13 May 2009

What You Should Know About Sus Chords

This lesson for beginner guitar players explains what sus chords are and shows you how to play some popular sus chords based on open chords.

Sus chords are used in many rock songs, often as passing chords to create interesting melodic movement in a song, a good example is Norwegian Wood by The Beatles that makes extensive use of sus chords. We Can Work It Out is another Beatles classic that uses sus4 chords.

Suspended Chord No Third

Sus is an abbreviation for suspended and is the name given to chords that don't have a third in them. The third is replaced by either the second or fourth degree, the scale degree below and above the third. The absence of the third creates a sound that seems to float, neither major or minor it is in suspension.

Suspended chords with a second are written sus2 while chords with the fourth instead of the third are written sus4, often simply written as sus.

Sus Chord Positions

There are several common forms to play sus chords frequently used with open chords. Let's take a look at some examples of these in the key of A.

Example Chord Shapes

A Major

0|---|---|---|
|---|-3-|---|
|---|-2-|---|
|---|-1-|---|
0|---|---|---|
x|---|---|---|

Asus2

0|---|---|---|
0|---|---|---|
|---|-2-|---|
|---|-1-|---|
0|---|---|---|
x|---|---|---|

Asus4

0|---|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|
|---|-2-|---|
|---|-1-|---|
0|---|---|---|
x|---|---|---|


The open A chord lends itself easily to sus chords, both the sus2 and sus4 forms are within easy reach. To play the sus2 simply remove the finger that normally plays the second string, for the sus4 slide this finger up one fret or add your little finger to play the 4th.

D Major

The D chord is another that works very well with both sus2 and sus4 chords. On the D you create a sus2 by removing your finger from the bottom string to play the 2nd on the open string. The 4th note is found one fret up from the finger normally played on the bottom string, use your little finger to add this note.

D

|---|-2-|---|
|---|---|-3-|
|---|-1-|---|
0|---|---|---|
x|---|---|---|
x|---|---|---|


Dsus2

0|---|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|
|---|-1-|---|
0|---|---|---|
x|---|---|---|
x|---|---|---|

Dsus4

|---|-2-|-4-|
|---|---|-3-|
|---|-1-|---|
0|---|---|---|
x|---|---|---|
x|---|---|---|

E Major

On E major it is quite easy to play the sus4 by adding your little finger at the second fret on the third string. The sus2 chord is difficult to play, if you simply remove the finger on the third string you create a Em chord, the 2nd would be a fret further down the neck, but there are no more frets.

E

0|---|---|---|
0|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|---|
|---|-3-|---|
|---|-2-|---|
0|---|---|---|

Esus4

0|---|---|---|
0|---|---|---|
|-1-|-4-|---|
|---|-3-|---|
|---|-2-|---|
0|---|---|---|

Example Chord Progression

Here's an example chord progression to get you started and give you some ideas on how to use sus chords. The example is in the key of A and uses a simple repeated pattern based on A and D chords. Play it and see how it creates a nice melody that moves the chords along.

Sus Chord Progression

Conclusion

Sus chords are a nice way to live up chord accompaniments, try out some of the above forms as passing chords for one or two strums in songs you know. This idea works especially well as you lead into chord changes around the A and D major chords.

Guitar article writing: Gary Fletcher writes quality, original content for your guitar web sites. Discover guitar writing services for web sites, blogs and newsletters. Visit http://www.writescribe.com/guitar to learn more.


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