Tag: Guitar review

<aYamaha Revstar Standard RSS02T Review

yamaha revstar standard rss02t review

While the Yamaha name is renowned in circles past the guitar globe, they’ve made first-class guitars because the 1960s. And also while they don’t let loose new launches with the frequency of some larger guitar brand names, from time to time they boil down the hill with a brand-new axe that advises us of their ability to build wonderful electrical 6-strings. In 2015, Yamaha presented the first generation Revstar. With a good-looking aesthetic influenced by the firm’s motorbike auto racing heritage, the Revstar incorporated sweet playability and also classic design touchstones. This year, Yamaha gave the Revstar an overhaul– including body chambering, updated pick-ups, and new changing. What’s impressive is just how these changes enhance the already remarkable playability and flexibility of the original.Keyed-Up Cruiser At

a glance, the newest Revstars

look a whole lot like the originals. And streamlined controls suggest little distinction in between the Yamaha and a lot of various other simple 2-pickup electrics. There’s a volume knob, a tone knob, as well as a pickup selector. Simple? Not necessarily. The control design is cost-effective, it conceals a chest of tone possibilities. The pickup switch is currently a 5-way selector. Positions 1, 3, and 5 are neck, neck/bridge mix, and bridge pickup setups. Placements 2 and also 4 deal awesome out-of-phase noises. Yamaha additionally made the tone knob a push/pull pot which turns on a passive increase called the emphasis switch. It successfully kicks up the mid and also reduced arrays and also slashes off the higher frequencies. When it comes to our evaluation guitar, the revised circuit is paired with a collection of Yamaha-designed VP5 P-90s with alnico 5 magnets. A humbucker-equipped version is also available.The build high quality on our gorgeous sundown burst Revstar is very good.

The double-cut body, which tastefully mirrors vintage Yamaha style aspects with a trace of ’60s countered lines, is constructed around a layer of maple over chambered mahogany. And though the building and construction really feels considerable, it’s still light at nearly 8 extra pounds. The carbon reinforced neck is developed around a 24 3/4 “range as well as features a 12 “radius rosewood fretboard. The tastefully subdued pearloid inlays are positioned in between jumbo, stainless-steel frets that will weather years of roadway rash prior to showing any type of wear. Unlike the deep glossy finish on the body, the rear of the neck is completed in satin. It’s an absolute dream to hold and also really feels much faster as well as more accurate for the lack of gloss.In the context of a complete band, the emphasis switch is additionally a convenient solution when you need to duck right into the rhythm pocket.Shifting Gears on the Open Road Yamaha succeeded in their efforts to makethe Revstar extra comfy. Compared to a Gibson SG Classic, the Revstar feels a hair larger however a lot more well balanced.

Hanging over my shoulder from a strap,

it really did not exhibit any type of tendency toward neck dive. This isn’t the only advantage of Yamaha’s chambered style, but it pays a big reward in this respect.With the Revstar out in front of an Orange OR50 and also a 4×12, added comparisons with the SG classic were informing as well as enlightening. As a whole, the Yamaha’s P-90s have a reasonably lower outcome, are much less loud, as well as exhibit greater

overall clearness. While the pick-ups on both guitars sound likewise hefty playing campfire chords, the Revstar’s output was more express playing barre chords further up the neck. Lead lines from the Revstar likewise brandish a bit much more midrange honk that begs for funk riffs. Combined with a glass slide, the Yamaha gladly changed into a blues monster.Pulling up on the focus switch kicks maintain right into high equipment. That maintain comes with the price of some information in the leading end, yet it’s definitely perfect for long, drawn-out lead lines as well as slide. In the context of a complete band, the emphasis switch is additionally a helpful solution when you need to elude right into the rhythm pocket. It’s also a breeze to turn in between the two expressions. Eventually, the focus switch shines most with high-headroom amplifiers. With smaller sized amps, like a 5-watt Champ, the increased lows as well as mids cause audio speaker break-up as well as some mud at moderate quantities, while the “undistinct” result continued to be gritty, yet eloquent.The Verdict At just a shade under$ 800, the Yamaha Revstar is a large amount. The range of offered tones is impressive. And the sharp, one-of-a-kind looks promote themselves. While the P-90s are a natural fit for traditional rock and also blues riffage, the total capacity for selecting information, the out-of-phase switching capabilities

