hey,i played guitar for about 6 years until i hit a wall playing wise,i knew i was at intermediate level but i just got stuck at that level and couldnt seem to progress speed wise..

mr crowley solo was the bar i had set myself,i could play the solo patterns etc but i could not get near that speed..some days i would practice for 4-5 hours,every day of the week,i had john petrucci practice book/dvd playing exercises over and over with a metronome..

eventually after months of no progress i just lost intrest,and slowly stopped playing..now 6 years on i want to get back playing..my question is,how long did it take you guys to master solo s like randy's,dimebags etc etc?and how do i go about breaking out of this plateau?
1 - Time isn't important. It will take as long as it takes.

2 - Improve by playing better. Smaller movements, more relaxed body in general but paying specific attention to your arms and hands.
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Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”

Remember that your body (wrist, fingers, etc. included) only has a certain amount of endurance. If you're working on nothing but speed, It's like trying to all-out sprint a 5k. Sometimes I notice that my wrist/picking speed is slowing down, but instead of trying to speed up, I would give my wrist a break for a day or two and my speed would recover. If you are meeting a plateau in your speed or if you are slowing down, it means that the muscles you use for playing guitar are tired. Just let your muscles recover.
When you practice slow enough you can consciously control your movements and therefore you can teach your brain how you want to be picking. You need to do what Zaphod said while practicing slowly so you ingrain good picking technique into your brain.

You can also practice at higher speeds to learn how to play particular passages and solos but make sure you never practice at a speed at which you can't play with small and relaxed movements. If you tense up you need to stop playing for a second and relax again, so you can get your body used to playing with relaxation. After a while you will find you can relax your body while playing (to a certain degree) if you notice tension.

The main issues that can stop your progress would be:

- Picking with something other than your wrist (can work, never recommended though)
- Movements too large
- Hands not in sync (practice slowly)
- Too tense; look out for tension not only in your wrist, elbow and upper arm but also your shoulders (important, and can be hard to relax!) and your body in general (sometimes you can tense your face while playing too)
- Bad posture, not breathing properly when playing
- Focusing on improving speed rather than technique. You need to focus on making your technique better and practicing everything you want to learn with this technique.
I've heard both Shawn Lane and John Petrucci say that a good way to break through a speed barrier is to try the lick or solo at a bpm a good bit above your max comfortable speed for and really struggle with it for a while. You may find that when you back down tempo, you're max tempo is higher than it was.

Obviously start by building from a slow speed first and only try this when you just can't seem to go any faster after having done everything else right.