Hi, this is my first post so be gentle with me! I’m currently suffering from a bit of a crisis of confidence with my guitar playing and I was hoping someone here could help snap me out of it. I have been playing for about 20 years and played with various bands over that time but always as a way of backing myself singing. I would describe my rhythm playing as barely adequate and my lead playing as non-existent. This is difficult to write but it has to be done. Currently, I’m not sure I ever want to pick up my guitar ever again. I’m tired of trying to convince myself that what I’m doing isn’t as shit as it actually is. I’m tired of being utterly mediocre and of people barely tolerating me. I know I’m shit and I can’t be bothered to lie to myself anymore and pretend otherwise.  

The last gig I did was probably the worst I’d ever done. I accepted the invitation to play a solo gig 24 hours earlier and with very little preparation it went horribly. My voice was out of tune; I just couldn’t hit any of the notes I went for. My guitar playing has always been terrible. I knew that, but that night it descended the depths of awfulness to hit a new low. I flat out sucked. Strangely rather than be embarrassed, I felt liberated. I wondered why I bothered to put myself through all this bullshit and hassle. Why I bothered to open myself to the criticism of strangers when I suddenly realised, “Hey I don’t have to do any of this! I can just stop!” So I am seriously considering it.   

Even the thought of playing makes me feel depressed and angry. I get frustrated because I want to be better than I am. But at this late stage in the game I know I’ve reached the limits of my talent, and it turns out the bar is really fucking low. I hear music and I have plenty of songs in my head that if I could be bothered I could get down. But then I think, “Why? Why bother busting your arse writing songs that are just going to be shit and no one will give a fuck about anyway?”

So can someone help snap me out of this? I really miss feeling the enthusiasm to play and have really got stuck in a rut. The more I think about this and mull it over the more depressed and angry I get with myself. I used to get such joy out of playing and I really miss feeling like that. The standard of my playing never used to bother me, so why now all of a sudden? Most of my friends are musicians of varying degrees and I am constantly asked “When’s my next gig? When are you playing next?”, but I don’t have the heart or the energy to answer truthfully.   

Sorry for bringing everyone down…
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Do you always play solo? Maybe try being part of a band? Or maybe spend a lot of time rehearsing a certain setlist that you know you can nail. Or maybe take a break and don't touch the guitar for a few months, have you got plenty else going on in life to keep you occupied? Just throwing some things out there even if they aren't helpful!
Talking about this kind of thing to your musician friends helps. Not saying you should tell everyone you know, but if you have someone you can trust, they might be able to give you some pointers on how to get out of this rut. Everyone has a creative block sometimes. Hell, I haven't had the motivation to play guitar in about two weeks, but that just happens sometimes. 

It kind of sounds like you might be generally depressed about other aspects of your life maybe? I know that some of the best art can be made if someone is going through a shit time, but depression can make you feel numb to everything, and make playing and performing seem pointless. I'm just guessing here, so take it with a pinch of salt, as I don't know you, and you might be perfectly ok mentally and just stuck in a rut.

Think of that next time you are not allowed to laugh.
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Hi, this is my first post so be gentle with me!

u got it bb
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Try doing exercises to improve and broaden your playing. If you're really as bad as you say, getting better would do a lot for your confidence. Look up whatever aspects of your guitar playing you'd like to see improved and work on them. You can't think you're terrible if you most definitely aren't. This'd help you sing better too because your mind wouldn't be occupied by how awful your guitar playing sounds.

Take some time off accepting gigs while you get better if it affects your confidence too badly. Don't be embarrassed about having to work on the most basic of things to get better.

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But at this late stage in the game I know I’ve reached the limits of my talent, and it turns out the bar is really fucking low…

There is no late stage of the game when it comes to improving a skill. Your hands still work, don't they? I read about a woman who turned 100 and she regretted not taking up the violin when she was 60 - because she thought it was too late - because she could have been playing for 40 years then. If you put in the work you will get better, no matter what your age.

It also feels like, as donender said, you're unhappy and lacking confidence about other aspects of your life too. If that's the case, you should tackle those too. While you're performing, looking confident is crucial. Even if you're not very good, if you look and sound confident, mostly everyone will cheer you on.
Good luck.
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This doesn't sound like a confidence crisis, it sounds like identity crisis. Sounds like you had high expectations when you started playing and they weren't met. Are you actually hearing criticism from others, or are you look for validation through others and not getting it? If that's the case, most of the time you'll set yourself up for disappointment. If you are getting criticism from others, get away from them.