, and the low/mid increase function significantly prolong the guitar’s vocabulary– making the new Revstar an excellent buddy for many pedals as well as very with the ability of being the only phase guitar you require. Whether you desire crystalline, single-coil chime or punchy, bottom-heavy power chord tones, the Revstar handles everything as with dignity as a café racer leaning right into a sweeping contour, and also really feels fantastic doing it.Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS02T Demo|Look < iframe frameborder =" 0" height= "car" lazy-loadable=" true "scrolling =" no" src=" https://www.youtube.com/embed/-yuNsTAt6dY?rel=0 "design=" position: absolute

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Keyed-Up Cruiser At a glimpse, the latest Revstars look a whole lot like the originals.

The construct quality on our gorgeous sundown burst Revstar is really good.

With the Revstar out in front of an Orange OR50 and a 4×12, extra contrasts with the SG standard were edifying and also enlightening.

Pulling up on the emphasis switch kicks sustain right into high gear.

The Verdict At just a color under$ 800, the Yamaha Revstar is an excellent deal.

Gretsch Electromatic G5420T Review

gretsch electromatic g5420t review

Though big hollowbodies like the Gretsch G6120 are beautiful and an essential ingredient in countless classic records, they can be a tricky playing experience for the uninitiated. Navigable fretboard space is limited by solidbody standards. Big bodies can feel bulky. They’re sometimes feedback prone in high-volume situations, too. Consequently, I’ve watched many solidbody-oriented chums who rarely play hollowbodies handle a big Gretsch with the baffled look of a spacefarer deciphering an alien tongue.

This latest affordable, mid-line evolution of Gretsch’s classic 6120, the re-designed Electromatic G5420T, smooths navigation of those intrinsic challenges. A new approach to trestle block bracing and FT-5E Filter’Tron pickups give the guitar a zingy, lively, and surprisingly feedback-resistant resonance. And the ultra-smooth playability makes it relatable for the average solidbody player. Together, the improvements make the G5420 a welcoming and intuitive-feeling vehicle for the less-orthodox modes of guitar expression that big Gretsch’s enable.

New Shoes in Blue

Trestle bracing, as a name and design concept, graced Gretschs beginning in the ’50s. That system utilized a bridge-like pair of laterally oriented braces. Trestle block bracing is different. It situates a slim, light center bock that is shaped like a bridge arch at a 90-degree angle between two straight, lateral braces. In one sense, the construction is akin to a center-block semihollow body. But the Gretsch trestle block has much less mass and a smaller footprint than the center block in, say, a Gibson 335, making the design a great compromise between rigidity, stability, and resonance. The effects, at least to my ears, are audible. And one thing every staffer that touched this guitar agreed upon was that this was the liveliest affordable Gretsch that any of us remembered playing.

The G5420T also feels like a dream underneath the fingers. The 12″ radius makes string bends extra easy. Hammer-ons, pull-offs, and, yes, fleet-fingered Chet Atkins picking feel effortless. And in general the playability is so nice you often forget that notes much past the 17th or 18th fret are a pretty uncomfortable reach. The control layout is a familiar take on Gretsch convention. The master volume control on the treble-side horn is always a blast to use for volume swells. And while the bridge volume is situated pretty far aft on the body, it’s easy enough to reach for fine tuning adjustments and corrections to the neck/bridge blend. The Bigsby, meanwhile, is both fluid, smooth, and, in relative terms, pretty tuning-stable if you’re not too aggressive.

You don’t achieve playability and intonation like that on our review model without sweating the details, and the 5420’s neck, nut, fretboard, and frets all feel very much of a piece.

