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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 7/30/02

Electric Guitar Basics
The Ultimate Beginner Series - 2001 (2001) - Warner Bros. Publishing (Warner Music)

review by Dallas Ragan of The Digital Bits

Electric Guitar Basics (The Ultimate Beginner Series) Program Rating: C-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B+/D

Specs and Features
77 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, DVD-ROM features, program themed menu screens, scene access (19 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none

I guess I should start by introducing myself. My name is Dallas. I'm in my late twenties and, just like more than 90% of America, I have a dream of becoming a rock star (although you don't see Fox having some American Guitarists contests. Bastards). I started teaching myself guitar about three years ago, when I first picked up my very own six-string. Ever since, I have been learning and progressing and eating up every "Teach Yourself" guide I could find. I've cut just about every knuckle on my strumming hand with razor sharp strings and have built up calluses the thickness of Oprah's ass on my fretting fingers. Why go through all this pain? Because I don't want to be some glasses-wearing twit writing articles and columns my whole life... I am a Golden God.

With that said, I'd like to put my glasses back on and share with you my first review in a series on learning to play guitar by DVD. I thought I would start at the beginning, which I guess makes perfect sense if you think about it. So let's look at Warner's The Ultimate Beginner Series: Electric Guitar Basics. Included within this DVD are the original Parts One and Two that were made for VHS a few years back. They've also added a special internet feature, which can only be accessed if you have a DVD-ROM on your computer. I have no DVD-ROM, so I'll just discuss the set-top contents of the DVD.

Part One contains the very basic information you'll need on your way to becoming a Golden God yourself. These include guitar types, guitar parts, tuning tips, how to change strings, the fundamentals of holding a guitar properly, chords, playing along with a track and (of course) a conclusion -- all featuring the magic of Keith Wyatt (I have no idea who he is either). Part One sucks. Yes, I said suck. Why? Well, because it does. I guess it could be somewhat informative to those of you who may have been born in early Egyptian times, when guitar music didn't exist. Or maybe if you were a time traveler from the way distant future, where music had been banned by a regime of anti-Britney Spears cults who, for the sake of their children and children's children, were afraid of the path music was taking. Hey, anything's possible.

Everything in Part One is pretty idiotic. There are, maybe, two parts where you might actually learn something... if you can filter out the barrage of moronic guitar tech talk. The portion on the subject of chords, where you learn what a chord is and how to play the chord (with a nice little graphic showing you finger position for the chord), is handy. The useful part is the chapter called Play Along Track, where you're allowed to play all those wonderful six chords you just learned to a very basic 4/4 time Blues Progression track. Part One is very basic stuff. So basic, in fact, that you have no reason to pick up a guitar if you have to see any of this for the first time on this DVD. Most of this information is in your manual, or even that cheap songbook you picked up when you bought your first guitar from the pawnshop.

Part Two focuses on (drum roll please) tuning-up (again), chord review (from the first part), general discussion and examples of minor chords, dominant chords, basic chords, chord progression and strumming, as well as notes on soloing and picking, hammer-ons, pull offs and, of course, bends. This part should've been called Keith Wyatt: Look How Cool I Am.

For those of you who have smoked a lot of weed and have forgotten who he is (I mentioned him like twelve sentences ago), he's the vest wearing bad ass teaching us all about guitar playing. Keith is so cool. We get to see Keith "rock-out" amid a nice blend of 80's designed backgrounds and camera effects. We get to hear him slam down some hot licks on his fiery axe, and groove to that hypnotizing sound that only Keith Wyatt can produce. I know why I've never heard of Mr. Wyatt. It's because he's waaaaay ahead of his time. And ladies, in case you're wondering... yes, he is married. Although I can't see how some woman could tame a stallion like Wyatt.

Okay, I'll put the sarcasm away for a minute to briefly explain what this part really has to offer. Unlike Part One, there is some very informative stuff here, like: "no hunching while playing 'cause we don't want any backs hurting" or "it's going to take a lot of practice". Wow... thanks to Keith, I'm now on my way to becoming that Golden God I've always dreamed of becoming. Sorry, I keep ripping on Keith, don't I? In a nut shell, Part Two quickly goes over everything discussed in Part One, and then goes into a more advanced look at chords and how they will control every aspect of your guitar playing life. That's about it.

I wasn't impressed with this DVD. And I don't think I can recommend it for the beginner. I mean, if you're 5 years old, then this MIGHT be a good lesson. Other than that, I'd say you'd be better off with either a book or a live teacher. For the advanced (like someone who's been playing for a week or more) this DVD is better used as a Frisbee.

And because Todd asked me to talk about the "quality" of the DVD, here goes: it's presented in full frame with a slight video look. It's not the best image I've ever seen coming out of my player, and it's certainly not the worst either. It's a very clean, professional image. Sound is a standard, no-frills Dolby Digital 2.0. Extras are non-existent save for the DVD-ROM feature which, I assume, allows you to download chord diagrams and tablature.

The Ultimate Beginner Series: Electric Guitar Basics isn't a very good teacher. If it's the only option you have, then it certainly won't hurt your progression. Next week, if all goes well, we're going to look at some DVD songbooks. Which I can already tell you, are pretty good. It's what Warner Music really excels at, so all is not lost. Until then, remember: always alternate your strumming.

Dallas Ragan
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