If you listen to Giant Steps, the pianist had no knowledge of the music till it was shown to him the day of the recording (Coltrane had cribbed for about 3 months) - listen to his solo - it's pretty awesome but it's all just working off the chords.
i think this is the key thing....a piano player can easily associate what scale goes with what chords cos they do it a lot.....most guitarists dont do this and thats why its always a good idea to play ideas scales arps then play the associated chords....how many guitarists know chords and scales but dont know what goes with what.....i would says quite a lot and to me its one of the most important things...
and yeah a scale or arp wont make music but it will help you see the right notes that can be used ....and the arp will give you all the notes that will work over a given chord and in time will become more musical..
To the OP it sounds like you're doing the right things, you're just going through a phase when progress feels slow. We all have them. Stick with it and one day soon you'll be playing and think hey this is great I didn't used to be able to this.
It seems to be open season on chord scale theory, but I'd disregard the critics. The understanding of how chords relate to scales is a useful way of breaking down what can seem a huge, amorphous mass of information into understandable rules. With experience you'll discover those rules are provisional, limiting and occasionally distorting but by then they'll have helped you become a better player. There are other methods (arps, scale tones on strong beats, reworking licks). They all have their pluses and minuses, fanatical advocates and critics, but I don't think any is demonstrably better than the rest. In time you'll probably want to dip into all of them. But you'll make progress if you work conscientiously with any established method.
Cheers for all the tips guys.
My main problem is time so I tend to try and short cut things in terms of playing.
The theory I understand (have time to read but not play). It's just getting things under
the fingers I find hard.
If I have 5 min per chord I can generally improvise something that sound interesting.
As soon as the chord changes keep changing at speed in all goes to bits.
So just looking for good exercises to help build up speed.
I am not a natural musician so generally need theory to help me along