Brief aside/rant here: I think it's important to remember how badly our price expectations on guitars have been conditioned by economies of scale and cheap multinational labor. When the first production Telecasters were introduced in the early 1950s, they were priced at $189.50. That seems cheap, until you do the inflation calculations and find out that in today's dollars, that's the equivalent of $1567. Which is, incidentally, roughly Tom Drinkwater's advertised price for a multi-scale bolt-neck 8-string. The mass-produced parts like tuners and bridges might have gotten a little cheaper over the years, but hand labor is still priced about the same, and I would guess that wood prices are stable or have increased, depending on the woods you're using. (And this assumes that mass-produced parts are available for your build - you might be able to get a Hipshot 8 for $100 or thereabouts, but for an 11-string bridge you're going to have to buy or fabricate single-string bridges, and ABM's single-string bridges run about $40 each.)
And keep in mind that the small builders aren't living high on the hog. Let's use Tom as an example, since he's got standard models on his website with set prices. My build is taking about 6 weeks from start to shipment, so that's roughly 9 build cycles per year. Assume generously that he can consistently work on 4 instruments at a time. If he's working at full capacity year-round, that's 36 guitars at about $1500 each, or $54,000. Since he's self-employed, pull out about a third of that in state and federal taxes; that alone takes us down to $36,000. Then subtract materials costs: pickups, hardware, wood, stain and finishing, strings, the occasional new or replacement piece of shop gear.... You can see where this is going. These guys work hard for love of their craft. Let's pay them what they're worth.
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
-The Gospel of Thomas
Do not be afraid of being wrong; just be afraid of being uninteresting.
-T. Carl Whitmer
The Art of Improvisation, 1941
Caminante, no hay camino
Se hace camino al andar
[Lonely wanderer, there is no road
The road is made as you march]