The good news is that this is quite common and the great news is that there is a solution to your problem.
WHAT YOU ARE DOING WRONG:
Please do remember that I am generalising this article and that obviously your situation may be different.
But what I have seen from past experience is that most guitar learners who are practising the guitar are not making progress, primarily due to the way they practice the guitar.
You are most probably playing along to your favourite recording, trying to jam guitar riffs and songs.
While these activities in and of themselves is actually beneficial, that cannot be your main method of practising the guitar.
You need to have a structured, methodical approach when practising your guitar.
THE SECRET TO FIXING EVERYTHING:
The first step towards success in your guitar playing is to recognise the fact that you need to have a great guitar instructor or mentor.
You need to find somebody who can help you get past the issues you are facing.
If you are unable to afford the services of a great instructor, then you will need to be that instructor for yourself. It is possible, but it is a lot harder.
Alongside your guitar instructor/mentor, you should fix most of your problems If you are serious about practising correctly and you work assiduously towards your goals.
HOW TO PRACTICE CORRECTLY:
The way to practice correctly is to have a structured approach. You need to do the same thing day in and day out.
There are many different ways of practising, I suggest the following:
Start out by practising your right hand technique.
After that work on your left hand.
After you have done that, you may synchronise both hands.
Now you have covered both hands. You have dealt with the technical side of playing the guitar.
Your next problem is knowledge.
I suggest a clear, step-by-step approach on working to memorise the guitar fretboard.
In this area you can practice arpeggios, scales and modes across the guitar neck anchoring it to the root notes.
I cannot give you specific arpeggio or scale to practice as that will depend on what you know already, or where you are in your guitar journey.
After you have fixed some of your knowledge issues, it is time to work on your improvisation.
Have structured and disciplined exercises to improvise along with.
Practice specific issues around The subject of improvisation. Focus on areas that you struggle with. Focus on fixing problem areas.
When just starting out, you can simply take a minor pentatonic scale and practice in a freestyle by just jamming in and out of the different different box positions.
If you are a more mature guitarist, you will need to work on selecting notes against the harmony in order to produce the most advantageous sound.
If you are a professional guitarist, you can work on something like giant steps throughout all 12 keys. Because of the symmetrical nature of the composition, you will practice all 12 keys a few times through!
The key here is to have a structure and you see the keyword that just keeps coming back – ‘structure’.
If you simply operate out of jamming and playing along with the riffs, don’t expect to develop great guitar playing. At best you will get a so-so level of guitar playing.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NEXT:
Firstly start studying with a guitar mentor that works well with your personality. Don’t just select any guitar mentor – select someone that you can actually get along well with.
If you cannot afford a guitar mentor, you will seriously need to become your own mentor – unfortunately this is very difficult to do. (If you are passionate you will find a way. If you are privileged to live in a beautiful country such as the United Kingdom, there is really no excuse.)
Make sure your guitar mentor understands structure and discipline.
Study on a weekly basis or a daily basis alongside your mentor and practice in a disciplined approach.
If you do this, it will only be a matter of time before you will become the guitarist you have always dreamed of becoming!
» Find out more about the guitar courses that I offer in London for serious guitar students here