Will Grove-White’s book Get Plucky With The Ukulele has been on my reading (and review) list for too long now. I finally got around to giving it the once over and here’s my thoughts…
I don’t consider myself to be a beginner ukulele player – more of a struggling intermediate so initially I held off buying Get Plucky for a while but finally succumbed. There are a couple of reasons that I ended up convincing myself to buy it – firstly, it’s written by Will Grove-White (read my interview with Will here) and he’s in the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (could there be a better teacher?) and the second reason is that I’ve heard great things about it from numerous sources.
Get Plucky is split pretty much right down the middle – half of the book is about the ukulele in general – the history of the ukulele, famous players and some background to Will and his life with the ukulele. The second half is all about learning how to play the thing. It costs around £13 in the UK or bizarrely just $16 in the US)
A Beautiful Thing
What is it about ukulele books being so well designed? Being a designer by day, the first thing that leaps out to me about Get Plucky is that it’s beautifully designed. It’s really vibrant, easy to follow and does a great job of giving a little bit of extra personality. Kudos to the photographer also who has done a fantastic job. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos to throw into this post as I purchased the Kindle version, which was ultimately a mistake (keep reading to find out why).
Will’s writing style is a perfect fit for the book. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and it helps to keep you smiling throughout reading. I never really think this kind of book is supposed to be read cover to cover but it’s testament to Will’s writing that that is exactly what I did.
There’s a little bit of everything in here which I think makes it an ideal first ukulele book. If you’re after a pure instruction/lesson book then I think there are more comprehensive options out there, but if you’re new to ukulele or you know someone that is then this is probably the one.
The learning section of the book is where it really stands out for me. Will has a slightly different approach to teaching that I’ve not really seen anywhere else and it works really well. He knows how to keep it simple and how to present in a concise way. There are around 15 songs covered in the book that should get you up and strumming in no time. I really liked the chord progressions that feature later on in the book. I think this book would make a great starting point for people with no experience of a musical instrument.
I mentioned earlier on that I bought the Kindle version of the book. I do most of my reading on my phone as I find it really handy that it’s always with me. Unfortunately this isn’t a book that converts to Kindle particularly well. The editorial style nature of the page design means that the multi-column layout leaves you with very small text, constantly having to zoom in and out to read. At some points you end up with song charts split vertically between two digital pages – the words (and chords) cut in half. It’s a real shame and hopefully it’s something that will be corrected in due course. For now though, I wouldn’t recommend getting the digital version.
Get Plucky With The Ukulele would make a great started book for anyone new to ukulele. It’s beautifully written, photographed and designed. Just steer clear of the Kindle version!