Gretsch G2655-P90 Streamliner Center Block Jr: What is it?
Heck, it’s borderline iconoclastic, and yet in models such as the Streamliner Junior Jet Club and this semi-hollow G2655-P90 Center Block Jr, it puts a thrilling twist on ‘that Gretsch tone’.
It's a paid-up member of Gretsch’s entry-level Streamliner series but you would not know it to look at it. There’s nothing entry-level about the finish, the tidy fretwork or, as we’ll get to, the feel and sounds. The Brownstone finish is deep and classy and would look very nice when set against the off-yellow-and-brown of a Fender Tweed.
The vintage vibe extends to the V-Stoptail tailpiece. A subtle nod to 50s American car culture, it’s a neat and tidy work of engineering that should endear itself to players who just want to tune up and rock out, but do note that there is a licensed Bigsby vibrato-equipped model should your urge to wobble overwhelm you.
Compared to the G2622 Center Block model, this Jr-sized body is around two inches slimmer at its widest, and this more compact form might well suit smaller frames. The body is comprised of arched laminated mahogany on top, back and sides, with unbound, oversized f-holes, and there is a lightweight spruce centre block to help kill feedback at high volumes.
And that might come in handy considering the G2655-P90’s pickup choices, which sees a pair of newly developed FideliSonic 90s fitted at the bridge and neck positions. As electric guitar pickups go, these make a tantalising prospect on a semi-hollow Gretsch.
The FideliSonic 90s are chrome-covered staple-style P-90s and mounted in vintage cream coloured mounts. You can adjust pickup height via two screws positioned between your E and D and G and B strings. These are wound to be a little feisty. As Gretsch describes them, ‘brash and brawn’ is what we are aiming for here, and historically P-90s really get going when you give them a little volume and gain to play with.
Controlling this we’ve got a fairly standard Gretsch circuit, with a shoulder-mounted three-way pickup selector, a master volume mounted on the lower cutaway, with a nest of individual volume controls and a master tone positioned within easy reach of your picking hand. Gretsch always has something for the control knob aficionado and doesn’t disappoint with a set of ‘radio arrow’ dials that look like they’ve been purloined off your granddad’s 1950s hi-fi system.
Elsewhere, we’ve got a nato – or eastern mahogany – neck carved into a Streamliner ever-present Thin U profile, and topped with an Indian laurel fingerboard with oval pearloid inlays. There’s a single-ply black pickguard, a wide Gretsch headstock profile with sealed die-cast tuners
Gretsch G2655-P90 Streamliner Center Block Jr: Performance and verdict
It is worth noting once again the quality of the finish. Hovering around the 500 bucks and under price point, this Streamliner model is priced a little too high to be considered a beginner’s guitar but as an entry into the world of Gretsch it represents incredible value, and there is no branding to indicate that you were on a budget. Design choices like that help add to the G2655-P90’s egalitarian bona-fides.
Like Gibson’s ES-339, the more compact dimensions of the Centre Block Jr is perennially underrated and may well be the perfect introduction to semi-hollows that would make converts of solidbody die-hards. A quick strum unplugged ends up lasting a little longer when you have these larger f-hole designs kicking out a little more acoustic volume than you might expect.
• Gretsch G2215-P90 Streamliner Junior Jet Club
An entry-level model that doesn't feel entry-level, this Junior Jet Club is ridiculously good fun – super-playable with some serious tones to burn.
• Gretsch G2622 Streamliner
The G2622 might well be the bargain 'ES-335' we've all been waiting for.
• Guild Starfire I DC and Guild Starfire I SC GVT
Both make great options for blues, jazz or rock 'n' roll but there's a nice versatility to these Starfire models' voice. Allied to the cool looks and sound materials, they make for excellent value in what is a crowded market for semi-hollow electrics.
When you plug, it’s immediately apparent that you’ve got a serious guitar on your hands. But is it a Gretsch? In the classic Broad’Tron/Filter’Tron rock ’n’ roll continuum it’s not what you might associate with the brand, but we would bet good money that the Gretsch demographic will lap this up, with the FideliSonics balancing clarity and trebly spikiness with a warmth and overwound spunk.
When played clean, these work great for blues. Scooting around the fretboard with the neck pickup engaged yields all kinds of sophisticated tones for jazz. Taking the amp to overdrive and they really sing and can take you from the skronky jangle of British Invasion tones to hard rock. If you want to make a night of it, stick it through a fuzz pedal; there’s a riot to be had with that.
Splitting the difference between speed and comfort, the neck is a welcoming platform for players at all levels, and when you pair that sort of easy playability with the FideliSonics’ devilry the G2655-P90 becomes hard to put down indeed.
MusicRadar verdict: The FideliSonic 90s open an inspired new chapter for the Gretsch tone playbook, and make this classy semi-hollow a fun and versatile instrument.
Gretsch G2655-P90 Streamliner Center Block Jr: The web says...
"Adding FideliSonic P90s to the the Center Block Jr format makes for a more rambunctious instrument that just loves a little gain in the mix, but it sweetens up nicely with some spring reverb and offers a quite exhilarating old-school rock 'n' roll experience."
Gretsch G2655-P90 Streamliner Center Block Jr: Hands-on demos
Gretsch G2655-P90 Streamliner Center Block Jr: Specifications
- PRICE: $499 / £469 street
- BODY: Laminated mahogany with chambered spruce centre block
- NECK: Nato, Thin U
- SCALE: 629 mm (24.75”)
- FINGERBOARD: Indian laurel
- FRETS: 22, medium jumbo
- PICKUPS: 2 x Gretsch FideliSonic 90 single-coils
- CONTROLS: 1 x master volume, 1 x tone, 2 x volume, 3-way toggle selector switch
- HARDWARE: Nickel Adjusto-Matic bridge with V-Stoptail, sealed die-cast tuners,
- FINISH: Brownstone (as reviewed), Claret Burst
- CASE: Optional G2655T Gretsch Streamliner Hardshell (£79)
- CONTACT: Gretsch