One factor might be that many of us older players came up using hand built amps that were what you found in the local music store. These were not boutique amps! For example a lot of the old Marshalls I've owned had "Shirl" and "Mo" hand written on the inspection tags. I expect that after Shirl and Mo got off their shift at the Marshall factory they went to the pub where some of the amps they built were in the backline. These hand built amps were the equivalent of the DRRI and TRRI and HRD amps we find in the music store today, but these amps of today were built to a price point in third world countries with the cheapest possible parts and labor. I suspect that many of us who came up playing fairly high quality hand wired amps are a bit unimpressed by the third world built amps that look similar and sound similar but aren't really the same. Our old vintage amps are expensive and new amps built to the same level of quality are also expensive. While I used to be able to afford a used BFSR or Plexi 100, I cannot really afford them any more, and I can't really afford new hand built amps of similar quality either. It's kind of sad that it's so popular to ridicule "boutique" amps that are expensive because they were not built using third world $1.00/ hr labor and third world cheapo components. The ridicule of high quality amps fits right in with the popularity of modding cheap import amps. So newer players moving toward gigging go on the internet to try and figure out how to spend their money. But a $500 import amp and put another $300 into mods. Buy a $300 import guitar and put another $200 into mods. Buy a $150 pedal board and a dozen pedals for around $1000 or more. For that same money I would prefer to buy maybe a used hand wired amp for $1500 and a good used MIJ or USA or parts Fender for $600 or $800. IMO the amp should be the most expensive piece of gear we buy, by a good margin. IME amps (bigger than 5w) that retail for under $1000 are price point amps built with every part and labor action being compromised. Amps that retail for $500- $1000 certainly do the job, and there is no reduced ability to gig and get paid making good music with these price point amps. But when players are listening and looking for the next step up in sound quality, either because they are not hearing what they expect from the cheaper AMP (not talking about lazy players seeking great sound with no practice), why not go ahead and buy a higher quality amp that might fall under the "boutique" label? Well, maybe because we can only afford a $500 amp this month and will be able to afford to mod it in a few months. Fine. Or maybe we don't want to be ridiculed for showing up with a boutique amp (or a PRS) like we read so much of on the internet. I think a lot of the reason players mod cheap gear is because forum posters ridicule owners of expensive gear.