Playing without looking


I’m brand new to the bass. Any pro-tips?


Do you mean playing without looking at the fretboard? If so, don’t worry about it yet, or maybe ever. It’s unimportant, despite what internet comment threads may tell you :rofl:


This is so true! I’ve seen videos of Pino playing live and looking at his fretboard part of the time. If someone that amazing is sneaking peaks I’m not gonna feel bad about doing it.


The magic tip is Practice, Practice, Practice and seek out like minded people in jam sessions when you are ready. As long as you are enjoying the musical journey there’s not a lot else that matters. Oh yeh, one last thing, don’t overthink things.

So in short if you wanna play Bass - Get a Bass you like, get an amp and take the B2B course with @JoshFossgreen and practice. Ignore all the side trip rabbit holes that can cost you dearly. :+1: :+1: :+1:


It just comes to you eventually. As you progress, just try it occasionally. When I was younger and in a band (and thus expected to not just sit there like a lump) I could do it. Muscle memory will eventually be a thing for you :slight_smile:

…or don’t worry about it XD


Thanks all!


Welcome to the forum Derek. The thing I have found helped the most is to practice each hand independently.

Eg start by looking at your plucking hand and keep your fretting hand off the neck. Starting on the E, pluck maybe 4 times, then move to the A and pluck 4 times etc. Once you feel comfortable, try not to look at your plucking hand and repeat the exericise. Do this a little bit each day.

Next up try just fretting the notes and this time keep your plucking hand away. I’d probably start around the 5th fret with the index finger due to the gap between frets 1 to 4. Fret 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th using one finger for each fret. I would just start with the E sting and work towards doing this without looking. Once you’re comfortable, do the A string, then do the E and A strings together. Each time you add something, go back to looking at your fretting hand, then work towards not looking.

You can play with the above two ideas for a little bit before moving onto basic quarter notes on one string with both hands. Play 5th to 8th frets, one beat per fret. See if you can look at just your fretting hand. Next step would be to try playing this same 4 notes without looking.

If you do exercises like this, a little each day, you should find yourself looking at the bass less over time.


Gotta look somewhere, might as well be at the bass :slight_smile:


I’m no pro, but welcome to the club. Short answer? Get it in your hands for awhile and focus on fundamentals. It’ll come to you.

I’ll give you one. It’s not bass related though.

When you’re sent to a new job site to demolish an old existing garage ready to build a new one. Ensure that not only have you confirmed the street number is correct but that you’re also on the right street. Oh how we laughed. Apart from the owner (of the perfectly functional garage we trashed) when he got home. He didn’t see the funny side of it.

As previously mentioned by many; practice, practice, practice and just have fun.


If Boh can spend all his time staring at his fretboard, I won’t feel bad about it.

I was thinking about this the other day, and I watch my fretboard visualizing where my fingers need to go next as I play. I don’t know why, but it works.

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Well, agreeing that it’s practice, but one thing that helped me was just trying it. Sounds silly, but after a while, when it didn’t come to me naturally, I just was told to play a song I felt good with, while not looking at the fretboard. Dark room. Closed eyes. Just try it. And then notice it’s not as bad as you might hav expected. Not perfect, but you start to figure out how to fix it…and you might find you’re better at it than you thought.

I find that not having to look at my hand helps when reading new songs. So I don’t have to keep bouncing back and forth between the music and the fretboard. I mean, I am still making a bunch of mistakes, but it’s getting better. So practicing not looking is good. I had thought it was “practice enough and then you won’t have to look” and it wasn’t that way for me.

Your friendly neighborhood beginner bassist electrician loves this! Being a construction worker ain’t so bad. unless you cut the wrong pipe, or shut off the wrong switch, that is…funny story, the client never has a sense of humor about this.

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@derek_m_robinson check out this thread as well:

That bass solo at the end is nuts. Looks like a 6 string bass is the lead instrument of choice :slight_smile:

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Boh’s amazing. Every musician that has been in that band is world class.

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Then how will i read the music i’m playing? :slight_smile:

I also had the same questions when I first started 8 months ago. How to play fast, how to play without looking at the fretboard etc etc. So, I’ll fill you in on the secret on how to play without looking. Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but the only way is to practise mate. Plain and simple. It all comes with time. After 8 months, I can do it maybe do it 20% of the time on songs I know very well. New songs take much longer.

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The same way I have always read music - glancing at it occasionally as bookmarks for a song you already know :slight_smile:


I rarely play a song long enough to learn it and also I’m lazy :joy: