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Zen Guitar

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,335 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
The book starts from a simple premise: Each of us carries a song inside - the song that makes us human. We're all born with this song, but so many of us don't know how to unlock it. Zen Guitar offers the key. By sharing his own experiences with music, Philip Toshio Sudo guides us to rediscover the harmony in each of our lives, as well as to open ourselves to a Zen awarenes ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published March 24th 1998 by Simon & Schuster (first published February 11th 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,472)
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Sep 19, 2007 Juni rated it really liked it
my musical mastermind buddy, mark, lent me this to read.. and it came at a time of emotional upheaval and crazy roadtripping and ditching school to hop around the east coast and play and meet and think and shed some skin. one of those books you can pick up and get inspiration from at just about any time, whether you play guitar or not.
Mar 06, 2012 Phil rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
One of the most important, enjoyable books I've ever had the good fortune to read. The concept of zen is familiar to many, and this book is certainly laden with familiar concepts, but it manages to relate those concepts incredibly well to the art of learning, practicing, and playing an instrument (not necessarily guitar; this book applies to any instrument... it is not an exercise book), all the while reminding you that those very same concepts seamlessly overlap into everyday life, and stretch ...more
Pompom Sönnfors
Nov 13, 2011 Pompom Sönnfors is currently reading it
Zen Guitar is going to take a long time to read. After trying to rush through the entire book I started over and have been contemplating the very first instruction, "Wear the white belt" for a year. It could be time to move on but I don't really see the rush.
Oct 18, 2007 Kim rated it really liked it
Even though this book is written for people who play guitar or are learning guitar...there is so much to learn from this book. Just replace the word guitar with whatever you are interested in and the same principles apply.
Tony Espy
Mar 23, 2013 Tony Espy rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book to anyone who plays, or even is thinking about learning to play the guitar.

It's an interesting mix of Eastern/Zen Buddhist philosphy as applied to the practice of playing guitar. Some chapters focus on a particular aspect of playing guitar, some discuss mistakes or approaches to avoid, but in the end, all can be applied to life itself.

One of my favorite things about this book is that each chapter starts with a quote from some the greatest guitarists to walk the plane
Dec 19, 2007 Paul rated it really liked it
This book doesn't teach any specific guitar playing technique. Rather, it looks at the spiritual side of making music; if you will, the zen of playing guitar.

Everyone carries a song inside themselves, it's what makes us human. This book offers a key to letting out that song. Once you have picked up a guitar and properly tuned it, don't worry if you don't know any songs. Play just one note on one string and give it every bit of your heart and soul. Then repeat the process.

When you start regular p
NO, i lost the review.

So here's the summary:
1) At the beginning, I thought it was gimmicky, but of the sort that ''if you believe in it, you'll get the value out of it''. So I gave it a chance, and the last third of the book really took me and engaged me. A lot of it you discover on your own through the years, or else you don't advance and give it up.

2)It helped to apply the mindset to different challenges other than guitar: singining, learning chinese characters, running. One major insight that
Samuel Lawson
Oct 03, 2013 Samuel Lawson rated it really liked it
This book will either seem like an exercise in navel-gazing or it will be a valuable asset to the musician in pursuit of self-actualisation (just don't expect it to be your only asset). I really liked it; helped me find a sense of perspective when I was experiencing symptoms of burn-out many years ago. The book is applicable to guitarists of any genre. The world of classical guitar has certain unhealthy elements, not the least of which being elitism and over-emphasis on competition. This book su ...more
Carson hall
Aug 10, 2014 Carson hall rated it it was amazing
I have only one thing to say about this book. If you read it and don't "get it", you aren't ready for it. This book is beyond awesome, it has helped me by teaching me to slow will happen in its own time.

I have felt pressured from outside sources to play faster and better than I do, turning my playing almost from a joy to a chore. Due to my age (almost 55), I may learn slower than 8, 12, 17 and 20 year olds. I am not interested in just "shredding", I want to learn all I can about playi
Feb 29, 2008 Charlie rated it really liked it
Stop worrying about what the audience wants, about whether your pedals are true bypass, about whether you can play as fast as the next guy. Just plug the damn thing in and ROCK your heart out.
CoCo Milardo
Aug 16, 2015 CoCo Milardo rated it really liked it
A wonderfully inspirational book, especially for those learning to play guitar like me. If you don't play guitar you can still take the lessons mentioned in this book to other areas of your life. It's not an instruction manual on how to play guitar; it's a book that give you a way of thinking, a mindset to have when learning guitar or in any other aspect of your life. I'm at a point in my life in which I need to find a new path and walk down it and this book is giving me the framework which I ca ...more
Michael Anderson
Nov 02, 2014 Michael Anderson rated it it was amazing
Let's face it, I'm a sucker for these "zen" books. Take some quasi-spiritual, new agey goals and obstacles and apply them to some domain (e.g., poker, computer programming, cooking) and you have a book. Most of them are fluff, but this one is by far the most substantial and interesting of any I've read. I saw a lot of good advice, and the musicians' quotes were well-chosen. I expected fluff and a quick skim when I started reading, but I was very pleasantly surprised by what I found between the c ...more
Aug 21, 2014 E rated it it was amazing
Zen Guitar: Welcome to the Dojo, Please Leave the Door Open
By Lisa King | Thursday, August 21

"Return to the beginning. Enter by form. Clean your dojo. As you have every day, tie on the white belt and empty your cup. Pick up your guitar, tune, then play." - Philip Toshio Sudo

Zen Guitar was a book gifted to me by a close friend sometime in the late 1990's. I was an ambitious, headstrong rocker girl in a tightlittle pop band. Although at the time I really felt like I was ready to take on the world,
Aug 23, 2007 Zevi rated it liked it
I was kind of disappointed that this one had no actual musical examples included in the text. More philosophy than actual hands-on lessons. Still it had some interesting ideas and approaches. If you like this book you should definitely check out How to Become a Guitar Player from Hell which came out only a couple of weeks ago. How to Become a Guitar Player from Hell covers almost every guitar technique used by modern guitar virtuosos and explains them in simple terms anyone can understand. Arpeg ...more
Benjamin Pearson
May 18, 2015 Benjamin Pearson rated it really liked it
Zen guitar started out looking like a cynical cash in on the Zen market, however I am pleased to report that the book actually does have depth.

