I've been playing for 5 years now. Right now, I'm studying jazz music in college, since I want to become a professional studio musician, or even a touring guitarist, or if I have any luck, the lead guitarist for any band, but that's not the point.
My concern here is that, undoubtedly, since I've been studying music on a more "hardcore" basis, I've improved a lot. I think much more melodically and rhythmically than before, my technique is improving and I've gradually improved with time, through practice and studying.
However, this is in jazz, which I could not even play decently some time ago (not that I'm a master now, but it sounds more decent). As I become better, it looks like that it gets much harder to improvise solos in classic hard rock and heavy metal (which is my comfort zone). I don't know how that's possible, but before, I would just play randomly (and fast) around the basic minor and major pentatonic and it would sound ok (probably it didn't, but probably because I was worse then). As I learn more and more and get to know my guitar better, it gets weirder. Like, it may not sound bad, not in anyway, but it sounds (at least to me) repetitive and "over-thought". Maybe because now I tend to choose every note carefully and thoughtfully. I think that's because now it's just too linear: there's no bite, no hard-edged and rough soloing, no fast and "dirty" but awesome licks, like Van Halen or Ritchie Blackmore.
The only thing close that doesn't sound so bad to me is blues, but mainly because I stick with the blues scale and I'm good to go (plus, in jazz, there's a lot of blues techniques).

Can someone explain to me why this is and if there's something that I can do to "save" my hard-rock edged guitar love? (for example, listen to the solos in You Really Got Me by Van Halen, or Burn or Black Night by Deep Purple to know what I mean).
It's because your standards are now higher than before. Before you didn't really know anything about soloing and even finding a decent melody sounded good to your ears because you didn't know what you were after.

I would say train your ears. Hear melodies in your head. Don't let your improvisation be random because it shouldn't be. Improvising is like speaking. You don't need to think about the words you say, you just say it. They aren't random either. You know the message you want to get through and you just say it. Improvising on an instrument is the same. You could also compare it to singing. You can sing what you hear in your head (of course that requires some technique). You don't need to know any scales or anything. You just can sing what you "hear" because you don't need to think.

You also need to learn the "rock vocabulary". That's the style of playing rock. If you are used to playing jazz, it doesn't sound good if you play jazz solos because they don't really fit rock. So listen to your favorite players and learn some of their solos. Rock soloing is many times pretty lick-based. But there are also some more melodic solos, Sweet Child O' Mine being a good example.

I think it's all about hearing melodies in your head. You could also try playing what you sing/singing what you play. That way your playing will not sound like scale wanking. You will automatically play melodically. It of course requires practicing. But I think it would be a good way to connect your brain to your fretboard. The guitar becomes your singing voice.
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Yeah, I guess you're right. Before, I almost literally didn't know crap and didn't even have a notion of what I was playing.

I guess the more I play, the more my ear will be trained. However, as a basis for this training, I'll be basing my newfound "sounds" around a scale or two; afterwards, I just go from there and see where I land.

Mostly, I hear blues-jazz, modal and fusion. John McLaughlin is amazing, and he can still be jazzy and a rocker at the same time. It's breathtaking.

I never cared for ultra-fast, 16th note shredding solos (I like doing that only at certain times, ex: a solo climax. As a result, those fast bits are a tiny bit sloppy, but that's ok, really). I'm more directioned towards melodic stuff. David Gilmour doesn't shred 200 bpm songs, and he's one of the greatest axemen ever.

On vocabulary, what would you recommend me? I know it's a vague question and depends on my taste, but give me an opinion. Like, one of my fav. licks ever is that E-minor pent. bend-and-rundown popularized by Jimmy Page (Dazed and Confused, Commumication Breakdown, Whole Lotta Love, etc.)
MM's advice is solid...your growing musically and the "toys" you used to play with don't fit in with your growth pattern..it breaks down to .. you already did that..time to move on..the quick and dirty..you WILL be able to play your rock licks but with a much different point of reference..

listen to an old steely dan tune - "reeling in the years"..the chords are simple rock..but the solo work is "fusion" it has jazz all over it..and yes steely dan has had some of the best guitarists on their tracks..but there are many rock flavored licks that blend in with jazz riffs

so keep studying .. listen to jazz guitarists..they dip into the blues a lot..and you have heard some of these riffs in many rock songs..its a matter of attitude..and style

Hendrix song "wind cries mary" a very blues tinged song that has a very melodic jazz feel-way beyond "riffs" yet the chords are again simple rock based

so your not loosing your rock roots you just learning new sounds .. you will at some point be able to play-at will-not at random-solid "rock riff" in the middle of a "Jazz" solo at some point and your study efforts will reward you many fold

play well

The solution is to sit down and figure out new lines that sound good.

I get the same "overthinking" feeling with classic rock, now that I'm more comfortable with jazz. It's mostly a matter of keeping the appropriate sounds in under your fingers - use it or lose it!
Maybe not the best advice but do u play with background noise,TV or even music playing,I find it relaxes me and that when come up with stuff u normally wouldn't,could be that u are at that really good playing stage and might take a while to break thru the next barrier,its up to u if u are content with your playing
I find having the tv on or some other background noise relaxing and therapeutic. Even talk back radio quietly!
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I get the same "overthinking" feeling with classic rock, now that I'm more comfortable with jazz. It's mostly a matter of keeping the appropriate sounds in under your fingers - use it or lose it!

Yeah. You sort of have to play what suits the style of music (though I'm not saying for a second that there are rules, either). Maybe I'm just a philistine, but for a lot of rock solos the simpler (theoretically) stuff actually often sounds better. Just because you can put a crazy jazz fusion solo in there doesn't necessarily mean you should (I have nothing against jazz fusion, I should clarify).
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Sounds like you are figuring it out. Great guitarists craft solos with purpose. Even Van Halen and Richie Blackmore crafted their solos carefully and chose moves that complimented the song while adding in pyrotechnics for seasoning. "Random and fast with tons of gain" is the target most adolescent males shoot for at first until they begin to grow as musicians and hear theme and melody inside of a solo. Moving well beyond "random and fast" will separate you from the hoards of less-skilled players who still only make music in their bedrooms.

Your solos are getting better because you are beginning to understand. Keep at it.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Jun 15, 2014,
I agree with MaggaraMarine the better you get at playing the guitar the less impressive somethings that were amazing to you are. It just means that you're improving which is a positive thing self criticism is what really gets your playing better, but it has to be positive instead being negative, and bashing yourself because you're weak in a certain area.