Squier Bullet Strat Hardtail
One wonders why Squier didn't do this sooner?
At the time I write this in June 2017, Squier just released a selection of hardtail Stratocaster guitars, both in SSS and HSS configurations.
This is what one of the HSS models looks like:
The colors I've seen offered are black, two-tone sunburst, arctic white and fiesta red.
Price? Cheap. As in under $200 cheap.
The first question to anyone who likes the hardtail (which by the way means "no whammy bar") is this: Do the strings mount through the body or is it a top loader?
Answer: It's a top loader.
Some guitarists think that top loader guitars are junk. Well, Jaguars and Jazzmasters traditionally all top-load unless it's a modernized model, and they're certainly not junk. Squier's Affinity Telecaster is also a top-load guitar as well, and that guitar is a solid bargain and great to play. And of course, every Les Paul and SG is a top-loader too as far as I'm aware, so that whole "top load sucks" argument is totally invalid.
What makes this hardtail worth getting?
This is the absolute cheapest officially licensed Fender Stratocaster design in hardtail form.
What "licensed" means in this context is headstock shape. You'll notice that when other companies copy the Strat - of which there are many - it's the headstock where the design differs most because according to the law, that place more than anywhere else is what identifies one guitar brand from another.
Anyway, the point is that prior to this hardtail Strat from Squier, you had to go with another brand to get a Stratocaster-ish guitar in the hardtail configuration. Now you don't have to. You can get the Squier and get it for cheap, and that's good.
Is a hardtail Strat better for the player?
Most people never use the Stratocaster tremolo system and either "deck" or "block" it. Decking is when the claw screws in the back are tightened so the tremolo system won't move, and blocking is when a piece of wood is inserted between the tremolo block and the body to prevent the system from moving.
If you're the type that decks or blocks a Strat tremolo system and would just rather skip the whole thing, then you want a hardtail.
It's also 100% true that changing strings on a top-loader is far easier compared to through-body. You never have to deal with the ball end of the string getting stuck in the block during string changes, which is something every Stratocaster owner is aware of.
In addition, there are no springs in the back to ring accidentally, which is jokingly called "Stratocaster reverb". Many Strat players purposely wrap electric tape around the tremolo claw springs just to stop the stupid things from ringing and causing unwanted noises.
So yes, there are advantages to the hardtail, and as said above, now you can get it real cheap. I mean, yeah, you could order up a Robert Cray Stratocaster signature guitar which is also a hardtail, but seriously, just go cheap and get the Squier if you want a Strat without the tremolo system.