Remember that low price does not necessarily mean value.
As far as modding or not goes, it depends if its worth it TO YOU or not. I didn’t build my custom sticks to save money, its because I enjoyed building them; but some people don’t have that interest.
If you are into modding get a Hori V3 Fight Stick or a Mad Catz SE/Brawl Stick. These have cheap knockoff joysticks and buttons that you can replace with real Sanwa parts later. If you get serious about fighting games you will need to upgrade the stick and buttons, believe me. As TheBlackHombre pointed out, the Brawl Stick is exactly the same as the Mad Catz SE, but its more available right now. The only difference is the stupid artwork, which you can replace with your own.
If you’re not into modding get a Hori RAP V3 SA or a Mad Catz TE. These are much more expensive, but they come with real Sanwa parts already installed. Also it should be noted that a bigger, nicer case is an advantage in itself.
The other thing you need to plan for is replacing the PCB. Once you get used to a fight stick, you’re not going to be able to stand using a game pad for fighting games or shmups or any other arcade style games. You’re going to want to be able to plug your stick into all your other systems, not just your PS3.
If you replace your stock PCB with an MC Cthulhu, you can use your stick with all these systems:
Gamecube - this also means any Wii game that’s compatible with Gamecube controllers
The only problem is that the MC Cthulhu doesn’t work with Xbox 360, so if there’s any chance you’ll ever get one you should actually a stick that’s made for 360 (Hori VX Fighting Stick/Hori RAP VX SA or Mad Catz TE/SE/Brawl 360 version). This way you can ADD the MC Cthulhu to the stock PCB, that way it works with both 360 and the MC Cthulhu consoles. If you’re not into modding, you can find someone on this site who can install an MC Cthulhu for you.
More info on the MC Cthulhu here:
ONE MORE THING! If you DON’T need 360 support, I might be able to sell you a Hori RAP VX SA with an MC Cthulhu in it (remember it will work with all the systems on the list, but not 360).