Ukulele Book Review: 18 Traditional Celtic Tunes and a Popular Fingerstyle Method Follow-up

Here are two books, by two different Kevins, describing two different ways to play ukulele. Ukulele Ceilidh by Kevin Carroll features 18 traditional Celtic tunes arranged for ukulele in C6 tuning, and QuickStart Fingerstyle Ukulele 2 by Kevin “Kev” Rones features 24 lessons in a variety of styles.

Ukulele Ceilindh

Austin-based Kevin Carroll is a well-respected leader in the field of ukulele education. He completed James Hill’s Teacher Certification Program and created his own music education company. Knowing Kevin’s background, I knew his new book of Celtic tabs, Ukulele Ceilidh, would be meticulous in its attention to detail. 

Kevin Carroll's Ukulele Ceilidh book
Ukulele Ceilidh: 18 Traditional Celtic Tunes Arranged for Ukulele Session Playing (C6 tuning),
Kevin Carroll

The book contains 18 traditional Celtic tunes, arranged in their original keys for authenticity. But this isn’t just a book of ukulele tabs. In its over 70 spiral-bound pages in a larger 9” x 12” format, Kevin also includes strumming, picking, and triplet exercises. The tunes are arranged in both tablature and standard notation, low- and high-G, and with both beginner/intermediate and advanced versions. Many of the tunes are also arranged with low- and high-octave parts. 

Carroll covers the full gamut of Celtic session tunes including polkas, reels, jigs, and a hornpipe. An interesting note is that the advanced arrangements are solely in standard notation. According to the author, the reason for this is “a reductive move to get people to develop playing by memory. Players can get started with the easier tabbed arrangements and move on to the advanced.” Ukulele Ceilidh ($29.95 + shipping and handling) is available from the author’s website,


—Jim D’Ville

QuickStart Fingerstyle Ukulele 2

QuickStart Fingerstyle Ukulele 2, Kevin “Kev” Rones

Written as a follow-up to his QuickStart Fingerstyle Ukulele book, Kevin “Kev” Rones’ sequel presents two dozen lessons in a variety of elemental techniques aimed at tenor, concert, and soprano ukulele players looking to build fingerstyle playing skills. 

The lessons are presented with play-along songs that are used as a framework for the skills taught over the book’s 45 pages. Lessons include basic fingerstyle technique, including understanding picking-hand notation (p i m a), playing ascending and descending bass lines, arpeggiating chords, Travis and classical picking, and a bunch of clearly presented sidebars that help to explain musical concepts. As Rones notes in the introductory sections, the songs are intentionally brief—roughly eight to 12 measures; versions he calls “exersongs”—so you can learn a skill without feeling pressured to learn a long piece for a technique.

The author recommends using a uke with a low-G for the music in this book, and though some of the exercises will sound better with a low-G, they all work well with a high-G string. $17.99, includes downloadable audio files.

Greg Olwell