For decades, Max Cavalera (Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, ex-Sepultura, Nailbomb, Killer Be Killed, Go Ahead and Die) has been known to equip his guitars with only four strings, but why?

The obvious answer is that he simply doesn't need them, right? Sure, but let's dig a bit deeper because there's certainly other guitarists in metal who don't fully utilize the options a traditionally set up six-string guitar affords them, or in other cases, not making the most out of an eight-string axe either.

It's something Cavalera has been doing for decades, even before he further explored lower tunings in the groove laden Soulfly.

"That goes back years and years and goes back in the Sepultura days," says Cavalera in an interview with that was conducted in the 2000s (see video below)."

"I never play lead guitar, so one time, that was probably 10 years ago, one of the strings broke down and then the other one broke down and I didn't give a shit about replacing them, again, because I don't use them," he continues, revealing the nexus of this idea.

"I kind of kept touring with only four strings and a friend of mine kind of said, "I think you should keep it like that because it's kind of cool. You don't need them and maybe [it'll become a trademark look for me]. I just played with four strings, so within time I just kept thinking I'll [string a guitar] and keep the two strings off."

Having grown accustomed to this unique setup, he adds, "Now, it's been so many years it's like a trademark thing. I'm used to playing with four strings because I'm strictly rhythm. I just do rhythm guitar and four strings is perfect for that."

When asked about his playing style, he keeps it brief, which is the modus operandi when it comes to writing. "Simplicity is the main key I think. For me at least, keep it simple, don't try to complicate shit. Sometimes the most simple riff works the best," Cavalera affirms, citing Soulfly's 2000 song "Bring It" as an example of simplicity with (pardon the pun) max impact.

Flash forward a couple decades and Cavalera still maintains that concept, laying down some of metal's best rhythms on those four-string guitars.

In support of his latest album, Soulfly's Totem, Cavalera will embark on an exhaustive 57-date U.S. tour stretching from Jan. 25 through April 1 with three different sets of special guests for certain chunks of dates. See all the scheduled stops here.

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