Note: We don't
have a "9th suspended 2nd" chord because the 9th
and 2nd are the same note!
Suspended Guitar Chord Charts
Here you can learn how to form suspended chords on the guitar
fretboard, both in the open position and movable shapes. The fingerings
are only suggestions. Feel free to adjust!
Open Suspended 4th Chords (sus4)
The basic sus4 sound...
Movable Suspended 4th Chords (sus4)
Position these shapes anywhere up the neck, on the root you want...
Open Dominant 7th Suspended 4th Chords (7sus4)
The addition of the minor (dominant) 7th gives the sus4 chord more
depth and colour...
Movable Dominant 7th Suspended 4th Chords (7sus4)
Open Extended Suspended 4th Chords (9sus4 / 13sus4)
We can extend the 7sus4 chords to include additional tones, such as the
9th and 13th, for even more colour. These are most commonly used in
jazz, soul and funk, but they would sound great in any style.
Let's look at some ways in which suspended chords can function in our
Sus4 in place of major/minor chords
The sus4 chord has a neutral sound, so you'll find it can replace most
instances of a major or minor chord. Try "swapping" different chords in
your progressions for sus4 and 7sus4 chords. For example...
(Note: the following examples also apply to 7sus4 chords)
Gmaj / Em / Am / Cmaj could
/ Em / Asus4
/ Cmaj Dmaj
/ Gmaj / Cmaj could
become a more soulful Dmaj
/ Gmaj / C9sus4 Sometimes, you might want to resolve the sus4 to a
major/minor chord on the same root...
Cmaj / Asus4 - Am / Em / G7
Cmaj / Asus4 - A7 / Dm / Fmaj
Take a listen to how the Stone Temple Pilots use this sus4 - maj
movement in the climax of their song Big
Empty (starts at 2:42). You can hear a movement from E7sus4
to E7 right before he sings "conversations kill".
So you have the choice of either holding the sus4 through the chord, or
resolve the 4 to a b3 (minor) or 3 (major).
You'll often hear sus4 being used in the tonic position. That's the
chord we might call "home" in our progression/key. Typically, this sus4
is resolved to the natural tonic chord, whether major or minor. For
In music theory, the V
(5) chord is a strong point of tension before the "return home" back to
the tonic (1) chord of the key.
Using a suspended 4th chord (including its extensions) on this V
position can serve to enhance that tension. The table below shows you
the relationship between the tonic and V
chords in several common keys. It can work in both major and minor
Gsus4, G7sus4, G9sus4
Asus4, A7sus4, A9sus4
Bsus4, B7sus4, B9sus4
Dsus4, D7sus4, D9sus4
Esus4, E7sus4, E9sus4
You can use consecutive sus4 chords to create a build up of tension. I
love how Luther Vandross opened his song Never
Too Much, with a chromatic sequence of what
sounds like 9sus4 chords. Another example...
And of course, you can resolve each (or some) of these sus4 chords to a
major or minor chord, demonstrated by The Who in their classic Pinball Wizard
(starts at 0:17). Listen to the descending sus4 - maj movements.
In major keys, the sus2 chord works nicely as a tonic chord. For
Amaj / C#m / Gmaj / Dmaj could
/ C#m / Gmaj / Dmaj
For a deeper, more "mysterious" tonic sound, try a 7sus2. Very nice
when picked and drawn out. If you know your scales/modes, a 7sus2 would
relate naturally to Mixolydian.
The sus2 chord also sounds very natural in the IV
position. The table below will show you the relationship between the IV
and tonic chord in several keys. maj7sus2 also sounds great in this
position because in major keys the IV
is naturally a maj7 chord.
7sus2 in the V
When we add the minor 7th to sus2 chords, it destabilises them and
creates tension. This means 7sus2's work effectively in the V
position. You should know from the sus4 table earlier what these
positions will be for a given key, so there's a little test for you!
7sus2 as a bVII
Here's a little known use of 7sus2 chords, known as a "backdoor VII"
in major keys or just the "subtonic" in minor keys. All we do is take
the tonic chord of the key and move the root down one whole step for
position. It's on this position we play a 7sus2 chord. A deep and
soulful sound. Some examples...
Cmaj / Fmaj / Bb7sus2
Em / Bm / D7sus2 / Em
sus2 to minor/major
Just like with sus4's resolving to major or minor chords on the same
root, we can resolve sus2's in the same way...
Asus2 - Am /
Gmaj / Dmaj
Asus2 - Amaj
/ Gmaj / Dmaj
Dmaj / Bsus2 - Bm / Gmaj / Gm
sus4 / sus2 interchange
Finally, be aware that you can move between sus4, sus2 and a
major/minor chord all on the same root. Best when picking the chord as
opposed to strumming.
Listen to how Radiohead's guitarist moves from Asus4, through Am, to
Asus2 in the opening sequence of Street Spirit
Asus4 / Am / Asus2
I'm sure there are many more examples I could give you, but it's been a
long lesson so I'll leave it there! Bookmark or print this page so you
can refer back to it when needed. I hope you've not only discovered
some new sounds for your songs, but next time you hear that suspended
sound, you'll recognise it by ear without the aid of a tab or songsheet.