Nuno Bettencourt's pedalboard

By Miguel Ángel Ariza

We are going to focus this article on the pedals of one of the most acclaimed guitarists in the last 30 years. We’re talking about a guy idolised by the masses, but we want to emphasise especially the name he’s made for himself among his kind, which is to say, he is one of the most supported guitarists among the egos of guitar heroes in the showbiz world...and that says a lot. Take for example Brian May, who has on many occasions praised how good Nuno Bettencourt is, claiming that for him he is the quintessential rock guitarist, blending perfect technique, strength, improvisation, and composition. Not a bad compliment from a guy like him.

Although at first, due to his overwhelming sound, it might seem the opposite, we’ll go through the few but effective pedals he uses in his songs. His incredible sound is based on rather minimalist equipment.

Let’s begin with his base pedalboard from which, in spite of its countless possibilities, he gets mainly 4 different configurations: the Boss GT-8.
The first one is its direct sound from the amp, without added effects, with the second he adds a small chorus effect to the signal for open chords, in the 3rd we have his solo channel with a volume boost and a bit of delay giving him free reins to his fingers to create those giant touches (although at times we have seen him with a Boss DD-3 added as an independent delay). And finally the 4th ‘setting’ adds a flanging effect which he uses randomly allowing himself to get carried away by the tracks vibrations or the moment.

So we have already explained almost all of his pedal gear, but we can’t fail to mention other gadgets such as the Boss OC-2 Octave Pedal
with which he adds an octave here and there to enlarge his riffs and his solos at the precise moment.

And to this pedal he just adds a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor
that basically is meant to eliminate sound interferences, keeping the actual tone coming from his gear.

It’s worth mentioning lastly that the Portuguese gent was one of the main supporters of the Proco RAT back in the 90s, although lately he has all the saturation he needs with just his amp, so this pedal has dropped off his pedalboard altogether.     

So that’s all there is at the feet of this amazing guitar player. Everything else is his own. As he has clearly explained many times, he considers himself very attached to his gear. It seems he follows Woody Allen
’s maxim: ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’. For that reason he has basically been using the same guitar for nearly 2 decades , the same amp, and those few pedals he used in the late 80s to introduce himself to the guitar world to crown himself at just 20 years of age as one of the greatest guitarists of our time.