If you perfer American parts, MAS is generally considered the best arcade stick maker.
You can get them at aftermarket sellers for a bit cheaper than from MAS.
The problem is, MAS is currently pretty back-logged due to all the tournaments coming up. Many are reporting 2 month+ waits for their sticks right now.
As far as Japanese part sticks, yes Hori’s are what people usually use, though from what I understand, people usually mod the out-of-the box hori’s with different parts. I can’t tell you too much more about this as I perfer American parts, so I haven’t really looked into it. I do know that finding PS2 hori sticks is starting to get a bit hard as hori is phasing out the PS2 line for the new PS3 line. I’m sure if you look around a bit you can find them though.
Me personally, I found myself in the same boat as you. I need a stick; these pads aren’t cutting it anymore. However, I’m not prepared to wait 2 months for a MAS. I want to enjoy the stick over summer. I started looking into a home build and was surprized to find out how easy it really is. This site gives a good general overview of the process and even has templates for the boxes: