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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. Best known for custom-wound 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 sampled one of his earlier designs -- a Khrosis protoytpe -- which impressed us enough that we were more than happy to check out the Les Bois.
The shape is classic single cut, but with a slightly exaggerated lower bout and a higher, tighter waist. It's familiar looking, but has its own "look" that won't be mistaken for just another LP wannabe. The traditional 3-color sunburst 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 dark 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 stainless frets are a nice feature, offering extremely long life and fast, silky fretting and bends. 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.
You don't see Mini Humbuckers that often, which is a shame as they offer really usable tones while still having benefits of hum-cancelling performance. Originally developed by Epiphone, the minis were acquired by Gibson along with the Epiphone brand in 1957. The Mini-Hum uses a single bar magnet underneath the coils, with the slug coil having a ferrous bar pole piece, and the other coil 6 individual threaded pole pieces. In essence it's a shrunken humbucker with the exception of one coil having a bar-type pole piece.
In general terms, Mini-Humbuckers straddle the tonal spectrum between single coils and a full-sized humbucker. The smaller coils and tighter coil spacing yields a brighter tone that has less low end emphasis at the neck, and a flatter midrange profile in the bridge position. They are overall less "middy" than the similarly sized P-90. The Porter Minis use Alnico 5 magnets for good attack qualities, and the moderate 6K DC resistance offers a clean, balanced profile that will please single coil lovers looking for a little more meat without getting dark or mushy. While Mini-Hums are not super common, some of the better known users include Pete Townsend and Brent Mason, who used a mini-hum in the neck position of his custom Tele. In fact the Tele neck mod is one of the more popular places you can spot a Mini-Hum, as it has more bite than a traditional Tele pickup with a sweet clear top end.
As much as guitar players imagine themselves as rebels, they are simultaneously quite conservative relative to change. That makes a small-builder guitar a daring proposition for some, and the selection of Mini-Humbuckers makes this Les Bois even more radical. But if you are willing to take that leap of faith, the Porter Les Bois is an expertly crafted instrument that has the resonance, tone and feel that comes with carefully selected woods, great components and precise construction. 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.