The book actually contains a lot of practical exercises that will fit nicely with my meditation and I found descriptions and explanations to be top knotch.

I would recommend you continue reading through the first quarter, as you risk missing a real gem of a book (like I almost did) if you stop reading.
Paul Eckert
Dec 28, 2012 Paul Eckert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The book is called Zen Guitar, but it can be appreciated by anyone that plays an instrument. Even if you don't, I think there is a lot to like here.

Each chapter is only a page or two, and it relates some aspect of playing guitar with a Buddhist principle. I'm no expert on Eastern philosophy, but I have always enjoyed the humility and seeking of knowledge that is inherent in Buddhism. And when applied to guitar, it really does create a great mindset from which a musician should operate.

Not only
Principles of Zen philosophy applied to the practice and performance of music. The ideas here will for the most part be familiar to anyone who has read such classics as Zen in the Art of Archery or The Inner Game of Tennis, both books that were assigned reading in my undergraduate music classes in the 70s. It's a short book that provides a very dense presentation of some heady, sometimes seemingly contradictory, concepts and is probably best absorbed slowly, in small increments. Like Zen in the ...more
George Barrett
Jan 09, 2016 George Barrett rated it it was ok
I would've liked to rated this book with 2 1/2 stars. Although this book caters for the beginner to advanced guitarists at about mid point the beginner may feel out of their depth. Of course the real purpose behind Philip Toshio Sudo's book is the inculcation of Zen philosophy into one's approach to learning and playing guitar. This book is very useful is for aspiring guitarists in acquiring the right attitude to learning and appreciating guitar.
Bailey AfterMath
Mar 02, 2015 Bailey AfterMath rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Amazing book! Everyone should read this even if you don't play guitar, or any instrument at all. Read it if you enjoy life and music. The two are the same and this book will help you understand, feel it, and live it.

It's a very quick read, but I reread it every couple years.
I love this book!
Manny Perez
Jun 11, 2013 Manny Perez rated it it was amazing
I also thought this might be a gimmick at the start but when I delved in I was complety blown away by the simplicity yet soul searching metaphors applied to playing and creating music on a guitar. I have been playing for 28 years and I learned a lot about practicing properly and just letting myself go without restrictions when writing songs with this book. I realized you don't have to be flashy and show off your technical skill just to impress people with your songs. That was my mentality in hig ...more
Cody Weston
Gets to be a bit mystical and somewhat self-indulgent at times, but the idea of framing guitar practice as a spiritual exercise is an interesting premise. Since it's a short read, I'd say it's worth exploring if the concept appeals to you.
Jul 14, 2010 Peter rated it liked it
Kind of a new agey self-help guide for guitar players. As a rule, I'm pretty skeptical about such books, but this book has a sincere feel and I enjoyed reading it. It's the kind of book you could pick up at random and read a page or two at any time (in that sense it reminds me of "The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran, which I read quite recently). Each section begins with a quotation from a leading guitarist, many of which are interesting in their own right.

One thing that's probably worth notign is tha
Jonathan Brkich
Mar 15, 2015 Jonathan Brkich rated it really liked it
"Take it easy, but take it" - Woody Guthrie pg 81

Music is such a gift of life, and this book provide some solid advice regarding playing the guitar, music, and living life
Grace Urband ombry
Aug 25, 2014 Grace Urband ombry rated it it was amazing
If you play guitar, this is a book you'll want to pull out and re-read about once a year. It's much more about approach and attitude than a "how to play" book.
Dec 14, 2013 JDK1962 rated it really liked it
Good, but probably one of those books best read in a chunk a day...then at the end, you start at the beginning again. Ultimately, the strongest point of the book can be summed up easily: just practice. Don't think too much about where you're going or why, just practice and you'll find your way.

Some 25 years ago, I practiced aikido for six years, kept thinking about it (and overthinking it), finally lost my way altogether and stopped. In retrospect, it was very likely a mistake to stop and I shou
Jun 07, 2015 Jiu is currently reading it
The "art of war" of the musician. A must read for anyone who wants to increase his ability to enjoy making music.
Nov 16, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it
This book is broken down into short chapters meshing Zen Buddhism with Guitar. The philosophical overtones were intriguing as they not only apply to learning to play the Guitar, but to everyday life as well. I downloaded this book on my Kobo because I am a beginner Guitarist. I found it motivated me to practice my Guitar and gave me a fresh perspective on overcoming the frustrations of learning to play a challenging instrument. As noted, I applied some of the Zen principles into my everyday life ...more
Christopher  Kemur
Feb 15, 2015 Christopher Kemur rated it it was amazing
teach a proper mindset to play guitar and it can be applied for learn or doing something else.
Joel Gun
Jun 18, 2014 Joel Gun rated it it was amazing
If you love playing guitar, and you have an open mind, this book is worth its weight in gold!
Feb 15, 2014 Heather rated it it was amazing
This is a book everyone should read, whether you play guitar or not.
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“My own thing is in my head. I hear sounds and if I don’t get them together nobody else will. —Jimi Hendrix” 1 likes
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