Best Ukulele Books in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

You may have experienced it once in your life when you wanted to find a routine-breaker that would enable you to enjoy a little bit after a tedious day at work, and you decided to play a musical instrument. 

The dilemma is, of course, you don’t have enough time to regularly head to the nearest music center to learn and practice. Bad news? Not really, because in this article, we will help you find the right book to get acquainted with how to play the ukulele, perhaps the most common instrument nowadays.

You might be asking why get a book when you can just watch some online tutorials, well here are the reasons why you should consider having a book: having a ukulele book guarantees you will take learning seriously, you don’t have to worry about the internet connection, you can use it nearly anywhere, even on the bus, and you will get hands-on experience about how to play your favorite songs. 

In this article, we compiled a list of the best 4 Ukulele books to guide you through the learning process. 

1. Best for Beginners: First 50 Songs You Should Play on Ukulele, by Hal Leonard Corporation 

First 50 Songs You Should Play on Ukulele, by Hal Leonard Corporation

As the title suggests, this book has an amazing collection of 50 must-know favorite songs that vary from well-celebrated classics to modern songs. It also enjoys other key features that make it the ultimate guide for a beginner; it has melodies, lyrics, and chord diagrams. 

The book is also very compact, 136 pages, so you can shortly add it to your read-list on Goodreads and enjoy playing those enchanting melodies to your family and friends. 

Now here are some of the songs you will learn how to play using the First 50 Songs guide: Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day, I Walk the Line by Johnny Cash, Imagine by John Lennon, Love Me Tender by Elvis, That’s Amore by Dean Martin, and Riptide by Vance Joy. 

So as you can see, the book covers a wide range of classics and modern-day songs that you’ve probably heard tons of times, and this familiarity will definitely make your learning process easier. 

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Suits beginners who want to play songs they’re familiar with 
  • Has different genres

Cons: 

  • Doesn’t provide enough exercises for someone who wants to boost their ukulele-playing skills

Final Verdict

If you’re a beginner who wants to practice songs you’re well-acquainted with; the first step should be reading this book. However, if you truly wish to improve, you should follow it with a more elaborate guidebook.

2. Best for More Dedicated People: The Daily Ukulele: 365 Songs for Better Living, by Jim Beloff 

The Daily Ukulele: 365 Songs for Better Living, by Jim Beloff

There is a reason why we love The Daily Ukulele book: it has a great combination of different genres like folk songs, pop songs, kids’ songs, Broadway tunes, and Christmas carols. So whatever it is the occasion you will be playing the ukulele in, you will have a song for it. 

Another reason it’s among our favorites is that it has songs for a year, making it the best guidebook to enlarge your ukulele repertoire. 

Additionally, every song on that book has lyrics, chords, and music notations for the melodies. 

Here is a look of what you will find inside: a section on how to use the book, some chord alternatives, and shortcuts, and a wide range of different songs and different genres. The book is also visually pleasing as it has vintage ukulele-themed artworks that will only make you passionate about learning. 

The book’s comprehensiveness makes it the perfect pick for a beginner who is enthusiastic and dedicated about learning to strum some ukulele chords. 

Pros: 

  • Each song has a lead sheet, chords, and lyrics, making it easy to read
  • The introduction has a section to acquaint you with necessary information about the ukulele
  • Daily practice
  • An encompassing song list of different genres

Cons: 

  • Doesn’t help with learning different strumming patterns

Final Verdict

Having The Daily Ukulele on your bookshelf guarantees more practice; it’s like having seven different First 50 Songs books. However, if you need something to help you master more techniques, you should opt for something else. 

3. Most Informative Ukulele Book: The Ukulele Handbook, by Gavin Pretor-Pinney and Tom Hodgkinson

The Ukulele Handbook, by Gavin Pretor-Pinney and Tom Hodgkinson

The main reason we like this book is its informativity; the book is divided into three sections: a history of the ukulele, a primer for beginners, and a song section. 

The book covers the eccentric history of the ukulele since its emergence in Hawaii a century ago to its development into a modern-day instrument. 

The book then resumes providing a 6-week guide on how to use the ukulele, its anatomy, which ukulele to buy, how to strum differently, and how to tune the strings. 

Now that you’ve mastered the technicalities, the book provides you with a list of songs to practice, differing from medieval rhymes, nursery rhymes, blues, and rock songs. 

If you’re an avid reader who wants to learn about the ukulele and learn how to play it along the way, The Ukulele Handbook is your ultimate guide. 

Pros: 

  • Very informative
  • Covers varying styles

Cons:

  • Delves so much into the history of the ukulele and its prominent figures that it becomes more theoretical than practical

Final Verdict

This book provides crucial information about the development and anatomy of the ukulele. It suits readers who want to ‘understand’ the ukulele, not those who want to ‘master’ playing the ukulele. 

4. Most Practical: Ukulele Aerobics: For All Levels, from Beginner to Advanced, by Chad Johnson

For All Levels, from Beginner to Advanced, by Chad Johnson

We’re not exaggerating when we say this book is the most practical for someone who wants to master playing the uke. 

To start with, the book will help keep you committed since it is more like a musical work out of a 40-week practice period. The best part is that each day of the week has a different exercise, varying from learning chord vocab, strumming, fingerstyle, as well as scale exercises.

The idea of having a daily exercise proves to be effective since it grants more proficiency over time, and guarantees the full mastery of each skill. 

Pros:

  • Gives enough exercises 
  • Has a structured approach to help you improve over the weeks
  • Covers a variety of genres like pop, rock, blues, jazz, and folk

Cons:

  • It is not the right book to start with if you’re a complete beginner 

Final Verdict

This book is like a journey that will turn you into a professional ukulele player because it gives you more practice on different techniques and songs. You can even write your own song, thanks to it. 

Final Thoughts

All books provide a wide range of exercises and practice-songs, but you should specify your level to start with the right book for you. 

Our advice is to start with the First 50 Songs, then follow it with the Ukulele Aerobics: For All Levels to improve your skills, then if you’d like to get more informed, consider reading The Ukulele Handbook, and for more fun, the last read should be The Daily Ukulele. 

About Noah Theodor

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