Re: "From scratch" custom-shops?
As far as I know, Conklin is about the only company that has permission to use the fanned fret (novak) system, so they're probably your best bet. I have a couple customers who are waiting on guitars from them, but as you noted, they are pricey, one of my customers is going on 3 years now for his guitar from them as well. As hard as I have tried to be quick in getting stuff finished for people, something is always coming up that slows things down, that coupled with a year of bad time management (entirely my fault) has me way behind schedule, hence the no custom orders right now. But no matter who you go with, be prepared to wait, hopefully in the end it will be worth it
I should reword my comment about conklin and the fanned fret system. As far as I know, they are the only company in north america consistently doing the fanned fret system commercially (other than novak). You must pay royalties as well as be accepted by novak to do the fanned fret system. Those are a couple of the reasons I don't use the fanned fret system.