Playing a Gretsch guitar is a transformative experience. Its renowned combination of archtop construction and wide-open sound immediately inspires you to play a little outside your comfort zone and aim to be as technically proficient as Gretsch devotee Brian Setzer and as rhythmically textural as the Heartbreakers' Mike Campbell.
For some players, Gretsch guitars haven’t been the most affordable option. However at this year’s NAMM show, Gretsch released the Streamliner series of guitars, which are not only affordable, but boast the brand’s classic Fifties and Sixties aesthetic with modern upgrades that make these guitars extremely versatile.
The Streamliner series is available in seven different models with Center Block, Center Block Junior and total hollow bodies. For this review, I took a look at the Gretsch G2655T Streamliner Center-Block Jr. Double Cutaway with Bigsby. It may be a mouthful to pronounce, but the G2655T is a superb guitar that’s well suited to handle a spectrum of styles from super-charged hard rock to jangly pop thanks to its powerful Broad’Tron pickups.
The G2655T is a compact “junior” model with a 24.75-inch scale length, which makes the guitar feel comfortably small, well balanced and easy to play similar to a Gretsch Duo Jet. The guitar features semi-hollow construction with a lightweight spruce center block that runs the length of its arched laminated maple body, which reinforces the top and also contributes to eliminating feedback when the guitar is played at higher volumes.
The G2655T has a traditional Gretsch control layout with neck and bridge volume controls, a master tone, three-way pickup selector and a master volume control located at the lower cutaway bout, but its most notable feature is the pair of Broad’Tron humbucking pickups that provide all the necessary high-output roar for players who want a powerhouse sound. Other slick features that make the guitar feel fast include a 12-inch fretboard radius, a super-slim U-profile neck shape, 22 medium jumbo frets, and a Bigsby-licensed B50 vibrato tailpiece. The guitar also comes complete with classic Grestch styling with pearloid block inlays, F-holes, and two-ply white and black body binding.
I can’t even begin to express how much fun the G2655T is to play. The guitar simply looks stunning with a walnut stain that curiously looks more like see-thru cherry but I’m not complaining. Out of the box, the guitar is setup perfectly, with low action and the strings possessing a springy feel, much in part to the Bigsby-licensed B50 vibrato. I’m not whammy aggressive, so I found the Bigsby most effective when I used it for slight half-to-whole step vibrato wiggle that kept the guitar in tune. Also, the snugly thin profile of the nato neck allowed me to sail across the fretboard.
The Broad’Tron pickups are noticeably darker sounding with plenty of output, pushing forth deep lows, growly midrange and cutting highs, and sound deliciously smooth when confronted with distortion. Even at high volume, the guitar didn’t squeal but rather sang with musical feedback. Even more impressive is how responsive the pickups are when tamed with the volume knob for cleans that sparkle or setting the knob halfway for tight rhythm crunch.
STREET PRICE $549.99
MANUFACTURER Gretsch, gretschguitars.com
• The high-output Broad’Tron pickups dish out beefy humbucking tones at full throttle, and cutting cleans when rolling down the master volume knob.
• For subtle tremolo work, the Bigsby-licensed B50 vibrato stays remarkably in tune, and is a fitting complement to the guitar’s stylish looks.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The affordable G2655T Streamliner Center-Block Jr. Double Cutaway is a clear champion with impeccable craftsmanship and robust tones that make it incredibly versatile for hard rock, blues, and rockabilly.