Art Scene: He Makes Guitars from License Plates

Story by Matt Young. Photos by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, N.C. – During the day, Pete Geiger of Cary is an auditor with DataScan. By night, he makes guitars out of license plates.

From License Plates to Replica Stratocaster

Take any guitar make and model that you want and Pete will fashion a replica guitar out of riveted auto license plates to look just like it. The design possibilities are endless, combining letters, numbers and colors in countless ways. Pete makes “special editions” to highlight a customer’s particular interests and tastes. has been around for 3 years.

Turn It Down!

Any married guy that plays guitar has heard his wife utter similar words. “Pete, the kids are trying to sleep. Ya gotta turn that off.”

Pete was in the car sales business at the time, had come home from work and was playing his Les Paul. He sulked off to the garage. He saw the  license plates in his Long Island, NY garage and he got inspired.

That night he made a guitar out of the license plates in his garage.

Move to Cary

For years the Geigers wanted to move to North Carolina. They loved the Outer Banks and Wrightsville. But they wanted to go somewhere in North Carolina with “better schools”. They decided that it would be between Apex and Cary.

And like so many others, they packed up and moved to Cary, giving up their jobs in New York. Pete’s wife, Debbe, landed a job at Duke in Media Relations a few months later. Peter was not interested in retail anymore and 6 months later was hired by DataScan.

The First 50 Guitars

Pete’s friends would come over to play guitar with him and see the guitar made of license plates hanging on the wall. “Pete, why aren’t you selling these?” they asked.

So, a few years ago, after he had heard this a few (dozen) times, Geiger put a license-plate guitar in a Cary art gallery. People loved it. And suggested that he make more.

Soon after, a Tempe, Arizona bar owner called him. The owner of  “Jackson’s on Third” near Sun Devil Stadium, had been visiting his mother-in-law in Cary and had seen the guitar in an art show.

The call was to order 50 license plate guitars to decorate his bar in Arizona.

Cranking Up the Volume on Business

The business took off from there.

Today, patrons are invited to visit the studio to see the layout and artwork in progress on their orders. They can choose from any model of electric or acoustic guitar or even banjo. Special messages spelled out in license plate letters personalize the work. Clients can provide their own personal license plates, or Peter can get them for his customers.

Love your Taylor? Your Gibson? Your Strat? Peter can make one that looks like it.

Custom builds cost a little more than $400. No strings attached. Literally.

See Them at Lazy Daze & Artsplosure

Pete will be showing some of his license plate guitars and banjos at Artsplosure in May in Raleigh. And he will be showing and selling his art at Cary’s Lazy Daze in August.

Rock on, Pete.