If you're getting angry and depressed even thinking about it, the answer to at least part of the problem seems obvious. Quit playing. Nothing wrong with taking a break from it. I think most people do, and some never pick it up again. There's more to life. No big deal.
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I'll be a little more serious here as I think you are serious. When you first started playing you always had the excuse that you are a beginner and and you are doing the best you can. After 20 years, you can't fall back on that. So what to do? Practice, practice and more practice. Back in the mid 90's I got an offer to do a steady Saturday night at a club that only uses solo musicians. At that point I had been playing in bands for 20 years but I had never done a solo. I wanted to do it but I was extremely unsure and nervous about doing it. I set up a small PA in my basement, created four 40 minute sets and practiced every night after work doing two sets each night non stop. Again that was every-night not just when I felt like it. I approached my practices like a live performance. After two weeks of my practices I was as ready as I could be and more importantly I was confident that I could do it. I ended up having that regular Saturday night gig for about a year and a half and moved on the other places after that. I did this for about three years then decided I really missed the interaction of playing with others so I went back to a band situation which Is where I am at today, but I have no fear of doing a solo again if I had to. 

My advice is set up a PA, create sets and treat your practices like a live performance. Don't stop to fix anything. Move on. If you make a mistake, move on. Also you said there were songs that you have difficulty singing. Easy, either change the key or don't do them. Move on. Keep it simple and do songs that are very popular and everybody knows. 
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Apr 9, 2017,
Maybe music isn't for you. Maybe you should find a new hobby, like board games or something.

There really are two options, you either practice properly, or you suck for the rest of your life. There really is no point in complaining about how much you suck if you don't do anything about it. So if you want to become a good musician, you should take lessons, set reasonable goals, practice daily and build up your skills little by little. If however you let your guitar sit in the closet while you mull over the fact that you suck, you could just as well quit, because that way you'll never improve.

So you need to ask yourself "do I wan't to become a musician?", and if you answer "yes", stop creating threads about how much you suck and find a teacher, set short term goals and start working towards them. Music isn't easy, and you will never get better without constant work and patience. My own personal problem is that I always think "I'll practice tomorrow", but you know what, when you think like that every day you'll never get down to it. So if you really care, start by making an outline for a practice routine, think about some goals you want to achieve and start working on them right now, or at the earliest convenience. You'll achieve nothing by procrastination, so if you can't snap out of it yourself you might need to find a hobby that doesn't require effort.

Not sure if I sound harsh or not (probably yes), but sugarcoating reality really doesn't help anyone. My 2c.
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  Seriously. I've been playing for a similar amount of time.  I've played in several bands, originals, 3 every weekend cover bands, and felt the same way at one point.  I could hack it but knew my playing needed refinement.  After my last cover band ended, we played out every weekend for about 2 years, I decided no more bands, no more gigs, study!  It has been almost 7 years since my last band. 

  With a cover band playing almost every week, it becomes hard to find time, especially with a family to have time to study technique, ear training, etc..  You always have to learn new material to keep it fresh when people start coming to see you regularly, no time at all.  After the band ended i spent hours and hours analyzing, honestly, my playing.  I went so far as to look online how to hold a pick even after playing for years!   I learned so much and challenged the shit out of myself with learning harder and harder songs.  A couple years of that paid off.  

  Recently started an original band with my old drummer and has paid off in spades. He has said I'm a whole different player. And even my old guitarist, when playing together, was surprised how much I've chaged. Were opening for life of agony april 29th in NY , second stage at a club here tho, First gig for new band have to start somewhere,  and couldnt have spent my time better in the last couple years.

  Sometimes you have to step back pretend your learning all over again kinda, and break down to basics.  Best part is your not a total noob, you have a clue already.  I even paid for lessons for a few months. Great instructor.  That little bit made a bifg difference even.
Last edited by pushingthrough at Apr 10, 2017,
  Take the prssure off, remember why you started playing in the first place.  If you arent feeling, put it down.  If its meant to be you will pick it up again.

There is one solution to your problem : practice - a lot. Get in the habit of practicing again and you're confidence will come back.. being unprepared for a show is a recipe for disaster.   Singing out of tune and missing notes simply means you simply weren't prepared.  If you don't have everything well rehearsed and at the tip of your fingers, mistakes are going to happen - that's perfectly normal. 

Take a few months to perfect a  few sets and book a comeback gig. 

Also, your self-perception is always going to be warped as a musician - we always overblow our mistakes in our mind when people in the audience don't even notice. 
I'll give you a little different advice. Put music aside for a while. Week or two. In that time, raise back your vibrations. You are fucking down, man, I can feel it. But you know what? That's okay! We're all down sometimes.

Go do something fun, something just for you. Make yourself love everything.

THEN grab your guitar. And play with one goal - to enjoy. Don't think how good or bad you are, focus on one thing only and that's having FUN with it.
And you will sound good. If you carry around in your heart the "I suck" thought, everything becomes poisoned by it. So just shake it off and don't let it come back, don't let anything ruin YOUR fun with music. To me that's the only way to sound good. 

And never forget that this happens to a lot of people, so don't you give up and start doing some uninteresting shit. Guitar and music in general is the most fucking awesome thing in the world! 

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Take care!