My fingers are fast and my muscles have woken up so im pretty sure it's not speed or accuracy for the following problem. I've been playing for just about a year now. But I have one strange problem... I can't play anybody elses songs!! Like for example, I LOVE studying scales and especially composing, making my own pieces.. it's one of the few things in life than can relax me. But I have SOOO much trouble looking up a tab on UG and playing it. It's mainly memorizing it and because it's not part of my finger memory, it ALWAYS comes out sloppy and out of rhythm, even some of my favorite songs that I have heard hundreds of times. And even songs that are easy to a complete beginner! I'm kind of known in my family for being the forgetful one but I did not think it would affect my playing this bad. I was talking to a incredible guitarist friend of mine today and he called me advanced which made me feel good. He told me I know stuff about theory that people that have been playing for ages don't know. But then i'm kind of embarreseed to think I only know like 5 songs fully and bits and pieces of plenty. I'll have to look at the tab, play it, and look again, for one verse on a short piece about five times until I get it. But when I improvise from scales, I sound magnificent and clear. Any ideas? Is this common? What should I do to improve? HELP!! It's killing my motivation...
Well, I'm somewhat in the same situation... got 2 songs pretty much all the way through, minus bits of solos (one and ride the lightning, both metallica), and I know quite a bit of theory compared to other guitarists I know.

I wouldn't be too bothered about it, some people just aren't cut out for covering songs... If your own stuff sounds good, it's not a problem as I see it. If you're going the way you want to musically, it's all good.
Play the way you like it, don't be a copycat. Don't fight your ears.

I'm in the same boat with you. I've played with tabs and I don't play the way they want me to play. I can't play with a cd but I listen to it and then work it out on my own.

What you can call your own compositions is something to be proud of.
If you want to be able to cover other songs, you're going to have to work through your weak points to get them down, that's all there is to it. If you don't feel the need to perform covers, then stick with what you're obviously good at and perfect it. I find myself doing this too from time to time. Improv flows out a lot easier than studied tabs do. It's the memorization thing that does it I think. With improv, you are creating a piece all your own from memory of what you've already learned. With tab of someone elses song, you are required to learn bits as you go. This is why theory, scales, keys and so on become so important. Once you have all of the necessary building blocks down pat and can recognize them in different songs, it will become easier to play those songs from memory rather than via tab.
Of course playing your own improv sounds clearer than trying to play a tab.. that's how the world works. It's easier doing stuff you're used to than things that are alien to you. I can't judge without hearing your improvisations but trying to learn a few other songs is always useful to give you new ideas and such. It's easy to get stuck in an improvisation rut.
Thank you guys all so much!!

One thing I liked to hear is "Don't fight your ears", kinda opened my eyes a little bit. But this 21-day challenge, VERY VERY interesting, thats what I'm working on next.

Thanks again UG