I've noticed that the two big brand names in the music industry (Gibson and Fender) have extremely expensive basses. For example I'll use the American Standard Precision Bass ( around $1,600 msrp) and the Thunderbird IV Bass ( around $1,800 msrp). Both of which can be found at pretty much any guitar center in america and I've played both of them. It seems to me that these companys are really out to make a few bucks off their pure reputation in the music community as being the "standard" for music equipment. Which is fine because I'm pretty sure they sell lots of instruments based on the fact of "Oh thats a gibson it MUST be good". Frankly though I really wasn't really impressed with either of these instruments. Maybe the strings were dull, i plugged into a "bad" amp, or it was raining in hawaii but I really just didn't see a need to dump almost two grand into either of those instruments. A Schecter Studio 4 is a great bass with a good feel and is very well constructed but runs for about $700. Now I realize that these instruments aren't "American Made" but then again whats so special about American constructed instruments? Indonesian and Korean instruments play pretty well IMO. They may not be hand crafted and made with the pure red, white, and blue guitar building god expert but they play above reproach in my opinion. LTDs are pretty nice too with the 414 models usually running around $700 as well. Same thing can be said about Traben, Ibanez, and Spectre. I love Steve Harris to death and I realize when he started out Fender was pretty much the only thing around with any kind of reputation but I would refuse to pay that much for a Fender. He rocks it out, it sounds good, and he owns things that have been discontinued since the 60s and 70s but I guess technology has just gotten better since then. I would rather have my cheapest Schecter, which has excellent feel, playability, and tone over a Gibson Thunderbird. I realize that everyone has their own opinions but if any of you own a "high end" gibson or fender I would love to hear about your long term experiences playing these instruments.