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Playing guitar/bass without looking

posted on #1
Posts: 113
Joined: 31.03.15
Does anyone have any thoughts on whether or not playing without looking is important? Seems like when I watch videos of any famous guitarist/bassist, they easily play without looking at the fretboard or their hands.

I have been told to learn how to do that, and I am not sure if it's really important for someone like me. Is it important? IF it is, how does one go about learning how to do it?

I can't seem to find a way to even get started. As soon as I look away, I get buzzing and misses, I can't even do a major scale up and down without looking. That's because i'm still trying to get my hands to stretch enough to easily do one finger per fret, and I find looking at my hands and fretboard allows me to make the bigger stretches, and make sure I land in the right place.

How does someone begin dealing with those big one finger per fret stretches, and do it without looking? Is it even important enough to bother? These are my questions!!!
Edited by Girard on May 27 2016 05:09
posted on #2
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Posts: 213
Joined: 07.03.14
Depends on your goal. If you want to play live on stage and walk around in the dark you better not stare down at your instrument while moving! Once you become so familiar your instrument you won't have to look down at it; you'll instinctively know where you're at on the fretboard. Is it important? No, I guess not. It's natural.

Regarding the fret-spanning stretches, especially on bass, you don't have to use the same fingering as everyone else. When playing bass I use my pinky more than my ring finger. It's actually the stronger of the two. So I'll reach from the first to third fret with my pinky. It's not like I need my ring finger there anyway. Also, slightly rolling/pivoting your hand helps. Your thumb should be in the center of the back of the neck but not pushing too hard against it. You pivot from the point until you need to move up or down the neck.
posted on #3
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Posts: 110
Joined: 24.03.14
I think the other thing to think about is... when you are jamming with a band, you need to communicate, look at each other during changes etc... So you do need to be able to play without looking down at your instrument. Drums are a bit different, but same concept. You need to memorize where your stuff is and be able to play with your eyes closed. That said I do look at my drums while I play... but I dont stare :|
rp3 (Raymond)
posted on #4
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Posts: 213
Joined: 07.03.14
Oh, communication. Yeah, there's that too. :D
posted on #5
Posts: 113
Joined: 31.03.15
Yeah those are really good points. If someone is going to play with other people or live somewhere the eyes will have to be elsewhere a lot. Maybe one day when i'm at the old age home i'll have a chance to play live with somebody, and by then I might be able to do it without looking.
posted on #6
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Posts: 50
Joined: 05.08.15
If you take a good look at a lot of pro players, not all but some, often they will sneak a peek when moving up or down the fret board. they are not staring at it, it's more of a one eyed little glance at where they want to go next, I think this is easier if you don't sling your guitar so low it covers your knees. also I have read about several pros that paint the side marker dots with fluorescent paint to help when the lights are low, or off in between songs
posted on #7
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Posts: 282
Joined: 19.08.13
There is no playing without looking if you are not blinded. The question is how often you look and where to liok up. A turn starts with the eye-contact of the drummer...

If you think "where is my next fret?" you will miss it for shure. This means you are concentrated to this question which means you are concentrated to fear and not to the music itself or the audience or the band members.

Same would happen to a singer if she/he would think on which beat to start in which pitch.
Recording situations are the same. You don't need to be perfect but authentic.

Some people got this talent easier than others. They concentrate on the important thing: their message.
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