The F-9 is my first thought on a production F model with great tone at a lower price range.
Keith Newell looks like a promising builder who's active in these forums. I know his earlier F styles were in your price range, I don't know his current rates.
I'm another recovered scroll addict. I recently bought an A-9 and absolutely love it. Now that I've been playing on it a while, I find myself eyeing the nice A models over the Fs. Now I almost view the scroll as just more functionless bulk on an instrument.
Sure, it's pretty. But so is sleek efficiency.
A bit of advice given to a young native upon initiation:
As you go the way of life, you will come across a great chasm. Jump! It's not as far as you think.