A few weeks back I bought a copy of Ukulele for Dummies by Al Wood (from Ukulele Hunt) so I thought I’d share my thoughts on it here…
I’d better start by saying I got this book on a pretty big discount over the Christmas break, I picked it up for around £2 (I think it’s around £10 ordinarily). Amazon had a deal on the Kindle version and I tend to read a lot on my phone. I had always intended to buy this book at some point, the deal just made that happen sooner.
About a month or so back I’d spoken to a friend about this book a month and he’d told me it was good but that it wasn’t hugely in depth as it essentially covers a bit of everything (and how much can you fit in a single book?) which made sense.
One of the opening lines in this book states that it’s not necessarily intended to be read cover to cover, and can be seen more as a reference book to dip into as and when you need. Well, no-one is going to tell me what to do (except my 3 year old son Max, who seems to make it his mission in life) and I like a challenge so I sat down and started reading it cover to cover. I read the bits that I already knew, I even read the section on Jazz, honestly.
Anyone that has spent some time on Al Wood’s Ukulele Hunt website will know that not only does he have great ukulele knowledge, but he’s also a very good writer. He seems to inject just the right amount of humour into his words which is pretty welcome when things are getting technical.
Is It Actually For Dummies?
I was actually surprised by the book, I know that the For Dummies title is just part of a series name but I found it to be pretty comprehensive and go into a lot more detail than I expected. Sure I’m pretty new to the uke, but I have played string instruments for years and much of the technique carries across pretty well (particularly as I played a lot of folk stuff). I still found a lot of information that I either didn’t already know, or found it to be presented in a better way which better improved my understanding. It’s not that I didn’t expect the book to be good, it was just better than I anticipated.
Ukulele for Dummies is surprisingly comprehensive, it’s a bit of a ukulele bible for me.
There’s a lot of tab in this book which is a good thing. A lot of that tab is explained to a good degree too. Sometimes I’ll sit there with the tab for a song and playing it can be quite difficult. It’s not always about just forming the chords or finger positions, you also need to find effective ways to change positions and if you only have tab you can only work out those changes through trial and error. This is where the tab explanations step in. Al talks about the methods he uses to get to grips with playing the piece and for any beginners out there I think this is essential knowledge.
I’m not going to list everything that is covered in Ukulele For Dummies. Think of it as the ukulele bible, it starts right at the beginning and should keep you pretty busy for a long time. I genuinely think there will be something in there for pretty much anyone that isn’t already a ukulele virtuoso.