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Can you play with your eyes closed?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Pete Greenfield, Jul 17, 2019.


  1. Pete Greenfield

    Pete Greenfield

    Apr 22, 2019
    I tend to look at the fretboard quite a bit when I'm playing, so my next challenge is to learn how to play the various songs in our set with my eyes closed.

    Does anyone have any exercises that help with this process?

    Thanks in advance!

    PETE
     
    Turbo Sparky and Smooth_bass88 like this.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Practice a familiar bass line, with your eyes closed, using only one string (forcing your left hand to shift frequently).
     
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Practice whatever you normally practice, but with your eyes closed. :cool::smug::facepalm:
     
  4. Pete Greenfield

    Pete Greenfield

    Apr 22, 2019
    Thanks!
     
  5. Pete Greenfield

    Pete Greenfield

    Apr 22, 2019
    Doing that. Looking more for exercises that can be applied generally, but thanks for replying.
     
  6. Practice shifting positions with eyes open then with eyes closed. Try a major scale on one string up the neck to the 12th fret and back down. Then try the next string. Then try a minor scale. Then try a chromatic scale.
     
    Penphoe likes this.
  7. I don't have any particular exercises, but as a young player (many moons ago) a mentor of mine gave me two very good pieces of advice. First, always having a mental image of the fingerboard. You'd be surprised how much this helps. And second, be cognizant of where your fingers are on the fingerboard. For example, if you finish a riff with your pinky on the 5th fret of the A string and have to make a position shift to the index finger on the the 5th fret (of any string really) it becomes quite easy to replace your pinky with your index finger in the same position. From there it becomes much easier to make shifts within several frets of your target, i.e. middle finger 5th fret to index finger 7th fret. Hope that makes sense! After that, only the long distance shifts will you need to look at the fingerboard for your destination.
     
    John6, nnnnnn, JC Nelson and 4 others like this.
  8. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    OK, apologies for being silly, let's make it more challenging: close your eyes, think up a riff, not something you normally practice, and then just play it. Or try to until you can. :)

    Extra credit: switch to fretless and replicate. :D
     
  9. Yes, sometimes I'll go sit on the back porch at dusk, when it's cooling off, and it gets dark enough that I am playing w/o looking, because I couldn't see if I tried.
    I could turn on a light, but then the bugs come swarming.

    So, play what you know, in a darkened room:

     
    John6 and J-Bassomatic like this.
  10. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35

    Aug 7, 2018
    Long story short; I look sometime. However once I have decided where I'll play the key I go to that area and can pretty much visualize where the notes needed are located.

    Course to get there I had to run my major scale box pattern a zillion time.

    To answer your question, IMO just being aware that you need to not look, will help. Practicing will make it happen. :bassist:
     
  11. Biggbass

    Biggbass

    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Yes, I can. And often do.
    It's just muscle memory.
    Practice playing with eyes closed.
     
    John6, fhm555, red_rhino and 3 others like this.
  12. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
    earth
    Hate to be a party pooper but once in church I closed my eyes being very comfortable with the music but the BL threw up two fingers, signaling to come in on the second, and I missed it. Good thing the drummer and I had a good rapport and he did a closed cymbal crash which brought me back and I saw the next time the fingers went up.
     
  13. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    I play on a lot of really dark stages - at least back where I am - way back there, behind the singers by 20 or 30 feet. And the light I do get usually comes from the front - the position markers on the back of the neck are often invisible. Being able to play by feel is a big help in what I do.

    The worst I've ever encountered was us providing, in effect, a live sound track to a video - the only light was what came off the screen - bright one moment, pitch black the next. I spent a lot of time feeling around in the dark for the right fret, so that when I came in, I was on the right note. It was one of those times when you almost wished it had gone horribly wrong in practice, so you could make a point about needing more light. But alas, all went OK in practice, and....luckily, when we did it for real.
     
  14. jnuts1

    jnuts1

    Nov 13, 2007
    yeah constantly and I sometimes miss cues if we are jamming and not in a structured song. so I try not to but it seems to be my default position now
     
    Lobster11 likes this.
  15. Low Down Brown

    Low Down Brown Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2018
    Erf
    When I first started learning to play, I put a piece of felt or a small rubber skid pad on the back of the bass neck at the 5th, 7th, and 12th frets as kind of a cheater marker. Played like that for a few months and it just became muscle memory, like someone mentioned previously. Playing double bass also really helped me to just feel the notes as opposed to searching for them along the fretboard.
     
    Pete Greenfield and JC Nelson like this.
  16. garp

    garp

    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    +1. I'm self-taught, and in the early years, I spent many an evening in a darkened room playing along to radio stations on an FM stereo. Usually, the only illumination was the stereo dial and a lone power LED on my amp. Not only did it help me to learn the fretboard, but it forced me to learn how to quickly retune without a tuner.
     
  17. Biffa

    Biffa

    Apr 16, 2019
    County Durham, UK
    ...bass, yes, tennis, no
     
  18. Vanceman

    Vanceman

    Feb 14, 2007
    So. Cal.
    In lieu of actually closing my eyes, I will NOT look at the fretboard, but will visualize the fretboard and my fingers moving in my mind. Closing my eyes while standing makes me dizzy.
     
  19. Swampish

    Swampish

    Dec 31, 2015
    Quebec, Canada
    A lot of the time when playing live I make an effort to engage with the crowd or with the other band members, but when particularly complex parts (for me, anyway) come up, I will unfortunately eyes on board. As well, after one of these sequences, I often have to remind myself to look back up.
     
    gumtown likes this.
  20. Seashore

    Seashore

    Jun 2, 2019
    In The Canal
    Guitar, yes. My five-string, kind of. My six-string, not yet, but I'll get there. The thing that helped me the most was having to do vocals while playing.
     

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