“Like all of Mark’s books, this is a great resource.” – Ukulele Player Magazine

Ukulele Books

Learn to Play Slack Key Style Ukulele

No matter if you are a dedicated beginner wanting to expand your playing or an advanced uke-a-banger looking for a new challenge, you will find music to delight your fingers and stimulate your ear. Here is a collection of classic Hawaiian melodies arranged for solo `ukulele, “slack key” style. What’s that? Slack key is a melodic, finger picked musical style created by Hawaiian paniolo in the mid-19th Century. They call it “Hawaiian Soul Music.”

“Learn to Play Slack Key Ukulele” is both a course of study and a collection of great solo arrangements that start out easy and increase in difficulty. Ideal for advancing beginners and intermediate players who already know some chords and strums and are looking to expand their musical horizons. Sixteen classic songs, lessons, exercises, tips on tunings and more.

New Mel Bay edition features more instruction & new arrangements. New audio files with solo ukulele arrangements for all of the exercises and songs are available for download.

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Click here to buy the “Slack Key Ukulele” CD, with extended performances of many of the songs in the book. Enchanting!

It Sounds So Sweet: Jug Band Music For Ukulele

JUG'N UKE Cover-v2 copy

“It Sounds So Sweet: Jug Band Music For Ukulele” serves up twenty classic songs from the early years of recording. You’ll get songs from the classic bands like the Memphis Jug Band, Earl McDonald’s Original Louisville Jug Band, The Hokum Boys, and the  Mississippi Sheiks among many others.

In the spirit of jug bands everywhere, I have not limited this collection solely to transcriptions of early jug band recordings – although you’ll find plenty of those. Instead, I have tried to track down the sources for songs that have became part of the jug band revival. Some come from early jazz and hokum bands, others from the repertoire of blues singers or the musical hall stage. There are even a couple songs from old time Appalachian and early country artists. And you’ll find rarities like the complete 1919 version of “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Give to Me,” and the long lost introduction to “Coney Island Roundelay.”

If you like to have fun with your ukulele, you will love this book.

• All arrangements in easy to read tablature and standard notation.
• Alternate and original lyrics for many songs.
• Many arrangements include intros, instrumental solos and bridges transcribed from the original recordings.
• Detailed playing notes to help guide you through the tricky bits.
• Written for standard “My Dog Has Fleas” tuning, playable on any ‘ukulele.

Learn to play these classic songs:

  • Adam and Eve In The Garden of Eden
  • Beedle Um Bum
  • The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me
  • Coney Island Washboard Roundelay
  • Crazy Words, Crazy Tune
  • Dallas Rag
  • Eli Green’s Cakewalk
  • Evolution Mama
  • Hesitation Blues
  • I’ve Got The Mourning Blues
  • Jug Band Quartette (Jug Band Music)
  • Lazy Lazy River
  • Left All Alone Again Blues
  • Papa’s on The House Top
  • The Sheik of Araby
  • Sitting on Top of the World
  • Stealin’ Stealin’
  • Truckin’ My Blues Away
  • Under The Chicken Tree
  • You May Leave, But This Will Bring You Back

Click this link to purchase your copy today from CreateSpace.

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Fingerstyle Duets for Ukulele


From the author of Mel Bay’s best selling Learn to Play Fingerstyle Solos for Ukulele and Favorite Fingerstyle Solos for Ukulele, we are proud to present Fingerstyle Duets for Ukulele.

This book and accompanying audio offer 21 great songs arranged in 18 duets for fingerstyle ukulele.The songs come from around the world: European waltzes, classic Hawaiian songs, folksongs, Victorian parlor pieces and classical guitar and piano transcriptions.

Nothing in this book will be out of reach of the advancing beginner or intermediate player. Even advanced players will find something to tickle their fancy. The book includes tips on technique and fingerpicking exercises. Many of the songs include lyrics, adding to the flexibility of the arrangements. Included are four etudes – basic duets featuring scaled down melodic parts for the lead ukulele and simple pattern picking for the accompaniment. More advanced duets feature modulations, chord inversions up the neck, and different rhythmic approaches for the right hand in both parts. The book concludes with an arrangement of Erik Satie’s haunting piano piece Gymnopedie #1.

