Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by teenagebass69, Jun 30, 2004.

  1. I have a slight problem...whenever I gig, I can't seem to get my eyes off the fretboard....i dont know what it is...I know my music back and forth and im not clueless on anything but I still cant keep my eyes off what im playing...any suggestions?
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    How about when you're practising, rehearsing or jamming? In front of an audience, it can be tempting to withdraw into yourself and just look down at the fretboard. If you find it intimidating to look at the members of the audience directly, try picking out a few fittings and fixtures and - it will look like you're engaging with the audience, even if you're really only keeping an eye on the bar!

    Personally, I spend a lot of time onstage watching the rest of the band - there are so many visual cues to pick up on that I don't find excessive fretboard staring a problem!

  3. Tez


    Jan 24, 2004
    learn to sight read it soon makes you break the habit its difficult at first but it gets easier
  4. muthagoose


    Jan 18, 2004
    You could try using (if you aren't already) the one finger per fret approach, if you're playing is based on the notes that can be found on the first four frets and the open strings. That way it is much easier to find the notes you want to play.
  5. Timbo


    Jun 14, 2004
    ^ and practice with a blindfold! :D
  6. muthagoose


    Jan 18, 2004
    Or standing in front of the mirror while playing, looking at your reflection. While doing that you might spot some things that you are doing wrong that you haven't noticed before.
  7. Timbo


    Jun 14, 2004
    Now thats an awesome suggestion.
  8. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Hold up - the original message specified "when I gig". I may be wrong but I'm guessing that the problem is more specific than the answers you're giving! Teenagebass69, step back on up and shed a bit more light on what you're asking about.

  9. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I've been playing almost 30 years now and I still look at the fingerboard a lot.

    Unless I have to read music, what does it matter what I look at?
  10. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    teenage - GOOD LORD, SON!!!! You were born in 1988!!! Let it go, you've got a long, potentially exciting, way to go. Here's some advice that might make you feel better;

    - Your constant looking at the fretboard could very well mean you are playing more intricate lines than a no-talent who just plays root notes and is way too interested in "how they look" onstage.

    - Some larger side markers, (on the side of your fretboard), may keep you from craning your neck to see your position markers.

    - As brianrost implies, it's not an indication of talent or experience. I had a literal epiphany in my ability to play bass when I realized that one of the electric bass gods of all time, John Entwistle, put all of his focus on his fretting hand and the fretboard. If you can, see a video of him playing with the Who........he stares at the neck while he rips off licks that leave your tongue on the floor.
    The plucking hand stuff just seems to come naturally to all bassists I know. You will most often see the opposite in rock and blues guitarists, because most of the time,they play pre-formed chords that are committed to memory, but it's their picking hand that they have to worry about.

    Bottomline - While eye contact with the audience is a big part of stage presence, playing tight and right will sign your paychecks.
  11. Just don't look at your fretboard in the mirror.
  12. iplay4-5

    iplay4-5 Guest

    Feb 4, 2004
    rockford, IL
    hey dude i'm your age and i have a few things for you to do to break the habbit. one you could use a blind fold while you're practicing, or a good thing to do is to put the bass down and close your eyes and play your songs and other you know in you head if you can do that then just don'yt look at it no more. and i have a bit of stage fright just feel and move with the music and find ppl look at in the aduinece. peace
  13. I think you may need better looking audiences.
  14. Only


    Sep 8, 2002
    Warrensburg, MO
    I got out of the habit of looking at the fretboard by playing while watching TV. Good ear training too, if you try and jump into all the little jingles and theme songs.
  15. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    If you feel more comfortable looking at your fretboard at gigs, you can still make eye contact with your audience between songs. You can look up briefly once in awhile also during songs. I have never read a a rule that says you must maintain eye contact with your audience at all times.

    Some kinds of music may demand audience eye contact more than others, but, as was said above, playing good basslines is more important. After all, in large venues, you won't be able to make eye conatct with much of your audience anyway.

    Here's a trick. Stand further back on the stage, back near the drummer. Look at him often. You'll look very professional and concerned about your music. And as I said before, relate to the audience between songs, before the set starts and after the set, make a very friendly wave as you depart the stage. Your audience will still feel appreciated.

    You are doing very well to be gigging at sixteen. Some things take more time than others. You are getting a head start by gigging so young. Keep up the good work.
  16. I used to have that problem, till I started taking the role of lead singer as well as bass.
  17. sedgdog


    Jan 26, 2002
    Pasco, WA
    I don't think you have a problem. IMO there is nothing wrong with looking at your fretboard. If you played like crap because you didn't look at your fretboard you might have a problem though!

    Keep playing and having fun,
  18. invisiman


    Feb 22, 2004
    Don't worry about it, mate. So long as your holdin don the low end during songs everyone is happy. But like others said, be sure to atleast look up between songs, or an easy part of a song you're playing, it gives the audience the impression that you're there to entertain them, not for the music(IMO). Either way, just do what feels right, and keeps you from screwing up.
  19. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    All who've responded might be missing an important point.

    Perhaps, t-bass69, you cannot clearly hear your bass when gigging and this fosters the eyes-glued-to-the-fretboard mentality.

    When practicing alone at home, I can hear my bass well - even the minor nuances. For most passages, looking up is not a problem.

    However, when gigging, I often cannot hear my bass as well (darn drummer!) and I tend to want to look down.

    In general, I think a bassist should look up as often as reasonably possible. For audience members, live music is both an aural and visual experience.

    Let 'em see your face!
  20. I think you can get away from it, although it is not 100% necessary.

    Play some scales or bass lines in ONE POSITION while looking at the fretboard. Then close your eyes. Imagine the patterns and intervals, hear what they sound like...make the connection.

    You know what it LOOKS like, so equate the sound to the look...this is one step towards interval training, which I think is ESSENTIAL.

    Interval training? The distance between 2 notes is known as an interval...i.e. the interval between (same octave) B and D is a minor third while the distance between a B and C is a half step (minor second).

    Why is this important? Because, any solo, piece of music, whatever, is JUST A SERIES OF INTERVALS. So as long as you know your intervals, theoretically you can figure out anything. Right?

    And, you should be able to 'hear' a bass line by seeing a shape! and vice versa.