Nuno Bettencourt explains his secret to playing difficult guitar solos… it involves getting his leg up

Nuno Bettencourt onstage with Extreme in 2017
(Image credit: Neil Lupin/Redferns)

Apart from the fact Nuno Bettencourt doesn't seem to age, his talent as a guitarist is timeless; today's contemporary players like Rabea Massaad grew up worshipping his chops with Extreme. And he's still out there with the band – and with Rihanna's band – doing it. But even Nuno sometimes has to rely on a foolproof trick to deliver, and this one surprised us.

In an entertaining Shred Talk with Dragonforce's Herman Li below, Nuno fielded questions from fans and straight off the bat things got interesting… after some discussion of hair brushes. Nuno revealed the secret of playing his most difficult guitar solos live.

"As guitar players the real secret is the lower you go, the more you suck – the sloppier you are," said Nuno on the topic of strap height and the price you pay for looking cooler with a low strung guitar. "When you sit down it's heaven."

After joking that his fellow Generation Axe alumni Tosin Abasi's higher strap height is referred to as the "Berklee Setting," Nuno got to his real trick; how he gets around delivering the goods with a low strung guitar strap.

"It's not even a joke but I decide, I make a conscious decision, to play at least 20-30% worse just from having the guitar look like that," Nuno begun. "You know how I know I'm right? Go look at any Extreme footage where you see me rocking out and then a solo comes up and you say, 'Why is Nuno putting his leg up on the monitor and then having his guitar up?' It's not because it looks cool like Iron Maiden with your leg up on the monitors. It's because it's easier to play the  damn solo, that's why.

"So the harder ones I put my leg up there on the monitor," he confirmed in the video above. "I gave my secret away - dammit!"

But as you'll see below, Nuno does very well without using his trick. Still, next time someone chastises you for posing at your next gig, just tell them Nuno said it's essential for note delivery. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.