[Jeri] builds a c64 bass Keytar

[Jeri] built this really cool C64 bass Keytar from a commodore64 and a cheap bass guitar. She’s using an FPGA to do the string detection and the key scanning, it then sends everything to the original 8bit sound chips. The reason that she is using a bass guitar is that the commodore sound chip only has 3 channels. There’s an interview with her from the maker faire, and if you keep watching, there are some other interesting projects too.

She notes that the implementation she went with has many performance issues due to the overtones the strings create when played. If she did it again, she’d go another route. Since [Jeri] has previously created the fully functional C64 games on FPGA, maybe she’ll add some video synth to this down the road.


  1. Chuckt says:

    We need a video of her playing it.

  2. kajer says:

    Didn’t [Red Green]‘s nephew have one of these, but with antennas on it?

  3. doragasu says:

    Really nice build, but sounds horrible!

  4. nes says:

    Looks very nice. Just wondering though as the C64 looks to be gutted anyway why she’s not gone for a 6 string and used two SIDs? (Or a charango and three.)

    Where can a person get a nice battery powered FPGA board for these sorts of builds?

  5. 112358 says:

    Music is an art and using a unique sound can really make a song great. I can see(hear) Trent Reznor using some of the sounds I heard from her bass keytar on a song. Now lets hear her do some slap pop on that bad boy. On a side note Jeri Ellsworth is as attractive as she is talented.

  6. akismet-1719127747f65b82d73637f9006590de says:
  7. conundrum says:

    Nice idea, maybe for her next build Jeri can make a laser air guitar using an old Acorn optical mouse as the case :-)

  8. Edward says:

    I hope she gets offers to work at Google – with stock options.

    • Kaj says:

      Well, she did get picked up to start Valve Software’s new Hardware R&D department, so at least she’s working for a cool company.

      Up next, Jeri demos her working Portal gun…

  9. Ryan says:

    I’d love to pick her brain , she is beautiful and talented/creative,I always enjoy her creations!

  10. barryronaldo says:

    Nice Jeri :) I saw something similar in Toledo at a chiptunes show CB24V 2.2 but it had a similar issue with the feedback/overtone. He was using a DI box and kept monekying with the ground lift which lead to that awesome tearing capacitor whoosh each time lol. Keep on tinkering :)

  11. Jeff L. Richtman says:

    Jeri builds the coolest stuff, even if sometimes it doesn’t work out. In one interview she said she always knows when she has been featured on HAD just from the comments that come her way.

  12. NewCommentor1283 says:

    keytars are awesome, c64 keytars are cooler

    i like how this one looks; guitary,
    but with a c64 ;)

  13. Hugo says:

    Goddammit, I’m loving her!!

  14. da rippa says:

    This hack is perfect for this hack http://youtu.be/WyCMM6e1Lbo.

    Jeri, keep them coming.

  15. Bubba Gump says:

    Use an Atari 800, feed in into the joystick ports, one string on each port. Code it in machine code and use the second cartridge port for an “effects” option.

    Oh man…imma make millions!

  16. Eniac says:

    Jeri is Pure Goddess

  17. Hacksaw says:

    As if she wasn’t hot enough before….

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