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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Commodore 64 bass guitar: revenge of the keytar!

Jeri Ellsworth displays a unique bass while on roller skates.
(Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

Keytars used to be cool. Then they were lame. Now they're cool again, thanks to Jeri Ellsworth and her Commodore 64 bass guitar.

The unique instrument debuted at the Bay Area Maker Faire over the weekend. It's essentially a bass guitar grafted onto a Commodore 64, creating an unholy alliance between the thudding bottom end of a rock song and the raw retro power of an iconic computer.

The computer part isn't just for decoration; the original Commodore 64 sound chip handles all of the audio processing. Both the keys and the strings trigger sounds through a portable amp. The wave forms can be changed at the push of a button.

Ellsworth has a long history with Commodore 64 hacking. She last popped up on CNET in 2004 with a Commodore 64 emulator filled with 30 video games. The whole kit was built in to a joystick.

Check out the video below to see the keytar in action (warning: spectacular moustache ahead). Ellsworth busts out some "Sunshine of Your Love" licks, but I would like to personally make a request for Spinal Tap's bass opus "Big Bottom".

makelive on Broadcast Live Free


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