Re: Electric Guitar Prices: What are we paying for?
In figured wood, which most of these very expensive guitars incorporate, every incremental increase in quality brings a far higher price, much like a coin in MS67 is worth sometimes twice what a coin in MS66 is. And I think you seriously underestimate how much these woods can cost.
I'll point you to the Stew Mac Woodstax section, where you can buy the wood for a complete acoustic build for under $100. Or, $6000
Why do they ship guitars without a case? So they can sell you a case as an option, an accessory that has higher margins than the guitar. Ibanez never gave a case away with a guitar for most of it's existence with very rare exception.
Why use a bridge that won't stay in tune? So you'll pay more for one that does? Just as a spitball answer it's probably not that far from truth.