This is a timeline of my first year of learning guitar (skip down to the question if you are feeling impatient.)

Month 1
When I first started playing guitar this was easy, I would pick up my guitar and practice picking (and sliding and bending.) The first week I learned chords and scales and would practice these. The second and third weeks I would warm up with scales and chords then start practicing easy songs (Let it be, then Hey Joe, then Smells Like Teen Spirit) The fourth week I learned the three main parts of stairway to heaven (I'm not saying it sounded good, (and obviously I was far off from the solo.) (The first month was so great. I felt like I was breezing through all there was to know about guitar and I loved the feeling of improving.)

Month 2
So now that I could play chord progressions and riffs and stuff I knew the next thing I wanted to learn was improvisation. I learned the pentatonic scale along with the basic blues shuffle to solo over. This would be proceeded by practicing picking techniques and learning new licks (mostly just off my iPod.) to incorporate into soloing.

Months 3-5
Now I could struggle through a choppy blues solo. I decided the best thing to do would be to polish technique and work on developing a style. Picking techniques were still a focus point but the main thing I would do is study my favorite artists and observe tendencies frequent in their solos/rhythm work. (Eric Clapton liked repetition he would hold onto one note or riff building it up then breaking off into something else. Peter Green would isolate a few notes and jump around between them with a lot of vibrato then riff down to the next set, Jimmy Page would stay in one area of notes then shred down to the next.) I found things I liked and added them to my own style.

Month 6
In addition to everything else I decided I simply needed to learn songs in their entirety because you can't go on stage and play riffs.

For the next six months I just learned new riffs and songs and practiced what I already knew. I grew increasingly bored because I felt like I was being challenged and wasn't improving. I began buying new gear to try and keep myself motivated. One thing I wanted to do was start playing with other people but no one (around my age) in my school or area played guitar or drums.

I grew so disinterested with practicing for seemingly no purpose I got all down and basically stopped playing for almost a year. I would go weeks without touching my guitar which is a big change from the first 6 months when I wouldn't be able to last 5 minutes without picking up my guitar. (I brought my guitar pick to school everyday to turn over in my hand.)

So now it's about a year later and I'm trying to get back on track, but, I don't know how. I don't know what to do when I pick up my guitar besides learning and playing new riffs which doesn't hold my attention. I feel like my riffs and chords and everything are polished but I don't think my improvisation and overall ability is to the point where I could join a band, but I don't know how to get it to that point. What would you suggest I do/practice at this point? How can I continue to challenge myself? Where do I go from here?
So you're saying you know every chord position on the neck for major and minors (at the least), know multiple scales for each key, and you don't feel you can improv or play with a band? If yes, then you need to change your mentality on "practicing". For example, play along to your iPod but not to a song you know. Works on improvisation. If you can read music, or tabs, or have an ear for finding out chords in a song, then join a band. Preferably a band where you would be the rhythm or secondary guitarist. If no, then you have some ideas as to what you should start working on. Everyone goes through the same thing in their guitar playing. For me I started relearning the basics because I was self taught. Then I applied that to writing my own material. I would definitely say start writing something. Anything. Don't worry about if it sounds like something else or whatever, just do it. It takes everything you learned and showcases exactly what you can and cannot do.
In no way was I saying I know everything there is to know. I still consider myself a beginner guitarist. I just feel stuck and I'm trying to get some advice on how to move forward.
One of my biggest focus points/goals was breaking out of the pentatonic box and moving around the neck more. That's still very much so something I need to work on. Thanks for your input.
You could start using your ears. Pick an easy song and learn it without a tab or a score. Start singing notes when you play them on the guitar. Pick a completely random backing track from a genre you have no idea about and try to figure out what's going on by ear.

You could also learn some simple composition. Learn functional harmony. There are a ton of lessons on this site that explain chord structure and chord progressions, you could look into some basic cadences and come up with your own melodies on top of them. String them together and make your own music. I doesn't have to be groundbreaking, as long as it's your own creative output. That's what guitar is: a creative output. So start making your own stuff, no matter how crappy.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
I'm very skeptical. A lot of people say they "know" this or that ....scales, chords, etc. No you do not, brother, not even little bit. What you claim to have done in the first month, would be very very shoddy, if at all I'm not saying that to be combative or a troll, but I make my living teaching, and none of what you say lines up at all.

Again, Im being straight with you, you match the profile of a very specific type of over achiever, who doesn't get one thing down well, before he loses patience and needs stimulation and off he goes bouncing like Tigger to the next.

Now are you passionate, yeah, I grant you that, but my spidey senses are tingling and...truthfully I don't care what you are or aren't. You could tell me you wrestle a gorilla and Im not going to be impressed, but...I don't want YOU to be a casualty of your own self deception/perception. The quantity of the work you've done, I don't question. The efficacy of the work you've done, I am highly concerned about.

So in a nutshell, I think that you don't know a 10th of what you think you know, because you haven't reached any maturation stages with those things. Its almost like you wen't ADD and said "OK I know that what's next?"

... without anything taking root.

If I told you I went through medical school in 25 days, and I was going to be your heart surgeon today....what would you think of that?


Last edited by Sean0913 at Jun 29, 2015,
Pick up the guitar and play. Right now. Stop reading, log off, get your guitar, and play for an hour. Just cut loose have fun and play the guitar. Then come back and tell us how it felt.
I would suggest joining a band. I think you learn to improvise by doing it. And by "doing it" I don't mean just playing over backing tracks. I mean playing with other musicians and reacting to their playing. At first it's hard but you'll get better at it. You won't learn to play in a band without playing in a band.

