#1
I'm trying to brush my guitar chops after some downtime to focus on school. I'm having trouble building a solid routine. What are some good things to learn and practice so I can improve my playing? I'm a quick learner, music theory comes intuitively for me but I don't have the entire fretboard mapped out yet. I know scales and can figure them out by ear, but i'm having trouble moving on from here. 

Does anyone recommend any specific resources?
#2
what exactly are you trying to accomplish? do you want to be able to see the entire fretboard mapped out when you're playing with any scale? do you have trouble with improvisation? chord inversions? jazz progressions, chords, and theory? songwriting? 
#3
Learn songs... everything you want to know to play the songs you want to play is in those songs.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#4
Quote by ImNeverSalty
what exactly are you trying to accomplish? do you want to be able to see the entire fretboard mapped out when you're playing with any scale? do you have trouble with improvisation? chord inversions? jazz progressions, chords, and theory? songwriting? 

I mean I want all of it really, I just want to be a better player all round. I would say that having the fretboard mapped out would be top priority, and then being able to improvise nice licks into the scales.
#5
Quote by O731
I mean I want all of it really, I just want to be a better player all round. I would say that having the fretboard mapped out would be top priority, and then being able to improvise nice licks into the scales.

You need to focus, not think about "all of it" or "better player all round"... that is a non-plan.

What do you mean by "having the fretboard mapped out"? Are you going to play by thinking of the note names and finding them on the fretboard? Are you going to learn the two or three different enharmonic names for each separate pitch, so you know to call the notes Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, and F for a song in Gb major but call them F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, and E# for a song in F# major? There are 24 keys with 30 different ways to name their notes.

Improvising applies in decreasing degree of importance to progression structures, chord changes, and only obliquely to scales... which is to say that scales are not the path to improvisation.

It's a mistake to think "when I know that" then "I'll be able to do this". Go straight to being able to do this, and the knowledge about that will come on its own. Learning songs is the direct way to everything... it will show you what you need to know.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#6
PlusPaul 
Thank you. I know the kind of theory you mentioned (scales, note names, etc.) I think it's more of a matter of how to apply it in the context of a guitar. On a piano it's laid out all horizontal so my brain can just figure things out more easier. Meanwhile guitar seems like a different beast.

I've heard from several people that learning songs is a direct way to everything. I guess I need to know what to do!
#7
O731 yeah, the guitar does provide an extra layer of complication; on piano if you want a note there is exactly one place that is; there's one place to play a scale, and so on.  You don't get that with guitar, there are up to 6 places to find any given pitch, even if some of them may be impractical, so there are generally at least 2-3 different (and physically reasonable) ways of playing anything.

It does provide you with some freedom of choice with regards to re-fingering things so they're easier for you to play, but that comes with extra cognitive load, even before you bring in picking and so on.

About playing songs to learn: I do maintain that they are the best way of learning, but only if you actually understand what is going on.  Like, you can learn all the songs you want but if you don't know why something was played that way (both physically and in theory terms), then it's not going to be a huge amount of use to you really.  They are, in my opinion anyway, better than exercises at the end of the day though, because not only do you end up with the physical skill, there's a built-in application for what you're learning.  Like I say though: be mindful of what you're doing, it's very easy to learn songs and just end up being able to parrot licks and riffs without gaining the capacity for your own uses.
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#8
Zaphod_Beeblebr 

Thank you. I'm good at finding patterns from songs (especially because I understand the theory behind it to a decent extent), so it sounds like a good idea. Do you recommend any specific songs or artists? I know it comes down to personal preference, but i'm referring to bands/songs known that are good for building chops. 
#9
Quote by O731
I'm trying to brush my guitar chops after some downtime to focus on school. I'm having trouble building a solid routine. What are some good things to learn and practice so I can improve my playing? I'm a quick learner, music theory comes intuitively for me but I don't have the entire fretboard mapped out yet. I know scales and can figure them out by ear, but i'm having trouble moving on from here. 

Does anyone recommend any specific resources?

