Vai and Nuno comparison

For the fun of it, I wrote a short comparison of Steve Vai vs. Nuno Bettencourt. Just my personal thoughts on this. I was going to write this at the end of the thread "underrated guitar player" (or something like that), that was about Nuno, but since that's a long thread and hasn't been active for a while, I decided to do a seperate thread about this:

The reason why I SOMETIMES agree that Nuno Bettencourt is up there with Steve Vai, is that it can be argued that Nuno is a better (at least cleaner) alternate picker than Steve and fast alternate picking runs that are also melodic are probably the hardest (or at least one of the hardest) types of fast guitar runs.

Nuno's tapping runs are also in some sense more melodic and rythmical than Steve's. I think that Steve improvises more with his tapping runs than Nuno while Nuno uses arpeggios that fit very well to the chord progression.

Both guys play with tons of feel.

Both guys play about equally fast.

Both guys can really make the guitar scream.

Steve is very likely the best (known) guy in the world with the wammy bar, wah wah effect and slides.

Steve put out "Passion and warefare", the greatest guitar instrumental record ever. Although Extreme's "Pornograffiti" has mind blowing guitar playing, nothing can live up to Steve's masterpiece, sorry.

Steve can be critisized for playing music that's too "weird" for most people. But that's just what other people like.

Nuno SHOWS more interesting rythim playing than Steve, although I'm sure Steve could play all that stuff as well.

Nuno can be critisized for his music being too "serious" (at least the last few Extreme records) and having an annoying vocalist (Gary Cherone) :) (Gary can sing well, it's just the way he chooses to USE his voice that can be annoying.)

Ultimately it comes down to the guitarist whose playing you LIKE more, i.e. the one who makes you feel better when you listen to him play. And either one doesn't make you feel "better" than they other, consider which feeling you generally like to feel more and you have your favorite guitar player.


I'm completely aware of how talented Vai is, and what he's brought to the guitar world in his career, but I like Nuno better.

Sure, Vai could handle Nuno's rhythm work, but Vai's own rhythm, I just don't like as much.

Not to mention, the excessive whammy barring, wah, and sliding is probably what turns me off most.

I wish Vai would focus more on just putting out great melodic lines, instead of trying to revinvent the musical wheel by making weird sounds.

Another player I probably like more is Neal Schon. His solo cd "Voice" is a fun listen.

Many will probably be quick to dismiss it because he does instrumental versions of cheesy cover tune ballads, but there's some great playing on it.

"i haven't heard nuno do anything that would make vai blush"

That's probably true but if I want to nitpick a bit I could say that I haven't heard Steve Vai alternate pick moderatively-to-complex runs AS fast and AS clean as Nuno.

An example of a clean alternate picking run by Steve is in "The animal", but it's not as fast as many of the runs on Nuno's work on the "Pornograffiti" album. But like I said, I'm being VERY picky for no reason, well just to say that maybe Steve blushes when no one is looking and he thinks about that ;)

And it's hard not to like Nuno's arpeggio-string-skipping tapping on tracks like "Get the funk out" and "He-man woman hater".

That being said, I think Steve Vai will always be number one in my book.



Interesting points, jonpall.

Despite having a bit of a softspot for Extreme because of them being a Boston band and I grew up in the area, I thought that most of Gary Cherone's singing was horrible, and hated most of their songs, so while I appreciate Nuno's techique, it's hard to judge him fairly.

That said, if I were to compare him in the context of Extreme to Vai's worst (IMHO) and most vocal heavy album -- Sex and Religion -- I'd still prefer Steve Vai. I'd love to hear Nuno playing with a singer I really liked with great songs.

Crazy comparisons, but both guys are brilliant guitar players.

Vai excels at over the top creative, eccentric compisitions while Nune excels and ripping guitar playing with soul, rhythm and melody.

I can't say one is better, just that both are quite different. I certainly like Nuno's playing more than Vai, but I appreciate Vai's playing more than Nuno's if that makes any sense.

I have Nuno's new album by the DramaGods. You can hear some of their stuff on their mysace page.

My boss grew up with Nuno & the rest of Extreme, as well as Hugo (singer from Tantric). They used to come to our bar all the time to see him.

Hard to judge by albums because both seem to play a lot differently live.

That said, Vai pulled off everything he does on his albums in a live setting and more while Nuno did less.

One night to the next is so different when you talk guitarists performances so it's possible Nuno had an off night or was hamstringed by the songs choice.

Good tunes from the Drama Gods! Thanks for the URL, Rawbass...I hadn't heard about them.

Bubba, no problem. Nuno had said he was working on material with Perry Ferrel(sp?) for an album to be released in May. Should be interesting.

Nuno had said he was working on material with Perry Ferrel(sp?) for an album to be released in May. Should be interesting

Perry Farrell ... That band is called The Satellite Party and trust me, it isn't interesting at all.

I've heard all the tracks already and it is some of the most cornball, god awful music ever. The concept for this band is just goofy as hell. And Perry needs to stop forcing his zero talent wife Etty down our throats too.

Go to, search the forums and you'll see what the majority of the old school Jane's fans think about this current Perry project.

Nuno should be destroyed!

Thanks for the info Perfer.