several Strats, and one of them is a hardtail.
    They do have a slightly different sound and vibe than a regular Strat. There is a certain "Telecaster" aspect to the sound of a hardtail Strat, especially when using the bridge pickup. It is more noticeable to me if I play the hardtail and then pick up a regular Strat right afterwards.
    It's not a huge difference, but there is certainly something about it a trem Strat doesn't have.
    I prefer regular Strats since I do use the whammy bar quite a bit. But, if I didn't use the trem at all, I would prefer that slightly different sound/feel of a hardtail. Strat.
    I would suggest playing a regular and a hardtail and compare before you make your decision.
    While both will give you a pure Strat sound, you'll likely notice that slight difference.
    Good luck, and you really can't go wrong.
     
  7. Peter_Polfeldt

    Peter_Polfeldt Strat-Talk Member

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    Yes, its two different worlds.

    Clapton tried hardtails found it doesnt sound like a strat, blocked the tremolo with a wooden block.

    Billy Gibbons and Nile Rodgers use hardtails, Robert Cray too..

    The springs cause some sort of reverblike resonance, that I like.
     
  8. tinkertoy

    tinkertoy Strat-O-Master

    Age:
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    I can see this.

    Both from blocking a strat, owning a hardtail, and my latest discovery.

    A piece of foam.

    Yes a piece of foam. I have a Yamaha revstar rs502t with the funky tailpiece. Placing the foam under the strings by the tailpiece definitely changes the sound. There are all sorts of little harmonics and vibrations that affect the tone, stock.
    Adding the foam makes it sound more like a stoptail.

    It is subtle, but once you hear the difference, you can't unhear it.
     
    Tim S likes this.
  9. vintageguitarz

    vintageguitarz Strat-Talker

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    Location:
    The OC
    I made everyone of these for myself (after hours) while I worked at Fender (from Floor Supervisor -Luthier thru Imports Production Mgr).

    That do you think I prefer - Hardtails or Trems?

    1972 Stratocaster Alder Hardtail - wieighs 6lbs 5oz.
    1972 Fender Strat Alder Hardtail nat-black pg front.jpg

    1975 Stratocaster Swamp Ash I call it "Shadow" weighs 8lbs "hefty"
    1975 Fender Stratocaster hardtail Blackie lrg.jpg

    1976 Stratocaster Alder used to be Olympic White nitro, weighs 6lbs 10oz
    1976 Stratocaster Hardtail front.JPG
    1978 Stratocaster Swamp Ash, Olympic White poly (didn't "change") 8lbs 2oz
    1978 Fender Stratocaster Olympic White hardtail.jpg

    1979 Stratocaster Alder 4-piece "Creme Antiqua" weighs 7lbs 2oz
    (sorry, very old Polaroid image scanned to digital)
    1979 Fender Antiqua S9-40716.jpg

    1983 (82) Fender Stratocaster Elite, Alder with Schaller "Freeflyte" Trem, Linda Fralin Noiseless PuP's/ Act Electronics etc. This was the first Strats with a Trem I ever built for myself (because it NEVER went out of tune) and one of the 3 Prototypes (actually made in late 1982). My #1 Go-To Stratocasters.
    Weighs only 7lbs 10oz.
    1983 Fender Strat Elite.jpg

    1984 Stratocaster "Graffiti Yellow" Swamp Ash original Jeff Beck model. Used the newly designed "knife Edge" 2-stud pivot Trem Beck requested, Alnico II PuPs. Only 201 made, mine was the last "extra" one I made but with my favorite 1-piece Maple Neck, so it's rare. Jeff Beck was given 3 with the std Rosewood boards.
    1984 Fender Strat Graffiti Yellow Jeff Beck Mdl.jpg

    Jeff Beck playing graffitti yellow Strat1.gif
     
  10. BuddyGuy

    BuddyGuy Strat-Talker

    Age:
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    I own two of them.
     
    soulman969 and Namelyguitar like this.
  11. bobhobard

    bobhobard Strat-Talk Member

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    Clapton had all of his strats blocked. Supposedly increases sustain. There is so much BS on these threads-it's all subjective. Great players all bought junker guitars in pawn shops and over time modified them to suit their particular needs. Van Halen, Stevie Ray and a host of others. That suggests that it has more to do with how well you play, how hard you practice and intuitively optimizing the sound of the instrument at hand. My feeling is you want a hardtail? buy a Les Paul.
     
  12. tinkertoy

    tinkertoy Strat-O-Master

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    Correct. Most guys grabbed what they had available.

    He just continues to use what he is familiar with.

