Cracking the chords
It may come as a surprise, but the guitar is a transposing instrument that sounds an octave lower than written. If the score does not take this into account the guitar can end up fighting to be heard against the mid-range accompaniment of an ensemble. In these cases (a melodic solo for example), the guitarist should be free to play up an octave when appropriate. More commonly, chord symbols in the ubiquitous comping sections are realised by the player in chord forms that are too bottom heavy. Inexperienced guitarists, who are often trying to apply the material they use in smaller pop ensembles, can be unsure how to break free from root E and A bar chords without memorising the hundreds of chord shapes contained in chord dictionaries.
This does not mean the guitarist is being lazy. While the guitar does have the benefit of being able to move musical material up and down the board to change key, the initial assimilation of chord and interval relationships is hampered by the guitar’s two-dimensional geometry and the fact that the notes are not colour coded. As a consequence, the relationship of intervals and internal architecture is not immediately obvious and means that fairly simple relationships involve the memorisation of many different shapes or forms. While the pianist usually has a realised chord score to play from, the guitarist often wades into a minefield of complex chord names and functions that they don’t have a framework for dealing with.