About

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I am in the process of playing R.E.M. songs with a group of friends, and I want to play them the way Peter Buck did. I think the process of figuring out how and what he did is fascinating, and my idea was to start a blog to not only document this process, but to try to engage in a sort of dialog with others that might have the same interest–because even when you think you have been playing something correctly for 30 years, you find out that it was actually played a different way. And it is helpful to exchange information with others to that end. So this is a blog and a topic that is for that very limited audience!

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Now here are some things I have learned searching around the Internet about Peter Buck that you might find interesting if you are into Peter Buck, his guitars, gear, and how he played:

Peter Buck | Equipment

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Peter Buck’s Set Up in More Recent Years – Photo from Rickresource Forums

Contents:

“Picking, Pickups, and Strings:

buck360jg
Peter Buck’s 360 – Photo from Rick Beat

Peter notoriously uses 13 gauge Dean Markley strings on his guitars, with the action a little high. Does this affect his sound? Oh yeah. That’s not even the kicker, though. Live, Peter uses both pickups on his Rickenbacker. . . . In the early days, Peter did not know how to alternate pick, so his arpeggios were entirely down or upstroked, depending on which direction he was going with his hand. It was like a “sweep.” He adopted the more traditional style later on.”

http://nostalgiamusicreviews.blogspot.com/2013/08/5-things-you-have-to-do-to-sound-like.html

“They’re red Dunlop nylon .73 mm – I know he’s used yellow ones as well, as a friend got some in the 80s. What thickness these yellows are I don’t know. I don’t even know if Peter uses the .73 mm all the time, or just on acoustic, or whatever. I only use them when people say: oh, want to be like Peter Buck, eh?

Funny thing is I already arrived at .73s myself without knowing he used them – they’re not too thick, not too thin.”

http://www.rickresource.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=379285&start=15

Strings
Dean Markley strings (custom set):
..013 Plain-    Swedish Steel
..017 Plain-    Swedish Steel
..026 Wound-    Nickel Steel
..036 Wound-    Nickel Steel
..046 Wound-    Nickel Steel
..056 Wound-    Nickel Steel

Dean Markley 2500 Dt Nickelsteel Electric Guitar Strings

Note: The above string info was actually listed by someone at Rickenbacker who was setting up Buck’s guitar

http://www.uberproaudio.com/who-plays-what/205-rem-peter-bucks-guitar-gear-rig-and-equipment

There was a question awhile back about what type and gauge strings Peter Buck uses on his Rickenbacker 360 Jetglo. This response was posted to the alt.guitar.rickenbacker Newsgroup in April 1999. It’s a rather heavy set consisting of:

1st – .013 Plain- Swedish Steel
2nd – .017 Plain- Swedish Steel
3rd – .026 Wound- Nickel Steel
4th – .036 Wound- Nickel Steel
5th – .046 Wound- Nickel Steel
6th – .056 Wound- Nickel Steel

These are Dean Markley individual strings. His guitar was at the factory so that he could have a new instrument set up exactly like his old one, using the string set listed above.

http://www.rickresource.com/rrp/Buck.html

http://www.rickbeat.com/gallery/peterbuck/peterbuck.htm

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Peter Buck’s Guitars – Photo from Rickresource Forums

Peter Buck plays a custom black Telecaster: a Rickenbacker 330 hollow-body “for rhythm and more rock ‘n’ roll loud stuff; and a Fender Telecaster thin-line with an t-hole. He also has a Guild electric-acoustic, and a Rickenbacker 360 twelve-string. The studio amp is a Fender Twin Reverb; onstage Buck uses a Simul-Class Mesa Boogie with a Sa/Boo 4×12” speaker cabinet. He likes heavy-gauge Dean Markley strings, “.013 at the high end, .058 at the low end. The thicker the strings are, the more resonant tone you get, like an acoustic guitar. I put new tuning heads on; I use Gotoh, and Schallers are pretty good.” He doesn’t use his Ibanez 4001E effects unit that much. There’s fuzz on “Feeling Gravitys Pull”; a chorus effect “I have on every once in a while to get that little ringy sound, and a compressor I use only if I want to get feedback or noise.” His acoustic guitars are “cheapo Yamaha imitations.”

