Learn How To Play Suspended Chords or sus for Short

Learn How To Play Suspended Chords or sus for Short

In this lesson, learn how to play suspended chords or sus for short.  These are chords where you move the 3rd note of the triad to create a sus4 chord or a sus2 chord.  These chords can add emotion and color to your songwriting.


Why is it called a suspended chord?

They are called suspended chords because a note that is already in the chord ( the 3rd note) is being moved over.  When you build chords, you do this by adding notes to the basic triad.  With a suspended chord, you simply move a note over that is already in the triad.  This means that the note becomes suspended.  Almost like stretching the chord out a bit.  Kind of like a suspended bridge.


It is not major or minor

The reason for this is because a major or minor chord is determined by the position of the 3rd note.  By moving this note out of position (suspending it) a new type of chord is created that is neither major or minor.  It is now classified as a suspended chord.

Let’s take the D major chord for example.  The notes for the D major triad are D  F# and E.  The F# is the third note in the chord.  If we move this chord back one fret to an F note, we now make a D minor chord with the notes D  F  E.  If we move it up one fret we now have D  G  E which is a Dsus 4 chord.

D major chord chart  Dsus4 chord chart

Can you see how you just move the third note of the D major over one fret to create the D sus4 chord?


Common suspended chords

The most common suspended chord used in songs is the one presented above.  The Dsus4 chord.  Many guitar players use this chord without even knowing it.  The reason why is because you just need to add your pinky to the 3rd fret when playing the D major triad.

Guitar players od this all the time and it is very common in many songs to add flair to the D major chord.  This is also common with the A chord.  You just take a finger off the fretboard and you can create the Asus2 chord.


The sus2 chord

This chord is created by moving the third note back two frets.  When you move their note back just one fret, you create a minor chord.  Like the A minor.  But if we move it back one more fret we create the A sus2 chord.  Very much like the sus4 chord.  Just in the opposite direction.

Asus2 chord chart

Here is an example.  The notes of the A major are A  C# E.  If we move the third note back one fret, we have the notes of A minor.  These are A  C  E.  Now let’s say we move the third note back one more fret, we now create a suspended chord.  The Asus2.  A  B  E.  Can you see how important the third note is in the chord?

It allows you to create a major chord, minor chord or suspended chord.  Suspended chords can be either a suspended fourth or a suspended second.


Learn your notes

To fully understand this concept, it is a good idea for you to learn your notes.  By knowing where your notes are located on the fretboard, you can find these notes very quickly.  You can add emotion and color to your music at will.

There are many advantages to knowing where the notes are located along the fretboard.  They will help you with forming and recognizing guitar chords.  They will help you with chord embellishments as well as scales and enhanced music theory.


Improve your chord knowledge

One thing that is very important to always be working on as you play guitar is to keep improving your knowledge of guitar chords.  You don’t necessarily need to know every chod that can be created on the guitar (if you didn’t know, there are thousands ) but a good solid foundation of how they are designed and built.

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You start with your major and minor triads and learn to build upon them.  This is called chord embellishments.  How you create chords like Gm7, or A7#9, or B augmented, or C diminished. What you can do with guitar chords is endless.  And I recommend you get the basics down.


Easy suspended chords to start with

We learned a couple already (the Asus2 and the Dsus4) but here are a few more easy ones you can get started with.  Listen to how they sound different from their major and minor counterpart.

Bsus4 chord chart

Csus2 chord chart

Csus4 chord chart

Dsus2 chord chart


Many, many more to choose from

When it comes to suspended chords, there are many, many more that you can create.  These are just a few simple ones to start out with.  Remember, these chords are created from moving the 3rd note of the triad.  If you learn chord embellishments, you’ll be able to create an Em7sus2 chord if you choose to do so.

It all depends on your knowledge of guitar chords and how you choose to use them.  You want to also work at improving your rhythm with them as well.  It’s one thing to know chords, but it is something else to be able to use them in practical application.


Learn more about chords and rhythm

If you are looking to enhance your chord knowledge and use them to improve your rhythm playing, I suggest you check out the method book Rhythm Guitar Alchemy.


Rhythm Guitar Alchemy

Rhythm Guitar Alchemy is a guitar method book that presents musical concepts in a simple step-by-step process for anyone wanting to improve the rhythm guitar playing. By learning chords, timing sequences, and music theory.

This comprehensive course will take a total beginner (with no music knowledge background) through simple lesson plans that will show them the inner workings of playing rhythm guitar and learning about how to form chords.  Major chords, minor chords, suspended chords, 7th chords, etc and how to use them to fuel your creativity.


Lesson conclusion

Suspended chords are a great way to add spice to a major or minor chord shape.  They also help you to understand music theory.  Remember, with suspended chords you are not adding a note like in other chord formations, you are simply raising or lowering the 3rd note to create a different chord.  Not major or minor but suspended.

Check out the book Rhythm Guitar Alchemy to learn more about chord formations and how to use them to fuel your guitar playing.  It can easily be found on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats.

And if you need additional help getting started,  grab my FREE training guide rhythm guitar secrets to help guide you in the right direction.  Let me know if you need additional help.  Follow me on social media for my latest lesson updates.

Keep practicing.

Sincerely, Dwayne

Dwayne Jenkins