I apologize in advance if this is categorized in the wrong area and if a thread like this exists... I browsed, and searched, for a bit, but didn't see anything similar.

I've owned a guitar since I was 16.. picking it up only on rare occasions with a dream to be able to shred and impress all the women. By the time I reached 25-ish, I really wanted to learn to play it for real, and for better reasons. Now I'm 28, and don't know what else to do.

I'm pretty good okay at jumping from chord to chord, maintaining rhythm and keeping a solid strumming pattern; But I'm bored with rhythm style playing. I'd love to be able to pursue lead guitar, towards a more heavy rock/metal style - I want to do my own thing more than being able to play "well known" music. To my understanding... this means I need to learn scales ... but there's so much that it seems overwhelming, and all the information I can find regarding the different scales comes back with a picture of a bunch of dots running down the neck of a guitar. I can, kind of, understand what I'm looking at, but I get lost when I try to transition from one scale to another further down the neck.

Currently the ONLY scale I'm familiar with is the Am Pentatonic,
5th fret.

I'm open to any suggestions. I just want to have fun when I pick up my guitar again, instead of feeling like I'm doing the same old thing.
Yeah find a good guitar teacher but also learn songs, if you want make your own songs with solos then you must know full songs, it'll make it far easier but just for now go out and learn the 5 shapes of the pentatonic scale, you already know 1, learn the other 4, they can be used anywhere on the neck and most rock blues guitarists stick with them and learn all notes on the E string, then play to some backing tracks and just stay in the pen. scales. so if you play a backing track in G then use any of the 5 shapes starting on the 3rd fret of the E string, guitar is not as hard as you may think, just stick with it, Good luck mate
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It's not a bad idea to start with pentatonic. Mainly because it's very genre-independent. As an alternative (or next step), you may want to go for full diatonic. Which is pentatonic with two more tones. It is, however, more tied to European music. Interestingly enough, heavy rock and metal falls into this category. But diatonic won't help you with, for example, blues. Should you decide to go diatonic way, I humbly recommend you to check out my "visual" backing tracks. Link in my signature. The five patterns (sometimes called "Boxes" or "Box Shapes") are there in their diatonic form. Note, however, that there are few people, who preach against using boxes...

Learning boxes is not the only way to go. But based on what you've written in your opening post, I think that the other ways wouldn't work for you. In a few days, I will create a thread in "Musician Talk", in which I will sum up my arguments for using boxes and explain how to use them properly. Once I create this thread, I will notify you. Cheers!
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Learning a lot of scales won't help you as much as people act like it will. Learn your major and minor scales. Throw some pentatonics in, maybe harmonic minor. Just a handful so you have something to work with.

Then learn the fretboard, some basic theory, and do song writing exercises. That seems like the best approach to me. Learning scales won't teach you how to write music. Learning how to write music will. Lead guitar will use a lot of scales but knowing how those scales work will benefit you more than memorizing ten million scales.
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Make songs your priority. Learn them by ear or by tab. Ear is better but starting out tab is helpful to find the notes. Use your ear though to get the rhythms and timing down. There are some good (and bad, mostly good) tab books out there, better than the free tabs I think. Take it slow and learn proper technique through the free lessons here.

Learn how to alternate pick correctly and don't anchor your pinkie to the guitar. < -- these were two mistakes that I am glad I corrected sooner.

Theory is good but try to figure out ways to apply it, otherwise it will just seem like dry facts.
Thank you all for your replies and ideas.

From what I gather, it seems like I'm on the right track. I'd love to find a good guitar teacher in my area, but it seems my options are limited. I tried once... and ended up sitting watching some guy play his guitar for about an hour, and then leave. Maybe I'll head up to GuitarCenter and ask if they can recommend a good teacher. Age aside, it's hard to set aside time between work and college for guitar lessons - but I'll weigh options, nonetheless.

My practice session usually consists of:
  • Playing up, down, and around the scale I do know
  • Playing through chords, and practicing transition
  • Picking out a few songs (Usually from the top 100 on here, or from a personal collection)
  • My best attempt at a jam session with a backtrack from youtube

and, typically, it lasts about 30 minutes... or whatever feels good.

I'll keep focusing on the pentatonic major, for now, just to give myself room to grow and expand on what I currently know, start studying note locations on the fretboard, and maintain my current practice routine. Perhaps after I feel comfortable with both Major and Minor pentatonic, I'll roll into Diatonic (I'm assuming it's a relatively smooth transition) and see what kind of fun I can have with it.

I don't really fool with tabs very often though. I tend to get frustrated when my fingers fumble around what my brain is trying to tell them to do. I can read, and follow, most basic tablature though. If anyone has any suggestion for something fun, but more challenging than... oh, I don't know, Manson's "Sweet Dreams," but not so challenging that I'll turn into Pete Townshend in the process, I'd be most appreciative.

Thanks again for all the helpful advice so far.
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Do you have guitar pro?

No, I've never used it. Is it really worth the $60?
Try to find a good teacher, but if you're tight on a set time for one, then don't worry about it. I don't know your exact playing level, but Marty Schwartz and Justin Sandercoe are pretty good teachers with videos on Youtube.

For now, you should learn (full) songs that you enjoy, not random parts of songs. Doing so will help you on understanding how to make your own music. It'll be better to try your best are working on training your ear as well. Being able to recognize some progressions or how full songs are constructed, your own songwriting abilities will get much better. From personal experience, it did help me out with writing music for songs (I'm not great with lyrics).

Another thing to work on is to learn the notes on the fretboard as well as some basic theory. Theory that you should know include are keys, intervals, chord construction, and forming the major and minor scales as well as how the pentatonics are derived from the major or minor scales. Also, the only keys you need to know are Major, Minor, and Pentatonic (maybe Diminished later on) since most people get caught up in scales and modes when they don't fully understand them so they sound idiotic.

After you get comfortable with playing some songs, your technique gets a bit better, and you have some theory knowledge, then you can focus a lot more on improvising. I would start slow and work on phrasing, or musical ideas. Don't make the mistake of novice (or even experienced) guitarists and play nonstop with musically saying anything. Really listen to the backing track and make musical phrases as you play. The more you'll practice, the more you'll get better. Also, theory and a good ear can help a bit immensely since you can hear it in your head and say "Oh, a b7 passing tone will sound nice over this chord".

I hope I helped you out in any way possible. Sorry for rambling and probably not making any sense in some parts. I'm a bit tired from work and mind wonders a bit when I'm typing long posts.

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No, I've never used it. Is it really worth the $60?

You can download a program called TuxGuitar. It's free and it opens both GuitarPro files.
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