I have playing guitar for a while - I have done all of the rockschool grades and am currently in two bands - and I've recently realised that I am making far less progress than my friends. My question revolves around this: Are some people naturally better at guitar (or any instrument for that matter) and if so, how can I work to get the same out of guitar as they do? I practice daily for around an hour. I play scales, riffs, songs and exercises but make no progress. Is there anyway that I can speed up my learning process?
I feel like I'm kind of in the same boat as you as far feeling a lack of progression. I dabble with many instruments and do not channel all of my energy and attention into mastering any instrument! I do consider myself an above average guitarist and multi-instrumentalist for that matter.
I've currently been working on advancing my guitar and piano skills, although I have no teacher. What I would suggest is learn some very difficult songs and then analyze them theoretically. A teacher can help you with technique and suggest pieces for you to play, but the real way to improve is to play with the same motivation and hunger that you did when you first began. It's hard to keep your practicing fun, but it must be done.
Identify your weaknesses. Do you want to be a better finger picker? Do you want to play better Jazz Rhythm? Do you want to play some really fast bluegrass? Then proceed to achieve your goals. It's also very important to analyze the music that you're playing. You can learn some tabs, but to understand what the composer played gives your learning a lot more meaning and can help with composition and improvisation if those are areas of interest to you.
If all of your practice is playing with your bands and whatever your teacher assigns you, there's a chance that you're not playing the music that you want to play. It's one thing to have a song assigned to you or your band, it's much more rewarding when you play and learn the songs that you want to. As aforementioned, go for the difficult songs that you feel are out of your reach. Suffer now and reap the rewards later.
Of course some people are better at some things than others. It's life. You sound like you need some goals for your playing. Exams may seem like a drastic measure, but they will galvanise you into learning for a purpose. Have a look at R.G.T. syllabi - they're for electric, acoustic, classical, bass and rock guitar. With a deadline to meet (the exam), you'll have some purpose.
Playing with others is also a great incentive. You'll learn from those better, help those who aren't and there will be an inbuilt pressure not to 'let the side down'.This includes playing with other instruments as well as guitars.
Mainly, though, a teacher (as we have said numerous times here) will generally be your best motivator, and give goals for you to reach. Often, one can be very forgiving with one's own expectations. Good luck !
Talent is something that is very individual. If you have less natural talent, you have to make up for it with more work to get to the same level. There might be some things that comes more natural to your friends than it does to you. Other things might come more natural to you. Everyone are different.
You might want to step out of the "practice mode" now and then, and just play around with your guitar. You might end up discovering new riffs that does not sound like anything else you know, but sound cool and is more natural to you.
Even if you don't use these riffs in playing with others, it will be a help in improving a more natural way of playing that can help you relax more. Then try to use that feeling when playing the stuff you want to improve on.
Are you practising with a metronome? That is a way to find out weaknesses, and you also get a tangible measurement on improvement. After a couple of weeks you realize that you can play that hard part consistently at a higher BPM.
It's common to put a lot of emphasis on speed by guitarists. If it's about solos and the other guy is shredding away like crazy, focus on melody instead. There are already a lot of arpeggio masters out there...
One hour of focused practise should be enough to make progress. If living arrangements allow, always have the guitar present, play in front of the TV and so on, in addition to the dedicated practice. That helps in being able to play without thinking about it.
You're learning what you don't know which means you're making real progress. You want to make more progress? Besides the obvious - play more time per day - take some extra time and learn some piano. Practice singing. Practice without the instrument in your hand, during the day. Go over stuff in your head (invaluable if you're trying to memorize music). Listen to music outside your comfort zone and listen to how it's put together. How musicians handled grooves and time through the years, especially before MIDI (early 80s).
After playing classical and blues guitar for 40 odd yrs., here is a universal "truth" about guitar playing skill: The longer you play, the harder it becomes to improve enough to play more difficult pieces. I know I don't practice near enough to improve as it needs a lot more practice than it used to, in fact I just know I'm getting worse as I get older!