BillyRadd Music

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Utah Plates Tenor Guitar

4-String License Plate Electric Tenor Guitar with African Lacewood neck
and Bare Flatpup Humbucker

Anita Gayle and I recently got our North Carolina drivers licenses (we both scored 95% on the written test, thank you very much) and a new NC license plate for Big Red, our Jeep Wrangler. Utah doesn't require sending back their old plates so I decided to recycle-reuse the the two I had "rented" from the Utah DOT and build a 4-String License Plate Electric Tenor Guitar. (More pics below)

In case you are unaware, a tenor guitar's standard tuning is DGBE, or the same tuning as the highest (or lower strings when you are looking at a guitar from the front) as a standard 6-string guitar. But, you can also use various other tunings.

I ordered an African lacewood neck, a set of gold-plated tuner machines with classic half-moon buttons in a nice mocha color, a brass tailpiece and gold strap buttons (that I thought would compliment the bright colors of the Utah plates) from C.B.Gitty in New Hampshire. I also bought a Bare Flatpup4 Humbucker from Elmar Zeilhof in Vienna Austria, a cool, thin (4mm thick) innovative electric pickup that is easily glued right on the surface of any guitar for low-profile amplification.

Last night I was finally finished building this personally nostalgic screamer and mounted a new set of strings, also made and supplied by Gitty. I plugged her into my trusty old Ampeg Portaflex combo amp and quickly discovered that my new build has sound/tone characteristics unlike any electric guitar I have heard before - kind of like an electric banjo/dobro, which I expect is because the two thin, metal license plates, attached together as the front and back with metal machine bolts, act as resonators.

I'm pretty positive that there has never been another tenor license-plate guitar with the letters Z41-1KA emblazoned on it so I think I have made an original.


  1. Love the plate... the new one too!

    Ed in Atlanta

  2. Thanks, Ed. We decided to get the Wrangler plate because the front Utah plate was obviously missing after I removed it.