If you already know what major and minor chords are, and how to play them on guitar, it’s time to learn suspended chords (or sus for short). These chords are basically formed when we replace the third note of a chord for another scale degree, want to know which one?
What is a suspended chord?
To understand what suspended chords are, let’s remember that a basic chord is built from the root, its third and fifth. And if we omitt and replace the third with the major second or the perfect four (called suspended notes) we get a suspended chord.
This change results in a chord that is neither major nor minor, as was the case with power chords. And the resulting sound is neither happy nor sad, but more open and, in addition, the dissonance created between the root with the second or fourth causes a tension, which wants to resolve into the original chord.
How to use suspended chords
These chords are called suspended chords because they just generate a feeling of suspension that makes us want to go back to the original chord, as we said at the beginning. Therefore, a suspended chord is not used as a substitution of the original chord, but as a small variation that ends in the original chord.
For example, a possible chord progression could be:
D – Dsus4 – D – Dsus2 – D
Note: Sus is short for suspended.
Which on the guitar would be:
As you can see, instead of simply playing D along a verse, its suspended variations are played to give a deeper feeling to the song.
We can also use the suspended chord when it is the fifth degree in a progression, resolving into the first degree. For example, a suspended D chord would resolve to G, since D is the fifth degree of G.
Further down I will leave you a list of songs sorted by difficulty level so you can practice suspended chords (sus chords) on guitar, and you will see that the styles of these songs are mainly pop rock.
However, suspended chords are also widely used in Jazz or Jazz Fusion, being typical examples the 7Sus4 or 9sus4 chord. In any case, these chords are more complex and will not be discussed in this article (although by the end of the article you will know how to build them).
Types of Suspended Chords
As I have said before, a suspended chord is make by changing the third note for another nearby note: the second or fourth. This results in two types of suspended chords.
- Sus2: Suspended second chord.
- Sus4 or just Sus:Suspended fourth chord.
The Suspended Fourth (Sus4 Chord)
The sus 4th chord is formed by replacing the third for the just fourth.
It is the most commonly used suspended chord. Hence its nomenclature is sus4 or simply sus.
The formula of fourth chords is 1 – 4 – 5.
For example, the C suspended guitar chord would be formed by C – F – G.
And on the guitar it would have the shape:
The Second Suspended (Sus2 Chord)
The sus 2nd chord is built when the third of a chord is replaced by the major second.
The formula of second chords is 1 – 2 – 5.
For example, the suspended second chord of C would be formed by C – D – G.
And on the guitar it would have the shape:
Suspended Chords on the Guitar
Now that we have understood the theory, it is time to see how to play suspended chords on guitar.
For each chord, I’m going to show you the original version (major and minor triad) and then the sus4 and sus2 so you can see the change.
You will see that in some cases the constuction of suspended chords is quite easy, as in the cases of A or D (which is incredibly easy). In others, such as G or C, it is more complex and you will have to practice the chord changes.
A Am Asus4 Asus2
B Bm Bsus4 Bsus2
C Cm Csus4 Csus2
D Dm Dsus4 Dsus2
E Em Esus4 Esus2
F Fm Fsus4 Fsus2
G Gm Gsus4 Gsus2
Songs with Suspended Chords
At this point it’s up to you, my friend. Now you have to take your guitar and practice the suspended chords until you get the hang of it. To do this, you can always practice the chord changes (you switch from the original to the suspended chord).
However, I think it is more interesting to look for songs with suspended chords that are to your liking.
At least that’s my advice.
The good thing is that if you do a little research you will see that there is a huge amount of songs with suspended chords.
As always, you will find some songs easier than others. Therefore, and with the idea of saving you the time and work it takes to find the right songs for your level, here is a list of songs with suspended fourth and second chords classified by difficulty so you can practice as much as you want with your guitar.
Easy songs with suspended chords
Intermediate level songs with suspended chords
The most complete song with suspended chords
And now, to finish and if you feel up to it, I leave you the best song to practice suspended chords according to the experts:
In any case, my advice to practice these chords is to take a song that you already master and play with it to see how the sus4 chords sound and if they fit or not in the song.
For instance, you can take the song Bad Moon Rising and practice with it. This song only has 3 chords, and when playing D you can try switching D with Dsus4. To do this, you simply have to add the little finger to the third fret of the first string. Alternate D with Dsus4 and you will see how the song changes.
And that concludes today’s lesson, I hope you liked it. If so, or if you have any questions, I would appreciate if you could leave me a comment below.