Suspended chords (sus 2 and sus 4)

23 Mar

Hi There,

Thanks for reading my blogs so far and hope you’ve found them useful in your quest to be a guitar god.

We’ve talked about the CAGED system before and a few different types of chords.

You’ll often see tabs and sheet music have chords like Asus4 or Esus2 in them.

Firstly they are called Suspended (sus) for short due to their being no ‘3rd’ interval in them.

Your major chords all contain a root, a major third and a perfect fifth, or 1,3,5 for short

A major 3rd is 2 tones in size, a perfect 5th is 3 and a half tones in size.

Your minor chords all contain a root, a minor third and a perfect fifth, or 1,b3,5 for short.

A minor third is 1 1/2  tones in size

So for example an E major chord has the notes E G# and B, an Em chord has E G and B

What a suspended chord does is remove the note that defines a major or minor chord and creates harmonic tension (or suspension) by replacing it with either a perfect 4th or Major 2nd interval.

A perfect 4th is 2 and a half tones in size and a Major 2nd is 1 tone in size.

So an Esus4 now has the notes E, A and B while an Esus2 has the notes E,F# and B

These can create some awesome sounds and can really spice up your chord progressions.

A good way of practicing these is by cycling through between your major and suspended chords. For example Amajor, then A sus4 and then A sus2 as in the below picture.

With your sus chords you can open up a load more options for your songs.

In the next blogs we can look at songs that utilize these chords really well, Message in a bottle by the Police and Common People by Pulp

Thanks for reading


You can find other tips if you follow me @jsmusicschool on twitter

Many thanks


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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in CAGED chord system


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