“We know amps and guitars are important, but your own DNA is bigger than that”: Nuno Bettencourt on why, when it comes to tone, your personality always comes first

Nuno Bettencourt live onstage at the Fillmore, Detroit
(Image credit: Scott Legato/Getty Images)

GUITAR SHOWCASE 2023: Nuno Bettencourt’s peerless derring-do on the electric guitar – the string skipping, the elastic legato – are the stuff of legend, but the Extreme guitarist has a super-premium hard-rock tone that is reference quality for any aspiring shredder. 

He has the juiciness, the effervescence, and he has it without putting together a spaceship pedalboard. Here, he checks in with Total Guitar to share his tone philosophy, and once more reminds us that when it comes to tone you are your own secret weapon.

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Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences as a guitar player. He's worked for magazines like Kerrang!Metal HammerClassic RockProgRecord CollectorPlanet RockRhythm and Bass Player, as well as newspapers like Metro and The Independent, interviewing everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handled lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).