View Full Version : Hal Leonard Presents The Ultimate Mandolin Songbook

Jan-13-2011, 2:32pm
The Mandolin Cafe has posted news:
Hal Leonard Presents The Ultimate Mandolin Songbook

Hal Leonard Presents The Ultimate Mandolin Songbook, authored by Janet Davis. New Songbook comes with 2 CDs and 26 essential tunes for mandolin players.


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Bob Borzelleri
Jan-13-2011, 3:35pm
Ultimate is an interesting word that seems to have taken on a context suggesting something more like "latest" or "Hey! Look at this!!"

I actually like the subtext reference to these songs being "essential" (although that term is quite subjective in its own way).

Still, when I noticed the header describing this offering, my expectations went up somewhat higher than that I found myself left with after reading the post. Sounds like another songbook to me.

Feb-17-2011, 9:54am
I like the approach of varying degrees of difficulty for each song. My issue with this collection is mixing genres. Create a Separate Bluegrass book and include more essential selections, same for Jazz, Swing, etc. I realize including different genres in one book can expose players to different musical styles. There are tons of songs for each style so for me I would like more songs in one publication of the style I like to play. Sounds like a good addition to the instruction book stable just not worthy of being called "The Ultimate".

Feb-17-2011, 10:41am
I am an intermediate player and just received this book yesterday. I basically looked at the things I already knew (i.e. mostly BG). What I like is that there are variations of a song with somewhat differing styles (like a more modal vs. minor version of Jerusalem Ridge). This helps me think about what gives a song different flavors and learn more about music in general. I like the different styles, since I want to try to learn how to play from a lot of different approaches.

Feb-17-2011, 8:51pm
I like the way she mixes genres, styles, difficulty, etc.
I think this can be one of the more useful books.

Janet Davis
Feb-23-2011, 6:56pm
I was just reading the comments posted about The Ultimate Mandolin Songbook, and thought I might provide a little of the background around the development of this book, especially concerning the title.

The publisher selected the title in advance and limited the book to 26 songs, as part of a series. One interesting point is that many of these tunes are licensed, and do not appear in many books for the mandolin, especially in both tablature and musical notation. This is one reason I was able to include a variety of types of music.

It was a great challenge to provide a book with might live up to this title. It was really fun to select the tunes, yet this was also the most difficult part in the process. We began with 100 titles, and narrowed it down from there. The history for each song was so interesting to me, I decided to include it as an introduction with each tune, along with the verses. Each tune is arranged in multiple ways, for different level players, from beginning through advanced, but also in a "building" fashion. i.e. The tune may offer the basic melody in a tremolo style, provide several traditional bluegrass style versions for lower to upper intermediate players, with the last version using progressive or contemporary style licks for advanced players. A brief "lesson" is included with each version. Substitute licks are also provided for each song (by measure number and chord), so you can create your own version as well. These patterns may be substituted in other songs you already play, too. A wide variety of picking styles may be used for one tune, including cross-picking, tremolo, a triplet style, Monroe style, and traditional bluegrass, depending upon the type of song and the meter.

The Ultimate Mandolin Songbook was the "ultimate challenge" for me, the entire 3 years it took to write this book and record the music on the 2 CDs. I felt this was a great opportunity to provide these tunes to mandolin players, in a playable format for every playing level, and I hope that musicians at any playing level will enjoy working with it and find it useful. (This is also a companion to The Ultimate Banjo Songbook.) My ultimate goal has been with the hope of providing the mandolin player and/or student a course which can be used, studied and, above all, enjoyed in many different ways throughout time.

Thank you for your comments, also. I, probably more than anyone, really appreciate your feedback about this course.

As always, Happy Pickin',

Feb-24-2011, 3:20pm
Thanks for the great author-reply.
As noted in my previous post, I think it's a good job, & can be a very useful book. I might have preferred almost anything other than Orange Blossom & Foggy Mountain Breakdown, but that's just my preference to avoid overdone tunes, easpecially ones that aren't that great to begin with. I understand & accept thhe reasoning of them being there, though, & totally approve of the book/CD package as isd.

Ryk Loske
Feb-24-2011, 4:21pm
Many thanks Janet .... for both the book and your post.


Feb-27-2011, 7:24am

Thanks for the post and as with your other books and DVD's, a good investment. I recently bought the mando book and already own your banjo version.

Feb-28-2011, 3:16pm
I'm just surfing around the cafe and as a newby I hit this thread and found it to be very helpful. I have a small songbook wishlist of study books and this one has been on it. However, I've learned that without seeing these books, I'm not sure what will arrive once I've purchased it online. I've been disappointed with the couple that I've received as they are too advanced for me. So now I'm hesitant as it's been hit or miss mostly miss with the online discriptions to find a beginners studybook that suits my newby needs. However, this review and Janets comments are a big help. Thanks all

Feb-28-2011, 8:03pm
If it's a bit much for you currently, you'll probably be able to handle it in a few weeks, but I think you could at least start working on the licks & variations, & listen well to the CD, and make some headway with it now. It's designed to have something for pretty much any level.

Ryk Loske
Mar-28-2011, 10:33am
My copy arrived in today's post. This book is a gift. The mixing of genres enhances the other material. With patience even a beginner could work through the material and there's so much more to work on as you improve.

Please tell me there's a sequel.


Paul Busman
May-04-2011, 5:17am
I got a copy on Monday and started fooling around with it yesterday. In a word, I think this book is terrific. I'm mostly a picker of Irish tunes,plus I like to noodle around with all sorts of other music. Although I love listening to BG, I don't know much about it or how to play it. The alternate licks that come with each tune in the book have already enriched my internal library of things to add to tunes to vary them. I expect they'll cross pollinate my Celtic playing. Great job Janet!

Jul-06-2011, 3:54pm
I just bought this book and am now listening to the CD's that came along with it. I don't know who Janet Davis is but from what I can tell from the CD she should not be playing on CD's at all. She has absolutely no timing. It sounds like one of her students is playing the melodies and that is not what i expected from a teaching book. I for one is very disapointed with these CD's.

Feb-08-2017, 12:00am
:(Bought this book at amazon. I should have known better. Of course it came without the cd. Does anybody know where I could get just the cds?

Mandolin Cafe
Feb-08-2017, 2:54pm
I chat with the Hal Leonard reps once in awhile. I sent them a link to your inquiry. They replied back to us:

They must have the new version of the book that has the audio files online. Look at page 1 of the book and there should be a box with a unique code and directions to go to www.halleonard.com/mylibrary to activate it. All the files will be there and can be streamed or downloaded and also contain valuable playback tools like tempo adjustment, looping and panning.

For your information, once a book is converted to online audio the CDs are no longer available.

Feb-08-2017, 3:44pm
Ahh Thanks, Need to step up to the 21 century.