Reader Guitar of the Month: Fifty Les Porter

For his half-century birthday, one of our readers decided to do it up right with a unique custom build.


Name: Leslie Porter Miller

Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
Guitar: Fifty Les Porter

Over the years, I’ve built myself a stack of Stratocaster- and Telecaster-style guitars, using both actual Fender necks and bodies and various replacements, occasionally giving them to my airbrush guy to go wild on. They get gigged heavily for a month or two and then I get the itch and build another one. It’s fun, and as far as “addictions” go, pretty benign.

When my big half-century birthday was looming, I decided to make myself something unique

I saw a picture of Billy Gibbons with a single-pickup goldtop and thought, “Damn! I want that!” So, I found a Canadian company, Precision Guitars, that sells unassembled set-neck-style instruments and ordered a neck and body with a single pickup and wraparound bridge. Unfortunately, I neglected to specify the pickup route as P-90 style so ended up with a humbucker hole instead.

I found a guy on eBay who does custom waterslide headstocks, got my local luthier to paint the headstock and put it on, and ta-da! My name is Leslie Porter, so this is my Fifty Les Porter model. I’ve also done some “Teleporter” and “Portercaster” waterslides as well, because, it’s funny!

But what color to paint it if not goldtop? I saw a story on George Harrison’s Les Paul Standard “Lucy,” and ding—an idea! Robert over at Lapidary Dreams painted her a really lovely cherry red. It was a bit of a pain to get the maple to read the same red as the mahogany. The top is slightly lighter, but I’m beyond stoked, and got it back just before birthday No. 51.

The truss-rod cover has my name in Japanese and the wraparound bridge is a TonePros with compensation/intonation milled in. Originally, I went with a GFS Zebra Alnico 5 humbucker but ended up putting that in a different guitar, so now this guitar has a Seymour Duncan Slash humbucker. She’s maybe 300 gigs in? Lots of scratches and love.

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Great quality filters that sound good independently or combined. Retains low end through the filter spectrum. Ability to control wah and switch on fuzz simultaneously. Very solid construction.

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  • Develop a better sense of subdivisions.
  • Understand how to play "over the bar line."
  • Learn to target chord tones in a 12-bar blues.
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Playing in the pocket is the most important thing in music. Just think about how we talk about great music: It's "grooving" or "swinging" or "rocking." Nobody ever says, "I really enjoyed their use of inverted suspended triads," or "their application of large-interval pentatonic sequences was fascinating." So, whether you're playing live or recording, time is everyone's responsibility, and you must develop your ability to play in the pocket.

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