Nuno Bettencourt reveals the most important pedal in his guitar rig: “I tried playing without one and f**kin’ hated it!”

Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt performs during the Generation Axe show at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on November 9, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Extreme electric guitar star Nuno Bettencourt has revealed the effects pedal that is essential to his red-hot high-gain sound – and it might not be the kind of stompbox you’d expect.

In the latest issue of Guitar World magazine, 60 guitar stars name the pedals they can’t live without, and Bettencourt took the opportunity to wax lyrical about a unit that has long served as the secret weapon behind his sound.

“I generally prefer going straight into my amp, except for this [Pro Co] Rat pedal that I’ve had for ages,” he explains.

“It’s supposed to be a distortion, but I turn the distortion all the way off. It’s there purely to tighten up my bottom-end, especially for single-note riffs like Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?) from Extreme II: Pornograffitti.

“I’m the only guitar player in the band, so I want to cut through and sound big. The only way to get the response I need is through a Rat pedal. It’s been there since day one and ain’t going anywhere.”

While legions of guitar players turn to Tube Screamer-derived pedals to give their high-gain tone more definition, Bettencourt swears by Pro Co’s classic fuzz/distortion – to the point that he can’t plug in without it.

“I tried playing without one and fuckin’ hated it!” he laughs. “Other players think it’s not doing anything and would probably wonder if the battery is dead. It doesn’t change a single thing except for the tightness of the bass frequencies.”

Back in 2009, Bettencourt debuted a signature guitar amp with Randall, the NB King 100, which crammed a Rat-style preamp into the input stage, thus negating the need for the pedal itself.

However, more recent performances – including the video for Extreme’s new single, Rise, and his cameo with Rihanna at the Super Bowl – have featured an all-Marshall backline, so it seems the trusty rodent is back in the tonal mix.

To read more about the effects pedals beloved by some of the biggest names in guitar – including Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Billy Corgan, Eric Gales and many more – pick up a copy of the new issue of Guitar World, available from Magazines Direct.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.

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