Delusions Guitarist “Gets” the Underground, Builds Amps

Our series on paying the bills when you're playing the bills.

Delusions guitarist and songwriter Dave Keppel is such a freakishly talented fellow that watching him play at the Storeroom Tavern on Eastlake 10 years ago caused me to quit my day job and enter the music business. He also kindly slapped some sense into me at a party when I foolishly confessed that I didn't yet "get" the Velvet Underground. For those reasons alone, I consider him a local treasure. Local treasures should not work in coffee shops in the U District, but this is what Keppel did for far, far too many years. The good folks at Soldano Custom Amplification in Magnolia hired him three years ago to build guitar amps, a position he is infinitely more suited for.

So, do you do repair amps or just build them?

I build them—I assemble the amp from start to finish. I make the circuit board, do all the wiring, attach it to the chassis, and put the tubes in. I also test the amps to make sure they sound good and work properly. So I get to play some guitar at work.

How does your work impact your creative side?

Building amps gives me a lot more ideas for guitar sounds. I didn't use to care how my guitar sounded. Now I do.

Who buys your creations?

Lou Reed plays our amplifiers. So do Eric Clapton, Jethro Tull, Sum 41, No Doubt, Mötley Crüe, Heart...the list is pretty long. I made an amp recently for Rammstein.

What's new with the Delusions?

The Delusions just finished a tour with Built to Spill and Camper Van Beethoven; it was great to meet Camper and open for Built to Spill again. We have a new CD coming out in January called Torn, recorded by [Built to Spill and Delusions guitarist] Jim Roth and mastered by Kramer.

Day Job is a look at how musicians pay the rent.

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