"Best Lap Steel on the Market for the money."
Sound is reminiscent of bygone years. AWSOME ! The quality is crisp and clear and flows smoothly. Very little slide noise. It is a performer all alone or great supplement to a group. I use a finger ease spray string lubricant and the action is fast and smooth. First Rate in my book for the cost.
I only use D'addario strings on all my instruments and the sounds are awsome. Mine was a new purchase with no accessories. I use a stevens bar and strickler for Brass finger picks.
Ease of Use:
As with any string instrument there is a learning curve. But whether you read music or play by ear, the sound and quality is there. I have been playing for over 20 years and although certainly it is not a pedal steel, it is a great little insrument producing stand alone solo entertainment or with a group. It is easy for me to find chords on the Gretsch by playing by ear. practice, practice practice for Any string instrument.
Fender is very strict with quality control on this instrument, the tobacco finish is my preference and I simply wipe with a quality cleaner after each use and polish occasionally. no chips, or flaws could be found when I received it. I recommend the Elderly Music Gig Bag designed for the Gretsch lap steel and it affords desired protection at a reasonable price.
I have only delt with Fender concerning replacement strings recommended by the manufacturer. Other than that, I have not had any issues in the first year I have owned this particular one. I use the manufacturer web site and have had good results. Mine is "stock" right out of the box. I seen no need for upgrades for occasional professional playing or just for my own enterntainment.
I personally would have expected a larger price tag than the under 350 dollars from most dealers.
The Wow Factor:
Everything about it from sounds to looks are nostalgia and I have received many inquiries about it being an actual vintage instrument. Most people think it is vintage with all the styling and chrome trim.
If I were to replace this one...I would most certainly buy another Gretsch exactly like this one. No need to change brands or look any farther. It does everything I bought it for and more.