Do you look at the fretboard while playing?

Cheap Trills

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I don’t. We all locate once I a while but I really don’t have the habit.
And it’s not because I am any good at all. It’s because for years my violin teacher whacked us every time she caught us peeking so after a while you just cave in. So when I am playing I try to make eye contact ot at least look towards someone.
So my advice is to have a mean teacher.
you should have shown your violin teacher a picture of Jascha Heifetz playing. Probably the best playing technique in violin history, never took his eyes off the board. Take that teacher!
 
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Cheap Trills

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I'd say no, but I tried playing blindfolded, like I see the guys in those Andertons videos do, and I just couldn't do it very well. It's strange because I specifically remember discovering I could play in the dark at some point back in college when I played a lot more. I noticed the better players/guests on that channel can play better blindfolded, like first time they put blindfolds on they move freely up and down the fretboard, so there's probably a correlation.
 

Harry Styron

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Depends whether I can hear myself. I play in a band with horns and sit next to the drummer, so often I can’t hear myself, which occasionally leads to my discovering that my fretting hand is in the wrong place, when I happen to glance down. Since I’m usually reading a chart when I play with the band, I’m watching the chart and the conductor.

If I can hear myself, I know where my fretting hand is. I usually don’t need to look at my guitar except to verify the switch position.
 

Gene O.

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As needed, especially when out on a gig. While chording and singing it's usually just a quick glance. When I'm soloing, it depends on how creative I'm trying to be (see my avatar). To me there's no shame in keeping an eye on where you are on the fretboard. Lot's of pros do it.
 
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ChrisLarcombe

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Definitely a fair amount of the time. I usually look more when I'm playing rhythm though, as I find it's easier to make a lead line that's gone slightly AWOL for a second get back on track without many people noticing, compared to when you're meant to be sitting back and supporting another element. I saw someone talk about practicing in the dark on this chain above. I might start doing that!
 

wulfenganck

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Depends on what I'm playing. For anything average rock/pop in the range from I-IV-V up to more sophisticated Beatles chord progressions, I feel rather safe up to at least the 5th fret and check maybe once or twice during the song.
If it's a jazz-tune with all them weird chords or if it's something fingerpicking in an open tuning, I have to look constantly.
The rest is pretty much a mixture of playing and checking.
 

Bortyeast

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I tend to look more at the audience and my bass player. I smile a lot on stage, which probably makes me look like a moron, but I'm there to entertain. Making 'guitar faces' doesn't seem to impress anyone except other guitar players, so I don't. I also play a Parker Fly for a lot of songs, ebony board with no markers at all.
 

sax4blues

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I try not to because I believe there is musical/technique value in having the feel for where things are. Also in performance situations I like to have the interactive feeling with the audience.

That being said it creeps me out when a player will stare at me while playing, and I find it weird when a player will just stare off into the abyss and never look at their guitar.
 

oldunc

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Side dots are a lot more helpful than fret markers to me. An anchored position is very important to me, especially if I’m moving around the neck.


You're the second to use that term, I'm curious what you mean by "anchored"?
 

tubedude

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I don’t. We all locate once I a while but I really don’t have the habit.
And it’s not because I am any good at all. It’s because for years my violin teacher whacked us every time she caught us peeking so after a while you just cave in. So when I am playing I try to make eye contact ot at least look towards someone.
So my advice is to have a mean teacher.
Or a blindfold.
 

Killing Floor

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Or a blindfold.
Yeah. I am not saying I’m any good. Just that when I was a kid there was some negative enforcement that translated to guitar and bass from violin. It’s really muscle memory I suppose. I don’t think any experienced player looks because they have to. But it’s a habit. That’s why so many folks say they look when the are playing on the couch but not when on stage.
 

glenlivet

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depends on the song... if I've played it 1,000 times muscle memory pretty much kicks in, and I can be off in la la land thinking about new tires for the car. If I'm not 1,000% on it, then yea, I pay attention to where my hand is and focus on whats coming up next.
 

oregomike

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Both my Teles have a maple neck and I have been GAS-ing for a rosewood tele for a while now. However, today I realized the true reason I want one is nothing other than the increased visual contrast of strings against rosewood vs .maple - it's just easier to see the strings (at least to me). All my other guitars are rosewood (or whatever they pass for rosewood nowadays) so I am used to that. Then I realized I should probably just learn to play without looking at the fretboard... o_O

Do you have to look at the fretboard while you play? If you do, is it because you have to or is it a habit? If you don't, did it take a long time to learn to play without looking?

Looks are the main reason all my fretboards are ebony. Love the contrast with light colored bodies. If I know the music that I'm playing, I generally don't look at the board, but I also play noise rock stuff a lot (young folks like to call it "shoe gaze" (whatever)), so I do look down when searching for interesting chord phrases, etc. I compare my skill to my typing. Sometimes I'll be playing for a while and realize I haven't looked at the board at all.
 
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