Blocking trem vs. Hardtail

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by lanc5, Oct 17, 2019.

  1. lanc5

    lanc5 TDPRI Member

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    I want to turn my trem strat to a fixed bridge strat to maximize sustain. I have 2 options:

    1) Blocking the trem

    2) Replacing the trem bridge with a hardtail bridge (it has the advantage to save the weight of the trem block)

    Which is the the best option in terms of TONE and SUSTAIN?
     
  2. Artslap

    Artslap Tele-Afflicted

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    Going Hardtail would probably increase sustain and change tone.

    Blocking would minimise the tone change, and slightly increase sustain, but has the advantage of being quick, simple and easily reversable. I'd start with this and use your ears.

    CP
     
  3. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Holic

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    I'n no Strat expert, but won't you need to fill the cavity the trem block sits in or what are you going to screw the hardtail bridge to?

    I'd go with blocking.
     
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  4. marc2211

    marc2211 Tele-Meister

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    I have the trem blocked on my Strat (and all those that are long gone) and also my PRS - I've done this since I started playing and saw that Clapton did the same (!). In all that time (30+ years), I've only ever seen one Hardtail Strat for sale locally, and never heard of a conversion to HT spec.

    I vote for blocking - quick, cheap and easy.
     
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  5. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    You can't install a hardtail bridge properly without filling the cavity and installing string ferrules.
    Blocking the trem is much the same thing other than the strings pass through the trem block rather than the body. I hardtailed my strat by wedging a block of wood between the block and body and screwing the screws in tight to keep everything solid.
    I also fitted a heavier solid brass trem block. Sustain was much improved over the old block and floating trem and its easily reversed if you wanted to. The main benefit is tuning stability across all strings when bending.

    20191017_194327.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
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  6. marc2211

    marc2211 Tele-Meister

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    I use the same method - definite tuning stability increase.
     
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  7. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Holic

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    Sounds to me that you have an excellent reason for adding a hardtail Strat to your collection.☺

    marc 2211: I blocked my Strat with a piece of mahogany when I read that EC did the same too. I think EC Signature Strats were supposed to come with a block when I bought mine around 1991. Mine didn't.

    Gratuitous picture:
    20180216_152847.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
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  8. Grandy

    Grandy Tele-Meister

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    I had a hardtail strat for a while. I've never used the trem much, so I wanted to try and hear for myself if it would increase sustain. In my opinion it didn't significantly, maybe a little. But there was something else missing. I've read on forums that people claim that the springs themselves affect the sound. I doubted that a lot, but having tried a hardtail and going back to traditional bridge, I have changed my view. What the springs do to the sound is hard to put to words and I won't try it here now. I've pulled the bridge to the body with five springs on my current strat. It feels stable and solid and I can palm mute, which you can't do with floating bridge. I could use the trem if I wanted, though it's not very handy it being pretty stiff and all.

    You want sustain? Try a compressor. ;)
     
  9. Buck@r00

    Buck@r00 Tele-Meister

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    I blocked mine by using a few big washers taped together. I put a few in front and a few in back so the trem was "in the middle". The guitar stayed in tune MUCH better.
    I've heard Clapton likes his blocked, more so than a hard tail, because the springs add a natural "reverb" to the sound.
     
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  10. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Holic

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    I deliberately avoided mentioning the "natural spring reverb" theory, never having played a hardtail Strat. So it was interesting to hear this from Grandy.
     
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  11. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a hardtail that weighs as much as a Les Paul. I don't think it a) sustains noticably more than any other strat or b) sounds different from any other strat.

    It's an electric guitar. So a lot of sustain is going to come from the electric side: pickups, gain - especially gain - will influence sustain more than tweaks.
     
