Amp builder Ben Verellen is a customizer’s dream
MUCH LIKE HIS beloved Seattle Seahawks, Ben Verellen isn’t afraid to shake things up in order to attain a specific goal. For the the NFL franchise, it could mean testing unproven players at various skill positions to create a better team. For Verellen, it is about being the custom shop that his line of clientele have always wanted, but were afraid to ask about. It’s an approach that has served him well over the past nine years. Of course, being a two-man operation most days, it can be hard to live on wires and resistors alone. Verellen also remains active with his band Helms Alee, which just released a new album, Stillicide, this month.
TUCKED BACK in an alleyway just north of the Fremont Cut in Seattle, Ben Verellen builds custom guitar and bass amplifiers. Surrounded by businesses ranging from a jiu jitsu dojo and glass gallery to a flower shop and ramen house, the scene looks strangely like a Pacific-Northwest version of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. There’s even a troll — the famous Fremont Troll — just a five minute walk to the east.
While one might be hard pressed to find a wand shop or a bank run by goblins, their are some that believe Verellen works his own brand of magic on the equipment he creates. The shop itself has as many curious as practical appointments. There’s a bench where the majority of the amps get wired up, and there is also a venerable upright piano in one corner well past its ‘saloon days’ prime. The piano currently sports a light blue, plastic label maker, an instructional book of unknown origin and a well-worn copy of Queen: Deluxe Anthology — a sheet music book.