    A hardtail strat is so far from a les paul it's not funny.
    Hardtails are very much still strats. They just have a tiny different sound. More direct sounding/reacting?
     
  13. Jam Handy

    Jam Handy Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
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    Florida, USA
    The only "custom shop" S-style guitars I buy are made by G&L. All you do is tell the dealer exactly what you want and they build it, minus the extra zero or more Fender adds to their price tag... and IMHO< a better guitar with real Leo mojo.

    G&L uses their "Saddle Lock" bridge, which sinks deeper into the wood than a typical Fender hard tail that just skims the surface. FYI >> the Saddle Lock Bridge can be special ordered on any of the G&L S-style guitars...

    My take is... my G&L S-types with their Saddle Lock bridge have a lot more sustain, as the wood behind the strings, normally hogged out for a trem, is all intact. Speaking of hogging out wood... there is the tail of the "bath tub route" (aka "swimming pool route") under the pickgaurd on many guitars, also alleviating them of sustain-enhancing wood... not sure who does what in this manner these days... I have a 1993 Fender MIJ Fotoflame that has single routes for each pickups... one of my favorite guitars.

    G&L Saddle Lock Bridge:
    https://g-l-online-store.myshopify.com/products/g-l-saddle-lock-guitar-bridge


    Example of a "bath tub route" that might be under your pickguard...
    Bath Tube route.jpg

    This is my 1993 MIJ Fotoflame...
    !Pictures 06-07-12 003.jpg

    FWIW... after some handy copper shielding now looks like this... (no more single coil noise)
    !Pictures 06-07-12 039.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
  14. ZZDoc

    ZZDoc Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
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    Jan 29, 2013
    Location:
    Florida
    The historical yada yada about Clapton's guitars is that he didn't use a trem so he 'blocked' it. He preferred that to a 'hard tail' because he felt the springs added something to the tone of the guitar. Now what does 'blocked' mean. In the EC Signature guitar the trem claw is screwed down flush to the wall of the trem cavity and the trem block sits flush against the wall of the bridge routing. There's a wood block which fits snugly in the space between the trem block and the back wall of the bridge rout. Hence, the system is linked vibration-wise. This is the way the guitars come from the factory since 1988. Here's the kicker. In the photograph of the back of Clapton's original 'Blackie', on the back cover of the Crossroads Auction Catalog, a wood block is absent, and who knows if his current stage guitars are setup as such.
     
  15. fommof

    fommof Strat-Talker

    Messages:
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    Aug 27, 2011
    Location:
    Europe
    I never had a hardtail strat, obviously I use the tremolo, nowadays most of the times sporadically and most times on recordings but...

    Still, if I was 100% sure I was never need and use the tremolo, I would prefer hardtail strats 'cause they would be a bit lighter (for instance, I have the Callaham steel block on all my strats and that alone is about 280gr according to his site).
     
  16. Johnnie

    Johnnie Strat-Talk Member

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    KS
    Blocked trem for me
     
  17. Serf Ryder

    Serf Ryder Strat-Talk Member

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    Directly over the center of the earth. (Rome, Ga.)
    When I decided to put together my own guitars, I also went with the hardtail option. I've played 'em with trems, blocked, etc., but a hardtail gives me what I want, tone and simplicity. IMG_8341.jpg
     
    Tim S and ProSonicLive like this.
  18. ProSonicLive

    ProSonicLive Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
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    Going by what I need right now, I already have an American standard that is decked (not blocked). I do not ever pitch up so no need to float.
    I would likely want one that has a hard tail for tuning stability. I would also gear it towards Prog rock and metal So, twin humbuckers.

    From My experiacne, the vocal character of the guitar does not differ at all from a decked unit. At least not under high gain or even mildly pushed.
    You may hear a minor difference in sparkling cleans if you are running directly into the amp.
    But not enough to notice.
    The best thing about a hard tail to be is the better tuning stability. That and I already have guitars that have Trems that work for what I do when i need them.
     
  19. Arvelup

    Arvelup New Member! Silver Member

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    A hand painted job using acrylic (water base). Painted by my son's partner, not me!. The detail is amazing. Sealed with a spray can of clear nitrocellulose.
     
    nickmsmith likes this.
  20. Fenderguy710

    Fenderguy710 Strat-Talk Member

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    IMG_20200523_030705774.jpg In 20 years I've used the tremolo less than 30 minutes, but the spring tension is set up perfectly, so I have never had tuning issues. I never found it necessary to lock it out for that reason. Who knows, I might use it again for 5 or 10 minutes.
     
    tinkertoy likes this.