I guess I am trying to find a formula, do I study chords and learn all the scales first? Do I learn the Jerry solos? Do I learn songs? Do I do this while singing?
is there a "good way" to learn?
unfortunately there is no exact formula to point you to. if there were you would have found it already, as we all would have pointed you to it. the best way to learn to play guitar is to play the guitar constantly. you have to make the chords and scales so natural that they just roll out of your head thru your fingers. the only way to do that is PRACTICE!
practice the chord forms in all the positions. if need be, draw them out on paper so the shapes become the chord names in your head.
practice the scale forms you learn, and again if need be, draw them out on paper until you have the patterns committed to your brain.
learn and practice songs you like, AND the ones you do not like.
learn and practice solo's you like, AND the ones you do not like.
practice trying to relay the melodies you hear in commercials, songs, and in your daily life to the guitar neck. those are the things that usually get planted in your head that you end up whistling or humming half the day. get them out of your head and instead of whistling or humming them, play them on your guitar. they don't need to be long, or time consuming, just try and get those tones and phrasing relayed out of your head and to the fretboard. this is more of an ear excercise, and helps you with deciphering the different register of the guitar.
these are just tiny examples of things you can do to start your journey back into learning how to play. JD's point on music theory is an excellant tool also. consider it the rule book, you have to learn them in order to learn how to break them. and i say that so you understand that you may not fully grasp music theory in the beginning, but do soak it all in, and with time it begins to all flow together. the "breaking" of the rules by your favoriter players, will throw your learning music theory off. just know now that you need to learn the rules, then you'll understand how and why they are breaking them.
above all else, did i mention practice?!!!!
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