I'm having trouble with my left/right hand coordination. I'll either fret the wrong string, or pick the wrong string. I'm trying not to look down at the guitar because I know it's a bad habit, but this is frustrating because I keep missing notes. Do I just need to be patient and let muscle memory kick in? Or are there any exercises or tips to help coordinate the two hands so they're landing on the right places?

  • 1
    The answer here is just to keep practicing! You can't learn to coordinate your fingers on the fretboard unless you just keep playing and getting used to it.
    – Aric
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 15:02
  • 1
    Keep in mind in takes years to get even decent at this. Seriously. Learning guitar is a loooong process, unless you're playing for 8 hours a day or something. And there's nothing at all wrong with looking at the instrument—the music is what counts.
    – user428517
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 17:37
  • It might be better to view that it's bad to look (stare at your hands the entire time you're playing), but it's perfectly fine/natural/accepted to glance (occasionally sneak a peak at what your hands are doing to make sure everybody's where they're supposed to be). Then strive to get better at only glancing.
    – John Doe
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 19:21
  • There should be plenty of exercises that are more melodic (and fun) than scales but help just as much with technique for this. They build off of typical patterns you find and repeat that pattern so your muscle memory gets trained without being bored with playing the same thing over and over. Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 21:04
  • If you are hitting the wrong strings and frets on a specific lick, it means that lick requires muscle memory you haven't developed yet. Just try to slow it down and gradually speed it back up. You'll get it!
    – The Count
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 12:09

4 Answers 4


You can absolutely look at the strings and frets until you build up the muscle memory and then learn to play without looking. I can't imagine trying to learn guitar without looking ever.

Professional guitarists look. It's good to learn to play without looking, but it's not something that should be 100% avoided from day one.

  • 1
    for sure, look while you are learning and slowly stop looking as you get comfortable.
    – b3ko
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 15:34
  • 2
    I concur. I sing and play guitar - which means facing a microphone (not looking at strings). When I'm playing soemthing new, I have to look down but as I'm often singing at the same time, it's awkward. That puts extra incentive to learn the piece without loking at the guitar, but at first: yep, defniitely. Nothing wrong with that and it's not really a 'bad habit'. Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 16:07
  • Just to add to "professional guitarists look". They look (or at least glance) at the fretboard all the time, specifically when moving larger distances. Its easier to not look when you are playing a passage/scale in the same position. When switching playing positions, looking at where your hands are is super common.
    – element11
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 18:59
  • keep looking as you need; as you get more comfortable, you'll naturally look less and less
    – Thomas
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 20:21

Keep your picking hand close or touching the bridge, behind it. That will give you some stability. You can practise playing different strings, open if you like, by sliding across a little.

Your eyes need to be looking at the frets/strings/fingers. At the beginning, they are so important - your eyes, I mean! When you finish a note, try not to wave your fingers about too high above the fretboard. Move gently, as most of the time, you'll only be moving the the next string, either way.

The more playing you do, the more time you'll have to watch those listening to you, which is also quite important !!


Practice, practice and more practice. Then practice some more. When you see the pros they are looking to make sure they're at the right fret, not the right string. Your fingers get used to feeling the adjacent strings until you don't even think about being on the right one anymore. But where you are on the neck is tough to get a feel for.

Oh and ... go practice some more. Keep it fun so you WANT to practice!

  • Thanks! I've been learning via GuitarTricks, and I just bought Rocksmith, for the fun aspect. ;)
    – ffxsam
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 19:23

Use speed as the self-indicator to your performance.

Play slowly enough to play perfectly, even if this means playing one note every three seconds. Increase speed as your confidence with the technique increases.

One of my favorite ways to reinforce a riff that I know is to play it faster and faster to sharpen the muscle memory.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.