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Thread: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

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    Default Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    Hi

    Now I have finally got the funds for ordering a strat clone from USACG.
    I'm still in doubt about a few things and wanted to receive input from you guys about the bridge issue.

    I'm still torn between a tremolo bridge and a hardtail. I was totally set on a hardtail but then heard that a lot of people like anchor the bridge flush to the body and even use all 5 springs in order to immobilize the bride as much as possible in order to have the hardtail feel but get the special sound that the springs add to the equation.

    Is this correct? Do the springs add to the tone and if so can anyone try to describe the tonal difference between a hardtail and an "acquired" hardtail.

    Let me stress that I would definetly set the bridge flush to the body and use all 5 springs if I would get a tremolo bridge. It's just the question of tone now

    Thanks a lot

    Petur

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    Irish Flagologist PUCKBOY99's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    Yeah, I'm in the camp of believing that the springs & all that add to the Strat sound. I also don't use the trem & have it locked down.

    I've never played a real hardtail Strat......I have a Tele & 'Bird for hardtail duties
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    Tone Member matt_transition's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    I think that Hardtails are only really suitable when playing with humbuckers, if your guitar will have 2 or more single coils, go for the tremolo. Hardtails will have a tightness and resonance that isn't really recognized as the 'Strat' sound.
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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    +1 for tremolo strats. My HWY1 has a tremolo that is locked down and I think I lost the tremolo arm. I also believe that the tremolo and springs are part of the strat tone equation.
    Duncan Pickups in currently in use: '59 (rewound to PATB-3)/'59, Custom 5/AP2H, Tapped QP set for Tele, Duncan Distortion, SP90-1/SP90-2

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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    Useing all Five springs with the bridge snug to the body creates this weird almost "reverb" sound. Which is pretty Kool sumtimes. But really annoying other times.
    but I agree that For it to Really sound like a Strat, ya gotta have the trem + springs. Even if you don't ever use it. Its just part of the sound. And It just wouldn't sound Like a strat without it.
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    Bengalsologist MikeS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    True, there can be a great deal of spring vibration depending on how tight they are drawn in with the spring claw. If the vibration is too much then take a piece of foam (the foam Seymour packages in which new pickups works great) and place it in the spring cavity. It does a great job dampening the springs.
    Duncan Pickups in currently in use: '59 (rewound to PATB-3)/'59, Custom 5/AP2H, Tapped QP set for Tele, Duncan Distortion, SP90-1/SP90-2

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    Tone Member matt_transition's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeS
    If the vibration is too much then take a piece of foam (the foam Seymour packages in which new pickups works great) and place it in the spring cavity. It does a great job dampening the springs.
    That is true, i use that foam to dampen my Floyd Rose & it works an absolute treat!
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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeS
    True, there can be a great deal of spring vibration depending on how tight they are drawn in with the spring claw. If the vibration is too much then take a piece of foam (the foam Seymour packages in which new pickups works great) and place it in the spring cavity. It does a great job dampening the springs.
    Me too.... i hate that Spring noise on most of my guitars and i add the foam too..... on a stock strat i like slightly floating vintage trem with no foam in the spring cavity... it adds to the life of the guitar... oddly enough i have that stock strat's bridge sitting flush these days for ease of tuning....

    Speaking of foam i wish i knew where to get the foam that Godin uses on their Braggs piezo trem units on the Solidac models..... They glue a riggid foam to eitherside of the trem block so when the bridge is floating the bridge does not flutter when you hit the strings hard and it also cuts down on the spring noise as the bridge is more stable.... The foam when you use the trem squeezes up againts the body route and goes back to the original shape when you leave the bar alone.... With a Piezo trem bridge the last thing you want is spring noise so i also put some PU foam in the springs just for insurance but they didn't really need it with the trem foam from the factory.... At first i had no idea why that foam was on the bridge and i tried tp pull it off but it was glued good! Now i hope i didn't damage it as now i understand why it's there and it works!

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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    I have both a true hard tail and trem strats, and the difference is hardly noticable. The hardtail still sounds like a strat. The hard tails seem to have a bit more sustain, everything else being equal. So I believe your okay either way.