History Of R.E.M., “Fables Of The Reconstruction”, By Scoft Isler, Musician Magazine, Photography by Steve Marsel, July 17, 1985

2425415859_3b9677e8f8
Peter Buck’s Guitars – Photo from Rickresource Forums

Peter Buck has only two main guitars, a Rickenbacker 330 and 301 [is this supposed to be a 360?] both dated 1981, that he puts through a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier with two JBL speakers. He also uses a 12-string ’81 Rickenbacker in the studio and has a 1981 Gretsch Chef Atkins Tennessean at his disposal. Besides the Twin Reverb, Buck has a Marshall amp that he sometimes borrows from his producer Mitch Easter to make a more heavy metal racket. As for effects, he has only one- an lbanez VE400 [sic–should be a UE400] pedal that he uses live though he isn’t too sure what it actually does.

R.E.M. Hits It Big With “Murmur”, 07.12.84, Musician Magazine

Peter-Buck-Header_hi6t2j.jpg

Buck Pedals
Peter Buck’s Foot Pedals – Probably Fairly Later in REM’s Tenure – Photo from Rickresource Forums

Yeah. I was playing a Telecaster in 1980; it got stolen out of my house. And there was a little music store in town called Chick Piano; they had a blond Rickenbacker 360 with flat-wound strings. That was my main guitar until 1981, when it got stolen.

I went to a shop in Hartford, Conn. and asked if they had Rickenbackers. They pulled this black 360 out; I played it, and it was in tune. That’s the one that’s been on every R.E.M. record except the first single, and I bring it to pretty much every session I do.

It’s still the guitar I go to every day. It has real clarity of tone. It’s sitting in a stand at the foot of my bed. I like playing guitar in my pajamas. I’ve got three other guitars in my bedroom: a ’43 Gibson; a 1960 Rickenbacker that I got from Reverb; a Goldtop. They kind of rotate to the bedroom, and if I’m really working, I’ll go down in the basement to avoid everyone.

Reverb Interview: Peter Buck of R.E.M., Jan 20, 2016 by Jim Tuerk

PB Pedals 4
Online Athens – REM Rehearsal Hall Tour
PB Amp - Silvertone
Online Athens – REM Rehearsal Hall Tour
PB Amp - Savage
Online Athens – REM Rehearsal Hall Tour

Online Athens – REM Rehearsal Hall Tour

Buck Pedals
Peter Buck’s Foot Pedals – Probably Fairly Later in REM’s Tenure – Photo from Rickresource Forums

The Pedals are:

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Some R.E.M. Links

R.E.M. Video Archive

All R.E.M. Chords Compiled

R.E.M. Timeline

Power of Independent Trucking – Blog

R.E.M. Lyrics

Every R.E.M. Song – Blog

REMring

REM FAQ – Repository of Old REM List Serv

Guitar Tab Creator

Name That Chord

19 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hi-
    Just found your YouTube page and blog. Excellent stuff! I’ve got a copy of that 12/5/85 Mosque show you mentioned wanting. I’m seeing I’ve rated my copy as a B, so it’s pretty much bootleg quality. But instead of posting mp3s, I’m happy to burn it on CDr for you. Just direct email me with your address…

    Thank!
    Chris

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    1. I am always updating stuff as I read/discover more. This is becoming a repository for information I find as I delve into the world of Peter Buck and early R.E.M. Hope you enjoy!

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  2. I thought..just maybe..I wasn’t the only person..who loved Peter Buck’s playing style..and wanted to know as much as I can about his guitars, set up, playing style..etc..THANKS for a wonderful blog

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you like it! I know there are a few people out there who have an interest, and I thought it was a good idea to collate and preserve as much of it as possible.