• 18 duet arrangements for fingerstyle ukulele, featuring 21 songs from around the world.
• For advancing beginner, intermediate and advanced ukulele players.
• Written in tablature and standard notation with chord symbols and lyrics.
• Use the book as written, or use the parts to create new vocal arrangements.
• Includes 8 basic fingerpicking exercises and 4 etudes.
• Arrangements are graded in difficulty so students acquire new techniques as they move through the book.
• A CD with all of the music is included to facilitate learning.


  • Sicilian Waltz
  • Simple Gifts
  • The Banks of the Ohio
  • Margaret’s Waltz
  • Ahi Wela
  • The Cuckoo Round
  • The Skye Boat Song
  • Ua Like No a Like
  • Scarborough Fair
  • Akaka Falls
  • Hard Times, Come Again No More
  • Fandanguillo
  • Home Sweet Home
  • Sweet Lei Lehua
  • Victorian Medley
  • La Bruja
  • Sentamental Medley
  • Gymnopedie #1

Pick up a copy or download the e-Book today from the Mel Bay website!

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Mastering Chord Inversions for Ukulele

Mastering Chord Inversions for Ukulele cover.

Mastering Ukulele Chord Inversions is the most comprehensive and useful ukulele chord book ever published. It includes all the chords you will need for fingerstyle and chord melody arrangements, complex styles like jazz and bossa nova, or simply for tickling your fingers and exercising your brain.

This book can help you find any chord, but will also greatly enhance your understanding of how chords work, enabling you to become a better musician.

Included are three full-sized fingerboard diagrams showing all of the practical chord intervals for major, dominant and minor chords in every key. These will help you visualize how intervals relate to each other. They will also help you play scales and arpeggios and find alternate fingerings for common chords.

Rather than list all the chords of a given type in 12 keys on one page, chords are grouped together by how they are used in a particular key. If you are looking for a G7 chord, you’ll find it alongside other dominant chords like G9, G7b9 and G7#5. Chords which serve similar musical roles are grouped together. Likewise, all the various flavors of major chords (6, 6/9, M7, add 2) and minor chords appear together in one convenient place.

The chord diagrams have the familiar fretboard grid, with the lowest fret clearly marked. In addition, each note in the chord is labeled to aid you in your study.

Each chord appears in several forms that move up the neck. The ukulele’s re-entrant tuning requires either doubling or leaving out certain chord notes to accommodate the instrument’s four strings. This means chord shapes are not inversions, strictly speaking, but the word is as good as any. Practicing inversions as they move up and down the neck is essential to mastering your ukulele.

Alternate fingerings for chords at the lowest position of the neck have also been added.

Order a copy or download an e-book today from Mel Bay Publications.

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Favorite Old Time American Songs for Ukulele

Favorite Old Time American Songs for Ukulele

Featuring over 100 traditional American folk songs newly arranged for the ukulele, with chord diagrams and melody lines in tablature and standard notation, “Favorite Old-Time American Songs for Ukulele” a treasury of the best songs from the American tradition. Nothing in this book is out of range for novice ukulele players. The songs are in keys that are both easy to sing and that fit the melodic range of the ukulele. Of course, not every voice sings comfortably in every key, so information on transposition and a short discussion for players of the baritone ukulele are included. Although you do not need to read music or tablature to use this book, short introductions to each are included.

The book presents a sampling of the best American songs for folks working in schools, churches, hospitals, coffeehouses and other public performance spaces, or for anyone wishing to expand their repertoire and brush up on a few old chestnuts. There’s a little of everything here: sentimental old hearth songs, laments and lullabies, ballads and play-parties, the sacred and profane. The overwhelming majority of songs come from pre-industrial rural traditions, because this is the kind of music that seems to go well with homemade music-making in any age.

CD Contents:

  • Barb’ry Allen
  • The Farmer’s Curst Wife
  • Tom Dooley
  • Cold Rain and Snow
  • Kansas Boys, Alsea Girls
  • Home on the Range
  • Whoopie Ti Yi Yo
  • Pie in the Sky
  • Jack O’ Diamonds
  • Hallelujah, I’m a Bum
  • Let My People Go
  • All Night, All Day
  • All Are Talking of Utah
  • The Texas Rangers
  • Beware, Oh Take Care
  • Careless Love
  • Quit Kickin’ My Dog Around
  • Clementine

Order a copy or download an e-book today from Mel Bay Publications.

