I've often watched videos of people playing, and I tend to notice they look at the guitar a lot. I grew up playing piano, so I was taught that looking at the keys is a bad thing. I figured the same thing applied toward the guitar, so I never really look at the strings or neck. Is it ok to do this? I've got a pretty good memory toward stuff, and I have decent spatial reasoning.

I'm just sitting here, doing social comparison, asking what your views are.
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Yeah I mean if you can play well without looking at the strings and frets more power to you... Like me after I play something so many times (riffs, chords, etc) I kind of get "finger memory" (what my guitar teachers calls it I think) like my fingers know where to go on the fretboard...
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After playing for a while, your arm should start to remember how far to stretch for each fret. It sounds odd, but I can play with my eyes closed while sliding around the neck... usually. Sometimes I'm off a fret.
See, my view on it is, you'll notice that people tend to only stare at their guitar, when they're nervous. Even I do it. I can play my favorite songs, headbanging, singing, and never even so much as look at my guitar (except during the necessary "hard solo" emotion that adds a feel to any solo), but when I'm playing in front of someone new, or a small group, I tend to not like to take my eyes off of my guitar.

During a show, we're in our own little world, so most don't even think about the crowd, but some people still tend to stare either at the floor, or their instrument when nervous. Not everyone does it, though.

Now, whether or not it matters, I would say it does. I mean, staring at your guitar can add a nice feel, if you look as though your feeling your music, as you should be.. but in most cases, staring at the guitar seems to radiate a "I can't play unless I concentrate on what I'm playing".

It definitely seems though.. most experienced players, even myself, (I would NOT call myself one, by the way; only got two years of playing under my belt :P) are completely able to play a song by memorization. They can concentrate on singing/moving/whatever else and basically their subconcious and their hands do the playing for them, which I would kinda say is the best way to play.

..but yeah, I mean, more power to you if you can play without looking, and though it does look somewhat unprofessional to be looking at the fretboard, more power to you if you do that, instead. It's all about comfortability. Me, I can play up and down the neck just on feel, most of the time. Occasionally I'm off if I'm moving enough that I loose grip slightly, but moving from 1-5 fret range to 12-24 range and being direct without looking can be tricky for anyone. Though even if I could do it, doesn't mean I'm more talented than someone who stares at the board, now does it?
Last edited by TwistedVince at Aug 19, 2007,
well, memorizing the places on the guitar is advantageous in perfomance, and I hope one day to do something liek taht, actually. At times, when I'm playing in front of my friends or other people, I cant play a damn thing right unless I'm staring right at the neck, which just looks bad, and i cant even tell if anyone's there anymore, either.
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yeah i have to play with my guitar behind my head to prevent looking at it.
I always look at the neck. I'd rather look stupid while playing the right notes than look cool while screwing up.
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I dont think its necessarily a bad thing to memorize where they are, but for piano its easier. All the keys have even spacing there, whereas guitar frets get more narrow as they go higher up the neck.
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You should be able to play without staring at the frets. Ever see guys looking at their guitars live? Yeah, and don't you think it's really lame when they don't stop doing it? If you're in the middle of a sweep-tap section, then by all means look down. If you are playing a verse or chorus or anything that isn't facemeltingly hard, you should not look at your hands.

EDIT: It's ok if you are starting out or just learning something new, but anybody who has every played a gig will tell you to avoid looking down.