Suspended 4th Chords... (sus4 or sus)

Suspended 4th chords (sus chord) are chord in which the 3rd is omitted. It is usually replaced with either a major 2nd (sus2), or a perfect fourth (sus4).

Both chords have interesting qualities, but the perfect fourth is more commonly played (sus4). Dissonance is created due to the structure of the chord... omission of the 3rd and inclusion of a 2nd or 4th. This means the sound is generally unstable and needs resolution. This is usually done by going back to the major chord, for example D - Dsus4 - D, or D - Dsus2 - D ... try it.

In this session we will be looking at suspended fourth chords.

The featured song for this session is 'Don't You Remember' by Adele... includes chords, lyrics, and instructions.

If you want to play a song which includes sus2 chords complete with chord charts, lyrics and instruction, try Everyone's Waiting by Missy Higgins.

sus4 Chord Theory

A Suspended 4th Chord (sus4 or sus) is a chord having a root, a perfect fourth (no third), and a perfect fifth.

The chord formula for a sus chord is 1 - 4 - 5

Example... Calculating a Bsus4 chord
  • sus4 Chords consist of the 1st, 4th, and 5th notes of the Major Scale
  • 'B' chords, are based on the scale of B major which consists of 5 sharps... F#, C#, G#, D# and A#.
  • The scale reads as follows: B - C# - D# - E - F# - G# - A# - B
  • Formula for sus4 chords: 1-4-5
  • Substitute the notes of the scale into the formula
  • Bsus4 = B - E - F#

Suspended 4th Chords - Table (sus4 or sus)
Chord (sus4) A A#/B♭ B C C#/D♭ D D#/E♭ E F F#/G♭ G G#/A♭
Root A A#/B♭ B C C#/D♭ D D#/E♭ E F F#/G♭ G G#/A♭
Perfect 4th D D#/E♭ E F F#/G♭ G G#/A♭ A B♭ B/C♭ C C#/D♭
Perfect 5th E E#/F F# G G#A♭ A A#/B♭ B C C#/D♭ D D#/E♭

Asus4 - Csus4

Suspended 4th Chords

Please note that with chords like Asus4, you can just play the A major chord and just add the circled 2 note with your 4th finger. I tend to do this a lot. When you play a major chord, you tend to improvise around it by adding a sus4 chord and releasing it back to the major chord. The sus4 chord more often than not needs to be resolved back to the major chord due to its dissonant quality. However, sus4 chords add colour and interest to a piece. They are great chords and you will find yourself using them all the time.

C#sus4 / Dbsus4 - Esus4

Major 7th Chords

Fsus4 - G#sus4 / Absus4

Major 7th Chords

The correlation between sus4 and sus2 chords

sus4 chords have a sus2 equivalent... count upwards 5 half steps. Let's look at some examples
  • Asus4 = Dsus2 (count 5 half-steps upward from A and reach D)

    Asus4 is made up of the notes A D E (Formula 1 - 4 - 5)
    Dsus2 is made up of the notes D E A (Formula 1 - 2 - 5)

  • Csus4 = Fsus2 (count 5 half-steps upward from C and reach F)

    Csus4 is made up of the notes C F G
    Fsus2 is made up of the notes F G C
sus2 chords have a sus4 equivalent... count upwards 7 half steps or downwards 5 half-steps. Let's look at some examples
  • Gsus2 = Dsus4 (count 7 half-steps upward from G and reach D)

    Gsus2 is made up of the notes G A D (Formula 1 - 2 - 5)
    Dsus4 is made up of the notes D G A (Formula 1 - 4 - 5)

  • Fsus2 = Csus4 (count 7 half-steps upward from F and reach C)

    Fsus2 is made up of the notes F G C
    Csus4 is made up of the notes C F G

If you want to find the equivalent sus2 chord from a sus4 chord count 5 half-steps upwards

If you want to find the equivalent sus4 chord from a sus2 chord count 7 half-steps upwards

P.S. 'Aint Theory grand! ;-) 

I hope you have enjoyed this section on Suspended 4th Chords. These chords tend to leave you 'hanging' so as to speak, with a need for resolution. However in some cases, either at the end of a piece or in a bridging section of a piece, they can add interest. Try it - you might like it.

I know I keep saying this but... just a friendly reminder to put away some time every day to practice...