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What is the best hardtail guitar?

Epiphone Les Paul Translucent Blue

Hardtail probably doesn't mean what you think it does.

What does "hardtail" mean?

There is some debate as to what hardtail actually means.

Hardtail in strict definition means a guitar where the strings are anchored at or directly behind the bridge.

This would mean a Les Paul like the one shown above is a real-deal hardtail.

This would also mean the Fender Standard Telecaster is not a hardtail because the strings go through the body, meaning not anchored directly at the bridge. The anchoring point is where the strings are held in the ferrules.

However, a top-loader Telecaster, such as the Squier Affinity Telecaster, is a hardtail because the string anchoring point is at the bridge itself...

...but for all intents and purposes, everyone calls a Telecaster a hardtail guitar anyway, regardless if it's a top-loader or string-through-body design, even though string-through-body isn't technically a hardtail.

One thing that hardtail absolutely does mean is "no vibrato system present" (or "no tremolo system present" when stated incorrectly.)

An example of a string-through-body where it's really obvious is any Schecter C-1 model without a vibrato system on it. You'll see the ferrules behind the bridge in plain sight where the strings go through the body.

What are the best hardtail guitars?

Fender Standard Telecaster
Fender Standard Telecaster

Personally, I think the Telecaster is the best you can get for a no-nonsense, no-vibrato guitar. Telecaster is my #1 pick. Again, I know it's technically not a hardtail, but like I said, everyone calls the Tele a hardtail anyway.

Epiphone G-400 PRO
Epiphone G-400 PRO

A good follow-up to the Telecaster is the SG. I specifically like the Epiphone G-400 PRO. It's a genuinely nice guitar and absolutely a real-deal hardtail. All the classic design cues are there, plus a few extra electronics goodies. The look is spot-on as well.

Epiphone ES-339 PRO
Epiphone ES-339 PRO

Yeah, I'm mentioning the ES-339 again. Can't say enough good things about this guitar. I love the Telecaster, but I love this one too. Great example of a hardtail that really gets the job done in fine style.

Do you need a hardtail guitar?

It can arguably be said that hardtails are the best player's guitars, because that type of instrument forces you to concentrate on play and not fumbling about with the vibrato system.

A vibrato system is something most guitar players don't even like that much, if at all. I personally like it, but only only the "slow" type such as on a Jazzmaster or something like a Gretsch with a Bigsby on it.

In other words, if you're the type of player who thinks, "Vibrato is nice, but I never use it," then go ahead get a guitar that has no vibrato on it at all. Get a Telecaster, SG, Les Paul or whatever you like. Skip the vibrato entirely with your next guitar, and it might be the best you ever own.

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