Hi All,

          I recently built a licence plate guitar and was keen to fit it with a magnetic pickup but I ended up fitting a piezo. It sounds great acoustically but I'm not really happy with the sound when plugged in. I moved the piezo around and sound tested but it didn't seem to make a lot of difference.

Anyway as I said i was keen to build the licence plate guitar with a magnetic pickup but didn't like the idea of cutting bits out of the licence plate and fitting a pick up in its place. I've noticed some builds where a piece is cut out of  the licence plate for the pickup and then the section cut out is glued or refitted to where it was cut (to the pick up). Is this difficult to do? Which type pick up will best suit to do this? Will gluing/attaching the cut out piece to the magnetic pick up alter the sound?

Hope someone can help.




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your mag pup can just sit under the plate Paul,if the plate is steel,no need to cut,it will pick up the plates vibes

I'll share this.

In the video below, I have a modern Colorado license plate (sometime around 2001). Seems aluminum-y.  Despite this, I just put a single coil pickup under the plate with a small air space.  The single coil is nowhere near the strings.  And yet, it works.

If you choose to make cut outs and fix them over top of the pickup, you have to consider a couple things:

  1. If the plate is steel then the cover has to be in very good contact with the pickup poles or it will act as a shield and lower output, maybe dramatically.
  2. If you take care of item 1 or the cover is not strongly magnetic then you have to fix it in place very tightly or not in contact with the pickup poles at all.  If it vibrates you will get a microphonic piezo-like effect and it might not have the tone you desire.

I took a lot of care cutting out the pickup locations on my Rustocaster and learned the lessons above.

Aluminum is non ferrous, so that won't block the magnetic force if you put a pickup under it. Steel will, but like they're saying, if you put in in contact with the steel, it will become part of the magnetic force, and it should work.

Another option, if your pickup has screw polepieces, is to put the pickup under the license plate, but drill holes for the polepieces and extend those above the plate.

Or you could try a Flatpup (Elmar's Original) or a ThinTalker (Dan Sleep's licensed version), and install it on top of the plate....

no credit to me,i got it from a cranky guy on the other side of Australia,knows a bit about this stuff

Thanks everyone,

                           it look's as though the mag pup under the licence plate is the way forward.


I tried a mag pickup under these old license plates and did not like the tinny, hollow tone. I went with a top mount thin mag pickup. Only need to drill one little hole. I started buying plates with no numbers in the areas that I want to put the pickup to make things easier to top mount.

Thanks. It's a single coil low profile pickup. There's info on my profile if you would like to learn more. There are some seriously wicked pickup builders around here! You really can't go wrong.


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