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  3. Great blog. I stumbled across it while trying to deconstruct Hyena. You have really done your homework on Mr. Buck. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words and encouragement, Kevin. I’m trying to add everything I learn about Peter Buck to this blog. May have to add pages after awhile. Hyena is one of those songs I need to do. My friend Fast Ocular on YouTube has done an excellent job with it. It is not one of the songs I had ever learned. There is a great YouTube video that helps us see how PB played it—Passaic, 6/9/84. There are some other good versions of it as well. Passaic shows just about every part. I will have to focus on it soon. I’ve been busy rehearsing with our REM cover band, so I have not learned any new songs in awhile.

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  4. Hello David, what a great blog!
    I’ve been trying on and off for years to get many of the songs right (actually almost all of them) and you put more work into it than I’d been willing. I feel like there’s some stuff missing in some of the videos, like the picking patterns in Maps and Legends so when I have the time I will try to figure it out more precisely to add something of value to this treasure trove.

    I also think that Mr. Buck puts much focus on the sound or maybe, strength of the tone, it’s never too thin or too disjointed between the chords and I think us cover-ists often miss that.

    I tried a Rickenbacker 360 but it was completely out of tune and played like crap, it only sounded good with AC15, not AC30 which is funny, I thought he’s always used AC30 but here I don’t see it listed!

    Anyway, keep it up please, I have no idea how to figure out what Bucks fat fingers are doing on most of the songs! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment. I need to find some time to record more videos and add more blog posts. I hear you on Maps and Legends. His picking pattern is very difficult. I have to practice and practice and still cannot do the “sweep” type picking he does–I usually give up and go back to alternate picking. It’s too ingrained for me.

      Buck had an AC30, but that is not what he used in the beginning. He used the Fender Twin and a Silvertone. I have always had a Fender Twin simply because Buck and a lot of the bands I admired in the early 80s (when I bought it) used them. But his Fender Twin seemed to disappear just before Fables Came out (maybe earlier–it’s not a great amp to play in smaller venues–it is really loud). He was using a Mesa Boogie in concert during Reckoning. The AC30 must’ve come later. As far as recording, it was probably whatever amp they had around the studio. He once said he could get his sound out of any amp and any guitar. I think this is probably partly true. He played almost the entire concert at Meredith College on a Fender Telecaster, which was the guitar he started REM with.

      If you’ve read some of my blog posts, you will see that I certainly have no idea what Peter Buck is doing! Thank goodness for YouTube and being able to see videos of Buck playing these songs. It is a great resource. Without it, I doubt I would have gotten this little endeavor or my cover band off the ground.

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  5. Hi, great site, thanks. I am more than slightly obsessed with Peter’s sound and playing. Lots of guitars to add here, but starting with 2, the black 330 used in 83, only seen in the UK on the Tube, and the Maple 340 used on Europe tour in 85. Your site seems to confuse 330s with 360s – the only 330 pictured here is the red one.

    Other that need more info
    black Tele custom 84
    Les Paul for Monster tour
    Red Danelectro 12 string (maybe a DC59/12)
    Guild F412 12 string. etc etc

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    1. Great info. I’m not sure where I am confusing guitars above, but I have to admit I’m no expert. The above was pulled from various sources which I have cited. I’m not interested in anything past the IRS years, so I have not focused on that music or the guitars or mandolins Peter Buck used to make it.

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  6. Thank you very much for starting this blog. I really appreciate the work and all R.E.M. guitar fans owe you a debt for figuring out how to play 9-9. It’s one of my favorites from Murmur and I have always wanted to play along with it but could never figure it out. I look forward to when you have the time to post some songs. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to get on that! Been so busy with other things. I’ve recorded a bunch but made mistakes and didn’t have time to keep trying.

      Always wanted to play 9-9, too. Thank goodness for YouTube!! I remember sitting in front of the stereo with my guitar as a kid just totally flummoxed listening to that song!

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