Hi all!

I want to build a 6-string CBG-style license plate guitar.

I'd like some info from those that have made such guitars. Things like bracing, attaching the neck, placing a piezo.....the RadioShack type that are common to these guitars not a commercially made guitar piezo (where would be the best place to put a piezo in order to pick up the best sound on such a small guitar).

I'd also like to know about what I should avoid, what I should be on the look out for when it comes to problems during the build and whatever other info or advice any of you may have.

If anyone has photos or drawings of your particular builds (I am looking for structural stuff in this instance) that would be greatly appreciated.

I know many people call their license plate guitars "license plate resonators." However, when it comes to those I have seen videos of only one or two seemed to actually have a resonator cone and they were 3 or 4 strings rather than 6 as I want to build.

I am thinking of using oak boards that I can get at Lowe's for both body and neck. For the bridge I am thinking of a wrap-around bridge/tailpiece like this one:


I plan to use a magnetic pickup along with the piezo that I already mentioned.

Ideally I'd like to have the body no bigger than the size of the license plate itself. However, I know there may be issues with doing this. So, as I said, I would welcome any advice on building such a guitar and any design plans that any of you may be willing to share.



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Hey JW - I build mine using 1 x 2 Oak for the box - I make it about 1/2 inch bigger all around than the plate and I recess the plate enough so no sharp edges stick up. 1 x 3 oak for the neck, it goes right thru. Rod piezo in the bridge and a disc embedded in the neck. They are wired in parallel.

Thanks for the info Jawbone!

Nice looking guitar there. What's the scale length on that?

What I was thinking for the neck is to make a laminated neck of 3 or 4 sections. I figure it would be more stable for the tension of a 6-string. It wouldn't look as pretty as a single piece but when it comes to stability over looks I would rather go for stability

As for that disc piezo on the neck, where exactly do you locate it?

Is that a truss rod cover I see?

Hey JW - scale is 25.5" , I counter sink the neck about 1/4" for the disc and embed it in silicone, probably under the 0.

No truss rod, I use a chunk of aluminum angle as a nut.

My plan was to use a pre-slotted fret board. Then I only need to taper it and install the frets. While I plan to use this for slide more than anything I want to be able to chord the strings if I want. I have short stubby fingers and not much control with my pinky. Because of this I was planning to use the 24.75 inch scale. I have guitars with the 25.5 inch scale but, there are times they just aren't that comfortable for me even though the necks on those guitars are shaped quite nicely for my meat hooks (while I have short, fat, stubby fingers the "trunk" of my hand is pretty big...especially considering everything else).

Would you happen to have a video or sound sample of your guitar online somewhere? I am curious to hear it.

Sine I plan to use a wrap-around bridge/tailpiece I won't be able to use a rod piezo. I am thinking if I  took a page from your book and installed a piezo in the neck I could place one on the underside of the license place under the bridge. If I could do it the way I have in my head it may pick up different vibrations from the plate than it would  from the neck.

Thanks again for all the info!


Thanks Yankee Dog!

I was planning to use a 1971 Michigan plate (the year I was born and where I am from...and the 71 Michigan plates were red which is my favorite color).

Because I want it to be a 6-stringer I think making a body is necessary for stability.

The first license plate guitar I saw online (have never seen one in person) was on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ET6vS_...). It spuunded damn cool but it was only 3 strings and, as I mentioned, I want mine to be a 6-string model.

A few things.

For your neck you likely have to start with an1 x 3 and rip it down. Standard 6 string nut is about 1.75" wide.

If you are adding an electromagnetic pickup, unless it is a flatpup, plan on adding bracing under where you cut out for the pickup.

I made one where I did not taper the neck. It was 1.75" all the way up. It is difficult to play. I did another where the neck goes from 1.75" at the nut to 2.5" at the join with the box. I found that a little wide. My son with big hands liked it. My box was joining where the 23rd fret would be. The tail,piece you buy will probably dictate the taper you will use. The commercial tail piece is going to be more than 1.75" wide.

If you are tapering the neck and fret board, you will find it a heck of a lot easier to cut your fret slots before,you cut the fret board taper.

If you use light or extra light electric strings, the load on the neck will be,much lighter than using acoustic strings. If you are going to use extra light, get some high ratio tuners. The really low cost tuners are difficult to tune extra light strings. Just a touch and you are over or under. The light electrics I am using give a load of 102 lbs on a 25.5" scale.

I reinforced one neck with a 1/8" x 1/2" piece of steel. It just fit into a table saw kerf.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the info David!

Would you happen to have photos or video of the ones you made?

I am planning on using a magnetic pickup but, who knows if that will change or not.

As for strings I typically use "9's" though I have found that 10's work better on my Epiphone ES-345 which has a Bigsby. Though with this project I might want to put 8's on it.

This guitar will be primarily for slide as I mentioned above. Yet, I do want to have the option of playing it the "regular" way.

I was discussing this idea with a friend tonight and he asked if it would be acoustic or electric. As I told him, it will be primarily electric but I would like for it to have a bit of acoustic quality for thise times when I don;t want to deal with plugging into an amp.

Again, thanks for the info. If you have anything else that might be useful to my project please let me know. I am the type of person that likes to have as much info as possible before I start a project like this and I am a complete novice when it comes to building instruments. I have done work on some of my instruments but, the stuff I have done is a far cry from building something from the ground up.

Thanks again!

Here is a link to my pics on CBN. You can pick out the oak six string with the tapered neck.


Here are some other pics of the same one on my site. Just scroll down


Here is a link to the fun gallery where ther is a six and twelve string with straight necks and steel embedded in the neck.


Very nice!

I find myself wondering if I should make the body wider than the license plate to allow for more space for an acoustic sound.  Or at least make the body longer than the plate so that there won;t be as much need for holes in the plate.

I want this to have a sound somewhere between acoustic and electric. That is why I'd like to leave some hollow-ness to the body. And yet, for stability reasons, I wonder if it might be better just making the thing a slab and attaching the license plate purely for aesthetics. (yes, the plate will be mostly for aesthetics no matter what but, I want to have it where the plate influences the way it vibrates)

Thanks again for the info!

I glue blocks on the inside of the box to accept the screw to hold the plate, recess the thru neck and maybe use an arch bridge to transfer vibs past the neck.

Thanks again Jawbone!

Since my plan is to use a wrap-around bridge/tailpiece I was already planning on installing a block to hold the posts that will hold the bridge. But I wasn't sure how you attached the plate (I mean specifically what you attached it to...I wasn't sure if you attached it to the frame of the box or what).


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