Basically I've been "playing" for about two years now, but for the last year and a half I really haven't felt much improvement. The big issue is that I know I'm supposed to practice a lot, but practice what exactly?

I don't play too many songs because I want to learn how to play the guitar, not how to play songs on the guitar if you know what I mean. I can strum chords and that stuff, but I'm looking to improve my ability to play melodies and solos and the like.

I've recently been playing with a book that teaches classical style with finger picking, which means I have to learn how to read music and basically start over. I'm not against it, but most of the best guitar players I know don't even know how to read tabs. They just emulate music they hear... Any advice on what exactly I should be practicing?
Quote by NamelessCruiser
I'm not against it, but most of the best guitar players I know don't even know how to read tabs. They just emulate music they hear... Any advice on what exactly I should be practicing?

There are quite a few naturally gifted self taught guitarists, but they are the minority. Music education is the faster path to becoming good, for the vast majority of players. What areas of player are you weak at? That will point you in the direction of what you should be practicing.
My weakness seems to be pretty damn general. Like right now I'm working on playing "black magic woman" and that's beyond my limits at the moment. Chords are fairly simple, although I still have trouble with more complicated ones and barre chords. My pull-offs are fine, but my hammer-ons are weak. I'm just a mess overall.
Your fingers are weak if you can't hammer on. Do simple exercises like

e-5h6p5h6p5 etc etc...
Sounds like strength building exercises would be to your bennifit. Like chromatic scales etc. Practice barre chords everyday, rock your fingers back and forth while finger the chord until every note sounds cleanly. Playing barre chords in and of themselves is a strength building exercise.
Do you do any technical exercises? Those help a lot IMO. 1-2-3-4 chromatic scale ftw.
86% of the people who frequent the "Electric Guitar" forum would say that they have played guitar for under 5 years.
this basically taught me hammer-ons.
For barré chords, practice, practice, then practice some more.
definitely try a song that is beyond your skill level.

lately i've been playing a lot of John Mayer...not the cheesy stuff from the first album but stuff from Continuum and a few of the covers he did...specifically, that "flicking" thing like in Stop This Train or that cover he did with Clapton on Brokenhearted.

before i started off stuff like that too...stuck in a rut without a heading. but then i got into the blues and it's fun trying to play some of the classics and it helped work my ears trying to get things in a diff tune.

plus not only playing covers of songs but try to play them differently if you're too bored to learn a new one (like me xD)...say a diff strum pattern or something.

the only thing you have to keep in mind is...whenever you pick up your guitar, figure out what else is there to learn? i've been at it for 3 years and i know i'm nowhere near where i want to be. i'm learning licks on the electric, scales, some stuff on the acoustic.

you'd be surprised how much more there is to learn on the guitar. just keep that curiousity up and you'll learn lots.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
Thanks for all the tips... I guess it all comes down to just practicing more of everything...

On another note, and another question which I think is less goofy and something I'd really like to understand better. I talk with musicians every chance I get and, inevitably, they all invite me to jam with them... and I would but I havne't the slightest idea how or where to begin.

I tried learned music theory off this site, and I learned a hell of a lot of good stuff, but I find there's still some mystery behind the concepts of chord progression and key. For example, is playing rhythm guitar just stumming (or appregio) the chord progression of a song? And how does the lead guitar interact with the chord progession?