MAX CAVALERA: Why Most Of My Guitars Have Only Four Strings

January 16, 2023

In a new interview with Brutal Planet Magazine, former SEPULTURA and current SOULFLY frontman Max Cavalera spoke about his reputation as a modern-day riffmaster. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET: "I've always been intrigued by riffs, man. I think riffs are amazing; they are magical. 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."

When asked in a 2005 interview what prompted him to start exclusively playing a four-string guitar, Max said, "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 fuck 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."

Regarding how, in his opinion, playing with only four strings had changed his overall sound, Max said, "I think it’s changed it in a sense that it's made me a complete riff freak, ya know? Everything that I do when I am writing a song is riff-orientated, which is the foundation of my sound. I love [BLACK SABBATH guitarist] Tony Iommi...his style of playing...he does leads as well, of course, but his riffs, the solid rhythm section that he helps create, that is where I really base my style on, being as solid of a riff player as I can be. Instead of being a player who plays riffs and does a little bit of leads, I say, 'Fuck that!' and just stay completely obsessed with riffs. On every album, I try to play better, more solid, kick-ass riffs as much as possible, ya know?"

Earlier this month, SOULFLY recruited Mike DeLeon as its new touring guitarist.

Prior to hooking up with SOULFLY, DeLeon had been a member of PANTERA singer Philip Anselmo's solo band PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS, which he joined in 2015 as the replacement for Marzi Montazeri. More recently, Mike filled in for Zakk Wylde at the first rehearsal for the fall 2022 PANTERA shows.

In August 2021, SOULFLY parted ways with longtime guitarist Marc Rizzo due to personal differences. FEAR FACTORY's Dino Cazares played guitar for SOULFLY on the band's most recent run of shows.

SOULFLY will embark on a massive U.S. tour later this month. The 57-date trek will run from late January to early April, and will feature support from Florida death metallers BODYBOX, Maryland progressive metallers HALF HEARD VOICES, Los Angeles industrialists DRIFT and Botswana metallers SKINFLINT.

SOULFLY is continuing to tour in support of its twelfth album, "Totem", which was released in August via Nuclear Blast. The follow-up to 2018's "Ritual" was recorded at Platinum Underground in Mesa, Arizona by John Aquilino and Arthur Rizk with assistance from John Powers. Produced by Max alongside Arthur Rizk (KREATOR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, CODE ORANGE),the LP boasts guest appearances from John Powers (ETERNAL CHAMPION),Chris Ulsh (POWER TRIP) and John Tardy (OBITUARY). Rizk was also responsible for playing lead guitar on the record. The artwork for the album was created by James Bousema.

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