Nuno Bettencourt Explains What the Current Guitar Scene Is Lacking, Despite the Abundance of Great Players

Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt recently discussed the band’s new album “Six” and a variety of other guitar-related topics during his recent interview with Total Guitar. One of the songs on the album that got the attention of today’s rock fans was “Rise,” most notably due to Nuno’s guitar solo. Looking back at this lead part and the song, he said:

“When Rise came out, we thought, ‘OK, decent song, decent guitar solo,’ but the reaction that it got was something else. When Rick Beato posted his video breaking down the solo, and he’s saying that Steve Lukather’s calling, and his brother is calling and Phil X is calling saying, ‘Have you heard the Nuno solo?,’ it was really surreal for me.”

“It’s that scenario that you fantasize about as a kid. He’s saying things like, ‘Other than Eddie, he’s the guy!’ You’re like, ‘OK, hold on a second!’ I had people I admire texting me, like Phil Collen from Def Leppard, Brian May reaching out and talking about it. You have to take a step back and go ‘What’s actually happening here?’”

Extreme - "Rise" (Official Video)

Despite all the compliments he got from all over the place, Nuno claims that it’s not the technical proficiency the reason behind this attention. Reflecting on what Mateus Asato said of the solo in “Rise,” he added:

“Mateus Asato hit me up like, ‘What the fuck did you just do?’ and I’m thinking, ‘What do you mean what did I just do? You do this in your fucking sleep!‘ I realised that it’s not about being able to do it. Anybody can play the solo. I’m not even joking. You break that thing down and there’s not much going on technically, really.”

While discussing the “Rise” solo, Bettencourt also reflected on the current abundance of great guitar players. Every guitar player’s Instagram feed is most likely filled with jaw-dropping skilled players from all over the world, all shredding from the comfort of their bedrooms. He added:

 “There’s no lack of players in the world right now. As a matter of fact it’s at a bar that’s beyond belief. It’s exhausting almost. Every day I wake up and scroll to Instagram. There are players [where] your jaw drops. You’re like, ‘I couldn’t play that if I wanted to!’

Extreme - "Other Side Of The Rainbow" (Official Video)

However, as Nuno then points out, there’s more to rock music and more to today’s guitar scene than just the impressive technical proficiency that we’re witnessing every day. Discussing the matter, he explained what the current scene is missing:

“But what was missing was a band that puts out an album, and more importantly a video. Why a video? Because all these amazing guitar players are incredible technically, but most of them are sitting down. The rock ’n’ roll culture, the passion, the fire, the danger, and the joy – the physical part of it is missing.”

And, as he also adds, it’s not just about the solo itself but rather witnessing in person what inspires everyone:

“I think when somebody saw me actually performing a guitar solo, not just playing a solo, that’s what inspires people. They want to do something that makes them go, ‘Fuck this is exciting!’ It’s on a stage, going all-in. It’s a physical-but-emotional way to play.”

Another thing that Nuno also pointed out is that the lead part from “Rise” wouldn’t really make sense if it weren’t for the song. So he stands by the old saying that the solo should serve the song, which is also what some of his peers pointed out:

“I had a little listening party with Steve Vai, Tom Morello, and some of my peers. Of course, when you put yourself in that position, those guys are gonna say, ‘Yeah man, great album!’”

“They’re not going to tell you you suck, but what I was getting from everybody was it was a rock album. It’s just a fucking rock album in a time where my genre of albums don’t come out that often.

The Nuno Bettencourt Interview

“One of the things Rick Beato was most animated about was to see a solo in a song and in an arrangement. There’s harmonies underneath. What the fuck! What is this sorcery?”

Another huge part of Nuno’s uniqueness is his guitar tone. Of course, Nuno is adamant about the very essence of the tone being in one’s fingers rather than in the gear. However, in a recent interview with Ultimate Guitar, he shared a few details on how he sets things up. Asked about the gear on the new album “Six” and whether he changed something in his rig, he said:

“It’s always pretty boring. It’s always the same thing I’ve been doing. The guitar ran straight into an amp. I use a [Pro Co] Rat pedal there that I’ve been using since I was a kid. I use a Marshall, 2000 DSL.

Rig Tour: Nuno Bettencourt

“But when I tell people, they sometimes get confused. ‘Really? We don’t really like the way those amps sound.’ I’m like, ‘Look, it’s different amps for everybody, right?’ But the way I dial it in is very different. I like to turn up loud but I don’t like the sound to be harsh or hurt me when I play loud.

He also added:

“So if somebody saw my settings on the amp, most people would think it’s a mistake. They’d say, ‘Somebody messed with your sounds‘ because the high end is at 2, midrange is at 2, the bass is at like four or six, and the distortion is like at about 12 o’clock, and I don’t use Rat pedal for distortion. But when I turn it up, it sounds right. It’s warmer, it’s browner, and it suits me and I can play more progressively when most people would turn up a lot of the high-end and things like that.

Photo: SebastyneNet (Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt at South Park Festival in Tampere, Finland, June 2015 photo 02)


  • 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.