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“When Washburn started doing paint on my guitars, I hated the way they f**king sounded”: Nuno Bettencourt says having his guitars unpainted helps him feel more connected to the music

The Extreme guitarist discusses his relationship with Washburn Guitars.

Nuno Bettencourt performing live

Credit: Scott Legato/Getty Images

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In a new interview with Kylie Olsson, Nuno Bettencourt discusses his love of Washburn Guitars, and how the brand wanted to work with him when nobody else did – and, coming from a large and poor family – how the opportunity was life changing.

“I was the youngest of 10 kids,” Bettencourt explains. “We were on welfare… and pretty much all I wanted to do was take care of paying my mom’s rent, and make sure she had a home.”

When Washburn asked how much Bettencourt would need, the eventual deal was to send $500 a month to Bettencourt’s mother – but also that Bettencourt didn’t have to play one of their pre-existing guitars.

“[I told them,] ‘Send money to my mom every month, and also I don’t want to play any of your guitars’. I want to play mine, which was made of parts with no paint,” he says. Bettencourt went on to design his very own guitar – unpainted, of course.

While Bettencourt’s raw guitars have become his signature, the real reason he started playing unpainted guitars was due to a lack of money. “The reason there was no paint is because I couldn’t afford to buy a proper guitar that was painted,” he explains.

The only solution at the time was to gather body parts – making his own personalised, Frankensteinian guitar on a budget. “I got a neck and a separate body and they were raw,” he recalls. “They had no paint, and they were Warmoth parts. I cut it together, and brought it to a friend of mine and had them shave it down. But they never had paint because I was poor.”

“When [Washburn] started doing paint on my guitars I hated the way they fucking sounded,” he reveals. “They don’t sound as warm – the paint is really brittle. It has a really weird sound to it.”

Unpainted guitars also allow him to feel more connected to the instrument. “I wanted to guitar to changed with you and to grow with you. Whenever you played hard, wherever you sweat, wherever there was blood on the back of the guitar, it went into the wood. And that was all your personalities on your guitar. Basically, the guitar becomes you.”

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