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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Learning Guitar for Dummies (2001)

Learning Guitar for Dummies (2001)

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Released 24-Feb-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 83:00 (Case: 75)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Andrea Ambandos
Anchor Bay
Visual Entertainment Group
Starring Jon Chappell
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Jon Chappell

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Learning Guitar For Dummies is an educational DVD which follows in the hugely successful footsteps of the "Dummies" series of books. It does not have a plot per se, being a video-based guitar tutor. I will try and provide a brief overview as to the contents, so aspiring musicians can determine whether or not it may suit their needs.

    The DVD is divided into ten chapters, spread across a running time of eighty-three minutes. The lessons are all hosted by "award winning" guitarist Jon Chappell - who has been Editor-in-Chief of Guitar Magazine and has played professionally with the likes of Pat Benatar, Graham Nash and Judy Collins. He is the author of the books Guitar For Dummies and Rock Guitar for Dummies. Whilst he is sometimes a little corny, Chappell is rarely patronising. The ten chapters are as follows:

    The chapter titles pretty well explain what they contain. Chappell is quite encouraging - particularly as he has (like so many of us) a terrible singing voice, but ploughs on regardless. There are numerous pop-up reminders and tips through the DVD - not unlike those "witty" tips in the paper-based incarnations of the Dummies books. The humour, such as it is, is just as cheesy as that found in the books unfortunately! That's about all there is to it. You also get a brief booklet included in the package which details the music for each of the songs, plus it provides a brief chord chart (with eleven useful basic chords). The value of this DVD will depend on what level of guitarist you are. I have been strumming (poorly) for several years without tuition, so I found that the DVD was of some use to me in learning a couple of decent strumming patterns - but little else. If this is your first time picking up a guitar however, there will be plenty to keep you occupied for many hours of practice. Unfortunately, as with many beginners packages, the songs covered are trivial and not easily used to impress friends - Skip To My Lou and Row, Row, Row Your Boat just do not cut it at most parties (unless they are for pre-schoolers). Sultans Of Swing and Wish You Were Here will have to wait for now.

    Still, I found the DVD medium a far better way to transmit this information than a boring old textbook. The learning curve starts very slowly but does become a little steep quite quickly. With the instant replayability of DVD, those with the patience to repeat chapters will find that this will certainly get you playing fairly quickly - if you persist. Obviously the ability to hear exactly how you should be playing, as well as playing along real-time with Chappell, makes this less frustrating than a text-based package. Finally, if you persevere, your family and friends will be rewarded by your stunning rendition of House Of The Rising Sun - and boy, does it feel good to eventually play something which sounds that impressive! Recommended for beginner guitarists as a cheaper alternative to lessons and a more interactive format than books.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The overall video transfer of this disc is at least of reasonable VHS standard - indeed, as there is a VHS version available, I would suspect that is where it originates from.

    The material is presented in a ratio of 1.33:1 and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced, I assume this is the original aspect ratio.

    The transfer is typical of a full-frame video source, with some mild pixelization evident, but overall it is of a perfectly watchable standard. Sharpness is adequate without being reference quality. There are no dark scenes to test the black levels or shadow detail but overall contrast appears satisfactory throughout. The colours are rendered well with no bleeding evident. Skin tones are fine.

    There are no major MPEG artefacts present. Mild edge enhancement is omnipresent around Chappell's trousers, guitar power leads and so on, but it is not a distraction. (Bleeding fingertips - now that's a distraction). There is some minor shimmer in the image and aliasing can be seen on close-ups of the guitar strings.

    Film (video) artefacts are minimal and this is overall a very clean transfer.

    There are no subtitle tracks present.

    Given the fairly brief running time this is a single-sided, single layered disc (DVD 5).

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The overall audio quality of this disc is perfectly adequate for its intended purpose.

    The sole audio track is a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack in English, encoded at 224 kbps.

    Chappell's voice is always clear, although not necessarily in tune. There were no problems with audio sync.

    The music comes across cleanly at all times, which is crucial for a DVD such as this. There are no original compositions on the DVD - they are all traditional songs.

    The soundstage is totally frontal, with the surround speakers and subwoofer unused.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no video extras on this disc, but the chord chart and music from the booklet are included on the DVD in pdf format which is a thoughtful touch.


    The menu is a photo of Chappell accompanied by his guitar playing. It allows the choice of playing the entire DVD or selecting one of the ten individual chapters.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This DVD appears to be identical in Region 1. Buy whichever is cheaper.


    Learning Guitar For Dummies is a niche DVD, of interest to those taking their first steps in guitar playing only. If you are just starting out, you could do much worse than buy this DVD - it's cheaper than ten lessons and has lots of replay value as you take your first musical steps. Highly recommended for its target audience.

    The video quality is perfectly adequate for its purpose.

    The audio quality is perfectly adequate for its purpose.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Saturday, January 03, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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