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Rating and Reviews: Gretsch Lap Steel

Hawaiian and country ballads sound incomplete without the wail of a lap steel guitar. Get that classic sound from the single-coil equipped Gretsch G5715.

User Ratings
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Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
Value
Manufacturer Support
The Wow Factor
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"Nice, simple lap steel at an attractive price" submitted January 21, 2007

By a customer from gatesys.com
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Features
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Musical Background: Part time active musician
Music Style: Rock
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Sound: I find this steel to have a wide range of sound. It's a single-coil pickup, so if you're in a noisy room, you'll have some hum. I find that I can minimize that by rolling off the tone a bit, though. The volume and tone knobs sweep smoothly through their full range, and there's no scratchiness or noise. I get a REALLY nice tone using just a tiny bit of phase-shifter and a touch of reverb. Use the tone control on the guitar and the amp to make sure you get fullness, not twang. Feature: Not much in the way of features - it's a simple, one pickup, two-control lap steel guitar. I would have liked to see it packed with a gig bag and a steel, though. Ease of Use: Straight out of the box - just plug and play - it sounds great. Nothing's simpler than a lap steel. Quality: The overall construction is decent, but the parts don't inspire a lot of confidence. BUT - there's not a lot to go wrong. If you treat it nicely, it ought to hold up just fine. The "fingerboard" appears to be just painted with the fretlines and designs, and might not hold up well over the long run. Value: Great value. It does what it is supposed to do, it has a fine sound, and it's gorgeous. Manufacturer Support: No clue on this one. I've been to the website, and there's a fair amount of information. I don't think thre's a lot to support here, though. It's really a very simple instrument. The Wow Factor: I wanted it the instant I saw it. Maybe I'm just a sucker for tobacco sunburst. Overall: This will be a valuable addition to the stable. I don't know that I'll be replacing it or supplementing it any time soon. My main instrument is guitar, so this is more of an accent.
27 of 29 people (93.1%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"buy this lap steel and be prepared to own many others." submitted April 9, 2006

By a customer from earthlink.net
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Sound
Features
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Value
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The Wow Factor
Musical Background: i started playing at age 8 and haver stopped. i'm now 47. i play professionally, and i am also a recording engineer.
Music Style: you name it, i play it. music is love.
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Sound: this steel has but one sound (more or less). it really is not bad, but the volume and tone pots are just plain cheap and really don't work at all. the volume is either on or off (period). the tone ever so slightly changes when swept from one end to the other. any volume or tonal changes have to be done at the amp (or channel strip if plugged directly into a board). when using an amp i run a fender reissue '65 twin and sometimes an ampeg echo twin. when going straight into a board i front end with an aphex tube pre-amp. i can make this thing sound great in any situation, but i am limited until i put good pots in. a volume pedal is highly suggested. a wah pedal also sounds good. it sounds terrible thru a rat, yet sounds great with a chorus pedal. this particular steel will need some help first. it's a beginners piece, but it can made to be a pro instrument. Feature: it's a pretty instrument. i have the tabacco sunburst. i can't stress enough that all parts are as cheap as it gets. i will keep the pick-up for it's character, but the tuners, pots and bridge must go. buy the thing it's still a lot of fun. anyway, no one can just have one lap steel. you will at least need eight or nine of them,so get going. it's not a bad place to start. Ease of Use: there is only one volume and one tone from this stock lap steel. if you have never played steel, this a good first axe. there is no manual. it is playable. Quality: the finish is ok. everything else is extremely cheap. this is not a professional instrument. the slab of wood is great and i like the cheap pick-up (it has a cool tone). sitting stock, this instrument is not road worthy. it looks cool though. regardless of my complaints i still have a ball playing it. Value: i have seen other lap steels at a third of the price. my guess is that the quality is about the same. this is a beginners, made in korea instrument. this particular lap steel is probably a little too high in it's price considering you will have to replace everything. Manufacturer Support: honestly, i just picked any numer on the rating for this question. i have never dealt direckly with gretch. mod this baby out and it is a monster. it's a lap steel!!! The Wow Factor: it's a sexy looking little bugger!!! Overall: i'm satisfied with this product. it needs massive modifications, one lap steel will never do when on stage. i hate having to open tune when playing out, so a number of steels in different tunings are necessary. the idea of different makes and models is also a lot of fun for different sounds and tones. these instruments are just not that expensive, so you may as well own a bunch of them.
26 of 30 people (86.67%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"the most expensive cheap-instrument i've ever bought." submitted August 29, 2008

