Ukulele Fretboard Roadmaps
The Essential Patterns that all the Pros Know and Use
by Fred Sokolow and Jim Beloff
As a performer in the 1970s, Fred Sokolow played with the likes of John Herald, Frank Wakefield, and Jerry Garcia and opened for the Grateful Dead, the Doors, B.B. King, and Country Joe and the Fish. He has written more than one hundred instructional books for guitar, dobro, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele. Today Fred lives in Santa Monica where he performs retro jazz guitar, often with the former British rock star, Ian Whitcomb (now known as America’s Foremost Tin Pan Alley Man), and the legendary folk singer Tom Paxton. He also continues to produce instructional books, including three for the ‘ukulele (“Fretboard Roadmaps,” “ Blues Ukulele,” and “Bluegrass Ukulele”), and to teach.
In this, his first book for ukulele, Fred reveals a few tricks of the trade in a logical, easy-to-use manner, starting with a few strumming and picking patterns you’ll use throughout the book. Then he dives into the fretboard, uncharted territory for so many of us, yet with lots of important real estate we need to explore if we’re ever going to move ahead in our playing. You don’t have to memorize every note on every string, but a few basic principles will help you figure it out, if you need to, and Fred offers them here.
The real meat in the book, however, are the chapters on movable chords, the ones that contain no open, or unfretted, strings. Of course it’s a little challenging when the first chord he offers is an E (a tricky proposition for many of us) but it’s like doing the dishes or swimming laps. “It has to be done.” And the good news is, once you’ve mastered this, the fretboard is, essentially, yours. By page 28 it all comes together—the closed chords and the finger-picking patterns—in the old folk song, “Sloop John B” (I’ll bet you thought the Beach Boys wrote that) in the key of Eb! And, because of the way the material is presented you can make it as challenging as for yourself as you need to.
In fact, that’s the case with Fred’s Blues and Bluegrass books, as well. If you’re happy just playing the chords and strumming while you sing, there’s something for you to learn. At the same time, if you want to take it up a notch and start adding some interest to your playing, with a little finger picking and some chord soloing, you can do that, as well.
Fretboard Roadmaps is packed with good stuff, including a chapter on chord soloing, something we are always asked about, and ideas for improvisation…so you’ll have some notion about what to do the next time someone nods at you and says “take it away.” But the icing on the cake is the tunes you’ll learn along the way with the skills you’ve just been taught. And, if there’s any confusion as to what they’re supposed to sound like, the book comes with a CD so you can listen to (or try to play along with) Fred.
If you are serious about understanding your instrument and how it works, and you are committed to getting better at it in a focused, disciplined manner, this is the book for you. It could well be the best $15 you ever spent.
Ukulele Fretboard Roadmaps $14.95