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Zen Guitar Paperback – March 24, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Philip Toshio Sudo a student of Eastern philosphy and martial arts and a lifetime guitar player he developed the Zen guitar philosophy performing in the streets, parks, and subways of New York City.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; New edition edition (March 24, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068483877X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684838779
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

129 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Dan Amrich on December 10, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Philip Toshio Sudo is not Mel Bay--if you buy Zen Guitar looking for scales and chord charts, then yes, you will be disappointed. But the book's concept--the "path of Zen Guitar"--is not how to play, but _how_ to play and, depending on your interpretation, _why_. It's about motivation and fulfillment, not technique.
What the book does--or did for me, at any rate--is help you evaluate why you play guitar in the first place and gives you some food for thought as you go about achieving your guitar goals. I am a sloppy, self-taught player, I have no experience with Zen teachings, and I'm not big on books that offer fun new dogma--but I found the book's focus on the spiritual and emotional aspects of creating music on a guitar as well as the musician's unique and personal relationship with the instrument both fascinating and extremely valuable. I feel I'm a better player now, practicing with sharper goals and better intentions; the book's advice has helped both broaden my outlook and focus my efforts. At no time does Zen Guitar neglect the importance of practice; it is, in fact, at the heart of the book (its First Point Of Focus: "Don't ask, practice"). Many of its concepts are direct from Zen teachings and beliefs, but the book neither preaches nor drags.
Zen Guitar is a difficult book to describe, but I didn't find it difficult to comprehend--and I was able to apply its wisdoms to my playing immediately. As long as you *want* to explore the spiritual aspect of playing guitar, the book can be an invaluable tool.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By isala on July 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you can only play one string - then play it! That is the spirit of this book. it connects the basics of guitar playing to spiritual development. Start with the basics, play what you enjoy, do what you are good at. Such easy advice, yet so difficult to embrace. To really understand the book the reader needs to go through it several times, and really ponder what the author means. All chapters start with a quote from famous guitarists, people who know, and is worth listening to.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
In this age of mainstream music and synthesized music and voices, and [disappointing] boy bands, VERY few musicians, unfortunately, carry any passion at all for their instrument, or even their craft.
Since the first time i picked up a guitar back in 1995, i've been completely and utterly awed and inspired by Johnny Rzeznik of the GOO GOO DOLLS. His songwriting and guitar playing always amazed me, and in one interview i read, he had spoken about this book and how it had helped him.
Now, i have been playin guitar for 8 years now...and i'm pretty damn good! I've played for professional theatre productions, various bands, i even played in the band for Late Show with David Letterman. I thought i was good ~ Then i read this book and realized just how much i was MISSING!
Don't get it wrong ---> this book isn't going to poison you with some strange new dogma. All you need to do is believe that there is in fact a spiritual connection between what your fingers are doing on the fretboard and what is going on in your heart. This book teaches you how to harness that and use it to your advantage. I honestly believe, and dozens of my co-workers and friends have agreed, that my guitar playing has been taken to a whole new level.
ALL YOU GUITAR PLAYERS OUT THERE, I URGE YOU TO DO THE SAME. This book will be the best ... bucks you'll ever spend in your musical career. Enjoy it, and learn something. You might be surprised by what you find out.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sasha on November 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Someone who is a great guitar player recommended this book to me. I study art and very interested in philosophical interpretation of music, art, life etc.
Once I started to read it, I could not believe how many great thoughts it had. This book has SO many valuable sayings written in such a simple language! Take for instance couple of these, "if you can't play what you hear, then hear what you play" or "do it [practice] as much as needs to be done, as well as it needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and do it this way every time."
I don't like to read it too fast though because I need to put it through my own "filter", well, I just like to chew on :).
I would say that "Zen Guitar" is for anyone who is interested in philosophy or/and any kind of art. I play some music instruments as well, and I think this book will help you depending on what you are looking for. For some it is strictly for that specific instrument (read: GUITAR) and will put some more soul in their sound but for others it just can be a starting point to many exciting discoveries in LIFE... enjoy!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Russell Diederich VINE VOICE on December 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Zen Guitar" is one of the best instructional books that I have found for the guitar. Although this book will not teach you how to make a 7b5 chord or how to play a Mixolydian scale it is not any less important. "Zen Guitar" teaches the way of the guitar, the mental aspect needed to play the guitar. There are so very few souls that are born to play the guitar. Many may have the technical ability to play like Stevie Ray Vaughan, but few could ever hope to radiate music like he did without help.
Philip Toshio Sudo provides that help by exploring Eastern philosophies in respect to playing guitar and making music. There are over sixty lessons contained in this book, each short and containing only one point so the simple meaning is not lost in the explanation. Many guitarists become hung up on stupid, meaningless things that prevent one from fulfilling their guitar ability. The lessons that Sudo teaches point out these hang ups and explain the mental attitude that is required to reach your full potential.
Not only will Sudo's work help a guitarist to see the light, but the lessons that he teaches can be used in every day life. He has done a good job in distilling the complicated thoughts of the Taoism so a Western mind can readily understand this foreign way of thinking. Every guitarist who ever talks about becoming better, or hack that just "doodles" on the fretboard, should buy this book and take the lessons to heart. "Zen Guitar" will open your mind and let guitar flow from your heart. You will become a better player, and if you take Sudo's teachings to heart, you will notice improvement outside the realm of guitar as well.
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