Looking at your fingers

I’ve been practicing as often as I can since starting B2B about 9 months ago with shoulder surgery stopping it for 3 of those 9 months, I have a question about looking at your fretting fingers.
I can pluck any of the 4 strings without ever looking at those fingers but I have to look at where I’m fretting, except of course for open strings. I see bass players in bands just looking around and ask myself are they just that talented or am I just that untalented? Any thoughts on having to look at those fingers? Is that normal & will that ever go away?

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Hi @erniehaak this has been covered in some other thread, if I’m not mistaken.

With time, you’ll develop your muscle memory and you’ll notice you don’t need to look to what you’re doing with your fretting hand as much. Even the pros look at what they’re doing from time to time, so don’t worry too much about that. It’ll happen

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While there might be talent involved for some, it’s mostly practice. Playing songs over and over again will get you there.

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It’s quite normal to look at the fretboard while you’re playing, @erniehaak :slight_smile:

As time goes by and you get more experienced, you will have less of a need to do it.

Cheers
Joe

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Correct:

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Thank you. That gives me hope. :blush:

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Sorry didn’t see that. Thank you.

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I totally agree with all that’s been said about practice.
I’m 9 months in and with a few songs from open strings to the 5th fret I feel relatively comfortable not looking at my fretting hand continually but still struggle from the 5th onward.
This is slowly improving too so stick at it mate it will happen.
On a foot note if you watch a few YouTube videos you will notice even the greats glance at their fretting hands

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Interesting topic…

I think when you are first starting out, and especially if you’re still playing by tab, you tend to look at the fretboard a lot more… at least I did.
I still glance at it every now and then, but that’s mostly if I’m moving up and down the neck a lot. If I’m staying in a particular spot on the neck, not so much.
As you play (and learn) more, I think your muscle memory really kicks in and your fingers tend to go where they need to go when you see a note on a music sheet, at least that’s case for me. I can’t play by tab now because I find myself bending my neck to look at the finger board to find the string and fret that the tab tells me to play. With notation, my fingers just naturally go to where the note says to go without thinking. It took me awhile to get there, and I think with time anyone can do it.

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I still look at my fretting hand all the time and don’t regret it in the slightest :slight_smile:

I mean, I have to look somewhere, might as well be at what I am doing.

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nothing wrong with peeking…keeps you honest. Can you imagine doing a show and you’re all over the place and your excuse is I was trying not to look at my hands…LOL

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In fact, it is really super helpful to look when you have to move your hand/fingers a lot to reach the next note, @erniehaak. Many instructional guides tell you to look at your target before you initiate that move - that way, you are much more certain to hit that target. If you look too late or not at all, it is literally “hit and miss”.

Makes a lot of sense once you think about it, and start playing around with it :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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In my case, that “something” would ideally be the sheet music. Having to rely on looking at your fingers forces you to play everything from memory. My goal is to spend that time looking at the sheet music instead, so that I don’t have to memorize everything beforehand, and can just play the music “on the fly”.

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I sight read too, and as an aid, I turn my body in such a way that the neck of my bass is pointed toward the left of the music stand and I have to cock my head to the left to read the music. This way the fretboard is in my peripheral vision and I can steal a glance at it occasionally without losing my place on the music sheet. Keep in mind, I’m not actually looking at my fingers, but rather just targeting the next root note.

(I learned that trick on a Scott Devine video)

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Yeah that sounds much more convenient than my setup. I don’t have a music stand yet, my sheet music is flat on the laptop stand in front of me, and I have to lean forward to be able to read it. And then the neck is 90 degrees to the left. Really crap overall. :expressionless:

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Pam, could you give me a link to that video of Scott? As I’m looking for ways to play more easily for myself.

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I wish I could tell you. It was long ago, and one of many videos of his that I’ve watched. I think it was one where he was talking about playing fretless.

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I found it. Here’s the link

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Got it, thanks Pam!

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As for watching your fingers I just happened on an old video of Thin Lizzy performing “Are you ready” and throughout the song Phil Lynott glances at his fretting hand. Now that man was one mean bass player so just with that example it shows it’s not totally unacceptable

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