Late last month, Extreme electric guitar wizard Nuno Bettencourt sat down for a (very) wide-ranging conversation with YouTube guitar star Rick Beato.
Among the many topics the two guitarists touched on over the course of the feature length-and-then-some chat was Eddie Van Halen, with – among other anecdotes – Bettencourt revealing that he had a "horrible nightmare" of a time playing through Van Halen's rig.
EVH – who himself was a big fan of Bettencourt's – came up again during the discussion's final segment, during which Beato handed Bettencourt some six-strings from his own collection to play.
Among these was an Olympic White Fender Stratocaster, on which Bettencourt spontaneously had a go at Van Halen's 1984 classic, Hot for Teacher.
“I remember being young and Hot for Teacher came on the radio for the first time,” Bettencourt tells Beato.
“What a great solo, my god,” Bettencourt enthuses after replaying the song's trademark parts, with varying degrees of success, from memory. “With that groove – who writes a solo to that fucking groove?”
Hot for Teacher, Bettencourt goes on to say, is also an example of something in the progression of Van Halen's playing that, in his view, “nobody talks about.”
“Every album,“ Bettencourt posits, “it [Van Halen's tone] got cleaner. By the time you get to 1984 – [and] you hear the isolated tracks, it's fucking clean! It just got cleaner and cleaner and cleaner [with each album].
“People don't do that," he explains, “it's usually the other way around.”
In 2014, Eddie Van Halen revealed in a Guitar World interview that the reason his guitar sound grew progressively drier as his band's career progressed was his dislike of the effects that were slathered onto Van Halen's self-titled, 1978 debut album.
“That [the gradually cleaner guitar tones] came from my dislike of that EMT plate reverb that our first album is bathed in,” the late guitar hero said. “It had its time and place, but it strikes a bad nerve with my brother [Alex Van Halen, the band's drummer] and me.”