Construction quality is typically very good in Gretsch’s more affordable Streamliner and Electromatic, and the G5420T does its part to hold up the family reputation. You don’t achieve playability and intonation like that on our review model without sweating the details, and the 5420’s neck, nut, fretboard, and frets all feel very much of a piece. Little details like the binding around the f-holes are also flawlessly executed. One of the only overt signs of the G5420T’s mid-priced status is the polyester-azure-blue finish, which, while dazzling, looks a bit ripply and thick in spots. Even so, in sunlight, it reveals traces of pearlescent turquoise and lake placid blue, depending on the angle from which you view it.

Balance and Brawn

As Gretsch tells it, the new Filter’Trons are designed for stronger bass output and more articulate high end. I don’t know if I would call the low-end exceptionally robust. But 6th string notes exhibit a concise, classy punchiness that resonates with just-right complexity and gracefully adds balance and ballast to chords. Some players expect low notes on a Gretsch hollowbody to explode with the heft of a grand piano. But the chiming low notes of a Fender Rhodes electric piano are a more apt analogy for the 5420’s present, overtone-rich-but-understated bottom-string output. This same knack for balance translates to awesome, articulate overdrive and fuzz tones (though, needless to say, it is important to mind the feedback when messing with the latter).

High-end output, meanwhile, is beautiful. First- and 2nd-string notes ring presently and in graceful balance with the rest of the strings, lending a kinetic but not-too-hot edge to leads and chords. And anyone with an affinity for vintage rockabilly or late-’60s West Coast psychedelia will love the way these high notes hop, quaver, and sing with a waggle of the Bigsby. For this author, anyway, it’s a visceral, addictive thrill—particularly with a big Fender amp and a heap of spring reverb and slapback echo.

The Verdict

Any player well versed and at ease with the idiosyncrasies of a Gretsch hollowbody will love the way the 5420 sounds and feels. And on the latter count, certainly, the 5420T is the equal of many much more pricey guitars. It’s very easy to imagine an upmarket or vintage Gretsch owner who sweats gigging with an expensive axe taking this guitar out instead and feeling right at home. The pickups are very well balanced, present, and detailed. And the Bigsby is smooth and invites all manner of twitchy or surfy vibrato moves. Most important is how these factors conspire to offer an uncommon playing experience with an upmarket feel. “Riff machine” may be a term that you could apply to many guitars, but the combination of the 5420T’s playabililty and open, detailed, and balanced pickups add up to a deep well of habit-smashing inspiration—all at a very nice price, to boot.

Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Hollowbody Demo | First Look

Fender Paramount PS-220E Review

fender paramount ps 220e review

Fender’s new Paramount PS-220E Parlor is a million kinds of fun. For starters, imagine picking up a little old Stella tucked away in a dusty corner of a garage sale—only to find the action is perfect and the tuners actually work. Then consider the basic joys of any good little acoustic: how easy it is to hold, how light it is, how little room it takes up when you leave it sitting around the living room waiting for whatever spark of inspiration hits at random. The PS-220E dishes oodles of those small pleasures. And while the price isn’t exactly small for an imported instrument of this stature, the playability and versatility are equal to much more expensive instruments.

All Dressed Up

There are a lot of reasons the Paramount sells for a somewhat premium price. It’s charmingly handsome—in no small part because of the detail work that reveals itself up close. The purfling, rosette, and backstrip are fashioned around a pretty feather-and-checker pattern of blue, green, and red that alternate with spaces of antique white. The entire neck and headstock are bound, and quite immaculately at that. The ovangkol fretboard inlay and headstock overlay are classy and understated but feel that extra bit luxurious. The visual charm is reinforced by a subtle chocolatey burst finish on the solid mahogany top. And while the solid mahogany back and sides are made from what some might call rough grain, the rustic effect works in harmony with the fancier details to create a sort of restored antique look.

While the price isn’t exactly small for an imported instrument of this stature, the playability and versatility are equal to much more expensive instruments.

You certainly can’t complain about the detail work on the guitar’s exterior. Adding so many visual treats means more spots where workmanship can go wrong. But everything from the frets to the binding, purfling, and inlays are pretty much perfect. Inside, things are less so. There is evidence of sloppy gluing and less-than-precise kerfing cuts—none of which have any bearing on the sound. But the price of the guitar does leave you longing for a tidier touch on that count.

