Hi guys, yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a resident CustomShop floor clerk at Rockinn, downtown Tokyo. the staff there are all guitar geeks who own multiple custom/vintage tele, which probably cost at least 3-5 months worth of salary a pop. even though the floor had at least 7-8 true vintage and over a dozen masterbuilts, when I asked what he recommended, his response was "meh". And I thought wow, 8 vintages, a dozen masterbuilt, plus easily another dozen of customshops, and the guy feels I shouldn't waste my money on any of those, and rather come back in a few weeks to see whatever's being prepped at the maintenance workshop. Kuddos for raw honesty, but I was fairly shocked, and asked him why he felt that way. His reply was that basically every masterbuilt they had in store at the moment were made by weird or not-that-popular Master Builders. He then followed by saying that in his experience (12 years on the CustomShop floor) some Master-builders rock, and some really really don't, and sometimes unnamed Custom Shop models are much better than some Masterbuilts. I was wondering what you guys feel about that outside of Japan. I'm assuming/expecting Fender lovers to respond to this though, so if you're not, or feel that custom shop prices are just a marketing scam, please don't respond lol I know it's a subjective topic, but personally I work and get paid on an hourly wage system based on my specialized skillset, so I understand and agree that high skill costs a lot per hour, and the total can easily skyrocket. I watched a beautiful vid on youtube, of a young carpenter building himself a thinline from scratch. He starts the video saying it took him 130 or 140 hours total. I'm sure professionals don't need nearly so long, but even if you paid that kid at minimal wage, that would already cost over a 1000 bucks, without material or hardware. And I'm fairly sure anyone confident and skilled pays himself decently enough to make it expensive quickly. Heck, if I had to hire myself for 130 hours, I'd cringe lol I also remember watching the making-of of those Games of Thrones fenders, and the guy saying it took them 19 hours of laser engraving to get the dragon scale feel right. Of course it's automated, but it also means the Head of Design at fender needs to come back 19 times, check, rethink, enter new specs and launch the machine again. No wonder it's beyond expensive, that dude ain't cheap. Now disclaimer, I'm not saying expensive sounds better. I'm only saying that skilled staff cost, and that prices make sense to me. I also see some dudes on reverb who seem be making super dank customs for under 1500buckw, in exotic woods too, but I'd love to see whether they're still sustainable financially 10 years from now. I also had the chance to visit the ESP custom shop in Tokyo last month. Every single piece of wood I liked (body wood) was marked between 2000 and 6000 USD, just for the wood. Ugh... so I guess my question here is, is there such a gap between Master Builders at Fender? Can a Custom Shop model not designed for anyone in particular beat something designed for you for twice the price? Are some builders not popular (enough that it becomes common knowledge?)?