A tip-top rockabilly bomber at a bargain price.
0:00 - Bridge pickup, into Twin Reverb clean
0:20 - Neck pickup, Twin Reverb
0:52 - Bridge pickup, into Friedman BE-50 Lead Channel
1:20 - switch to neck pickup.
Well-built for the price. Fresh angle on timeless Gretsch styling. Versatile tones.
Sharp nut corners. Hot pickups might not suit traditionalists.
Gretsch Streamliner G2420T
Just as the Electromatic Collection took the pricier designs of the Professional series to a wider audience, the even-more-affordable Streamliner line delivers Gretsch looks, sounds, and feel at prices around the mid-three-figure range. But while the Indonesian-made Streamliners are tagged at only 60 percent to 70 percent or so of their Electromatic equivalents (and about a quarter of the most comparable Professional Collection models), a quick assessment will tell you they’re not nearly as down-market in features, fit, and finish as that might imply.
The Streamliner series doesn’t always feature vintage-correct appointments or period-perfect materials and construction. But that’s far from the point. “That Great Gretsch Sound” has already successfully morphed across several different pickup configurations and body styles in six-and-a-half decades. There’s no reason players with tighter budgets should miss out on the fun. Let’s dig in and see just how much of it this smartly revamped Streamliner delivers.
The Streamliner G2420T stylistically nods to the legendary 6120 Chet Atkins hollowbody of the ’50s. It’s also tied to Gretsch’s flagship axe in terms of features and format. The design cornerstones are a 2.75"-deep, fully hollow archtop body made from laminated maple, with trestle (i.e. parallel rail) bracing and a single rounded cutaway. The “T’ in the model name designates inclusion of a Bigsby-licensed vibrato tailpiece—another classic Gretsch element. The candy apple red finish on our test model is one of three available (riviera blue and goldust are the others), and it’s nicely framed by aged-white binding with 3-ply b/w/b purfling front and back. The reddish-brown tortoiseshell pickguard probably wouldn’t be my first choice against the red-metallic of the candy apple finish (parchment, black, silver?). Others will no doubt like the customized look.
Another change is the replacement of full-block inlays with the characteristic Gretsch hump-blocks from the mid ’50s. They’re inlaid in an attractive, medium-brown laurel, 12" radius fretboard with aged-white binding. It caps a nato neck scaled to 24.75", with a nut width of 1.6875". Gretsch calls the neck shape a “thin U,” but in my hands it feels more like a fully rounded C profile. Measurements are .875" deep at the first fret and just shy of 1" at the tenth. In any case, it fills the hand comfortably and plays great up and down its length. My only complaint is that the corners of the synthetic nut are a little sharp. (That’s a problem easily cured with a few swipes of the correct file.)
Other hardware includes an Adjusto-Matic bridge on a pinned laurel base—which helps prevent you from knocking it out of whack in your more enthusiastically rocking moments—and die-cast nickel OEM tuners with Grover-style kidney buttons. The new Broad’Tron BT-2S pickups, which are really the feature attraction in this evolution of the Streamliner line, are bigger than Filter’Trons, but they share a Filter’Tron’s cool styling with their peekaboo covers and 12 adjustable pole pieces. The resistance in this set measure 9.24k ohms in the bridge position and 8.90k ohms in the neck, so they’re also wound hotter than traditional Filter’Trons. But the hotter output might suit the tastes of a lot of guitarists shopping in this range. They’re wired through individual volume controls, a master tone, a master volume, and a 3-way switch.
Visually speaking, the Streamliner G2420T screams “rockabilly.” It lives up to its outward attitude when you plug it in, too. Tested through a TopHat Club Royale 1x12 combo set clean with a touch of breakup, the pickups were still clear and well defined for a set wound to the hotter edge of traditional PAF humbucker specs. The sparkle, chime, and articulation of the bridge pickup and in-between settings are very Filter’Tron-like, and impressive for pickups in this price class. But they also deliver a little more bite and grind at the same time. Traditional rockabilly riffs bounced and snarled. And the twang in lower single-note runs exuded characterful grit that cut with authority. The neck pickup, meanwhile, ably delivers rich, warm jazz tones for players who might need to bop or swing occasionally.
The G2420T delivers in higher-gain situations, too. Dirtied up with overdrive from a Bogner Wessex and a Tube Screamer (used independently and in series), it generated thick rock textures with ease. The bridge pickup delivers great lead tones with good string-to-string separation. The neck pickup sings in round, vocal blues tones. Better still, the feedback howl that plagues most hollowbodies is not nearly as prominent or overwhelming as I would have expected—at least at reasonable volumes and reasonable distances from the amp. And many pickup settings enable creative sustain effects and harmonic swell that’s more controllable than I’ve experienced with other large hollowbody electrics. It’s all pleasantly manageable.
Confidently delivering the spirit and sounds of Brian Setzer, Billy Duffy, and many points in between, the Streamliner G2420T is an impressive guitar for the money. Build quality is good for the price, and playability and tone are even more impressive. At around $550, it’s primed to surprise a lot of players who assumed a versatile hollowbody archtop electric with the Gretsch name on the headstock was beyond their reach.