You get to where you know a lot... intuitively and theoretically... where you play sort of "the way you want to sound" and you STILL hear those sounds on occasion that without transcribing the licks and internalizing someone else's bag, these sounds just don't come out of you like you feel they should. Like you know how to work this into that, and resolve to this chord tone, or get out of key and back in without a problem... but then you hear Random Guitarist X play a line over a song that is no sweat for you... and the line's not out of your league, but you just can't reproduce it!
Actually, if you develop your ears (it's a lifelong pursuit, so don't damage them with volume) you'll find all the notes are always there, just waiting for you to release them. You just have to be able to hear them first to get at them...and remember there's only 12 notes, and the way they sound has EVERYTHING to do with what the chord of the moment is.
Learn to hear just the chord tones- no pentatonic scale. Then learn the in-between notes of the major scale (if it's a major triad add the 7, add b7 for dom7 chord). Then add the blues notes (b3 b5 b7). The major 7 is nasty against the dom 7 chord. There you have 10 of the 12 notes possible. The missing links are b9 and b6.
Try that on your chord vocabulary for whatever music you are playing.
Getting the chord/melody relationship thing going will set you free. But keep making sandwiches and hanging with your girlfriend too, it's good for your music.
i think guitarists have this problem more than other musicans. seems to me that guitarists get more concerned with the gear and ther tone than others.
guitarist forget they are musicians that play the guitar as ther instrument. instead they become guitarists instead of musicans.
at some point forget about if you need a strat or lp, or fender or marshall. stop trying to get to same tone and effects that your guitar playing hero has. and just play music. find yourself, your natural sound, use your natrual abilities, work with that.
then and only then can one be happy with the music you make. all the gear in the world will never help you to sound better and play better.
just learn music and how to make music. the gear should only be a hobby that goes with being a musician. when you hear a musican that plays guitar it doesnt matter what gear he has, he will and does sound great. when you hear a guy into his gear and no musical ability it sounds bad.
robben ford was a great musician before he got dumble amps and custom and vintage guitars. this goes for so many if not all other big name players too.
learn to play music. use your guitar to play the music you learned. the guitar is the tool you use to make music.
All the zen in the world doesn't change the fact that for some of us, the desire to continually expand and improve ourselves can be insatiable. And nobody's got it all figured out. Has less to do with emulating others, and more to do with hearing a sound and saying "I don't know how that works. I need to understand how that works." I don't see any reason why that could be considered bad or wrong. Nothing wrong with wanting to know the difference between how Jimmy Herring, Allan Holdsworth, John Coltrane, and Django Reinhardt create tension, melodically, for example.