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 Favorite Fingerstyle Solos for Ukulele

Favorite FingerStyle Solos For Ukulele cover This book and accompanying CD offer a variety of fingerstyle solos for the ukulele. The music stretches across several styles, including Hawaiian, ragtime, bossa nova, and classical. The solos progress in difficulty, and tips on technique are included along the way. More advanced arrangements introduce chord inversions and different rhythmic approaches for the right hand. 33 arrangements are presented in standard notation and tablature. Transposition charts are included for baritone ukulele.

A great companion to “Learn to Play Fingerstyle Solos for Ukulele,” with more songs at every level of difficulty. Perfect for intermediate uke-a-bangers and adventurous beginners looking to expand their repertoire and technique. All arrangement written for ukulele in re-entrant C tuning. Bonus material includes chord and transposition charts, and 7 pages of chord inversion studies. A must have!

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Learn to Play Fingerstyle Solos for `Ukulele

Cover of "Learn to Play Fingerstyle Solos for Ukulele" book While the ‘ukulele is enjoying a well-deserved renaissance on the mainland, in the land of it’s birth, it has never gone out of style. Hawaiian’s took to the “jumping flea” right from the start, creating music of stunning beauty and versatility. Now intermediate players can learn to play lovely finger style solo arrangements of classic Hawaiian songs, folk songs, standards–even a few pieces from the classical guitar repertoire. The book offers 27 arrangements from around the world written in standard notation and tablature playable on any ‘ukulele. Songs are grouped according to level of difficulty, starting with simple arrangements well within the grasp of dedicated beginners and intermediate players and leading through more challenging songs featuring unusual chord voicings, inversions up the neck, tricky fingerings and “all the fun stuff” the author could muster. To aid the student, the companion CD includes all of the songs taught. Includes chord charts, inversion studies, introductory material on finger-picking and making the transition from strumming to melodic playing.

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Juke’n The Uke

Cover image of "Juke'n the Uke: Blues Ragtime and Hokum for Ukulele" book
Inspired by the music played in early 20th Century juke joints, rent parties and road house dives, “Juke’n The Uke” is an outstanding collection of classic blues, rags, jug-band songs and hokum artfully arranged for fingerstyle ‘ukulele. Highlights include a rare Hawaiian blues, the ballad “John Henry” played bottleneck style, and gems transcribed from the immortal Mississippi John Hurt, Big Bill Broonzy, Etta Baker, Blind Blake and many others.

Includes transcriptions of all 21 songs on the CD, plus “Blues You Can Use Lessons,” bottleneck ukulele lessons, chord charts, transposition charts, and much more.


“Juke’n the Uke” finally answers the age-old question, “I wish somebody would tell me what Diddy Wa Diddy means?

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Click here to hear music and watch videos for songs not on the CD.

Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Books

Mastering Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar

When Keola Beamer and I sat down to write Learn to Play Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in 1997, few people outside of Hawai‘i knew what slack key was, let alone how to play it. So we decided to present a large number of short arrangements in a variety of styles and tunings. Our intention was to give the student a broad overview of the style and a good foundation for further study. In the twenty years since the publication of that book, thousands of guitarists have discovered the pleasures of ki ho‘alu.

But one thing remains: unless you grew up playing slack key, it’s hard to get from the material presented in most books and DVDs to a fluid, play-it-your-own-way style.

In this book I hope to offer some of the insights I have gleaned by playing with and learning from some true giants of the art. How do you go from a simple instrumental tune to a full-blown arrangement? What is the role of improvisation in slack key? How do two slack key guitarists play together? And what exactly does it mean when they say, “Jus’ press?”

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Old Time Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar

Cover imagae of Old Time Hawaiian Slack Key guitar book.

Written in tablature and standard musical notation, Old-Time Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar features 24 of the essential instrumentals every aspiring slack key player should know. These are the classic melodies–with a couple originals–played just as you’d hear them in a backyard party kani kapila–full of interesting twists and turns, sometimes richly complex, but always nahenahe–as natural and refreshing as an ocean breeze.

• Tablature and standard notation • Notes on tunings, reading music and tablature • Newly revised and correction transcriptions

Learn to play: Pua Lena/Kealoha/E Huli Ho’i Mai/Hula O Makee, Mauna Loa/Pauoa Liko Ka Lehua, Kowali, Paniolo Slack Key, Ku’u Lei Awapuhi Melemele (My Yellow Ginger Lei), Ahe Lau Makani, Nanea Kou Maka i ka Le’ale’a, Moloka’i Waltz, Moana Chimes, Old Timer’s Hula/Slack Key Hula, Hula Blues, Taro Patch Blues, Tiare Tahiti, Kaulana Na Pua, Playful Popoki, ‘Ulupalakua, Kanaka Waiwai, Kimo’s Slack Key, Papakolea

Suitable for intermediate guitarists. 80 pages, soft bound or e-book. Includes access to online audio.

Available everywhere, or purchase direct from Mel Bay.

“Slack key heaven! This is wonderful slack key music taught and played in the real old style.” Amazon customer

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Learn to Play Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar

Cover image for "Learn to Play Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar" by Keola Beamer and Mark NelsonCo-written with master musician Keola Beamer, this is the first comprehensive instruction method for this beautiful art form. Covers all of the major tunings, including Taro Patch, Double Slack, Mauna Loa, Keola’s C and F Wahine. TAB and musical notation. Includes access to online audio with tunings, examples and selections from the book.

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Mel Bay Publications


Dulcimer Books

The Complete Book of Old-time Fiddle Tunes for Appalachian Dulcimer

“This book represents the fruits of over fifty years spent chasing down a good tune.”

With over 70 fiddle tunes arranged for Appalachian dulcimer, this book includes both common session tunes that everyone should know and a handful of obscure gems. The tunes include a representative collection of what people are playing in the current old-time music scene. I learned the bulk of these sitting knee to knee with old time fiddlers at sessions around the country. I’ve indicated the source of the tune when I know it, plus notes on achieving the proper feel and playing style.
Although a few of the arrangements are real finger-twisters, most are well within the reach of the intermediate dulcimer player. Some tunes are written for old-time “noter” style playing, some are best fretted with your fingers. All of the arrangements include suggested chords for guitar or other instruments. One or two include lyrics; most do not.
Old-time tunes tend to be played in fiddle-friendly keys like D, G, A (major and minor), and C. Although you can play in most of those keys out of DAD tuning, the music really comes alive when you re-tune and let those drones ring. Tunings include DAA, DAD, DGD, AAA and more. I have included notes on how to re-tune your dulcimer to play in different keys and modes, as well as alternative tunings for some of the tunes.

Includes access to online audio of all of the tunes played on solo dulcimer.


Introduction: “That’s the way I learned it…”
How to Play Old-Time Fiddle Tunes on the Dulcimer
D Tunes in DAA Tuning
Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss
Jack Wilson
Julie Ann Johnson
Mississippi Sawyer
Old Molly Hare
D Tunes in DAD Tuning
Arkansas Traveler
Avalon Quickstep
Bonaparte Crossing the Rockies
Camp Meeting on the Fourth of July
Ducks on the Millpond
The Eighth of January (2-part version)
The Eighth of January (3-part version)
Fisher’s Hornpipe
Five Miles From Town
Keep the Old Ark a’Movin’
Kilby Snow’s Shady Grove
Little Bobby
On Christmas Eve
Rock the Cradle, Joe
Step Around Johnny
Sullivan’s Hollow
West Fork Gals
D Modal Tunes
Come Home With the Girls in the Morning
Old Shady Grove
Snake Chapman’s Tune
Sally in the Garden
G Tunes
Barlow Knife
Devil Eat the Groundhog
Drunken Sailor
The Duck’s Eyeball
Old Mother Flanagan (2-part version)
Sandy River Belle
Seneca Square Dance
Shove That Pig’s Foot a Little Further in the Fire
Wild Horse at Stoney Point
A Tunes
Breakin’ Up Christmas
Christmastime Will Soon Be Over
The Golden Chain Tree
Henry Reed’s Breakdown
John Brown’s Dream
June Apple
Little Rabbit
Newt Payne’s Tune
Old Horse and Buggy
Old Kentucky Whiskey
Old Mother Flanagan (3-part version)
Rock Andy
Sandy Boys
The Squirrel Hunters
Walk Along John to Kansas
A “Modal” Tunes
Betty Likens
Cold Frosty Morning
Ducks on the Pond
The Falls of Richmond
Joke on the Puppy
Kitchen Girl
Old Greasy Coat
Pretty Little Dog
Santa Ana’s Retreat
Shelvin’ Rock
The Twenty Eighth of January
C Tunes
Hold Old Bald While I Dance With Josie
Indian Ate the Woodchuck
Lost Girl
Texas Gals
That’s My Rabbit My Dog Caught It
Dulcimer Tunings for Old-Time Fiddle Tunes 
About the Author
Alphabetical Tune List

