Do you have a looper pedal? I ask because I feel that's one of the better instructional tools technology has given us. Playing to someone else's backing tracks has its advantages, but nothing helps understanding harmony and melody like creating everything yourself. Picking the chords and understanding their intervals helps immensely with improvisation. And Loopers are great for the creative process, as well. And sure, one could do all this in their DAW, but the ease and convenience of a looper puts it out in front for me. Often times, I'm just jamming and don't want to be bothered with the PC. With the looper on my board, it's just on and go.
My Boss ME-80 pedal does have a looper function, however it is not very easy or convenient to use. You lose the much of the functionality of the processor when using that part. I have tried it though and I can see what you mean, although getting the timing right is very difficult. From what I understand, a dedicated looper pedal is much easier to use.
I also tried a Digitech Trio pedal, that I thought would be beneficial in the same manner. It turns out that it would not loop your rhythm, but would add bass and drums after learning your progression. It works pretty good, but I see now they have updated it and added a looper function and it is a much better product! I have not used the Trio as much as I thought I would. It's pretty cool, but man... the bass lines it generates can get pretty crazy. It's like jamming with Jaco Pastorius! Hard to dial it back enough to keep it from taking over.
Lately I've mostly been playing along with backing tracks of various kinds as well as some synthwave/retrowave stuff. I enjoy it as a learning tool, just hard to get out of the rut of playing in the same areas/scales that I'm comfortable with. Been trying to learn a more melodic approach to improvisation (through youtube lessons/tutorials) the last few days and it's been somewhat beneficial already. Paying more attention to the chord tones as opposed to improvising in the overall key.
Thanks for the advice... I have a bunch of stuff that I don't use much, if I can sell some things locally I may pick up a dedicated looper pedal. Any recommendations?