MAX CAVALERA Explains Why Most Of His Guitars Only Have Four Strings

Max Cavalera

In his most recent conversation with Brutal Planet Magazine, former SEPULTURA and current SOULFLY frontman Max Cavalera discussed the legacy he has carved out for himself as a masterful composer of guitar riffs.

“I’ve always been intrigued by riffs, man. I think riffs are amazing; they are magical,” he said. “There’s something about it. Your personality comes through the riff — anger, desperation, happiness; all those come through riffs. And I love riffs because of that.

“That’s why I ended up… It’s not the reason why I took the two strings out — that was a long time ago, in Brazil — but when those strings came out of my guitar and I happened to only have four strings, it forced me to be even more creative with only four strings. I don’t have the other two to help me out; I’ve gotta do everything with four; I’ve only got four. So I became even more of a full rhythm riff player with four strings than before. I still, to this day, most of my guitars have four strings on them.”

In 2005, Max discussed about his decision to only use four strings, saying at the time:  “I don’t do leads, ya know? More than ten years ago, when those strings broke, a friend of mine said, ‘Don’t replace them, you don’t use them anyway. You are just going to be spending money for nothing. Save the money and buy some beer.’ I was, like, ‘Okay, cool,’ and I never put them back.

“Over the years, it’s become a trademark that I thought was kinda cool. It’s something that’s different about how I do things. The guys that make the guitars that I work with, they must think that I am crazy when their bosses tell them not to put the other two strings on because I don’t use them. I can only imagine… They are probably saying, ‘What the f**k is wrong with this guy?’ [Laughs] I am a completely rhythm player… all I do is riffs. Working with so many great guitar players, there is so much talent for playing the guitar, it convinces me further to keep the other strings off.”