hey guys, iv been messing with guitar for some time but its only the last year or so iv actually taken the time to start taking it seriously and actually put time into it....

now im far from the greatest player on the planet, i dont get time to practice everyday,and im not in a situation where i can afford lessons at the moment.
generally i pick up my guitars when i get chance at home, then every other sunday i go to a sound studio with friends a bassist and a drummer and we just play what we can n once we nail a song or get near as dammit we move onto the next one, what i really really seem to struggle with though is soloing and arpeggios, but im not sure exactly where it is i struggle i think its the speed, also anything with fast hammer ons and pull offs for example the a few songs and parts im struggling with are

killswitch - my curse - intro
BFMV - your betrayal - hammer on pull off part at solo
teenage bottle rocket - bigger than kiss - both solos (and these look really easy)

and generally any other solos lol iv tried tab following it and maybe its something with my finger placements i just cant get there fast enough or im doing something wrong, also up down picking, i just cannot do it, everything is down strums, my mate who is a good guitar player says thats better and he wishes he could do it but im sure up down is better for speed, i have no problem with strum patterns and up down strumming its just picking everything i do is down picks lol.

as for practice i generally use tab, watch videos on youtube or dabble with rocksmith, which is good apart from it doesnt really break down songs and cant really help you if you struggle and again i can nail all the strum parts 100% but as soon as it comes to solos thats where i start to fail theres only 1 song iv actually nailed the solo in and then probably another where im not even sure if it counts as a solo lol. anyways as an idea as to what i can play il pop some bits down here, some of these i play all the time, some of them its just parts of the song but iv never really attempted to play any more of it

billy talent - rusted from the rain (can play all including solo, just need to clean up hammer on part at the end)

alkaline trio - continental - full song

blink 182 - all the small things - full song

3 days grace - animal i have become - full song

shinedown - 45 - full song acoustic and electric

shinedown - sound of madness - full song

pink flloyd - wish you were here - full song

GnR - sweet child intro ( never really tried to play anymore)

weezer - hash pipe

andrew wk - party hard

static x - the only

teenage bottle rocket - bigger than kiss (all apart from solo)

rise against - give it all

and then plenty of other buts , but im not gonna bore you all with a full list as even i was going oh right i can actually play a bit lol, but as you see none of the above really seem that challenging, or not in my head anyways....

so onto the actual topic, im looking for help progressing to the next level, is there anything i can do to help along wiht solos, wether it be speed building, accuracy etc, and also hammer ons and pull offs with speed like in the song your betrayal, i tried playing around with the A minor pentatonic scale i think it was and just walked up n down the scale trying up and down strums, but i thought to myself, i aint doing that great a job here, and even if i nail this one its not really going to help with a major ripping solo, so yeh any excersises or anything that you have done and work well would be greatly appreciated here...

sorry for the waffle before i got to the point and thanks for any help in advance
Hey Andy,
I can't give you a comprehensive list, but here are a few thoughts.
Absolutely, the first thing you have to fix is the can't practice every day thing. Without consistent practice, at least 30 mins/day, 5 days a week, it's going to be really hard to make progress. Get creative! For example, waking up earlier than usual, or using your lunch break to do some task you'd normally do at home, and then using that time for practice. Make a commitment to yourself, and tell yourself come rain come shine that time is yours for practice, and stick with it.
That's the biggest thing. Other than that, look at your playing, and identify your biggest weaknesses (like alternate picking), and spend time each day practicing it slowly and really focusing on getting the technique as tight as possible. Look at the material you can play and find areas that are rough, or you're laboring when you play them. Practice that stuff. A lot of your improvement comes from polishing - not settling and insisting that you will play this stuff to the absolute best of your current ability, and putting in the time to make that happen. You keep doing that, and your playing will come up fast. In fact, you could describe the process of improving as "find something you struggle with, and practice it until you don't struggle anymore". Wash, rinse, and repeat for ever. Picking appropriate material to learn is important. You want to find stuff that really challenges you, but isn't like looking at up mount everest (too many difficult areas and can't work on one w/o bumping into another).
Hope this helps. Good luck!
Last edited by se012101 at Mar 17, 2014,
As se said, you need to make time to practice everyday, or significant progress is unlikely. Alternate picking is absolutely essential, the reason you can strum but not pick is probably because you are picking incorrectly/flatpicking. Strumming tends to involve more of the arm, whereas picking should be either all wrist, or thumb extension (depending on the method you adhere to)
I had a similar issue a few years ago, namely, I wasn't alternate picking at all, and when I did it was slow and cumbersome. Here are some excercises that helped me immensely (they also help for solos) Chromatic scale ascending and descending (The Caterpillar?), but rather than go 1234 all the time, go 1234 234 ^1 34 ^12 This gives your left hand more of a workout, makes the scale a bit more useful for runs and prevents you from inadvertently cheating by abusing hammer ons and pull offs quite as much. I particularly enjoy this excercise when descending.
Do the same thing with the major scale, except instead of playing each string once then descending, do them in groups of three, so 24,124,134 124,134,134 etc And do all this using only alternate picking.
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cool il give it a go anything to help really, as if im just hammering out chords i seem to fly through a song, and if i find it boring i tend to improvise a little bit, like our drummer wanted to play deny by default and the guitar part is a bit dull so i do a few fills and extra strums here and there, he also wanted us to play just like you by three days grace, iv learned that in a bout 10 mins and am constantly playing it now so its practically fluent when we come to play in a week or so time....

but yeah with the picking your prob right in the fact that im not doing it enough to get the wrist action going, and flat picking is something that sounds about right, iv upped my picks to 0.91mm and they feel comfortable for everything really, its just getting that slicing motion if you like which goes through the string with ease and more so speed, im trying to find a song thats easy to play but difficult to master if you like with a simple enough structure and solo but really helps with technique for someone in my situation.