Sit and Strum Awhile

If you imagined the perfect guitar for sitting down with after a long workday, or the ideal songwriting partner that you drag from the garden to the beach to the living room and down to the studio, it might feel a lot like the Paramount PS-220E. The action is delectably low, and you can vigorously strum barre chords from the 1st fret to the 12th without hearing any buzzing or clanking strings. The C-profile neck is just substantial enough to make you feel like you’re not squeezing to fret effectively, but slim enough that you can move around quickly. The easy playability means the PS-220E very handily transcends simple strummer roles. Fingerstyle moves and complex chords are made significantly easier for the low action and nice set-up, which can give you a lot of confidence for stretching your playing. It’s great for leads for the same reasons. Occasionally there is a slight sense of disappointment because the small parlor body can only generate so much muscle for these applications. And there is inevitably some limits to the dynamic range you can generate. That said, the PS-220E has impressive headroom for a guitar of this size. And pushing it to its limits rarely creates any harsh overtones.

The Fishman Sonitone Plus undersaddle pickup and preamp are, in general, an effective addition to the PS-220E. The tones most suited to the guitar tend to live in the lower third of the tone control’s range, and I generally played with the volume as low as possible to soften any undersaddle transients. Hard strumming, needless to say, brought out the least flattering of these sounds. But the Sonitone could sound quite sweet in fingerstyle situations, which makes it a nice fit for the very fingerstyle-friendly PS-220E.

The Verdict

It’s hard to find a reason to complain about any aspect of the PS-220E’s performance or playability. It feels fantastic—at times like a natural extension of your body. And if you struggle at all with hand or body fatigue from wrestling with a bigger instrument, it’s hard to imagine a more enjoyable alternative. But the PS-220E is appealing for many reasons beyond comfort. The playability makes it a much more direct line between your musical intuition and imagination, which is a pretty invaluable thing whether you’re a songwriter or tackling a challenging tune or arrangement. It’s a good thing the PS-220E is as stylish and easy to play as it is, because $829 is pretty steep for an import instrument. But regardless of price or place of manufacture, you can’t argue that the PS-220E is a pure joy to hold and play.

Riversong Glennwood TS6 Review

The first and perhaps most important thing to know about Riversong’s Glennwood TS6 is that it aspires to hybridize elements of electric and acoustic guitars. This is not a new idea—certainly not in the amplified acoustic era, where the straightest route to eliminating feedback is by reducing the resonant elements that cause feedback in the first place. Some acoustic/electrics achieve these ends by slimming bodies down to electric-guitar thickness. Riversong, however, sticks to traditional acoustic formula by making the TS6 a full-sized instrument. Its dimensions are a little bit atypical: the 16″ wide body and 4 3/4″ thickness are about the same size as Martin’s “jumbo” J body and the Taylor Grand Pacific. The pretty silhouette also echoes the curvaceousness of those larger guitars. Those similarities sometimes feel like an exception, though. At nearly every other turn, the TS6 very happily breaks the acoustic design mold.

 A Nuts-and-Bolts Approach

You don’t have to look very hard or be an acoustic guitar construction expert to see that there is a strong deconstructive thread in the Riversong’s design. The gap in the top behind the bridge, the slim heel, and, above all, the bracing and neck-through build are major breaks from classic acoustic design philosophy. These very overt differences are also a clue to how the Riversong stretches the definition of what an acoustic guitar is.

Most tradition-minded acoustic builders would consider the small space aft of the bridge detrimental to a resonant top. And few would opt for the bolt-on neck and through-body re-enforcement that runs the length of the body. These obvious deviations from acoustic design dogma are just the start. Peek through the side port and you’ll see “skeletized” bracing that looks like sections of a cantilever bridge in miniature. Adjustment to the action and neck tilt? They’re made with an Allen key that you place through an access cavity on the back of the guitar at the heel.

All these very unconventional elements are executed at a very high level of workmanship. I failed to find a construction miscue anywhere. The fretwork is pretty much perfect and the solid wild cherry back and sides, Sitka spruce top, maple neck, and walnut fretboard are all shaped and put together with obvious care.