By a customer from hotmail.com
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Sound
Features
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Value
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Musical Background: professional musician
Music Style: rock, alternative, weird stuff
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Sound: the lap steel sounds great with the right gauge strings. i tuned to the lower strings lower than normal at it still sounded huge with my fender amp. the pickup doesn't give out as much hum as i thought it would. sustain is great...again with the right gauge strings. Feature: the most useful features are, 1-the input jack is on the side so it doesn't get in the way of the right hand, 2-the volume knob is in the perfect position for the pinky-volume-swell technique. the least useful features are, 1-the bridge cover which had to be removed in order to use the palm muting technique, 2-the tuners are cheap and gear ratio doesn't allow for accurate tuning, 3-the plastic fingerboard seems to get warped whenever it comes close to body heat (ie. me playing it), 4-plastic control plate (come on gretch, seriously), 5-the string holes should have been lined with metal ferrels on the top side of the instrument. this way the strings don't start wearing down the wood and cause the strings to break Ease of Use: very easy and intuitive to use. the fretboard lines seem to be accurate enough (ie. lines seems to correspond with all the harmonic note positions). i just wish that the fretboard would stop warping so that may be i can read the lines a bit easier. Quality: pros: the finish is great. i have the sunburst one and it looks beautiful. cons: gretch seems to cut every corner to save cost. first it was made in china. second, could they have used any of the following measures to help with the fingerboard warping issue? 1-use glue, 2-use two screws on at the seventh fret, or 3-use multiply plastic. all of these remedies would have cost cents. third, string ferrels would have been nice so that the strings that comes through the body and on to the bridge don't dig into the wood and create deep grooves which cause unnecessary string breakage. Value: considering the cheap parts that went into making the lap steel i would say that the retail price should have been $100. a $294 lap steel would have 1-better tuners, 2-a glued-on multi-ply fingerboard, 3-metal control plate, 4-string ferrels. Manufacturer Support: i'm gonna send pictures of the warping finger board to gretch and see how they respond. will update as soon as i hear back. The Wow Factor: the overall aesthetics is ok. i'm not into instruments that incorporate architectural mannerism namely the art-deco but i suppose it's fine for someone who's into that sort of thing. the finish looks great. the only reason why i bought it was because i saw kaki king uses it. she records with it and plays it at live shows and it sounded great. i just wish the parts weren't so cheap. it's like bring a sexy woman home and find out that she was a guy. Overall: after averaging some of my responses above i would give it a 5. it's a good sounding instrument and would be sufficient for a beginning lap steel player to take it to the front line (the stage). but i think i'll be graduating from this instrument soon when i find a better lap steel (may be an 8 string or a double neck). i don't know if kaki king still uses the gretch lap steel anymore. in the most recent video i saw of hers, she was using a different lap steel. so if you're not too concerned about the cheap parts then it's the right lap steel for you (but get the bag too. it's extra $30 but it's made-to-fit and it help protects the instrument) otherwise, i'd keep looking.
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Gretsch Lap Steel Customer Review submitted March 26, 2006

Overall
Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
Value
The Wow Factor
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Sound: There is hum in the pickups Feature: Only two controls - sound and tone, but these work fine. Ease of Use: I have limited experience with the lap steel guitars, but the sound on this not as nice as my Fender electric. Quality: The fretboard is bowed.
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