With famous acolytes ranging from George Harrison and Chet Atkins to Malcolm Young and Bono, Gretsch is certainly one of the most well-known guitar manufacturers in the world. The company’s designs have fueled genres from rockabilly to hard rock and all the subgenres in between.
The company’s new Streamliner series is aimed at guitarists on a tight budget who still want to get a taste of “that great Gretsch sound” for themselves. Retailing for less than $500, these axes are easy to afford yet offer an outstanding introduction to the features and quirks that have made Gretsch so famous.
The G2622 and G2622T are two of the most popular models from that Streamliner series. Let’s take a closer look at their features and see whether or not these guitars stand up to the best axes available under $500.
The G2622 utilizes a double-cutaway body style that’s outwardly similar to Gretsch’s famous Country Gentleman. Unlike the fully hollow Gent, however, the G2622 is a semi-hollow guitar. That means that it has a large spruce center block running through the hollow body of the guitar. The center block dulls the resonance a bit, which is helpful to control feedback at loud volumes.
But the f-holes and fully hollow wings still provide plenty of warm, acoustic tone. The entire body is made of laminated maple and glued to a nato wood neck. Nato is an Asian tonewood that shares many characteristics with mahogany. A laurel fretboard tops that neck, giving this guitar a dose of vintage style and tonal warmth.
The 12″ fretboard radius combines with Gretsch’s thin U neck shape to make a comfortable yet fast-playing instrument. This neck is a tad flatter than many Fender guitars, though Gibson fans will feel right at home here. The thin U is a well-rounded shape that performs well with a wide range of genres.
Gretsch equipped the G2622 with a pair of brand-new Broad’Tron humbuckers. These are patterned off of the company’s iconic Filter’Tron models, but with a bit more bite and a thicker low-end reminiscent of Gibson PAF humbuckers. The blend between the two models makes these a great option for Gretsch newbies and diehard fans alike.
In typical Gretsch fashion, the G2622 and G2622T also include a somewhat complex wiring system. A master volume knob comes standard — it’s located below the fretboard and above the pickguard. Separate volume controls for the neck and bridge pickups are located towards the back of the body, along with a master tone control.
Though they may seem superfluous, the extra volume controls give you the flexibility to blend the perfect mix of both pickups when you split your signal between them. To change between pickups, you can use the three-way pickup selector switch mounted atop the guitar’s upper bout.
Gretsch is also no stranger to flashy, high-end hardware. Despite the G2622’s status as a budget model, it still comes outfitted with a sleek hardware package. That includes 22 medium-jumbo frets, die-cast nickel tuning machines, and an Adjusto-matic bridge with a sleek carved rosewood base.
Both the G2622 and G2622T also include beautiful Pearloid block fretboard inlays — certainly a fancier style than many other budget guitars!
One difference between the two models is the tailpiece. The standard G2622 model utilizes Gretsch’s V-bar stoptail, while the G2622T includes a full-size Bigsby B-70 vibrato tailpiece unit. The Bigsby opens up a world of possibilities for vibrato flourishes and bends. If you incorporate vibrato into your playing or are coming from a guitar with a different vibrato unit, it’s a handsome yet practical upgrade.
Gretsch guitars are famous for their top-end sparkle and shimmering clean tones. The G2622 does a great job capturing those iconic sounds but also excels at a much wider range.
Even when unplugged, the semi-hollow body offers a distinct sound from most other budget guitars. It allows the G2622 to achieve more woody and airy tones than most of its competition. The hollow wings also create nearly limitless sustain. Notes carry for much longer on this guitar than on any other axe in its price range (and on most other more expensive models as well).
The neck pickup is balanced and articulate — while the high end comes through in spades, this pickup also has enough depth for warmer, jazzy sounds with the tone knob rolled off. The dials on this guitar are another highlight. They provide plenty of room for sonic variation without creating any muffled or ice-pick tones at either end of the spectrum.
The bridge pickup delivers more classic rockabilly tones, with some added bite and spank. Surprisingly, the G2622 sounds unbelievable with distortion. The Broad’Tron pickups deliver a full-sounding saturation that has PAF-style grit but a bit more creaminess and high-end character.
The Gretsch G2622 and G2622T are some of the best guitars you’ll find on a $500 budget. These axes play much better than you might expect for a guitar in this price range — and their unique style is sure to turn heads. The pickups, which offer distinctly “Gretsch” tones with surprising versatility, are outstanding.
These models are a great fit for pretty much any player. Whether you’re into rockabilly, jazz, or punk and hard rock, you should check the G2622 and G2622T out.