The biggest difference between a Squire and a USA Fender is the sticker on the headstock. Same with Epiphone and Gibson.
Amps can be a real rip off. For $3500 They should be able to open it up and show you where it took them two weeks to hand wire and solder each connection. By technician that gets paid a livable wage.
Aww, no, I can't really agree here Dino - if someone can't actually feel and see the difference in quality between an Epiphone and a Gibson, or a Squier and a Fender, then I definitely agree with the originator of this thread, that it is money wasted - but it doesn't necessarily follow that you NEED to spend more money to buy quality gear. I bought a Fender Custom Shop Strat - it wasn't cheap, but it replaced a 1963 Strat that was gorgeous (I just ran out of money a few years ago), and while I think the current US Fenders are very good, the CS Strat was just that little bit closer in feel and sound to its predecessor, that's what I wanted, but in a pinch, the US Standard Strat would have been fine.
I think it's probably safe to see that almost everyone on Jemsite wants to play as well as they possibly can, and if that means you spend a bit more on a top quality bit of gear for a small improvement, then you do it!
With regards to amps, you sort of, to a degree, get what you pay for - sure, a BadCat or a Cornford is partially going to cost more because it is hand wired point to point on turret boards (which coincidentally if it is designed and done really, really well makes for the quietest possible tube amp in terms of background noise), but in most cases you are also paying for the fact that someone who goes to the trouble of building a high quality amp is not going to shirk on the components, which means ultra high quality capacitors, tubes, transformers, military spec resistors (the old carbon resistors in most old tube amps had a tolerance rating of up to +-20% - add that up a few times through the signal chain of a Marshall Plexi Head, and you start to get an idea of why some old ones sound killer, some sound great, and some sound ordinary!) - in order to make sure that each amp sounds as good as the next. All this stuff costs a lot of money - add things like finger jointed solid wood cabinetry and the like, and sure, they are expensive, but you are getting what you pay for - and if it cost me 3500 Euro to sound just that little bit more like Guthrie Govan, so be it! I can pull a pretty good sound out of a Vox Valvetronix 30 watt tranny amp if I tinker with it long enough, but I can get an absolute killer sound out of my TriAxis just by switching it on - and that alone, for me, made this expensive bit of kit worth every cent!
Having said all that, you can trot down to the local music store and plomp down $1495AUD on a Vox AC30 Custom Classic, which is not a lot of money for an all tube amp here in Australia, and get a wonderful sounding amp - the jury is totally out as to whether it's all - Chinese construction and componentry will still be running six months from now, and when I buy one (for that kind of money I just can't resist getting one!), I fully expect to be replacing tubes and bits that progressively fall off the amp in the next few years, but hey, it's very cheap, it sounds great, and I can't resist it!
Over the same period, I fully expect the rather more expensive Mesa Boogie rig to just keep going, and going, and going, and sound just as good as it did the day I bought it.
Oh, yeah, and back to the original question, I'd take the Cornford over the wine any day - sooner or later all that great wine will be gone, and all you have to show for it is fuzzy memories and a collction of hangovers, but that damn Cornford will still be thumping out great guitar tone fifty years from now!