Electrified Vibrations

Considering that the TS6’s primary mission is that of a hybrid electric/acoustic—and that so many of its fundamental design elements would traditionally be considered detriments to acoustic tone—the TS6 sounds pretty good unplugged. If I had to guess, I’d venture that the Jumbo-like dimensions were adopted, in part, to offset the diminished volume and overtones that could result from the neck-through design. Yet the TS6 is notably resonant, particularly in the low-midrange, and exhibits nice sustain. It may not be as loud or detailed as a dedicated acoustic of similar dimensions, but it holds its own, and the combination of projection from the side port and soundhole creates a nice composite sound image that would be well worth miking and doubling with the pickup signal in a studio or on a quiet stage.

The combination of projection from the side port and soundhole creates a nice composite sound image that would be well worth miking and doubling with the pickup signal in a studio.

The TS6’s amplified qualities and its electric-like playability are the main attraction, though. The Fishman Flex undersaddle pickup and preamp hold up pretty well to hard strumming without getting quacky, but the guitar and pickup work best together in dynamic fingerstyle settings. I tended to work from fairly tame tone settings on both the TS6 and the Fishman Loudbox I used for amplification, but the TS6 left ample headroom for adding sparkle to the basically well-rounded tonal foundation. Playability, as advertised, is excellent for a flattop. The 16″ fretboard radius and jumbo frets make it easy to fret with a light touch. The 1 5/8″ nut width and the neck profile (which to me felt at various times like a 1960s Guild or a Rickenbacker) also conspire to lend a very electric-feeling experience. The neck-thru system’s ability to facilitate and withstand pitch-bending neck wobbles also checks out just as Riversong claims. I can’t remember using an acoustic in this fashion so readily, dramatically, and with such negligible effect on tuning stability.

The Verdict

At around $2,000, the TS6 is a flattop for players committed to the unconventional or performers that can also afford to keep a classic flattop around for recording pure acoustic tones (if they are concerned with such expressions). It’s a niche instrument, but it does a brilliant job of blurring the lines between acoustic and electric.

Solar GC1.6AFAB Review

solar gc1 6afab review

Ola Englund, YouTube sensation and guitarist for the Haunted and Feared, started Solar Guitars, his own line of high-quality instruments, in 2017. The company is based in Sant Gregori, Spain, and their guitars are made in Indonesia. But as the marvelously decked-out GC1.6AFAB reviewed here reveals, this collaborative formula is yielding killer results at relatively affordable prices.

Down to the Details

At a glance, the GC1.6AFAB evokes great all-around instruments like the PRS SE or even the Tom Anderson Atom. It looks sharp, and even a bit traditional, with its flame maple top on a mahogany body and gold hardware down to the pickups, bridge, and tuners. Only the pointy reverse headstock, lack of inlays (other than the Solar logo around the 12th fret), and glow-in-the-dark side dots betray a possible metal-oriented lineage.

The guitar is meticulously crafted and there are no visible construction flaws. The low-action factory setup is perfect. The GC1.6AFAB’s design is very ergonomic, too. A belly cut adds a nice contour to the backside of the guitar, and the neck-through-body construction with sculpted neck joint allowed easy access all the way up to the 24th fret.

With jumbo stainless steel frets on a graphite-reinforced neck, a dual action truss rod, a 13.78″ radius fretboard, graphite nut, and locking tuners, the GC1.6AFAB is thoroughly modern. The EverTune bridge is another contemporary distinction. It uses a system of floating saddles and springs to keep each string in tune no matter how aggressively you play. It can also be configured in a multitude of ways. On our test guitar, the EverTune was set up to permit bends on the top three strings, while the lower strings were set to resist pitch bends entirely. It was a weird experience to bend away at those strings, or add vibrato, only to hear pitch that never wavered. And I was certainly thrown off when I instinctively tried to make low-string notes growl by adding a little bend. Set up this way, the EverTune will take some getting used to. However, it’s a killer feature if you pick hard or inadvertently pull some of the notes sharp while chording. If you’re recording and need to nail a pitch-perfect take, it can be invaluable. And you can always reconfigure the bridge for a more conventional but still exceptionally stable setup.

