Re: Looking to mod an old bottom of the line model
It is daunting buying an axe on flea bay you can't play beforehand and having it spend a week or two in transit, it's true that things can go wrong. Buying from a seller with 100% feedback and talking to them beforehand helps a good deal. The last two axes I bought came from America, and I had no problems - my Roadstar cost $150, and Proline $400. Both turned out killer.
Because gear is expensive here, I personally don't mind paying $100 for shipping on top of the guitar, as it still comes out less than what you'd pay for an item here. Our dollar has been strong for a while, so it's a good time to buy from America. The only downside is shipping size restriction, so if the guitar comes with a case, you'll have to lose it because the package is too big.
If you're content just modding pups or something, get those online too - a new Duncan or DiMarzio costs about $70-80, nearly half of what they go for here. Going used is even more of a deal - you could get something nice for $50!