Everyone has a different way of visualizing the fretboard....what makes everyone unique in their playing style...how they approach a song....how they approach improvisation....some people think in terms of progressions and the circle of fifths...others think in blocks....some view the fretboard and approach it vertically...others horizontally. Some think about particular lines that have been drilled into their heads when they are vamping. some try to emulate other guitarists that have gone before them, a harmonica player, horn player, singer or a pianist...
Me personally....I had scales and modes driven into my brain when I was younger and would practice them over and over...constantly trying different things over a variety of progressions...the guitar grimoire series of books and my guitar teacher were major influences. also more recently the "Sheets of Sound" books by Jack Zucker have been wonderful in giving me new exercises and ideas.
Everyone has different levels of Music Theory that they have assimilated over the years...and while many would disagree with me...I believe all of it in the name of making music is all ok...especially when you break those rules creatively. I know some theory...I Learn it....forget it...learn it forget it...over and over again...very frustrating.
there are definitely things that I personally need to work on. While scales now seem to come easily to me making vamping and improvisational line creation relatively easy....comping and different voicings and inversions make me a bit looney...something I need to work on much further. I also know that by attacking this weakness it will greatly improve my lead playing...and help me to unlock the potential of all of those silly scales and their different modes I have stored away in my brain.
Partially I think some of my personal imbalance (playing guitar mind you as opposed to psychological!) came from being a lefty and learning to play righty...my left hand was always stronger than my right...causing me to gravitate more toward leads and shying away from straight rhythm, chording, and unfortunately with this a void in the knowledge and experience of what a truly great all around guitarist who can do it all....(Joe Pass, George Benson, Pat Martino...etc)...has in his bag of tricks. plus lead playing always seemed cooler...or so I thought at the time.
So in the spirit of Hans wanting us to put together thought provoking threads...anyone want to open up and share their personal weaknesses and strengths on the actual instruments we spend so much time talking about yet oddly enough never seem to mention what we actually do with them?