The great thing about this forum is the range of talent and experience of the members. I learn so much from everyone and don't consider myself to be better than anyone. Iif you here me play you'll know that's true. haha) I'm not really asking whether I should do one or the other but just to discuss the different times you might have to do one or the other. There are tons of threads and posts that will say
1. Play slow.
2. Play clean.
3. Increase your speed when you can do #1 & #2.
4. Play the melody then improvise around it.
And I agree with all of it. When you are able to sit down and woodshed your tunes, gt them up to speed then go out and play with others who play at your tempo then that is a perfect world. Of course it's not a perfect world and that quickly goes out the window whenever you go to a jam. Then it becomes something completely different. Something I learned very early in life and it never changes.
Trial by fire. Grip it and rip it.
At first I watched from the sidelines, got bored watching and joined in playing chords, learned and played fiddle tunes, progressed to attempting breaks using arpeggios and pentatonic scale bashing until now where I've reached a point where I can play at speed and improvise a lead even if I don't know the song w/o resorting to penatonic bashing while playing with an acceptable level of clarity, high volume and speed.
It didn't happen overnight and I've put in countless hours of practice, wood shedding, jamming, gigs, rehearsals and actively listening. And I'm just now getting to where I can hold my own and contribute.
A serious student of music is how I might classify myself. If I stayed in my house, perfecting each song until I felt it was perfect and up to speed I would have never gotten to this point so there is always a need to just get out there and let it all hang out. The trick is knowing when and where. That's what experience is for.
What's your take?