The whole study of arps/licks has been kind of overwhelming since there are soooo many possibilities. There are only so many hours in a day and even fewer "free" hours for practice time. For example, if I have 100 licks/arps that I like and want to learn and let's say I only practice each one 30 seconds per day (not a lot of time on each) that is almost an hour of practice time per day and that doesn't even include songs, arrangements, rhythm, etc practice. So recently I've tried to limit what I'm practicing rather than trying to learn absolutely every lick/arp/song that I hear. In order to limit the number of arps that I have to practice, for example, I'm currently trying to cull thru the possibilities and only work on patterns that are 'practical' (i.e. where the fingerings lay out well on the fretboard especially for 'gypsy picking'). So many of the arps that I see in books are just not practical to play at faster tempos (unless you are one of the few GJ phenoms). I understand that one needs to know where the basic notes are but I'm just not motivated to work for hours on end on patterns that I am sure I will not use. Like for example, a basic "E position" major triad arp. Obviously, it's important to know that the notes exist in that position but that just isn't a practical pattern to play fast especially when "descending" from high E to low E using gypsy picking so why practice that arp up and down for hours?
So far, just for arpeggios, I have 38 that have convenient fingerings (major, minor, dominant, "horizontal and vertical" for each). That seems like a lot to me and I have not even started getting into culling thru the altered dominant patterns and/or what I would call "licks" (pre-planned phrases) that I like.
Besides not having that much available time I find that I just can't really store that many patterns/songs/etc in my head at any one time and expect to be able to actually recall them and use them on the spot.
I'm guessing this is a common problem (or maybe I'm just lame) but has anyone else figured out a good way to overcome this thing of being overwhelmed by the enormity of the possibilities and limiting practice to a reasonable number of practical and basic patterns? What are your 'go-to' patterns for the basic major/minor/dominant arps/licks that you would use on the spot in a jam session?