I've never owned a Fender Custom Shop bass, but I've tried a few over the years. IME, the quality varies considerably, with some not much different from off-the-rack MIA Fenders, and some in another league. (And of course the Custom Shop has different levels, from catalog models to one-off Master Built pieces, which accounts for some of the variation.)
I do, however, have two U.S. G&L basses as main players, and they are fantastic. Honestly, IMO they have boutique levels of quality, but many boutiques including Fender C.S. are usually lighter, which is definitely an advantage. Unless you want that light weight, vintage Fender characteristics (like the old-school bridges), or some specs unavailable from G&L, I can't see much advantage of Fender C.S. over G&L.
If you go crazy with the options on U.S. G&L's, they can hit boutique prices, but the base prices are right around regular American Standard Fender prices, sometimes lower. Even with a couple of options, like non-standard neck, quartersawn neck, and painted headstock, you'll still be well under Fender C.S. prices.
BTW, I'm a big Fender fan with two MIA J-basses, an MIM J, and two MIA Strats, so I have no anti-Fender bias. I've come to prefer G&L, and they're so good that, unless I really needed a lightweight bass (like most Lulls I've tried), I don't think I'd ever bother spending more.
"After awhile, it's hard to separate cars, women and rock 'n' roll in your head." Brian Johnson, Autoweek, July 9, 2012.
Last edited by Nedmundo : 08-13-2013 at 04:35 PM.