Hi all, thought I would add my bit from across the pond to this "debate". The long waiting lists and big prices the top U.S builders can demand appears to only happen in the U.S. In the U.K where there are many fine builders (a matter of opinion I suppose !!) the wait time seems to be around 6-8 weeks for a handbuilt steel frame and cost around £400 to £750.
Admittedly these tend to be more functional frames with no doubt less time spent on ornate lugwork and the like, but as each frame is made to measure and specced as you require they are still "one offs". Also if you wish to stipulate more intricate lugs etc this does not tend to raise the price very much - maybe 5% - 15%.
I do not doubt the skills of the builders who can charge the prices they do over there, but there would not be many people out there who could tell the difference in ride quality between a $3000 frame from a top U.S builder and a £500 frame from a well established U.K builder. Afetr all is the best "ride" what we all crave ?
I ask this question - would you take a modern "classic" frame from a current top builder or a 1960s DeRosa with file marks in the lugs and paint which falls off in the rain and all ?
Lets all be honest about it - we pay for "snob value",(in addition to these builders superb skills of course) the frames are rare due to the waiting lists so are worth more. Comments from the people on a frame list would be good.
Snowing here today
Pete Surrey U.K