Available Most Places, or purchase the Book or EBook from Mel Bay.

Cover Image Hawaian and Polynesian Music for Appalachian Dulcimer

Hawaiian and Polynesian Music for Appalchian Dulcimer
Ke Kukima Polinahe

“Beautiful songs and great arrangements that transport my lovely Appalachian dulcimer instantly to Hawaii! These songs make my dulcimer sound like a different instrument all together! Love it!” – Amazon Customer

Put some aloha into your playing with Hawaiian & Polynesian Music for Appalachian Dulcimer!

Fingerstyle arrangements for intermediate to advanced mountain dulcimer players who are looking for a challenge and want to try something new. Written in standard notation and tablature for the 3-course dulcimer with the 6+ or 6½ fret. These arrangements sound best played fingerstyle, and make use of polyphony, harmonics, hammer-ons and pull-offs, and the sweet chords beloved by Island musicians.

Includes access to online audio of all 22 examples and melodies in DAD, CGC and DGD tunings. To help the student master these arrangements, the author provides detailed performance notes for each tune.

For this is a new edition I have added more songs and examples, corrected some errors, and recorded everything. 72 pages, softbound, also available as an e-book.

Available everywhere, or order direct from Mel Bay.

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Favorite Old Time American Songs for Appalachian Dulcimer

cover of "Favorite Old Time American Songs for Appalachian Dulcimer" book.
This giant book features over 100 of America’s favorite folk songs, expertly arranged for the Appalachian dulcimer. Children’s songs, work songs, old Anglo-American ballads, songs of strife and freedom, love songs and much, much more are all gathered here in arrangements suitable for the beginning and intermediate player. The songs come from all over – old books and sheet music, transcriptions from field recordings, but mostly from the singing of countless folks in kitchens and festival hallways, street corners and concert stages. Songs include “Poor Wayfaring Stranger,” “Tenting Tonight,” “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” “Oh, Death,” “Careless Love,” and many, many more. Tunings used include D-A-D and D-A-A, as well as C-G-C and C-G-G and several modal tunings. All are playable on any three- or four-stringed dulcimer. Some use a 6 1/2 fret. Includes information on reading music and TAB, notes on transposing, and a useful index of songs by tuning. In standard notation and TAB, with guitar chords.

“An excellent assortment of traditional dulcimer tunes in an understandable format. Should be a welcomed addition to any musical library!”-Amazon Customer

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Complete Collection of Celtic Music for Appalachian Dulcimer

cover of "Complete Collection of Celtic Music for Appalachian Dulcimer" book.
A generous selection of music from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany and Britain: reels, jigs, strathspeys, harp tunes and more. TAB and musical notation. Includes CD with selections from the book.
“Overall, one of the best books for the dulcimer player interested in a solid introduction to Celtic music. There is a surprisingly nice selection of Breton tunes, which are hard to find.” – Amazon customer

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Fiddle Tunes for Dulcimer – The Rights of Man

cover of "Fiddle Tunes for Dulcimer" book
A ground breaking collection of Irish, Scottish, French and old-time tunes featuring some of the Northwest’s pre-eminent musicians. After 20 years the TAB book is available again as a special facsimile edition, preserving all of the charming illustrations of the original!
“Finely wrought arrangements… consistently captivating. Dulcimer playing of the highest order” – Jim Hatlo, FRETS Magazine

All the songs in EZ to read tab and standard notation.

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