I received my copy of Al Woods’ Ukulele for Dummies the other day. I’ve been waiting since April 24 this year (I pre-ordered as soon as I saw the title — I bought Dostoevsky’s classic book, The Idiot, for the same reason — both titles resonate with me), and I think it was very much worth the wait. It has over 300 pages of ukulele happiness, full of useful information, tips and tunes in a whole swag of different playing styles. Things to strum and tunes to play.
The intro says it is more for dipping than for sequential reading — you start wherever you’d like to or need to start. Sort of like an encyclopaedia of the ukulele.
It is written with good sense and wit. The tab/notation is clear, the photos also. Apart from an interest in things ukulele, the author assumes nothing — everything is explained, and explained well.
I have one gripe (call me a grumpy old man if you like — for such I am). The top joint (the fleshy bit) of the thumb of the fretting hand seems to me to be presented in the wrong place in forming some of the chords. It is not behind the fretboard on the neck, but beside the fretboard, off the neck in many of the photographs. What would Segovia say?
Al’s playing is excellent with the thumb off the neck (fine example below).
I know lots of good players who put their thumbs out like this, but it is not for me.
My concern is that this thumb position might encourage a player to tilt the fretting hand back and put pressure on the wrist, especially if one plays the ukulele for long periods of time.
But that’s my only gripe. This book is huge value for money.