Would Doc Watson have been such a great picker if he wasn't blind?
Do you need to look at the strings when you play?
I do. I often miss and hit the wrong string but I play really bad.
That's a good question and one that made me think a bit. Being blind he had to do everything (guitar wise) by feel and hearing the different strings. Most accomplished guitarists aren't looking at what their fretting hand is doing, but in the beginning maybe a guitarist does have to look sometimes. I watch my husband try to play and he's always trying to look at his fretting hand to see if it's in the right spot for a chord, but I quit doing that a long time ago.
When you're picking as opposed to playing chords it's more difficult. So, maybe Doc Watson had an advantage by learning by feel and listening. But there are plenty of amazing pickers who aren't blind, so there's that. Look at Molly Tuttle, Billy Strings, Tony Rice, etc. They aren't blind and they are great players!
I think with Doc Watson being in the position he was in he didn't have a choice.
Maybe being blind playing guitar made him do the things that we normally wouldn't but in essence should maybe be how we should be playing guitar. I have always seen him as such a great player and have strived to learn his style. I notice on songs that I can play without looking there is something way more powerful to it when it comes to playing. I wonder if that is what he felt as well.
It’s kinda like when I learned to type on a keyboard. I started out looking at the keys but now if I don’t think about I can do it without really looking. All the chords and some chord embellishments I do without looking.
I think that the learning part is a bit harder when you can not look at the strings. When you are becoming more familiar with playing, you don't need to look at the strings anymore. I think that it would not make a difference in the end.