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Home > Beginners / Chords > Add & Sus Open Chords

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Add & Suspended Open Guitar Chords

If you've been through the first three parts of this basic guitar chords series, you'll have learned quite a large library of chords to play around with. We know the major and minor open shapes, plus the various open 7th chords that add some depth to those basic chords.

In this lesson we'll explore yet more interesting variations on those basic major/minor chord forms.

By adding and changing notes in chords you can make them sound more colourful. It gives your chord learning a touch of experimentation and individuality.

First, a short introduction to the chords we're about to learn...


Modifying the basic major and minor open chords

There are many chords you can create using the basic E, A, D, C, G forms (major and minor) as the foundation.

The idea is, when creating your own music, instead of just playing a straight E major chord (for example), you'll think about variations that might sound more interesting, such as E7 or Eadd6 (more on "add" chords in a moment).

Just to be clear though, don't feel like you MUST use a more elaborate chord through every chord change in your song. Sometimes those basic open chords are the perfect chord to use.

It's ultimately about opening up your creative ideas and choices. I'm just giving you a wider range of those choices!


Open major add chords

numbered fret hand fingersNot wanting to go into too much heavy theory right now, "add" chords (also known as added tone chords) are basically major and minor chords with notes added to them (yeh that was pretty obvious!).

So all we're doing is adding notes to the basic major and minor chords we learned in the first two parts of this series. Let's take a look at some examples, but don't worry about what the numbers after the "add" mean right now. Just learn to associate the name of the chord with the shape it creates on the fretboard and its sound.

Click the diagrams to hear the chord.

Eadd6
Eadd6

Eadd6 Variation
Eadd6 Variation

Eadd9
Eadd9

Eadd9 Variation
Eadd9 Variation

Aadd6
Aadd6

Aadd6 Variation
Aadd6 Variation

Aadd9
Aadd9

Dadd6
Dadd6

Dadd9
Dadd9
Cadd6
Cadd6

Cadd9
Cadd9

Cadd9 Variation
Cadd9 Variation

Gadd6
Gadd6

Gadd6 Variation
Gadd6 Variation

Gadd9
Gadd9

Tip: Try using the same added notes with the 7th chords we learned in part 3 (where the fingering allows).

Start with the basic 7th chord (e.g. A7, Amaj7) and add the same notes/strings as we did with the chords above. You'll have to work out the fingerings you find most comfortable as you'll be using all 4 fingers in most cases!


Open minor add chords

Notice how it's exactly the same notes we're adding, the only difference being we're adding them to the basic minor chords (from part 1)!

Emadd6
Emadd6

Emadd9
Emadd9
Emadd9 Variation
Emadd9 Variation

Amadd6
Amadd6

Amadd6 Variation
Amadd6 Variation

Amadd9
Amadd9

Dmadd6
Dmadd6
Gmadd6
Gmadd6

Tip:
You can also try adding the same notes to the minor 7th chords we learned in part 3.


Suspended open guitar chords

Again, I don't want you to get caught up in what "suspended" means right now, but these chords have a particular sound you should get to know. Don't forget you can also apply the "sus" to dominant 7th chords from part 3 and, where possible, the "add" chords from above. Experiment!

Suspended 4th (sus4) chords

Esus4
Esus4

E7sus4
E7sus4

Asus4
Asus4

A7sus4
A7sus4

Dsus4
Dsus4

D7sus4
D7sus4

Csus4
Csus4

C7sus4
C7sus4

Gsus4
Gsus4

I find the Gsus4 chord sounds cleaner without the A string included. This means you have to block the A string using your 2nd finger. Simply angle your 2nd finger so that it just touches the A string and mutes it.
G7sus4
G7sus4

Suspended 2nd (sus2) chords

Asus2
Asus2

A7sus2
A7sus2

Dsus2
Dsus2

D7sus2
D7sus2

Gsus2
Gsus2


If you've followed this course closely and really made an effort to KNOW these chords and experiment with their variations, you will now have a huge library of chords to use in your own songwriting.

Enjoy and use the knowledge you now have, because many guitarists get stuck using the same old chords over and over again which ultimately limits their creativity. That won't be you!




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