Do you look at the fretboard while playing?

Larry F

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Hendrix sometimes did this funny little thing before some songs. He would lightly barre with his first finger, with no picking hand involved. He would rapidly seem to count frets up the fingerboard with his first finger.

I've wondered why. Could be that he was blinded by the stage lights.

When I'm soloing and moving around on the fingerboard, I feel that each note becomes less connected to the position I started the phrase in. As I play without looking or focusing, I feel increasingly less confident in my hand position. In that case, I grab a quick glance at the fingerboard and use that position as my new reference. I can play 5-20 notes without looking. Even if I don't get lost, I still check in with a glance every so often. I'm usually not worried about being on the wrong fret; I just like to keep my bearings.

A local guitarist once had a cable show that featured him playing songs suggested by a caller. He did the whole show actively looking into the far off distance. It was really disconcerting and I often wondered what the point of that was.
 

muscmp

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my fretboard(s) have never moved and are always in the same place! ha! unless i am trying to figure out a detailed chord, note by note, i try not to look at the fretboard. one thing that has helped me is to play in the dark. that way you have no choice.

play music!
 

stxrus

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You're the second to use that term, I'm curious what you mean by "anchored"?
I’ll try to explain this. Mostly it’s second nature but if I get lost I can find an anchor point and continue on. This is very handy, to me, usually in a jam situation.

For me there is a starting point. It I’m using the Gm pentatonic my anchor isn’t the root G on fret 3 of the E string. It’s the 5th fret of the A string (D) with my ring finger being the anchor. Everything revolves around that. My anchor point. I can move up or down as necessary knowing my anchor point is there.
If I want play in the same key but want to play higher up on the neck I anchor my ring finger on fret 12 of the D string. Everything revolves around that point.

To me the anchor is home but not necessarily the root. Does this make sense? I’ve never tried to explain it before
 

Digital Larry

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I'm not sure how often I look at the fretboard. I did do a recent experiment to see if my playing changed if I stretched my mouth wide open like lots of early photos of Neal Schon. I did pop my ears a little but not much else happened.

iu
 
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tubedude

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Hendrix sometimes did this funny little thing before some songs. He would lightly barre with his first finger, with no picking hand involved. He would rapidly seem to count frets up the fingerboard with his first finger.

I've wondered why. Could be that he was blinded by the stage lights.

When I'm soloing and moving around on the fingerboard, I feel that each note becomes less connected to the position I started the phrase in. As I play without looking or focusing, I feel increasingly less confident in my hand position. In that case, I grab a quick glance at the fingerboard and use that position as my new reference. I can play 5-20 notes without looking. Even if I don't get lost, I still check in with a glance every so often. I'm usually not worried about being on the wrong fret; I just like to keep my bearings.

A local guitarist once had a cable show that featured him playing songs suggested by a caller. He did the whole show actively looking into the far off distance. It was really disconcerting and I often wondered what the point of that was.
He was looking at a monitor to check his hand position.
 

Richie Cunningham

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I absolutely look at the fretboard almost constantly when I play. I am always scoping out notes I could hit and wondering if they are in key. And also wondering what key that is exactly.
 

oldunc

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I’ll try to explain this. Mostly it’s second nature but if I get lost I can find an anchor point and continue on. This is very handy, to me, usually in a jam situation.

For me there is a starting point. It I’m using the Gm pentatonic my anchor isn’t the root G on fret 3 of the E string. It’s the 5th fret of the A string (D) with my ring finger being the anchor. Everything revolves around that. My anchor point. I can move up or down as necessary knowing my anchor point is there.
If I want play in the same key but want to play higher up on the neck I anchor my ring finger on fret 12 of the D string. Everything revolves around that point.

To me the anchor is home but not necessarily the root. Does this make sense? I’ve never tried to explain it before

Hm- I guess it makes sense, not an approach I'd consider myself. I revolve around positions-once you know all the scales, intervals, chords etc. in one position, for the full 2+ octaves- admittedly a big project- you know them for all positions, so I guess you could say I could use any note anywhere as an anchor, but I generally just play sounds, so don't think about it much. I was somewhat worried that you were talking about anchoring physically, which I tended to do in my youth, nearly ruining my left hand in the process.
 

Richie Cunningham

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Hendrix sometimes did this funny little thing before some songs. He would lightly barre with his first finger, with no picking hand involved. He would rapidly seem to count frets up the fingerboard with his first finger.

I've wondered why. Could be that he was blinded by the stage lights.

I have often wondered about that, too. I’ve concluded that, at the end of the day, he was Jimi Hendrix, so whatever he was doing, it was probably okay.
 

Maguchi

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I glance at my sides dots sometimes but not at my own fretboard. I may look at the fretboard of another guitarist or bass player as he is playing.
 

tfarny

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For soloing, a fair bit. For rhythm playing not so much. I’m often singing so being able to play rhythm blind is real important.
 

telemnemonics

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Sometimes do, helps with slides or odd position shifts which I do a lot of.
Really not looking at the strings though, those I don’t need to see or bother to look at since they pretty much stayed put for 40 some odd years.
What keeps changing places is the frets as I shift hand position.
I really don’t play in positions at all and mix slides with playing across the strings in order to avoid running out of room to move and also to vary and idealize phrasing options.
I think looking at each string would make playing a lot harder than it needs to be?
 

telemnemonics

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I remember watching a video of my first gig many, many moons ago and we were all staring at our fretboards the whole time. No connection with the audience. I've always made a point of not looking at the board very often since.

Yeah but when the drinkers come over to see who’s making all that racket I have to wonder what the hell is so interesting about my fingers!
Multitasking with ADHD rocks!
 

trev333

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One time at band practice for my school band I was watching the two gr5/6 guitarists staring each other down while they were playing a song.... intense staring from an arms length away grinning...

making no mistakes..... afterwards I asked them what the staring competition was about?.. was it seeing who would look down at the fretboard first?...

they both looked at me and said...Huh?...Oh, no we don't need to look at the fretboard...it wasn't about that...

we were just having a staring competition to see who blinked first while we were playing.......:lol::lol:


I felt like slinking off and sitting in the corner....:(:D
 




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