Here's some basic advice, which applies to guitar, but also to any other skill that exists. 

Never, ever, ever classify your position in some imaginary, arbitrary grouping. Banish words like "beginner", "intermediate", "expert" and all similar words from your vocabulary. The path to improvement is a hill, not a staircase. There are no milestones, just continuous improvement. 

Getting better means just that: becoming better at something than you were the day before. For getting better on the guitar, just play guitar. Learn new songs. Write new songs (but if they aren't very good, keep them to yourself!). Play alongside other musicians. Join a band, jam with others informally, but don't think you're really going to improve by holing up alone playing along with recordings. 

Make mistakes. We learn from mistakes. If you don't make mistakes, you don't learn as much. That means don't shy away from situations where mistakes are likely. I play rhythm guitar in my church praise band. The lead guitar player just left for a 6 week vacation. Suddenly I find myself forced to go beyond my comfort zone. I make a lot of mistakes at rehearsal. Then I practice at home to eliminate them. The experience has made me a better player. 

Don't worry about milestones like having the fretboard mapped. When improvising a lead or solo, worry about making it sound good. What you should strive for is to be fluent, not a good translator. It takes too much thinking to think, "The next note needs to be a C#. That's either the 16th fret on the A string or the 11th fret on the D string. I'm playing an A right now on the 12th fret of the A string. So, the 11th on the D string would be the easiest to move to." So, don't think. You play a note on a string. What you want to hear next is the note one string up, one fret back. That's where your fingers go. Do not think what you need to play. Just play. 

Practice singing. It's easy to sing. You don't have to know what fret and what string for your voice. Just make the note come out. To master the guitar, you want to reach the point where hitting the right note on the guitar takes the same amount of thought as singing the right note. 
#10
Quote by gerdner
Here's some basic advice, which applies to guitar, but also to any other skill that exists. 

Never, ever, ever classify your position in some imaginary, arbitrary grouping. Banish words like "beginner", "intermediate", "expert" and all similar words from your vocabulary. The path to improvement is a hill, not a staircase. There are no milestones, just continuous improvement. 

Getting better means just that: becoming better at something than you were the day before. For getting better on the guitar, just play guitar. Learn new songs. Write new songs (but if they aren't very good, keep them to yourself!). Play alongside other musicians. Join a band, jam with others informally, but don't think you're really going to improve by holing up alone playing along with recordings. 

Make mistakes. We learn from mistakes. If you don't make mistakes, you don't learn as much. That means don't shy away from situations where mistakes are likely. I play rhythm guitar in my church praise band. The lead guitar player just left for a 6 week vacation. Suddenly I find myself forced to go beyond my comfort zone. I make a lot of mistakes at rehearsal. Then I practice at home to eliminate them. The experience has made me a better player. 

Don't worry about milestones like having the fretboard mapped. When improvising a lead or solo, worry about making it sound good. What you should strive for is to be fluent, not a good translator. It takes too much thinking to think, "The next note needs to be a C#. That's either the 16th fret on the A string or the 11th fret on the D string. I'm playing an A right now on the 12th fret of the A string. So, the 11th on the D string would be the easiest to move to." So, don't think. You play a note on a string. What you want to hear next is the note one string up, one fret back. That's where your fingers go. Do not think what you need to play. Just play. 

Practice singing. It's easy to sing. You don't have to know what fret and what string for your voice. Just make the note come out. To master the guitar, you want to reach the point where hitting the right note on the guitar takes the same amount of thought as singing the right note. 

Beautiful. It's a good thing I was serious about singing for a few years in my life I actually noticed what you were referring to in that regard when I was watching John Petrucci play some solos on youtube. I noticed he just...played what sounded good to the chord progression, he wasn't calculating anything. He seemed to just intuitively know where his fingers needed to go to get the sound he was looking for. 
#11
I have to plug Robyn Fords TrueFire series because it helped me so much in understanding how chords are structured. Also reading Viktor Wooten's book The Music Lesson improved my playing and practice approach 100-fold!