5 Great Ukulele SongBooks
Although Ukulele tabs online can be fantastic, they can have some issues that make a Ukulele book a better choice. Tab quality isn’t always guaranteed and some random person’s transcription doesn’t mean it will be correct. Often they are simplified (which can be an advantage at first), have incorrect chord changed and sometimes they are in the wrong key. They also might not have some of the more popular songs as there are issues of copyright that can occur with modern songs.
Not to mention the way the information is presented can be confusing and unclear. Finally, you have to find and access your tabs later. This may mean searching, or organizing a PDF holder (I recommend OnSong on the iPad). This can work well thanks to the speed of search, but having a book with your favorite songs, with a mark in can be easier still. These 5 great ukulele songbooks are a good place to start.
1. Daily ukulele
Daily ukulele is a collection of 364 (365 if you get the leap year edition) songs arranged for the ukulele. These include classic pop and rock hits, folk tunes, and some modern songs. While you can probably find these chords online at different sites, this book has guaranteed quality transcriptions and the paper format can help you to learn (we have better long-term memory when we use paper and the physical presence of an object can help encourage you to learn something. The book comes in a great binder that helps flick to the right page and keep it open (plus you can photocopy things easier).
2. Blues Ukulele
I grew up listening to blues records while on car journeys with my parents so I have a particular affinity towards blues and jazz. This book is actually an ebook from Al Wood of ukulele hunt and covers basic 12 bar blues, soloing, blues techniques like bending notes and more.
3. Clawhammer ukulele
Clawhammer is a technique from the banjo where you hit the strings as well as strum or pluck them. This creates a percussive sound that lets you create a greater sense of rhythm and self-accompaniment. It’s not easy to get used to and requires a lot of practice and a good sense of rhythm. The book also contains links to videos that help explain the concepts and show you how the final version should look. This is great to help understand a style that you might not be familiar with at first.
4. Jazz ukulele solos
Lye Ritz passed away this year but not before putting out some classic jazz ukulele albums and this songbook, jazz ukulele solos. This songbook will introduce you to a variety of chords that you’ve probably not come across before as well as how to play some brilliant jazz standards.
5. 3 chord songbook
This is a great songbook based on a simple context. With just three chords (C, F, and G) you can play the 50 songs in this book. This is great for helping you jump start your ukulele journey by simplifying what you need to focus on to three chords and strumming patterns.
(P.s. did you know that if you are a member of Ukulele Academy you can get a free two-chord songbook just by signing up as well as a host of other great free downloads? Sign up now, or head over to the download page)
Bonus: Ukulele Duets
This is my newest Ukulele book that I’ve bought. It’s from James HIll, a bit of a legend in Ukulele circles for his work in helping to teach the Ukulele as well as his amazing technique where he can play precession, chords and melody all at the same time (oh and sing). Check out his Billy Jean cover.
This songbook doesn’t go the full way but is focused on helping people play chords and accompaniment at the same time (no percussion yet). A great challenge. I’ll have a full review once I work through a few more of the songs.
What are your favorite great Ukulele songbooks?
Have you got a favorite ukulele songbook that’s not on the list? Leave a comment with your favorite.