The Streamliner concept is simple: to create more affordable Gretsch guitars without losing their specific DNA.
So, this new range centres on three body styles: the large 406mm (16-inch) wide G2420T; the same-sized double-cut thinline G2622, with spruce centre block; and a downsized 340mm (13.375-inch) wide Junior version, the G2655.
There are two Bigsby versions of each model (the only difference being the sole colour they are offered in), and one hard-tail version that, along with a single G2622 lefty, creates a 10-strong range. Despite the different styles, there are just two prices: the non-Bigsby versions cost £350; the Bigsby-equipped models and the lefty are £395, pretty much half the price of the existing Electromatics.
The Streamliner models share a majority of features. Each has two new Broad'Tron humbuckers controlled in classic Gretsch style by a three-way toggle selector switch on the bass side shoulder, a master volume on the treble side horn, and then a trio of controls by the treble-side f-hole for individual-pickup volume and master tone.
Construction follows the hollow/semi protocol of laminated maple top, back and sides, although on the G2622 and G2655 there's a new-design centre block that is mainly hollow).
All have the same slightly longer scale length of 629mm (24.75 inches), bound rosewood 'boards, a 305mm (12-inch) radius, and the same profile nato (as opposed to maple) necks.
Gretsch is calling the frets 'medium jumbo', though at approximately 2mm wide and 0.9mm high we'd say that's a misnomer – they are certainly smaller than the 'medium jumbo' wire of the Electromatics, which measures approximately 2.65mm wide with a pretty similar height.
Then there are the large block fingerboard inlays that nod back to the 70s; the headstock outline follows the classic 6120 shape with a gold logo and no series name while the smaller size f-holes follow those from Gretsch's Baldwin-owned era (1967 to 1980).
The clear-topped acrylic control knobs, with either gold or black coloured bases, actually revisit a design used by Gretsch in the early 50s, before knurled metal knobs, while the 'teardrop' pickguards emulate those on the Duo Jet.
This 'Junior' sized double-cut is essentially the same as the G2622, but downsized so the body measures 340mm (13.375 inches) across its lower bouts, the same as the Jet. "We have dallied with a Junior," says Adam. "Fred Gretsch did some downsized 14-inch models and Center-Block Juniors exist in the Pro series, but this is really a new concept: centre block, the downsizing and the double-cut outline."
While the body is downsized, like Gibson's ES-339, the rest of the guitar, its neck and, obviously, parts are all full-size. The Bigsby version uses the horseshoe- style B50, which is available in Walnut Stain and Black.
All three guitars from Gretsch's new Streamliner series share the same neck and excellent setups: all a pleasure to play. If high-fret action is your game, then the smaller Junior has the best access, the G2622's fingerboard sits into the body further than a ES-335 – and the G2420T? Well, good luck!
Played seated, both the bigger guitars feel great: the G2622 doesn't fall off your lap like a heavier semi can, while the Junior ticks the boxes for a home-recording guitar sat in front of your computer. The G2622 is slightly neck-heavy, but the upper horn strap-button placement means it sits quite conventionally, unlike a heel button placement, as on the Junior. And strapped on, it's far from balanced.
The Junior matches the G2622 for its inherent ring and resonance, albeit with slightly less bass end, which translates pretty much into what we hear amp'd: slightly more solid sounding, but still very much a semi.
More guitar for less money will continue to be a theme this year. It will be interesting to see if any major brands manage to do it quite as well as Gretsch has done here. Construction is crisp, seen in the important details of the neck, fingerboard and fretting. Centre blocks and lightness don't always go hand in hand, and yet here they do.
But are we really getting a half-price Gretsch? Yes and no. The beefier pickups certainly don't nail a classic Gretsch tonality – although if that's what you want, the full- size pickups are easy to replace – but they do broaden the sonic potential, especially for more gained styles, while staying close to the classic iconography. Either way, it's hard to be critical with those prices in mind.