Add to Cart
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 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 semi-hollow Walnut body is a far cry weight-wise from the typical LP. The natural beauty of the materials on this guitar need no finish other than oil, and overall construction is first class. The Walnut back has a sonic profile that sits somewhere in between Koa and Mahogany, offering a nice mix of rich midrange content and treble emphasis. Canary Wood is a less common material but it proves to be a wonderful sonic partner in this package. It is a dense hardwood, hailing from South America, that has a bright tonal center that interacts with the Walnut very much like the classic Maple cap over Mahogany combination. When you factor in the semi-hollow body design, you get a naturally resonant platform that gives you much better articulation and clarity than you'd expect from a typical 2-humbucker slab. 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, enhanced by the semi-hollow design. The European Beech 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. If you did a double take when reading this, that's perfectly normal as European Beech is not a tone-wood you see everyday. It is one of the most consumed hardwoods in the UK and has a nice combination of guitar-friendly characteristics: It's highly dense with a bending and compression strength ratio superior to African Mahogany, and it looks like maple! The Rosewood fretboard provides is familiar touch, 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.
The Anthem Plus humbucker set is a slightly hotter take on their previous namesake but made with Alnico IV magnets. Compared to the the typical Alnico V or Alnico II you tend to see in humbuckers, the Alnico IV's offer a proper balance of power and clarity. The application of Alnico IV's in this platform is rather genius as they have a wider, flatter EQ that allows the semi-hollow design and exotic tonewoods to live up to their highest potential. There are plenty of other factors that make or break a pickup, and Porter never compromises the details. Using custom scatter wound techniques and vintage 42 AWG wire, this set is made for players who need an authentic PAF tone with a bit more muscle for easy transition to high gain styles. They are wound to a mildly spicy 8-9.5k resistance which is more than enough power for all types of rock, blues and country, with enough restraint to make sure there are no overtly dulled or excited frequencies.
The Anthem Plus neck pickup is bouncy and percussive on the wound strings, and smooth yet articulate treble response. It's warm enough to get the jazzy, creamy neck tones you know and love with the added benefit of tighter lows and crisp highs. Combined with the Fender-style scale and bolt-on construction you can get funky and percussive without resorting to coil splits.
The Anthem Plus bridge pickup is an absolute beast. The focused punch of the Alnico IV magnetic field results in full bodied punch, increased sustain, and a truly vintage feel. There is more harmonic content than your average humbucker and a thick, sparkling high end that makes it a formidable rock pickup. Compared to the original Anthem PAF set, the extra pickup windings bumps the output and midrange slightly to give it a touch more attitude and pedal performance. Combined with the reflective response of the Walnut/Canary Wood and the snappy long scale neck, clean tones are crisp, 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. 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.