If you know chords and can play in time, you are ready to join a band. You don't need to be a master.

I think playing in a band (not necessarily even in a band, but just playing with somebody) can give some meaning to playing an instrument. You are not just shredding in your bedroom. That can be boring. You may not even learn to play music by just shredding in your bedroom. But band playing is all about playing music.

Maybe start taking lessons. As Sean said, you may think you know a lot of stuff, but you actually don't know it that well. The progress in the first six months feels fast because that's when you are learning the basics of the basics. And once you get those down, you can actually start playing the instrument. After that the progress is not as easy to notice as before because there aren't that many new things to learn. It's more about getting better at the things you already know about.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Can you:

Play 7th, maj7, m7, m7b5, dim7 chords everywhere in every key?

Sight read? How bout in 6 flats?

Improvise over any chord progression in any key? Multiple keys? Multiple keys at once? No keys?

Play major, minor, harmonic minor, MM, scales in every position in every key?

Whole tone? Diminished? Harmonic Major? Pentatonic?

Can you apply all those scales when needed?

Do you know how keys work? How Tonal Harmony works? Modal harmony? Post-Tonal?

Can you reharmonize on the fly? There's over 50 tertian ways to harmonize the pitch C.

Chord scale theory? Comping?

Can you write a song? Can you improvise a song?

Can you play guitar solos? Can you play solo guitar?

Can you spell and extend chords up to the 13th? What about scales? Can you apply and play extended chords without dong the math first?

Are you ears trained? Can you figure out tunes after one listen? Can you sit in with any
band at any time for any reason?

Can you play with one hand? Two hands? With just objects and gear?

Can you play without looking? While looking at something else?

Can you play while talking about something else? How about an in depth non-musical conversation? Can you talk philosophy and solo at the same time?

Can you play well without thinking? Can you play well while thinking about something else (like that cute girl in the front row of the audience giving you the look )?

One of those is probably a good direction to go down and explore, if not master years later.

Disclaimer: None of that is me attempting to crush you, rather just listing a bunch of topics to explore, some which may still be unknown to you, and all of which will make you a better player. If it reads offensively I apologize.

Playing guitar is all about KNOWING the instrument as you know yourself. Guitar is just a tool, right? An extension of your musical brain.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Get a good teacher. It is honestly the best way to learn anything, but especially an instrument. They can show you things you have never thought of and provide you with new perspectives on what you have already learned.
First of all I want to emphasize that I wasn't trying to brag. I listed what I already know so people could know what not to suggest. I used the timeline thing because I thought it would be helpful to get feedback like yours telling me how long things should take so I can compare them with how long it took me and question myself. (Ignorance leads to bad things: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kppx4bzfAaE)
I probably should have mentioned I play piano and had played trombone with a certain level of skill and musical knowledge prior to learning guitar so I already knew most of what I know now regarding musical theory.
^I know you weren't bragging, like I said, just listing some roads you may have not known about. Some of that (all of it) is worth looking into.

Don't think about things in a timeline. I've been playing non-stop for almost like 9 years and I'm still a baby. Just focus on being better than yesterday by a tiny bit.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
What, Jet's only been playing for 9 years? I always imagined you as some sage that has been doing this since the first time someone misused the term mode.

As for OP, another thing that you can do is to soak in as much new music as you can. I used to be a strict metal guitarist, but that got boring really fast. When you wander into new genres you gain new goals and new inspiration. Probably my favourite way of keeping it fresh.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
^I didn't start playing till I was about 16. Coming up on 24 now. I'll take sage as a compliment though, thank you.

That being said, I've been practicing 3 hours a day for 8/9 years, and when I'm not practicing, teaching, or gigging, I spend a large amount of time composing, producing or doing "mental practice", like spelling, analyzing, and making diagrams, theories, and charts for a method book I plan on writing after I feel I've mastered my craft.

I've certainly put an ungodly amount of work in to my craft, so if I give off the appearance of a grizzled war vet with decades under his belt, I'm honored.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
jet..24..really..you don't look a day over 40...

a few lines from a song I wrote:

Times are tough
friends are few
and the ones that you love
don't love you

things are bad
its getting cold
and you feel
your getting old

well you don't look bad for forty
but your not yet twenty nine
jet you have absorbed a tremendous amount of info in nine years..and have shared quite a bit of it..you are an example of "hard work" -- many may fail to realize that to really "know music"-that is be it/internalize it..comes at a cost-isolation & dedication - and the rewards are not instant or logical..to understand and use diatonic harmony-for example-in ways that are creative and fresh and don't sound like chord/scale exercises..but flowing musical expressions..takes years to develop and express..nothing is free..as ringo once said..it don't come easy...

I consider your efforts at "teaching/sharing" part of your musical growth..and in the future you will be rewarded with your own efforts..you are learning something way beyond chords/scales/theory...a bit like "wax on/wax off" has in relation to learning karate..or to put it in a jimi hendrix outlook....."Trumpets and violins, I can hear in the distance maybe now you can't hear them, but you will..."
play well

Last edited by wolflen at Jul 7, 2015,
^Yeah, and I don't feel a day over 700 either!

Thanks wolf. All the sadomasochistic advice I give on here is all in the name of training and self betterment, genre be damned. For me, it's all about growing as an artist and human being. Regardless of where you draw the lines or what you're into, or what your goals are. It's all just music.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp