A very short biography of my experience, need help from guitarists who went through something similar

#1
I have played guitar for a decade now, although I slowed down the last 3-4 years because of college, moving to a new city, work, etc. When I was younger, I was told by many that I'm incredibly talented and would likely become famous with my skills if I met the right bandmates and kept at it. However, there is a problem:

I don't feel like I can write songs. at all. Most of the amazing playing people saw was my covering a famous song or playing something that the other guitarist wrote. I have the speed and ability to do complex solos, but I don't feel skilled at all. I feel like someone tracing a drawing that someone else did, and that I don't deserve any recognition for my abilities. I've written one song (the guitar parts) that I can say is pretty decent, but not more than "that one song that blends with the rest on the album". 

So like I said, 10 years. I know NOTHING about pedals as I've had a spider 3 Line 6 amp (the one with hundreds of preset sounds, drum beats to play to , mic input, demo songs, etc.) and have just played off that. I don't know what pedals are essential to most, how to set up a pedalboard and keep them organized (ex. a guitarist is playing a song that requires him to turn off two pedals and activate two others, which he does with one foot press. How? Can they be synced so multiple activate with one press?). Lastly, I do have a mediocre grasp of understanding music theory (I have the guitar grimoire for scales/chord progressions) but the one thing I can't grasp is all the symbols that specify different chords that are doable in that key. I don't know how to figure out a chord progression myself (in building it I mean) when I want to play in a certain key. I mostly play on 3 different preset sounds, primarily a typical metal guitar sound. 

What I'm saying is any advice in these fields would be great. How to songwrite, how to understand chord progressions, equipment/gear/pedal explanations, etc. I used to be more about highly technical and fast solos (avenged sevenfold, some BFMV songs) and over time I kinda got more into having a unique sound with a groovy beat (rage against the machine, audioslave, black keys, some jack white) and also would love to do anything along the lines of Tool. I'm still into soloing, but care more about a movin song than I used to and thus my need to become better at songwriting has surfaced. 

Any advice is appreciated.
#2
First thing I'm doing is moving this to a more appropriate forum. Thread was moved to forum: Musician Talk.

Second thing is I'll point out that your problem is NOT uncommon. Back in the 1960s, there was a talented but struggling musician who couldn't write songs that both played to his strengths as a performer AND were enjoyed by many people. The same label had a young songwriter who had yet to find a player who could bring his stuff to life. Someone arranged a meeting: the musician was Reginald Dwight, a.k.a. Elton John, and the writer was Bernie Taupin. The rest is history.

Third, there are all kinds of videos about pedal order on YouTube. Here's a couple:





Fourth, the thing about switching pedals on & off- especially with multiples- is it depends on the player and the rig. Some guys have artfully arranged their pedals so they can trigger commonly paired pedals with their feet. Others just learn to tap VERY quickly. Still others depend on devices like the Carl Martin Octa Switch. Some use Multieffects (MFX) pedals, MIDI setups and other tech solutions to swapping multiple effects rapidly or simultaneously.
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Carl-Martin/Octa-Switch-MKII-Effects-Switching-System-1360008819894.gc?cntry=us&source=4WWRWXGP&gclid=Cj0KEQjwmcTJBRCYirao6oWPyMsBEiQA9hQPboOielRbvKu0YpCpH2fGkaABSzKCUi5RNYZmrxWsdZsaAhDE8P8HAQ&kwid=productads-adid%5E76729338762-device%5Et-plaid%5E151362603882-sku%5E1360008819894@ADL4GC-adType%5EPLA

http://www.zzounds.com/item--CAROCTASWITCHIII?siid=185875

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/G5N

http://www.zzounds.com/item--KEMKPRACK

Lastly, the community here can DEFINITELY help you figure out which effects you need to emulate your favorite guitarists. And buying/owning lots of pedals is fun, fun, fun. But coming from a Spyder modeling amp- which you DO need to upgrade- you may be more comfortable with one of the higher-end modeling devices like a Kemper or Amplifire instead of a bunch of pedals. Me? I'm a pedal guy. While I own and use MFX devices of various capabilities, I use them as a practice tool and a shopping guide- once I figure out a sound on an MFX unit, I figure out how to do it (usually better) with pedals. I say "usually better" because my newest MFX devices are at least 5 years old and not anywhere as good as today's stuff.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#3
It might sound like stupid advice, but writing more songs is the only way to get better at writing songs. It's, at least partly, a completely different set of skills from the actual playing so while your technical skills might make it easier to write some things you need to practise the cretive process. And you will probably benefit from starting at a "low" version.

Maybe set a goal of composing a little ditty every week. Or sit down for 30min every other day and say that you need to find a chord progression you like and that feels useful. Or even do a new arrangement (new riffs, maybe new chords) for an existing song.

For the styles/genres you mentioned I don't see a huge benefit in studying theory a lot - but it always helps! On this forum I know a lot of people will say that you should learn your jazz theory the first thing you do when you start playing and that it's the basis for writing songs etc - but I beg to differ. There are too many self taugh and theoretically illeterate songwriters for that to be 100% true. It sounds like your step one is the creativity aspect.


(Pedals I wouldn't worry about. You can probably pick that up from watching a few youtube videos.)
#4
FWIW, sites like Equipboard can help you figure out what guitars, amps and effects your heroes are using.
http://equipboard.com

Another good source are "rig rundowns" by guitar publications, and, of course, asking people on forums like this.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#5
If you can't write songs, don't worry about it. Most of the really famous rock stars can't write songs, or at least can't write decent songs. That's why so many bands have one or two members who write everything. Ron Wood is a great guitar player, but he only plays the songs his bandmates write. That's not to say that you shouldn't try, it's only to say that you shouldn't get discouraged if you fail. 

The best advice I can think of is to get into a band, or at least some casual jamming with other musicians. You said, "I'm still into soloing, but care more about a movin song than I used to and thus my need to become better at songwriting has surfaced." Face it, no one wants to hear an electric guitarist on stage playing solos all by himself. You might consider hanging out at open mic nights when singer-songwriters take the stage with an acoustic guitar and simply strum chords while they sing. Find such a songwriter whose songs appeal to you, and who you can get along with, and hook up for some jamming. Come up with fills and solos to go with his songs. Some of the best bands in the world develop their songs by one guy coming up with something he demos to the rest of the band on an acoustic, then the rest of the band fills in all the other parts to turn it into a rock song. 
#6
I kinda took the opposite path that you did and tried writing music long before my technical skill was up to par (it still isn't up to par). Like learning technical skill, it just requires practice. 

copperwreck's advice is spot on. If you've got the time, read The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. You've just gotta start doing it. It's gonna suck, but after a few failures, you'll start to get a hang of what's good and what's not. 
#7
Quote by copperwreck
It might sound like stupid advice, but writing more songs is the only way to get better at writing songs. It's, at least partly, a completely different set of skills from the actual playing so while your technical skills might make it easier to write some things you need to practise the cretive process.

This is the best advice anyone can give - by far.
#8
Most folk cannot write a song in one go.  It usually happens in stops and starts, with iterative improvements (deletions, additions ...).

BUT ... this process can be structured;  you don't have to sit around awaiting a bolt of inspiration to hit you.

Even if you don't have knowledge of chord progressions etc, you can still make quite a lot of headway by considering the structure of the song.  How many verses, length of chorus versus length of verse etc.  Most importantly, phrase structure helps here ... repetition with some variation.  

Listen to virtually any tune in the charts and concentrate on the rhythmic shape of each line of vocals.  (i.e. where it starts against the beat, the mix of long and short notes)   This is the rhythmic phrase.  Chances are that for a verse with 4 lines (4 phrases), there will basically the same phrase repeated 4 times, or 2 different phrase, repeated twice each.

For a really obvious example, listen to the Beatles "She loves you".  

Starts with the chorus ... "She loves you yeah yeah yeah" is one phrase.  Ignore the notes, but pay attention to the rhythm.  It starts on the "4 AND", with "loves" starting on beat 1 of the following bar.  This phrase occurs 3 times, and is followed by one equal length phrase for "Yeahhhhhhhhhhh".

Listen to the verse: " You think you've lost your love " is one phrase.   The next is very similar, with a slight variation.

This is a different way of thinking about music ... but it's the rhythmic structure (phrasing and repetition) that builds a tune.  This can be done first, as an exercise, with actual notes put to the various durations afterwards.

This is speaking to human psychology ... though of course very few people would consider this ... however, human brains hate randomness.

So, try thinking of structure first, rhythm and phrases first.  You may feel the correct notes to use at the same time, or you can add that detail later.  This is excellent for writer's block.  Or take someone else's phrases, and use your notes and so on.

However, the more knowledge you have of chords and how they work (creating tension or removing tension ... which together giver energy to the music), the more fun you'll have.  Plus how melody goes with the chords.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jun 14, 2017,