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The Porter Les Bois Performance Plus features:
Test gear: LIttle Walter 59 Head with Mojo 4x10 cabinet
Brian Porter is the man behind Porter Pickups, a capable custom shop team in Boise, Idaho. Known primarily for their pickups, Porter has been refining their guitar business the past few years, investing heavily in tooling, equipment, and R&D. A couple years back we e were lucky enough to obtain one of his original designs -- the Khrosis -- and now we've got our hands on the long-awaited follow up: the Les Bois (pronounced "le-bwah").
The shape is traditional single cut, but with a slightly exaggerated lower bout and a higher, tighter waist than you-know-who. We're quite taken with the look, it's well balanced, and the 7.6 pound alder body is a far cry weight-wise from the typical LP. The Olympic white poly finish is expertly applied and overall construction is first class. Premium functional appointments include include Hipshot hardware and Emerson Custom potentiometers and tone caps.
The bolt-on Les Bois has a nice natural resonance and strong acoustic volume. The fetching roasted birdseye neck is a generous medium-C shape that provides good palm support up the neck without feeling bulky like a 50' vintage shape. We're of the opinion that bigger necks tend to aid resonance and low end, and while we lack scientific proof, we like what we hear. The Pau Ferro fretboard provides a Rosewood-ish feel and look without alarming the CITES gods, and the stainless frets are smooth and silky. The Les Bois also sports a dual-action truss rod wheel adjuster at the bottom of the neck. It is both out of the way and functional.
The exposed coil Classic/Smooth +5% set is for players that want clarity and attack at the neck position, but a smoother and less edgy bridge tone with singing overdrive characteristics. Using Alnico 5 magnets and a mild 7K resistance, the Classic neck pickup has solid attack qualities on the wound strings, and clear string-to-string definition. It???s warm sounding without being mushy or smearing notes, and combined with the Fender-style scale and bolt-on construction you can get funky and percussive without resorting to coil splits or other contrivances.
The Porter Smooth +5% is their Alnico 2 Smooth pickup, but we asked them to goose it a few percent to provide a better match to the Classic neck. The softer Alnico 2 magnetic field results in less string pull, better sustain, and a looser more vintage feel. Overdrive tones are not quite as tight as the Classic or Overdrive models, but there is more harmonic content and a sweeter less brittle high end. The +5% extra pickup windings bumps the output and midrange slightly to give it a touch more attitude and pedal performance. Combined with the balanced response of Alder and the snappy long scale neck, clean tones are bright, jangly, and you can cop country licks or Tom Petty chime with convincing results. Overdrive tones are complex, with plenty of harmonic detail and sustain. The Les Bois is not as fat and woody as a traditional set-neck LP, but we dig it's response and note articulation. And with the excellent Emerson electronics, you can always adjust to suit your mood.
In the crowded arena of boutique guitars it's a constant fight to stand out. Although understated, the Porter Les Bois is expertly crafted and has the resonance, tone and feel that comes with carefully selected woods and exacting construction. And it does not hurt either to be making your own pickups. Aimed at players more than collectors, Brian Porter and his crew have created an instrument perfectly suited to pros and weekend warriors who value premium tone and performance in an attractive-yet-functional package.We are an authorized Porter dealer and are happy to answer any questions you may have.