It Chugs, It Slugs, It Sings

The GC1.6AFAB’s pickups, a pair of excellent Fishman Fluence Modern active units, also display Solar’s forward-thinking approach. They have independent volume controls with a shared tone knob that has a push/pull function for the Fishman Fluence’s voices: “active” (voice 1) and “passive” (voice 2). (Here, the phrases active and passive refer to voicings rather than the strict definition of active and passive pickups.)

With the bridge pickup and active voice engaged, pick response is crisp and fast on the low strings. With help from with the EverTune’s unwavering tuning stability, individual notes and picking nuances are super articulate. Digging in harder rarely revealed any flubby ambiguities. And fast alternate-picked sequences felt super precise. Be forewarned though: If you’re having a sloppy day, the Fluence pickups’ immediacy can be unforgiving.

In clean settings, the GC1.6AFAB’s bridge pickup sounds very hi-fi, and very loud in both voices. Multi-finger tapping phrases are punchy and pop out loud and consistent along the fretboard. Cascading arpeggio runs have a harp-like clarity and individual notes sound consistent and even across the guitar’s whole range. And while the pickup isn’t overly bright, there is a ton of presence. Until the tone knob is all the way down to about 2, you hear little in the way of “darkness.” The neck pickup in the active voice has more bass focus than the bridge. When I held an open-G chord, the 6th-string resonated with a bottom end that you could call boomy. Comparatively, with the passive voice, the neck pickup seemed a bit more balanced.

The Verdict

If I imagined a shredder creating a custom guitar, it might look and feel a lot like GC1.6AFAB. There’s a lot about the style that feels relatively traditional, save for the many cutting-edge components that Solar included here. At $295, putting an EverTune bridge on an existing guitar (a process that would involve routing and probably devaluing your instrument) is an expensive proposition. Add a set of gold Fishman Fluence Modern pickups at around $260 and you’re looking at well north of a $500 investment even before you pay to have your upgrades installed on an existing instrument. Given how seamlessly Solar brings these elements together in such an impeccable-playing guitar, the $1,349 you’ll pay for a GC1.6AFAB is a pretty amazing deal.

Solar Guitars GC1.6AFAB Demo | First Look

Gretsch G2622T-P90 Streamliner Review

gretsch g2622t p90 streamliner review

Gretsch’s new Streamliner guitars—like the 1960s Streamliners before them—are great instruments living in the shadows of the company’s most iconic shapes. Where guitars like the 6120, Country Gentleman, White Falcon, and others are either quite thick, very wide, or both, the Streamliner is slim and relatively light—in the fashion of the Epiphone Casino, Gibson ES-335, Fender Coronado, Rickenbacker 300-series, and various Voxes, Hofners, and Hagstroms that ruled the ’60s. They are exceptionally comfortable, engaging, and ultra-fun to play, particularly when fitted with a Bigsby, like the Gretsch G2622T-P90 Streamliner reviewed here.

This latest Streamliner Center Block incarnation, however, is also among the first to feature Gretsch’s FideliSonic 90 pickups, an option that gives the guitar a surprisingly mellow but meaty, articulate, and distinctive voice that deviates from archetypical P-90 semi-hollow sounds and offers unexpected tone colors.

Gretsch G2622T-P90 Streamliner Review by premierguitar

All guitars are Gretsch G2622T-P90 Streamliner.

Of Singing Staples and Streamlineage

Gretsch’s bigger bodied classics can feel like a handful over the course of protracted practice and performance. The Streamliner almost never induces fatigue anxiety, though. It’s light for a center-blocked, Bigsby-equipped instrument, and the body contours feel great whether you sling the guitar low or hike your strap up for a full Merseybeat cradle. The balance is generally good, especially when playing seated, though it can be prone to neck-dive if you use a slippery strap. It’s got really handsome lines, too, that are simultaneously evocative of a Country Gentleman and an Epiphone Casino. More critically, in my view, it also bears a strong family resemblance to the Gretsch Monkees, a ’60s Streamliner antecedent that I covet rabidly.

