May 14, 2019 by Klaus Crow
Sus2 and sus4 chords are very often used in music to embellish chords and chord progressions.
It’s an easy way of adding some extra flavor to a chord and give you a little space to mess around with that chord.
Especially when you have to play a chord for several consecutive measures in a song and you don’t want to get bored out of your mind, it’s nice to implement a sus4 or sus2 here and there to spice things up a bit.
To understand what a sus chord really is and how it operates you have to know a little bit of music theory. A normal major chord consists of the root, 3rd and 5th notes of the major scale (1-3-5). If we take the C major scale for example: C D E F G A B C and you take the root (1st), 3rd and 5th note of that scale you get C-E-G. The minor chord consists of the root, flat 3rd and 5th notes of the major scale (1-b3-5) and becomes C-Eb-G. Here’s where the sus chords comes in…
The sus4 chord consists of the root, 4th and 5th notes of the major scale (1-4-5) = C F G. You can see that the sus4 chord (“sus” stands for “suspended”.) replaces the third with the fourth note.
The sus2 chord consists of the root, 2nd and 5th notes of the major scale (1-2-5) = C D G. The sus2 chord replaces the third with the second note.
By removing the 3rd in a chord, the chord becomes neither major nor minor, as the 3rd determines the happy major or sad minor sound. Therefor sus chords can be applied to both major and minor chords.
Suspended chords have the tendency to resolve. The four and fifth in a sus4 chord creates tension and so does the second and root in a sus2 chord. That’s why sus chords are often played in combination with their parent chord.
A combination can be played like this:
A – Asus4 – A – Asus2 or
C – Csus2 – C – Csus4
or suspended combined with minor:
Em – Esus4 – Em – Esus4 or
Am – Asus4 – Am – Asus2
Here are some popular intros using suspended chords:
Summer of 69 – Bryan Adams:
Dsus2 – D – Dsus4 – D – Dsus2 – D (tab)
So this is christmas – John Lennon:
A – Asus2 – Asus4 – A (tab)
Crazy little thing called love – Queen:
D – Dsus4 – D – D – Dsus4 – D – D – Dsus4 – D – D – Dsus4 – D (tab)
However suspended chords can also last indefinitely without resolving to their parent chord which happens a lot in jazz, but also in pop music.
The sus2 chord has an open feel and sounds kind of wistful. It does have a slight tendency to resolve but it doesn’t have that strong pull like the sus4 chord toward it’s parent chord which makes it feel lightly stable. The Sus2 chord can therefor even be substituted for it’s parent chord. So you could play Asus2 instead of A major.
The sus4 chord on the other hand has the quality that it fits really good at the end of a musical piece using it on the fifth chord of the key and resolving to the I chord. So if you’re in the key of G, you play Dsus4 – D (D is the fifth of G) and then go back to G major (the I chord).
– Practice and memorize the sus2 and sus4 chords below with their parent chords.
– Study popular suspended intros like the ones above for inspiration.
– Incorporate the use of suspended chords in your favorite songs. Make it your own.
Have a great one!
If you want to learn more chords check out YourGuitarChords.com
Hi Klaus sir,
This is a new lesson to learn.The sus2 and sus4 chords is a new thing to me.I will surely practice it.Thanks for sharing.
I have a question
I came across a word “overall musical ability” in a paper.
Can you tell me what are the abilities and skills in overall musical ability?
Klaus Crow says
The term “musical ability” has to do with the aptitude and achievement of the individual.
The topic is written about in a peer-reviewed academic journal “Psychology of Music”.
I enjoy your site – just came across it recently. Thought I would add to your catalog of sus examples. I think the riff from Radiohead’s Street Spirit (Fade Out) uses a progression based on Asus4-Asus2-Am-A5, but feel free to correct me.
Bob Sackett says
Trivia. In religious music the “Amen” (two syllables)at the end of a piece is often drawn out to four syllables on the organ by the inclusion of both kinds of suspended chords: “Ah-ah-ah-men.”
heyyyyy THANX BROOOOO
Pita Stringz says
please could you please tell me how to make use of the sus chords.. thanks
Wow the is really cool and very comprehensive I now understand how they work, thanks a lot I really appreciate the effort you put together to make it understandable thanks so much, I have been following your lessons its really awesome and great
kevin webb says
Thanks for this it really opens up the ;Sus’ business for a novice/.
What notes can you drop in a suspended chord? Does dropping the fifth still applied to sus chords?
Hi claus, i am fairly new to the website but want to give you a big thank you for making this fantastic blog. I just want to clarify if sus4 and sus2 are same as diminished chord and augmented chords, and if not can you please explain how are they different. Also tell me how i can support your blog in anyway i can
bola hari ini says
You have brought up a very great points, appreciate it for the post.
Asanka Mallikarachchi says
Hi Klaus Sir,
I am very new to your site and enjoy your site. My favorite instrument is Key Board and please explain what is the different between C sus2 and G sus4? Also you would be very grateful, if you can explain further more about I chords.. You explained if we want to stop from G we can use D sus4 and then G..
Also please explain me the place where we can use suspended combinations like D sus2 /D/ D sus4/ D in summer of 69?
I have touched only three chords patterns in summer of 69, but I never touched sus patterns. Can you please show me the place??
My three (03) patterns are
Jason Timlock says
Beautiful explanation. Klaus you are a wonderful teacher. I have played suspended chords for 50 years and know the sound and the flavour so the simple theory explanation made perfect sense to me. It was like an arrow to my cortex ( yes, it’s about time I got it together with theory ). Thanks again
Good sus chords well explained
when you mentioned songs built around Sus2 and Sus4 chords I had Suedehead by Morrissey on the brain – nice explanation and thanks….