Jeri Ellsworth & Her Commodore 64 Bass Guitar Thing

Hacker & Commodore 64 expert Jeri Ellsworth wowed visitors to the Bay Area Maker Faire with her Commodore 64 Bass Guitar.

Ellsworth noted via Twitter that it uses the SID chip and is based on an FPGA – a re-implementation of the Commodore-64 computer using reconfigurable logic chips. See the video below for an overview of the instrument from Ellsworth.

What’s not obvious from the photo above is that Ellsworth wears a portable amp and rocks the C64 Bass Guitar on roller skates. <3

Here’s a video demonstration by Ellsworth of her Commodore 64 Bass Guitar:

Image via makenai,  

19 thoughts on “Jeri Ellsworth & Her Commodore 64 Bass Guitar Thing

  1. Oh boy. Hipsters are entering the music scene, a full-scale assault.
    This will soon morph into hipster performance art.
    Except they can’t afford the piece of meat to slap on their forehead.

    1. Not to feed the disdain, but what exactly is a hipster? Is that like a hippie of today? ‘Not against anyone who sat in a park, wearing vastly looser jeans, and tripping balls, for peace, (at least 50% of which are currently republicans, {~ and not in the completely valid Ron Paul way, [currently at 56% of all political denominations]}), but how can they be correlated to someone who is such an inventive, published, well recognized engineer?

      Okay, it’s obvious. I’m also smitten.

    2. Awww are you suffering from teen angst on teh Internet? RAWRRRR LOL. C’mere lil guy, lemme squeeze your cheeks and make it better.

  2. She said that sadly the Commodore part of the machine is no more, although she is using the SID chip to generate sound. The FPGA is for pitch detection and control – sadly it won’t actually run C64 software or generate C64 video. The current design is primarily square waves (because of dodgy pitch recognition) but eventually it should support more waveforms, more robust pitch recognition (via some improved DSP/FFT/etc.) as well as use of the SID’s excellent filters.

    BUT!! Now I realize that I really should have talked to her more because she is the genius who designed the FPGA implementation of the C64 which was used in the portable C64 games. So maybe I’m wrong about it not being a fully-capable C64, though I’m pretty sure that’s what she said. She was rather modest and didn’t mention “oh by the way I did make a version of the C64 on an FPGA but I’m not using it in this design.”

  3. I believe it runs on 12 AA batteries. She said that removing the C64 components (i.e. only having FPGA + SID chip I think?) reduced the power consumption.

  4. Looks interesting to me as I play both bass and synths. But from the looks of it I have no idea where to rest my right hand. Might be a tad uncomfortable to be actually played (yeah, mod me down for actually thinking about such mundane things as playability when it’s Jerri Ellsworth with her latest creation).

  5. Me like! Are there instructions available on how to make this? How about the FPGA, etc.? I’d totally buy one for a friend as a present. I’m not musical enough myself, but I am a massive geek and fan of SID and C64 stuff!

    What a wonderful lady 🙂

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