Ok I wouldn't say I'm a beginner but I'm very far from a pro and I find myself lately becoming overwhelmed by where to go next with my learning . I started like most people by learning my open chords and basic techniques and then started mostly learning songs. But now I want to dig deep and reach that next difficult level and get really good. The problem is I don't where to start and I get overwhelmed. I go online and try to learn more advanced things like scales and theory but they just throw all these things at you that they expect you to already know, like the caged system, all 5 positions of the minor pentstonic, dominant 7ths, etc. Its so confusing and feels like too much to learn all at once. Isn't there a smoother progression as to where to start and advance? What should I do from here if I want to be more than just a guy who can play other people's songs? I want to be able improvise and solo in any key and be able to jam with other musicians without being lost. Where should I start and what should I be doing to slowly get there? I don't mind the hard work as long as I know it's building to something. I find I'm the kind of person who needs routine and set things to practice rather than just randomly sitting down and noodling with a new technique
Your probably already doing this, but my go-to answer is jam to some backing tracks. incredibly inspiring.
Flying in a blue dream
drb1982 Unfortunately, there is way too much emphasis placed on knowing your scale shapes and chord shapes, in all positions and shapes, as the path to imrpovisation and becoming a better player.  So, if someone hasn't really explored how to make use of the sounds available from one scale in one position, or from one chord in one position, then lumping a load more on top just confuses matters more.

Having the scale shapes under your belt at some point is liberating, but something that can be acquired gradually.  Having a sound chord vocabulary is again something that can be built over time (influenced by the genre(s) you want to play).  But you can quickly learn a representative of  the bsic chord types, and get used to using them and hearing them in tunes, and playing melodically against them.  Likewise, learn just  a few scale types (suggest major scale first), in one position.

When building understanding of what musical tools get used (which is what theory explains), less is more ... work with bite-sized concepts, tear them to bits using them musically.

One of the basic building blocks of virtually all music is the interval.  THere are a tiny number of these to learn, in terms of their sound, and how to create them on guitar (or any non-percussion instrument).  An interval only comprises two pitches, some number of semitones apart.  This semitone distance determines its sound flavour, and hence the aural/emotional impact on the listener.  E.g. play the 4th fret of the bass E string and the open A string together.  The usual response is "stop it ... change that to something else".  Slide the 4th fret down to the 2nd fret, and world peace returns in your ears

The critical point is that the sound flavour depends on the semitone distance, and not the actual pitches involved.  E.g. the last mentioned interval above has two pitches 3 semitones apart.  If you instead play the 3rd fret, bass string, and 1st fret, 5th string, these are different pitches but the same distance of 3 semitones apart and its sound flavour is the same, just "higher".

ALL music is about relative distances between pitches, and not the specific pitches involved.  Think of a software tool for changing the pitch of a song without changing the speed.  Most people wouldn't realise that the pitch has all been shifted up or down some number of semitones, becaause the relative distances, the relations, between the notes involved, are unaffected ... the song sounds the same.

When you play a chord, you are playing a handful of intervals.  When you slide a chord along the string (with no open strings in the chord), the chord type is unaffected, so long as you don't change the physical shape, which will change the intervals.

On guitar, there are somewhere between 2 to 4 ways to play a specific interval.  Learn their shapes, their sounds ... these appear in chords and scales.

I suggest you start by learning the shapes and sounds for the major 3rd (4 semitones), minor 3rd (3 semitones), the perfect 5th (7 semitones), and the octave (12 semitones).

This knowledge will carry forward into everything you play.

The other basic building block is rhythm (note placement in time).   Develop a knowledge of where the strong and weak beats are in a few common meters, such as 3/4, 4/4. Dig into the effect created by long notes mixed with short notes, for building tension.

Chords:  learn a few major and minor triad shapes, and the intervals in these.  Also, a few dominant 7 chord shapes ... learn how this chord is often used to set the anticipation of a major or minor triad that is rooted 5 semitones higher (7 semitones lower) in the listener.

What happens if you don't play that anticipated chord?  The anticipation grows ... you're affecting the listener's emotions.

Here's some basic stuff: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/drastically_reduce_learning_time_with_intervals_part_2.html.  Check this lesson and the preceding article it links to.  These are part of a series.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 20, 2017,
drb1982 " Where should I start and what should I be doing to slowly get there? I don't mind the hard work as long as I know it's building to something. I find I'm the kind of person who needs routine and set things to practice rather than just randomly sitting down and noodling with a new technique"

jerry has some good advice..

My take: Learn Diatonic harmony..it is the foundation of music as we know it today..here is a nutshell of what it will show you:

the major scale and the chords embedded in the scale ( triads and four note chords)--this in essence is what a tonal center(Key) is about
how the chords relate to each other..iii7 vi7 ii7 V7 Imaj7 etc basic chord functions and progressions and scales related to each chord (modes)

so if you have an A7 to Dmi7 to G7 to Cmaj7 you would learn how to navigate that without any problem..the roman numerals make it easy to transpose progressions in ANY key..example a ii7 = is the second chord in any key-so in the key of G it would be Ami7..in the key of A it would be Bmi 7 as it is the second chord in the key of A..stuff like that...you will come across a lot of exceptions..here is where learning theory along with diatonic harmony is really very helpful..as it will explain most of the "why?"

and learn this in ALL keys...and eventually in all inversions of chords in ALL positions---this will take some time to get under your fingers and in your ears..but music is a life long journey..in conjunction with this, the study basic theory - it will add to your knowledge of how to use chords..and solo over them with scales arpeggios etc

and one of the most important aspects is apply this knowledge to songs..I suggest begin fairly simple..the beatles song book has many tunes that you will see the chord progressions "at work" and their melodies are simple but very effective..

hope this helps
play well

Last edited by wolflen at Jul 20, 2017,