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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    i have a hardtail strat and i like it just fine. i dont think it makes much of a difference at all.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    You need to play both and decide for yourself. Personally, I prefer tone of a Strat with the vibrato and the tone the vibrato and springs and block adds to the guitar. But I keep mine locked down so it will not move...I NEVER, EVER use it! But I like what the vibrato assembly adds to the tone of the guitar: a certain "steely bounce". Lew

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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    The trem is a big part of the "strat sound". A hardtail won't resonate in the same way a trem strat will. Although with the hardtai you could install a Twangbanger at the bridge and have some real fun.
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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    I agree with what was said before.

    BUT remember that Clapton's Brownie was a hardtail strat. That guitar, I think, is one of the best sounding strats I have ever heard. The first song on the derek and the dominoes called I looked away is one of my all time favorites.

    B

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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lake Placid Blues
    I have both a true hard tail and trem strats, and the difference is hardly noticable. The hardtail still sounds like a strat. The hard tails seem to have a bit more sustain, everything else being equal. So I believe your okay either way.
    +1

    Quote Originally Posted by WhoFan
    it adds to the life of the guitar...
    What?
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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    i have strats of both types, but never use the lever.
    both have unique sounds. find out what suits your type of playing
    ~+~ tube afflicted, strat addicted ~+~

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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Baltar
    i have strats of both types, but never use the lever.
    both have unique sounds. find out what suits your type of playing
    From my experience, for most things the added sustain is more noticible than the missing spring cavity, springs, etc. I would say go hardtail, but that's just me. with all due respect to the others, there's still a whole lot of strat left to make it a strat. =) I think you'd do more to change the sound by going from a vintage to a modern neck than by making it a hardtail.

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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    Thank you so much for you input guys.....

    Different opinions as expected and lots of good info.
    I think Lew summed it up for me........."go try both types and see what you like better". The only problem is that hardtail strats are not easy to find here in Iceland. We have a Fender dealership but you could say that it's not exactly Guitar Center :

    Thanks a lot for you help

    Petur

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    BadHairDayologist Empty Pockets's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    I have one of each. Each is alder-bodied with the pickups in my signature.

    My Fender California Strat has the tremelo locked down and a maple/maple neck. As a rule it always sounds super thin and twangy. Even the super distortion with it's wall of lows and low-mids twangs out big-time when i play this thing. Not necessarily a bad thing because I like how obnoxious it can be with the single coils...twang-snap-twangedy snap snap

    My Warmoth is hardtail with a rosewood/maple neck. This thing has a lot more low-end and mids than the Fender does naturally. It's also a lot louder acoustically and sustains far more. The tuning is rock-solid unless i hit something with the headstock (happens more often than you'd think haha) and it's definitely my dream guitar.

    I think the "tone the springs add" is just more twang and thinness to an already twangy and thin-sounding guitar. More wood means more vibration means a bigger sound so...hopefully that helps.

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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by petursig
    Thank you so much for you input guys.....

    The only problem is that hardtail strats are not easy to find here in Iceland.
    Hardtail Strats are hard to find anywhere. I'd love to have a 60s RI hardtail, but Fender hasn't made one recently, if at all. I once saw some literature on a '50s RI Hardtail, but my local dealer sad he had never even heard of such a thing.

    Having said that, I haven't noticed much difference. I have two hardtails and several (3, I think) soft-tails and they all sound like...well, Strats.

    I never use the trem. I put five springs on there and tighten the claw so the bridge is sitting firmly against the top of the body. Maybe that's why I don't really see a difference. Maybe a blocked trem and a hardtail sound about the same when compared to a Strat with a floating trem.

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    Mojo's Minions J Moose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardtail Strat v.s. Tremolo Strat: Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by skh515
    I put five springs on there and tighten the claw so the bridge is sitting firmly against the top of the body. Maybe that's why I don't really see a difference. Maybe a blocked trem and a hardtail sound about the same when compared to a Strat with a floating trem.
    It's tough to know what the real difference would be since you'd have to have a hardtail and then route it to be a trem guitar...there's just too many variables to have a scientific comparison. But, most of the hardtails I've played resonate & feel a little more "solid" then trem guitars...even when the trem is locked down. It stands to reason, there's a little more wood there and the bridge is making full contact with the body. You can find a dog in either direction but the general vibe I get is that a hardtail Strat is a little closer to a Tele vibe, and the bridge pickup almost always seems more usable. YMMV.

    FWIW I've been sticking foam under the trem springs for years...it's a MUST if you're in a high gain situation.
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