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  12. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    I have 5 Strat-oids. 3 have trems with 2 decked with 5 springs and one decked and blocked with a piece of maple. One hardtail is a regular one with string ferrules and the other has a Gibson style TOM. Feel-wise, I like the decked and TOM ones the best. Tonally, the guitars are too different in other ways to make a good comparison but the decked ones do seem to have a more characteristic Stratty tone.

    There are laser cut wood blocks you can get to fill in the trem cavity. It's not something I'd recommend but it's available. I'd recommend just decking with 5 springs.
     
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  13. Skub

    Skub Friend of Leo's

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    Oh man,I needz to have the wiggle bar!
     
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  14. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    Blocked, decked or floating, my Strat sounds no different. I usually just stick to decking, it's the simplest option for reliable tuning and bending.
     
  15. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    I have owned multiples of both hardtail and regular, and I've blocked the trem as well. In terms of "sustain" both work pretty similarly, but I think people usually don't even know what this means. A regular strat has plenty of "sustain" unless your action is so low you are fretting out.
    I believe there is a definite tonal difference due to the strings anchoring in a trem block or not, for sure. A hardtail strat has a "woodier" more tele-like sound in my experience. Personally I don't think it's a bad thing at all, but the kind of sproingy strat sound isn't there.
     
  16. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    I get distracted with a whammy bar so I either deck or block all my trems.

    Eric Clapton approves blocking trems, even sells via Fender a wood block kit. You will find more consistent bends, less issue with string breaks, and faster tuning.

    The cavity to block is not quite square so you'll need to do some whittling on your block to get it to fit.

    Here's a relic guitar of mine that I put a hard maple block in there and removed the springs and claw. Some players will put a small block on the front side of the trem with two screws to hold that down but I haven't seen the need.

    [​IMG]

    Tone is in the pickups and pots+caps. This guitar is pickup>volume>jack with shielded cable.

    Sustain is in reducing friction and springiness of the system. If you've had or have seen cars with bad shocks bounding down the road after a pot hole you'll get a better idea. Less string length beyond the nut and saddles that can stretch, and well lubed nut and saddle contacts that reduce friction.

    Blocking the trem will improve sustain because you are eliminating the system compliance of the moving trem. Put your fingers on the strings between the nut and the tuners and use the whammy bar, feel the strings move up there? That is sapping your sustain.

    This guitar has a reverse headstock so the high strings have the least length for more sustain, the low strings have less sustain. Hendrix's headstock angle. LPs sustain least on D and G and the most on the E and e.

    [​IMG]

    .
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
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  17. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Afflicted

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    I dig the jvin guitar above! Looks like a rock machine.

    I can definitely hear the spring twang on my trem-equipped Strat-oid, even with five springs cranked down, and my hardtail Squier Strat-oid (no ferrules; top-loader) lacks that and seems more raw and sustainy to my ear.

    I like the spring twang “reverb tails” after the notes, but not as much as I like the hardtail feel and response.
     
  18. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Adding that large brass block and hardtailing my strat noticeably improved sustain when playing unplugged. The brass block alone improved it before I wedged the wood in. The little pot metal block that come stock in a lot of strats don't help when combined with the floating trem. My strat now sounds more like my teles when unplugged. You can feel it too, the guitar feels more alive and the body resonates more which makes me want to play it more.
    Knowing you can bend the hell out of the strings and have open strings ringing without going out of tune also makes it more enjoyable to play.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
  19. eddy b.

    eddy b. TDPRI Member

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    I have both a hard tail Strat and one with the whammy. I second the observation that my hard tail Strat behaves and sounds a LOT more like my Teles. My Strat with the whammy I use five springs and have really locked down the bridge it is VERY stiff almost unmovable. The difference in feel and and controlled feedback is noticeable. I like each and gig with each, but there is a difference, small and subtle as it is.
     
  20. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    Fair enough. As I said, I don't have another strat at the moment, so I've got used to the hardtail sound. The string bending thing is a definite advantage of any kind of non-trem strat.

    But sustain does seem to be more of a single-coil issue.
     
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