I Really Like This Guitar
I bought the Rancher after listening to a lot of guitars on YouTube, listening to the opinion of one of my professional guitarist friends, and reading a LOT of reviews.
I bought this guitar in 2013 to replace my venerable early 1970s Guild dreadnought, whose electronics had finally died, and the frets had worn down enough to cause a significant string buzz when Strumming hard onstage. I recognized that the money I'd have to spend on new electronics and getting the neck right on the Guild would cost as much, or more, than just getting a new Takamine stage guitar. In the end I was so impressed with what I'd turned up about the Gretsch that I ended up buying it and never looking back. And after playing it live for a few years now, I've never regretted that decision. As said by others it is a beautiful guitar, and I get a lot of compliments on it. It is definitely not a guitar you see around a lot, so it can, and does, get a fair amount of attention--even from seasoned guitar players. And any player buddy I've let pick it up and play it has been impressed, and said really nice things about it. I even had one guy offer to buy it from me for $800.
The fit and finish on it is superb, with the exception that the pick guard was not completely glued down, and had raised up in a couple of places when I received the instrument from the online dealer I'd purchased it from (new.) Rather than return it I fixed it myself, which ended up being a little trickier than I'd anticipated, but in the end it worked out fine. A word of caution here, however, as I'm a fairly experienced guitar repairer.
There are a couple of things I don't care much for, but these are actually related to the Fishman electronics. First, is the issue that the guitar can sound overly treble-y in my in-ear monitors at times, which are high-quality Shures. The guitar will sound great in the stage cabs, but sound very, very thin and overpowering in my earbuds, even after I've adjusted my monitor EQs. This is actually a pretty big issue for me, as my ears have become very sensitive to loud noises as I've aged, and if the guitar volume is too high in the monitor mix it can get me pretty rattled sometimes. Trying to get what I hear in my ears to sound like what I hear from the speakers can be very tricky at times, and it generally takes quite a bit of fiddling with the Fishman preamp to get it resolved. Another Fishman issue I dislike is the end pin jack. As others have noted, Fishman uses a very thin channeled ferrule for the strap to sit in, but it's too narrow to accept one of those little swiveling plastic strap locks, so the strap is very susceptible to coming completely off the end pin / quarter inch jack combo. It can completely ruin your day when your guitar bounces off the floor because the strap came off unexpectedly! It should be noted, too, that in order to fit a standard guitar strap end pin hole over the Fishman end pin jack you'll have to enlarge the hole on the guitar strap. It's been a gripe of mine against Fishman for years. I'm really surprised it hasn't been addressed by Fishman years ago. Judging by the previous comments about it this complaint is not unique to me.
At any rate, the guitar doesn't have a deep bottom end acoustically, which doesn't bother me at all, it's a nice departure from the Guild dread, but it sounds great amplified. Another thing I like is that I can actually cause it to sound overdriven, and to break up a little bit, which gives me some great options in accompanying the band on electric guitar-driven rock & roll, or dirty blues.
I still use the Guild for noodling around on the couch, but I've got to say, for a guitar at this price point, the Rancher plays and sounds really great. In addition, I was able to secure a hard shell case, specifically designed and constructed for jumbo guitars, that works pretty well. I'm not sure the brand, but I'm guessing it was a generic case private-labeled for GuitarCenter, or Musician's Friend. It doesn't fit as exactly as it would if it was made specifically for this guitar, but after a little bit of use it loosened right up enough to work really well, while at the same time not allowing the instrument to slop around inside. (I bought it from a third-party guitar store that'd taken it in on trade. It was unused, in new condition, which is why I'm not exactly sure who the manufacturer is.)
Anyway, I'd definitely recommend this guitar to a friend. Hope this is helpful!