Beginner Sus Chords

Dsus2 & Dsus4

 

Asus2 & Asus4

 

Esus4 (Esus2 shown but not recommended at this point!)

 


The Concept

“Sus” is short for “suspended.” In sus chords, you’re taking away the 3rd and replacing it with… something.

Without getting too heavily into music theory, here’s the basic idea.

Major chords consist of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes in a key. For instance, the notes in the D major scale are

D E F# G A B C#

The 1st note in the key is D, the 3rd is F#, and the 5th is A. These three notes make up the D major chord.

Now, the 3rd note in the chord is pretty crucial! This is the note that when flattened by one semitone (or one fret), the chord changes from major to minor.

But what happens if you just take the 3rd away? Well, it’s neither major nor minor. It becomes its own thing.

Dsus… Something

Looking at the D chord, if you take away the 3rd, the open E string rings out. E is the 2nd note in the D major scale. Since the E (2nd) is replacing the F# (3rd) in the chord, you get a Dsus2 chord.

Following the same pattern, Dsus4 replaces the 3rd with the 4th, which would be a G in this case.

How To Use Sus Chords

Sus chords can be applied to music in a few different ways. At the most basic level, they’re simply new sounds you can add to your musical repertoire. They can be used as ornaments when used sparingly within a song, they can replace the root chord in some cases, or they can become part of a melodic riff. There are tons of ways to get creative with these!

You'll probably find that moving one finger while holding the rest down presents some whole new challenges, which might be a little tricky for you at first. When playing them, don’t be afraid to experiment with different fingerings, too.

Practice

I would suggest you explore sus chords with A and E shapes too (both major and minor). Sus chords work with C and G, but they’re more difficult, so I’d probably recommend leaving them alone for now.

I’ve also given you some practice exercises to work on. Take them slow and don’t be frustrated if they feel strange at first. They’ll get easier!

1   2   3 + 4 +
R   R   R 4 R 2 

1   2 +   + 4 
R   R 4   4 R 

1   2 + 3 + 4 
R   4 R 4 R 2 

 

Lesson 11: Sus Fingerstyle

- LESSON STEPS -

Grades