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Thread: Advanced Hawaiian Methods

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2017

    Default Advanced Hawaiian Methods

    I have become an intermediate-advanced player through Greg Horneís Complete Ukulele Method. I really want to learn some Hawaiian songs and techniques that build off all that Iíve learned. What are the best sources/books for this? Iíve purchased so far Bruddah Is and Jake songbooks but Iím hoping thereís more!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Honoka'a, HI


    Quote Originally Posted by jarednye View Post
    I have become an intermediate-advanced player through Greg Horne’s Complete Ukulele Method. I really want to learn some Hawaiian songs and techniques that build off all that I’ve learned. What are the best sources/books for this? I’ve purchased so far Bruddah Is and Jake songbooks but I’m hoping there’s more!
    Take Skype lessons from Bryan Tolentino. He's THE Hawaiian-style 'ukulele player these days and is kind enough to do lessons when he has a chance.

    Pekelo's books come to mind, but I don't know a whole lot about them.

    At the risk of ruffling some feathers, I'll go out on a limb and say that you can't just jump in and "play" Hawaiian music and expect it to sound right. It is so much more about the feel than the notes and techniques. You have to hear it and play it for a while before it's "right."

    Funny story: my friend and fabulous bassist/guitar player backed me up at a recent gig. He's part Hawaiian, his uncle is a local performer. But he listens and plays primarily shredder math rock. We practiced beforehand and he could barely figure out the "easy" Hawaiian songs! I figured it would be a no-brainer, but I was wrong! It was so cute that he's such a great player, but his precise technical playing didn't help very much at all when trying to capture the nahenahe sound.

    I'd save the money you might spend on books and buy albums. Namely these to get started: Paradise by Hui 'Ohana, Tropical Storm and Cane Fire by Peter Moon Band, Best of Ka'au Crater Boys, Jus Press Vo. 2 by Led Kaapana. And listen, listen, listen.

    YMMV, of course.
    Brad Bordessa
    Webmaster of Live '
    Admin for The Ukulele Way
    Author of 'Ukulele Chord Shapes

    My answers to some FAQs: How to figure out a song - High-g/Low-G - What uke should I get? - Pickups

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Western Ma.


    Unfortunately, there is only a single volume of the Pekelo books available, he came up with a 2nd volume but has none left. The first is excellent beginner fingerpicking book, at least in my very limited opinion. You can drop him a note @ pekelosbooks@gmail. When I turned up empty on that I picked up Hawaiian Uke Songbook. It's has chords and melody, unfortunately there is no recording to hear how the songs should sound so you need to pay attention to the timing. It may be fairly basic if you've been at this for a while, much of it is pretty challenging to me. You can see on eof the songs here There are some easier and some harder then the single example.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2017


    Agreed with others, what's helped me most aren't books, but listening and watching. Out in Maui earlier this year I was talking to one of the guys from the Slack Key Show and he told he the Hawaiian way is to really focus more on learning by watching, and I think that's been really helpful personally.

    On Spotify I listen to a lot of Herb Ohta Jr, Troy Fernandez, and Led Kaapana. All have different styles and cool things you can learn from. Same goes for YouTube, all have some really fun moves to pick up on when you watch them play. Herb's style is great for learning chord melody, classic Hawaiian tunes, classic vamps, classic chord sequences beyond C G7 F, things like that. Troy is great for learning a real fast picking rolling style and I am learning great ways to double up on notes and pick in cool patterns. Watching Led has helped me see new ways to use thirds and sixths and slides and use the third and fourth strings for runs, not just the first.

    Agreed on some of the other great music suggestions above too, Hui Ohana and Ka'au Crater Boys are awesome. Really generally just listening to more Hawaiian music, even slack key guitar with no ukulele like Sonny Lim or Led or Kimo West or others, has been really helpful.
    Last edited by El Viejo; 12-29-2017 at 09:11 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013


    The "Hawaiian Style Ukulele" books, vol 1 through 3, are still available form Ukulele PuaPua.
    They have scored music with chords, playing tips and CDs so you can hear the songs.

    I agree that hearing the music is important to the process. The easiest songs to play for me are the ones I heard on the radio while growing up.
    Last edited by kkimura; 02-02-2018 at 11:56 AM. Reason: speling
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  6. #6


    The "Hawaiian Style" books are good. In addition to the players listed in the other responses, you have to listen to Eddie Kamae and his work with the Sons of Hawaii. All the great Hawaiian players respected Uncle Eddie.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2018


    Aloha my name is Seth I had this same question... I just recently came across Aaron Crowell of He does a lot of Hawaiian music. I just signed for the
    free trial... And so far I really like it!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    keaukaha, hi


    He Mele Aloha is a good book for hawaiian songs.....

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