Letter Never Sent

“It’s been pretty simple so far”. Well, no, actually it hasn’t been that simple figuring out how Peter Buck played this song. I’ve had the framework for this one down since high school in the 80s. But not the nuances.

This is one of those songs I love to play live for the melodies of the intertwining vocals. The relationship between the voices of Michael Stipe and Mike Mills is amazing.

The video from the 1984 R.E.M. concert at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ, (as always) gives some very good insight into the chords Peter Buck is playing.

The verse of the song is played mainly on the G and D Strings¹:

Letter Never Sent - Verse.PNG

The “bridge to chorus” (part leading up to the chorus) is: D, G ²


A (on just the A and D strings then a ‘walk down’³), G

The final G on the chorus changes to this chord, whatever it is.


Em, A7, G, D

Em, A7, G, this chord, whatever it is

So here we go (I will have to re-record this to show how I am now playing it–this is different from how I have shown in this blog post):



¹The verse on the last run through is a variation where he does not play every note as I have attempted (poorly) to do in the above video.

²Peter Buck likes to play the strings open and then immediately play the chord, giving what I like to call the “harrumph” sound (which you can really see in the Passaic video). He does that on the G here in the lead up to the chorus.

³Walk down in the chorus:



Further Reading

Possible Lyrics




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