I recently purchased a couple of books by Aaron and Nicole Keim. Together Aaron and Nicole are husband and wife duo The Quiet American. They perform traditional old-time American folk music that feels and sounds incredibly authentic, it’s American folk music at it’s best.
The books I bought are called Clawhammer Ukulele Tabs and Techniques and A Ukulele Handbook (for beginners). Of the two, I’m personally more interested in the Clawhammer book as it’s a technique I really want to get down, but in their own right they’re both great books and obviously I’m just basing that on where I’m at with my own playing and what I’m wanting to progress with.
Clearly Aaron and Nicole have invested a lot of time in producing the books and it shows, from start to finish. The books, quite simply look stunning (perhaps that’s the designer in me). I was immediately drawn to Nicole’s hand-drawn type and illustrations. You won’t find many (if any) other ukulele books that feel like this. They’re filled with old-time songs, instructions on how to play and supporting video examples and lessons. Personally I’m not familiar with most of the songs but that’s actually a good thing, particularly with the clawhammer book as I want to get a genuine sound and the song choices definitely help that.
Despite the fact that I wouldn’t consider myself a beginner, I did pick up a few tips from the handbook and definitely found some new songs. I think the handbook would make a brilliant gift for any budding ukulele players out there.
The clawhammer book is without doubt the best resource I’ve seen out there to get the technique down. I’ve toyed with clawhammer before but anything I’ve found has been very isolated and left me not really progressing as a result. One word of warning on the tab in the clawhammer book, it works a little differently from normal tab. The clawhammer motion is marked down the same throughout, you have to use the chord name above to know what you should actually be fretting.
I probably made a mistake in going for the digital versions of these books, but to be honest, that’s the format I prefer to read in. The mistake really being that I think these books are so striking that I’d love to have the paper versions. They’d look pretty good on a coffee table!
If you’re looking for a new book to help with your ukulele playing then I’d certainly recommend taking a look at what The Quiet American have to offer, you won’t find any others like them anywhere else!