Nuno Bettencourt Names One Important Thing You Shouldn’t Do If You Want to Sound Unique on Guitar

Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme pointed out that the technological advantages that young guitar players have today might not always work in their favor. In a recent chat with Ultimate Guitar, Bettencourt reflected on the abundance of technically proficient young guitar players today and the abundance of information guitar players and other musicians have today at their disposal, all thanks to the internet.

When asked whether a young guitar player now can stand out and sound unique, Nuno explained:

“Young guitar players, they have everything you mentioned. They have the Internet. What does that mean? That means that they can look anybody up — a Van Halen solo, Eric Clapton, Five Finger Death Punch, whatever they want. And almost learn it verbatim note for note, slow it down on YouTube, do whatever they want to do, see the guys show you, maybe even see the actual guitar player show you.”

Sure, this is an advantage. However, as Nuno claims, there’s a huge downside to all of this:

“It’s great until it’s not great. What do I mean by that? Meaning that I would have loved to have that when I was 15, 16, 17, 18. But at the same time, I had the archaic version that was like, ‘Oh my God, you got a take a needle off an album,’ put the first riff down for ‘Runnin’ with the Devil,’ and hope that I remembered exactly what I played and grab the guitar and do just that little bit. And then go back and forth, go back and forth, go back and forth.”

To explain this further, Bettencourt shared “Mean Street” as an example of a song that he got wrong:

“But, by the time I learned what I thought ‘Mean Street’ were, I realized that… I believed that I was playing it just like Edward. And I discovered later that I was playing it in a different part of the guitar, I was playing the notes in different octaves, different area. I didn’t see exactly how we did it. I didn’t know what amp was used. I didn’t know what was going on.”

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

Nuno then said that this was “the bad news,” he didn’t have a way of fully knowing if he was actually doing this music proper justice. However, this issue comes with a huge advantage as well. So there was also the “good news”:

“But the good news was that it allowed me to interpret my version of Edward, my version of Brian May, my version of Led Zeppelin, of what was going on. And later, when you saw it live, you’re like, ‘Oh my god, I wasn’t even in the same stratosphere.'”

“But that was the good news. The good news made you play Jimmy Page the way you play Jimmy Page, not the way Jimmy Page is showing you exactly. And I think it’s super important that guitar players are very careful that they don’t get taught so much.”

Nuno Bettencourt best solos

Now, according to Nuno, this element of mystery is what actually made rock ‘n’ roll so appealing in the first place. Not knowing stuff about your favorite musicians and not getting inside information on every single little detail — which is a standard today — actually made things more interesting. He continued:

“Back then, we didn’t get to see behind the curtain. We didn’t get to see… It was a mystery there. There was an element of, like, rock and roll, the mythology that was there. So it was one of those things where missing a little bit now but the information is almost too much.”

And we could say the same thing about guitar playing as well. Sure, having everything at your disposal is great. But how would young guitar players end up finding their own voice if all they do is play other people’s music verbatim note for note? Nuno concluded by saying:

“And I think that’s maybe what’s happening with kids trying to find their own voice. So I think they have to take those tools, learn from the guitar players they love, but then stop.”

Nuno Bettencourt - Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee - Extreme Medley - GENERATION AXE Tokyo 170407

“What I did was, like, take everything you want from everybody and then go bury them. Go after them. Go take them down. Believe that you can take Eddie Van Halen down. Even though you can’t, but you believe it. You know what I mean? And you end up creating your own soup with those ingredients.”

At the moment, Extreme are promoting their new album “Six.” The record’s first single was “Rise,” a song that got a lot of attention because of Nuno’s impressive lead part. In another recent interview, he reflected on the song and its lead part by saying:

“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.”

Extreme - "Rise" (Official Video)

“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?’”

“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.”

Photo: Public domain (Extreme08 026)

  • 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 and brands like Sam Ash.