Ok so basically to put it bluntly... I've been wasting most of the last two years playing guitar. I'm really not anywhere near where I want to be. All I've really been doing is playing cover songs by bands I like. Which really isn't good... so I've decided that I want to start learning important stuff now.

So basically I know the basic open chords (C, D, E, Em, A, G, Am, F, etc.). I know how to PLAY bar chords... I just don't know the names of them and I don't know any scales. But to give myself some credit... I think I have some decent technical skill in rhythm playing... I play stuff that consists more than of downstroked power chords.

What should I start practicing to get to the point where I can start soloing, improvising and songwriting? And by soloing... I don't mean shredding, I listen to lots of Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers so I really admire Mike McCready and John Frusicante's playing styles. Can you guys help me compile a list of things to learn and practice? And please be as specific as possible... like post links to specific areas of sites that would be helpful (if possible). I'm kinda overwhelmed and I've tried to figure out what to do by myself but I'm really the kind of person that learns better when they're told what to learn and the stuff is given to them. But of course, I can't afford a teacher right now so UG is my only hope.

Thanks in advance, I know there are a lot of really knowledgeable people on this site.
My Rig
>MIM Fender Stratocaster and SX SJM-62
>various magicial noise boxes
>Peavey Classic 50 212

For the funk:
>Ibanez ATK300
>Acoustic B100
Learn the major scale, the notes on the 6th and 5th strings, learn more scales such as the natural minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor and pentatonic of course. Learn some theory. That's what I've been doing, studying a bit of theory every day, practicing scale runs, and perhaps most of all, knowing and paying attention to what I am playing. I've done the same; learn the tabs for some songs I like, and play them, but lately I've been thinking to myself like 'what note(s)/chord(s) am I playing? is this song in 3/4 or 4/4 time? how would this look in standard notation?' and actually listening to improve my ear. It's helped me in the few months I've been playing. I really want to learn all I can about the guitar.
Originally Posted by SkyValley
yeah im a virgin but im also pretty good at things like ping-pong and drawing pictures of people playing water polo so it balances out
Start practicing slowly to a metronome. Find some practice exercises to go with your metronome practice, like scales(major scale to start) and learn them across the whole fretboard.

Also start analyzing your picking, are you alt picking(you know, up down up down)?

Really though, just read alot of the stuff here at UG. So many people have given great advice about topics like this. People have posted some great exercises, so just look around.