’It’s All About Your Fingers’: Nuno Bettencourt on What He Learned After Playing Through Eddie Van Halen’s Rig

Extreme guitarist and an absolute all-around virtuoso Nuno Bettencourt recently appeared in a new interview on Rick Beato’s YouTube channel. During this long chat, they touched upon a pretty expected topic — does your tone lie in the fingers? That was intertweined with another obvious choice for a conversation subject — Eddie Van Halen.

During the chat, Nuno reflected on meeting Eddie and how he was invited to play through the guitar legend’s rig. However, things didn’t exactly go according to his plan. He explained (transcript via Guitar World):

“I thought I was finally going to sound like [Van Halen], and I was so bummed out. I’m like, ‘I even have his sweat on the strings, I have his DNA, I got his amp, I just watched him rehearse. He’s asking me to play his rig.

“‘I’m gonna finally – after fucking decades of AB-ing ‘Van Halen‘ and ‘Van Halen II‘ to my sound – sound like Edward.’

But when the moment actually came, Nuno was disappointed:

“And I was so fucking disappointed – I sounded just like me. It was so horrible. It was like a horrible nightmare.”

When asked what it specifically sounded like, he simply replied:

“It sounded just like me. I’m telling you… it sounded like me!

“[I was] super-disappointed. I was like, ‘I’m never gonna sound like Edward, ever. Ever!’ But that was the big[gest] bitch slap of all time when you realize, ‘Holy shit, it’s all about you. It’s all about your fingers.’

“And it’s not even just your fingers here, it’s where you hold the pick, and how much you hold the pick, and where you touch it. You don’t think about those things, but that’s how individual we are.”

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Although not his contemporary, it was not a secret that Eddie was a fan of Nuno’s musicianship. With this year’s release of Extreme’s new material, the guitarist got back into the spotlight due to his incredible lead part in the song called “Rise.”

And as he explained in an interview from earlier this year, the sessions for this tune go back to 2020 when Eddie Van Halen was still alive. And guess who came to visit just when Nuno was recording his parts?

Nuno recalled:

“On the day I was working on the solo, Gary [Cherone] was in town to finish some vocals. And Gary knows that I don’t like to be bothered while I’m recording. But for some reason, he kept blowing up my phone and asking me to go to lunch, which really pissed me off.”

Extreme - "Rise" (Official Video)

“Gary texted me, ‘Hey, what’s happening in there? You’ve got to come out front; somebody is here to say ‘Hi.’ I’m like, ‘Okay…’ And I went downstairs, and as I walked out, I saw that Edward Van Halen was waiting for me. They’d already gone to lunch together, and that’s why Gary had been trying to get a hold of me… which was a good reason to interrupt.”

“When I got downstairs, Edward [Eddie Van Halen] asked me to go up and listen to what I was working on. Being the Virgo and the idiot I am, I was like, ‘Wait ’til it’s done. I’ll show you then.’ And Edward said, ‘Absolutely, I’ll come back then.’

However, Eddie never got the chance to hear it:

“But he sadly passed away not too long after that. So, I’m hoping that he’s smiling down on me. But ‘Rise’ is special because that’s the song I was cutting the last time I saw him.”

Extreme - "#Rebel" (Official Music Video)

Nonetheless, we’re sure that Eddie would have loved it. After all, Nuno was praised by all of the other guitar legends who heard it. He said:

“A lot of my peers and heroes, like Steve Lukather, Steve Vai and Brian May, sent me personal texts and emails after sharing the song, which was amazing. And then, I was starting to read everywhere that I was like, ‘the heir to the throne’ that Edward left.”

Extreme - "Banshee" (Official Music Video)

However, Nuno doesn’t feel like he’s really “the heir to the throne.” He added:

“I have to say that while that is gratifying, there is no heir to the throne of Eddie Van Halen. Nobody sits on that throne. Nobody takes that throne.“

“Here’s why it’s different with Eddie: when a great guitar player passes, you just move on to another, right? But in this case, Eddie wasn’t just a ‘guitar player.’ We’re talking about a guy who changed culture and how we play guitar.“

BLABBERMOUTH.NET -- Nuno Bettencourt Performs "Rise" Solo Live For First Time

“He was like an alien coming in and fucking everything up so much that even the legends beforehand are like, ‘Okay… what is happening here? What sorcery is this?’”

Photos: SebastyneNet (Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt at South Park Festival in Tampere, Finland, June 2015 photo 02), Abby Gillardi (Van Halen-8597 (20643101375))


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.