Review: Gretsch Streamliner G2420T Hollow Body
Gretsch Guitars’ brand new Streamliner series offers access to the legendary brand name at a very affordable price point.
At the moment, the new range includes three different guitar models:
The G2622 Streamliner Center Block (also available left handed) is a centre block-equipped version of a Sixties double cutaway Country Gentleman, while the G2655 Streamliner Center Block offers you similar looks in a more compact package. The G2420 Streamliner Hollow Body, for its part, is a full-blown, big-bodied archtop guitar in a similar vein to Gretsch’s legendary 6120.
All three guitars are also available as T-versions with a Bigsby Lightning Series vibrato. The Streamliner Series is handmade in Indonesia.
The Gretsch Streamliner G2420T Hollow Body (street price in Finland approx. 560 €) is a very foxy looking guitar, despite its quite affordable pedigree.
The G2420T can be had in see-though red or gold metallic, while the standard model (equipped with a lyre-style tailpiece) comes in brown sunburst only.
The G2420T’s full-depth body is made from steam-pressed laminated maple. The top is stiffened by Gretsch’s traditional parallel bracing.
The nato (an Asian wood species somewhat similar to mahogany) neck is glued into the body.
There’s plenty of binding on the Streamliner Hollow Body – in addition to the multiple binding on the body the guitar also sports a bound fretboard and even a bound headstock.
This Gretsch comes equipped with a very decent set of sealed tuning machines.
The vintage-sized frets have been neatly seated. The G2420T features large rectangular position markers made from pearloid.
Bigsby’s mid-priced Lightning Series vibratos are produced in the Far East to exacting standards. The Bigsby B60 has been specifically designed for use with large-bodied archtops, such as the Gretsch G2420T.
This Streamliner’s Adjusto-matic bridge may seem to be held in place simply by string pressure, but there’s more to the bridge than meets the eye. The rosewood base is “secured”, which means reverse pinned. The bridge posts continue all the way through the rosewood base and into two holes in the guitar’s top, which keeps the whole bridge in the correct place.
The biggest difference between the Streamliner G2420T and similar models in Gretsch’s Electromatic- and Pro-ranges can be found in the new guitar’s pickups:
Depending on the “era”, or an artists wishes, a Pro Series Model G6120 will either come with a pair of DeArmond single coils, Gretsch’s own Filter’Tron humbuckers or similar TV Jones pickups. Recent Electromatic G5420’s are now equipped with Gretsch’s new Black Top Filter’Trons, which are licensed Far Eastern copies of the original pickups.
All new Streamliners sport a pair of Broad’Tron pickups. Broad’Trons are full-sized humbuckers designed to offer a tone somewhere in-between the twang and bite of Filter’Trons and the lush warmth of PAF-style ‘buckers.
The controls on the G2420T are pure Gretsch:
Below the f-hole you will find separate volume knobs for each pickup, as well as a joint master tone control. An additional master volume control is placed next to the cutaway.
Let me start this section by stressing how well-made this budget-Gretsch really is! The review sample wasn’t a “review instrument”, breathed on by distributors Fender Scandinavia, instead I took the guitar straight off the wall at a local music shop (DLX Music).
The Gretsch G2420T Streamliner Hollow Body is a very cleanly put together archtop electric, and I genuinely couldn’t find anything to criticise (especially when considering the instruments pocket-friendly price). The very nice fretwork on the Streamliner is a definite plus when it comes to this guitar’s comfortable playability.
Officially Gretsch call this neck profile a “Thin U”, but I would describe it as a very comfy D shape with a slightly flattened back.
The Bigsby B60 is buttery and doesn’t throw the Hollow Body out of tune too much, if used sensibly (a word of advice: if you’re very sensitive when it comes tuning stability, a Bigsby probably isn’t right for you). Because a Bigsby B6/B60 makes do without the additional roller of other Bigsby models, this vibrato is more sensitive and immediate in use (which is a good thing in my view). You get the all the Bigsby shine and shimmer with less “work”.
Played acoustically, the Streamliner Hollow Body sounds just like the laminated-body archtop it is – open and dry with a strong focus on mid-range frequencies.
I feel that Gretsch’s plan of taking its new Streamliners closer towards the mainstream really seems to hit the mark. The Broad’Trons may not give you the traditional clucky, chicken picking, bright and sparkly sound of a set of Filter’Trons, but there’s still enough presence and treble left in the new pickups’ tone for a gretsch-y sound.
Thanks to the new pickups’ broader tone the Gretsch G2420T also works well for Jazz, apart from the usual Country and Rock (-abilly) genres. This clip starts with the neck pickup:
The Streamliner Hollow Body also sounds great with a light amount of crunch. There’s a nice balance between the low end and the treble in the G2420T’s sound, coupled with the dry delivery so typical of big box archtops.
You should be aware, though, that high gain settings and/or very high volume levels will result in howling feedback sooner or later. This isn’t really a fault, but rather a normal feature of this type of instrument, and the Streamliner Hollow Body isn’t any more “problematic” than other guitars of this type.
This sound clip, too, has been recorded with Blackstar HT-1R valve combo:
Here’s the demo track off the Youtube video, whose guitar tracks were recorded using Apple Garageband’s own amp plug-ins. The lead guitar uses the bridge pickup, while the rhythm parts have been recorded using both pickups (left channel) and the neck pickup (right channel), respectively:
In my opinion the Gretsch Streamliner G2420T Hollow Body is one of the best full-size archtops in this price range – possibly even the best! This is a surprisingly well-made instrument that punches far above its “weight”.
If you’re looking for the “genuine Gretsch Sound”, warts-and-all, I would point you to the (much pricier) Electromatic Series and its Filter’Tron pickups.
One of the Streamliner Series’ main objectives, though, is to broaden and widen the appeal of these guitars, and take the Gretsch name closer to the mainstream. I feel Gretsch have succeeded very well in this endeavour!
Gretsch Streamliner G2420T Hollow Body
street price 560 €
Contact: Gretsch Guitars
A very warm “thank you” to the guys at DLX Music Helsinki for supplying the review guitar!
+ value for money
+ secured bridge
+ Bigsby works great