Instrumental ‘Ukulele Albums:
These are my favorite ‘ukulele albums. I always end up coming back to them when I need some ideas or songs to figure out.
- Brittni Paiva – Tell U What – Review
- Brittni Paiva – Four Strings: The Fire Within – Review
- Herb Ohta Jr. – ‘Ukulele Journey – Review
- Herb Ohta Jr. – ‘Ukulele Breeze – Review
- Herb Ohta Jr. and Daniel Ho – Step 2: ‘Ukuleles in Paradise 2
- Jake Shimabukuro – Walking Down Rainhill
- Jake Shimabukuro – Live – Review
- James Hill – A Flying Leap
- Kimo Hussey – Eminent ‘Ukulele
- Troy Fernandez – Hawaiian Style ‘Ukulele – Review
- Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Facing Future – Review
- Isreal Kamakawiwo’ole – IZ in Concert
- James Hill – Man With a Love Song – Review
- Ka’au Crater Boys – The Best of,
- Malino – Always be Mine
- The Peter Moon Band – Cane Fire
- Round and Round – Our Fire
Individual tracks worth hearing.
- Da ‘Ukulele Boys – Bodysurfing
- Eddie Kamae – Ka Ua Loku
Individual vocal songs that prominently feature ‘ukulele.
- Kalaeloa – Kiss You in the Morning
- Mana’o Company – Drop Baby Drop
- Opihi Pickers – Our Love is Divine
- Pana’ewa – Seven Hawaiian Angels
- Pure Heart – How Can I Get Over
- Sunday Manoa – Kawika
- 3 Plus – Honey Baby
There is plenty to be gained from listening to guitarists. After all, they seem to have pushed the boundaries farther than ‘ukulele artists have yet. Here are some of the best six string wizards I’ve found.
- Ben Harper – Both Sides of the Gun, Give ‘Till It’s Gone (rock/blues)
- Brad Paisley – 5th Gear (country)
- Carlos Santana – Supernatural, Abraxas, Milagro (Latin rock)
- Eric Clapton – Complete Clapton (blues/rock)
- Eric Johnson – Venus Isle, Live From Austin, TX (1988), Ah Via Musicom, Tones (rock)
- Jimi Hendrix – Are you Experienced, Bold As Love, Electric Ladyland (rock)
- Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) – Led Zeppelin III, Zoso (rock)
- Joe Satriani – One Big Rush (rock)
- John Mayer – Continuum, Born and Raised (rock/blues/folk)
- Ledward Kaapana – Best of Hui ‘Ohana, Grandmaster Slack Key (slack key/Hawaiian)
- Mike Stern – Big Neighborhood (jazz)
- Sonny Landreth – From the Reach (blues)
- Stevie Ray Vaughan – In Step (blues)
- Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) – Rage Against The Machine (hard rock/rap/metal/hip-hop)
Victor Wooten: “Groove Workshop” - Based around the ideas presented in “The Music Lesson” (see below), this DVD is an almost 6 hour jaunt through the never-taught parts of music. Teaching a masterclass to six students, Victor, and his assistant Anthony Wellington, talk about dynamics, feel, technique, rhythm, listening, and more. Though a bass player, Victor teaches the material in a way that isn’t instrument specific. Even my dad (who only knows a few chords) was interested in the brain-bending concepts Victor was talking about.
Eric Johnson: “The Fine Art of Guitar” - This is a great look into the playing style of one of the world’s best guitarists. Eric demonstrates his approach to chords and lead playing along with key concepts regarding songwriting and embellishing ideas. It’s pretty guitar-specific, but an advanced ukulele player with some imagination could go to town with these ideas.
Eric has another lesson video in the same format that goes over similar ideas, but with different focuses. This one was filmed before “Fine Art” and is called “Total Electric Guitar”.
The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten - This book goes first because I believe that it is about the most important part of music – music. It doesn’t cover what notes to play, it covers music as a whole and how it is intertwined with a musician’s life. For those of you who have been playing for a while and would like to learn a lot about music and life in one go, be sure to read it
This will change your life if music is what you do. If every musical instrument came with this book, music would be a lot more interesting and wholesome.
Some good instructional books are Herb Ohta Jr. and Daniel Ho’s. They are full of a lot of material, but not much instruction, so it helps to have a bit of an idea what you are doing, or a teacher to guide you.
- Discovering the Ukulele (for initiated beginning players)
- Exploring the Ukulele (for intermediate players)
Some others that are useful are Heeday Kimura’s books. Most are for beginners, but there are two or three that would interest the more advanced. His method of notating music is different, but is fairly easy to learn. Some of his books include:
- How to Pick and Strum the Ukulele vol. 1 and 2
- How to Play Ukulele by Ear Hawaiian Style
- Hints and Tips for Advanced Ukulele Players
- More Ukulele Solos by Ear
- Slack Key Ukulele (advanced)
- (And several songbooks)
I have yet to find an ukulele book that comes close to imparting the amount of knowledge a guitar book can – hence this list. Keep in mind that these books are written for guitar. Some level of transposing or backwards thinking will be necessary to convert the examples to ukulele.