After playing really basic, chord-driven guitar for the last few years, I had an epiphany the other day and realized I really want to be a kickass guitar player. "Kickass" can mean whatever you want, but let's say my goal (just for the sake of having something to shoot for) is to play like EVH or SRV at some point in the next decade. And let's use that kind of 70's/80's hard rock/blues rock as the genre to focus on.

Really, I just want to be a good lead rock guitarist. I don't actually care about sounding specifically like guitarist X or Y.

The bad news is I have a very solid (but boring) intermediate skill. A good library of the usual chords, scales, decent strumming, VERY basic lead playing, etc. I'm a pretty good rhythm player/singer in a band but that's it.

The good news is that I can spend upwards of four hours a day to practice, and I'm very eager to advance.

Also, let me be clear: I'm not looking for some magic shortcut. I expect this to take years. My question isn't how to be EVH tomorrow, my question is how to be [something like] EVH in "X" years with 4 hours of daily practice.

The real mystery to me is how to structure my practice.

I plan to spend at least an hour (sometimes 1.5 hours) every day practicing the basics as a warm up:

- Open chords
- Barre chords
- 3-string triads
- Fretboard memorization
- Pentatonic scales
- Major/natural minor scales

The question is, how can I best spend those other 2.5-3 hours? Should I focus on learning songs and dissecting solos? If so, what are some of the songs that you found most useful for this purpose? Is there something besides songs and the above drills I should do on a daily basis as well?

In short, how would you spend 4 hours a day if you were trying to maximize your growth over the next few years as a lead rock guitarist?
Learn songs and solos by those you admire. Hendrix - Little Wing, Voodoo Child; SRV - Cold Shot, Weather. I'm still working on those ones, but it pays off when you starting here their melody in relation to the chord changes. I'm trying to play more lead after doing mainly vocals/rhythm for years, and I like to set a goal to learn a solo by one of the greats..
Make you a better player than just doing drills and trying to play fast IMHO.
Good luck.
Learn theory. That's pretty much all the advice I can offer as I'm not a fan at all of these long and strict daily routines. Nobody wants playing the instrument to become a chore which is all i can see this ultimately becoming sooner or later.
I agree with what is being said above, my own practice is being split up in three sections. Ear, tunes and theory.

I always learn by ear, the ability to learn by ear is one of the best to have as a musician, it helps with improvisation, learning tunes, memorizing songs etc. So develop your ear.

Learn tunes from the artist you like. Instead of sitting down and practicing alternate picking for x time or practicing the harmonic minor scale for y time i will sit down songs i enjoy which uses these thing i might not be very good at. Songs that challenge you but are not impossible are great for improvement.

Finally, analyzing what you are doing can be a powerful tool to become better. Figuring out that this song switches key here or that this chord is a substitution for that chord etc. Being able to understand what you are doing and communicate it to others is great.

I'd say make your "schedule" with those 3.

Hope that helped.
Best Regards
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It takes as long as it takes. Even Vai questions how healthy it was for him to sit and play guitar 8-12 hours a day for his childhood. Plus those guys you listed can write great songs, can you?
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i broadly agree with what they're saying above; at the same time, a few drills (as long as they don't become your entire practice session) won't hurt. speed mechanics for lead guitar by troy stetina is pretty good.

also spend a fair bit of time just listening to good solos by players you like.
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Look I'm a hobbyist and I used to have a three hour routine that I no longer use. It was:

Major Scale all Keys 40 mn
Pentatonic Scale all Keys 30mn
Chord Transitions for Triads 30mn
Power Trio Blues 30mn
Pink Floyd 30mn

That's about it from memory. I'm not saying this is a good routine as I no longer use it. For example I no longer do anything in Pentatonic so I would take that out and replace it with a good, good, good theory book. By good theory book a text book you would get at something like Berklee or Julliard. You can buy it on Abe Books I just haven't done so.

My practice regimen these days is playing the chromatic over practice track music in the style of Blues, Rock or Metal. I find this to be fun. I still do Major Scale all keys for 40mn and try to improve my speed and memory of it. I still do Chord Transitions for Triads with a metronome for 30mn. The point is adjust your plan to your need weekly. I only have time to play for a little over two hours now.

Now, you mention EVH and SRV. I'm a SRV fan and not an EVH fan. However, study their music. Don't just try to learn how to play it. Break it down. Get into their heads. To be honest I don't think either was a theory guy. I really don't think either sat down and composed like a composer. Instead, a lot of it came from noodling with their guitar within a scale. Fortunately, there is a lot of information about both out there. So, go for it and read through it. You'll see they were people but that's it.

Hope this helps
Nice post, thanks for starting it. It got me thinking about how to advance as a guitarist. Here is my new routine:

Major Scale all keys 40mn (Boxed in version of the Guitar Grimoire Scales and Modes)
Three note Coils 40mn F Key (Guitar Grimoire The Exercise Book)
Triad Chord Changes 30mn (Something a good instructor gave me which I posted here)
Sweeps DVD 20mn (I haven't bought it yet)
Practice Track Music 40mn

That's my routine for now. I'm not saying this is the best routine or even a good routine but that's all I have time for. The whole principle is to get faster, better, and more melodic at improvising. In the future I'll put in time to study music and a good theory book but for now I just want to get better at improvising.

Hope this helps.