It can be perilous to project from one's own successful experiences that this is what will work best also for others because we are all unique and have our own personalities and preferred ways of learning.
This being said, what really made the difference for me in transforming me from a basic player to someone who, whereas I have no illusions of my virtuosity, I can now hang with just about any other musicians other than serious jazzers without embarrassing myself or them, was attending five National Guitar Workshop sessions over 5 summers. Cheap? No. Fun? Yes. Beneficial. Abso-f-lutely. The instructors throw so much at you so fast, the best can absorb maybe 10% of it right then and there. Then you take the remaining 90% home and you have enough to practice and grow with for the rest of the year 'til next summer. In particular, if you can take a course from Matt Smith (like his Chop Shop course), do it - he's perhaps the best pure teacher in any field who I've ever had the honor to learn from.
Myself, when I knew I'd turned the corner in my playing was when I felt equally comfortable soloing either with scales, melodies/harmonies, or intervals. The latter is perhaps the most important and where I usually begin when other less versed guitarist friends ask me for input. Riffing on scales sounds like, well, riffing on scales.* But if you know chord tones and intervals, you can play any note, any time - either as a core note or a passing tone - and be far more creative and expressive in your playing.
* It's the difference between trying to sound like B.B. by simply playing the Mixolydian over the I, the Dorian over the IV, and the Ionian over the V, versus knowing where your flat 3rd and 3rd, and flat 7 and 7, etc., are for each chord and when to milk one versus the other. Both approaches work but when you focus on intervals rather than the scales, you can step outside the scales with intention when it serves the music, e.g., throw in a flat 5 (diminished-sounding tone) as a passing note where that note does not even appear in the scale at hand. Indeed, how to use the flat 5 in soloing was a skill Robben Ford worked with us on when he was our National Guitar Workshop guest instructor one summer.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got on soloing was from Jerry who said in an interview how he would begin with a new song by learning to play the melody line note-for-note. Then, he always had at least two basic lead options open to him with any song: with the melody; and opposite to it. So learn your melody lines!
My last suggestion: whether you prefer country & western and bluegrass or not, learn some of each. These cats approach soloing differently than do rockers. In one respect, they're closer to jazzers in how many "play over the chords" versus being strictly scale-based as are many rockers. If the 3 pillars of music are melody, harmony, and rhythm, contrary to popular stereotypes of bluegrass as "hick" music, when you consider a good bluegrass band in its totality, it is complex mash of all three elements in sync.
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