With Fender’s newly improved B string, better playability, and active/passive options of their 2010 Deluxe models, I think one can make a pretty good argument that the other Fender-style boutiques are now overpriced. However, if there was a Fender-style boutique out there that offered a truly custom bass where you can choose your string spacing, scale length, chambered/non-chambered, 4-6 strings, pickup placement, etc., then they can freely charge whatever they want because no one currently offers that, I don’t think. But how can the new Fenders be on par with the boutiques when it's so much cheaper? I think it's because of volume and experience. When a company sells a large volume of something, they have the resources to purchase the necessary machinery and production power to cut out any middle men. And if the product is engineered and put together well through years of trial-and-error, they can make a boutique quality product at a fraction of the cost. However, most consumers will think that boutique products are always better than mass produced, no matter what. Sure there are lemons, I think even the top builders produce lemons 1% of the time, but 1% of Fender lemons can mean thousands of guitars!