There’s a lot of distinctly Gretsch personality here, too—primarily in the baby Country Gent’ shape you see plainly in the horns, but also in the arrow knobs, master volume, and teardrop pickguard. The latter design element, while handsome, is perhaps the only thing that didn’t work with some aspects of my playing style. Prone as I am to heavy arpeggio playing, I would often hit my pick against the pickguard on first-string upstrokes, making a clacking sound that resonates clearly through the pickups. On the other hand, I could conjure cool rhythmic accents during leads and spanky rhythm parts using the pickguard for percussive accents and extra-musical sound effects.

I’m generally pretty knocked out by how good the affordable Gretsches from the Streamliner line look and feel. The Streamliner Center Block P90 reveals that Gretsch’s Indonesian factory is still putting love into these instruments. Playability is superb. The 12″-radius fretboard makes string bending a breeze. And the walnut-to-root-beer brownstone finish showcases the grain of the arched mahogany top and back gracefully. (Sadly, there is no option for the cherry finish and white pickguard that would make this Streamliner a dead-ringer for a Gretsch Monkees. Drat.)

“Some of the bridge pickup’s mellower tonality might also be down to the distance from the pickup to the bridge.”

Broad-Shouldered Slimline

The FideliSonics are a genuinely unusual take on staple-style P-90s that stretch preconceptions about the type. Though they are designed for less overall output than a standard P-90, they have much of a P-90s muscle and mass, and they will make an amplifier growl delectably without breaking a sweat. But the FideliSonics seem a lot less toppy than the P-90s in, say, a Casino or ES-330. Instead, they exhibit a strong low-mid emphasis and a hi-fi quality that leaves room for dynamics and picking details. Some of the bridge pickup’s mellower tonality might also be down to the distance from the pickup to the bridge. Pickup placement has shifted a lot over the decades on Gretsches. The bridge pickup placement on the White Falcon, for instance, has varied by significant measures over its lifetime. The bridge pickup on the Streamliner Center Block P90 is nudged toward the neck enough to almost split the difference between a bridge and a middle-position pickup in a 3-pickup array. Doubtless, this blunts some of the top-end attack you might otherwise hear and expect from these pickups.

But there is no questioning the horsepower they put at your disposal. Paired with a black-panel Tremolux, the Gretsch coaxes throaty overdrive at amplifier volumes as low as 2. With just a bit of reverb, this sound is intoxicating and huge. There might not be quite enough top-end headroom for some jangle-oriented players, or soloists that rely on biting treble. But before you pass definitive judgement on the available top end, it’s worth checking out how the Gretsch sounds with really aggressive amplifier treble settings. I used the bridge FideliSonic with the Tremolux’s treble at 10 and it sounded an awful lot like a sweet spot to me!

As with any hollow or semi-hollow, feedback can be an issue. And I had a pretty short leash when it came to using fuzz or aggressive boost or overdrive (particularly with all of that amp treble). Thankfully, the Gretsch’s trademark master volume is always close at hand—and, incidentally, a very cool way to add feedback into a song when you get the knack. Generally, though, it’s good to tame your guitar volume before you engage any particularly vicious fuzz.

The Verdict

I spent a lot of time with the Gretsch Streamliner Center Block P90 amid a mid-winter playing rut. Few guitars were feeling great, or right, or fun. But the Streamliner Center Block P90 was always a gas, and with its Bigsby, classic Gretsch master volume control, and a set of idiosyncratic and dynamic pickups, it prompted inspirational and invigorating shifts in technique and voice. The Streamliner Center Block P90 doesn’t need much help to sound great through a decent amp—just a little reverb and 10″ or 12″ speakers can make this guitar sound enormous, rocking, and alive. There are drawbacks inherent to the design. Feedback is always a risk and you don’t have to get too unhinged with the Bigsby before tuning stability becomes an issue. But the warm fullness of these pickups and the guitar’s fascinating combination of liveliness and mass adds up to countless surprises that make the $649 price tag a pretty nice deal.