Suspended 4th Chords

sus4 or sus

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

Both chords have interesting qualities, with the perfect fourth more commonly used (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.

  • Suspended 4th Chord (sus4 or sus): root, perfect fourth (no third), perfect fifth.
  • Chord formula: 1 - 4 - 5
  • Suspended 2nd Chord (sus2): root, perfect second (no third), perfect fifth.
  • Chord formula: 1 - 2 - 5

The featured song for this session is 'Don't You Remember' by Adele.

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

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#
Example: Calculating a Bsus2 chord
  • Same as above except the formula is 1-2-5 and after substituting the notes into the formula
  • Bsus2 = B - C# - F#

Suspended 4th Chords - Right Handers

Chord Chart Legend Chart Legend
Suspended 4th Chords

↓ suspended 4th chords - Part 1

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... adds colour and interest to a piece. They are great chords and you will find yourself using them all the time.

Suspended 4th Chords - Left Handers

Chord Chart Legend Major Guitar Chords for Lefties
sus4 Lefty Chords - Part 1
sus4 Lefty Chords - Part 2
sus4 Lefty Chords - Part 3

Chord Inversions

A chord is considered an inversion if any note other than the root note is the lowest (bass) note of the chord. Inversions are labeled based on the interval between the bass note and the root note. There are three primary types of inversions for triads:

  • Root Position: The root note is the lowest note in the chord.
  • First Inversion: The third of the chord is the lowest note in the chord.
  • Second Inversion: The fifth of the chord is the lowest note in the chord.

For example, let's consider a C major triad (C - E - G):

  • Root Position (C): C is the lowest note.
  • First Inversion (C/E): E is the lowest note.
  • Second Inversion (C/G): G is the lowest note.

With this in mind, consider the following:

The correlation between sus4 and sus2 chords

Remember: 1 half-step = 1 semitone

sus4 chords have a sus2 equivalent... count upwards 5 half steps. Let's look at some examples

  • Asus4 = Dsus2 (count 5 half-steps upwards from A and reach D)

    A → Bb → B → C → C# → 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 upwards from C and reach F)

    C → C# → D → Eb → E → F

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

a sus2 chord is the 1st inversion of a sus4 chord

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)

    G → G# → A → Bb → B → C → C# → 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)

    F → F# → G → G# → A → Bb → B → C

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

a sus4 chord is the 2nd inversion of a sus2 chord


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

Bear in mind that a chord generally leads from the tonic, so although Gsus2 and Dsus4 share the same notes, it depends on the tonal quality you're after. If you want to lead with a G note, you would choose Gsus2, but if you're not fussed and are looking for something a little different, you may want to play Dsus4 instead.

Play This: | Dsus4 | Dsus4 | Dsus4 | Dsus4 |

Dsus4: xx0233       Gsus2: 300033

Now Play: | Dsus4 | Gsus2 | Dsus4 | Gsus2 |

What do you think?

P.S. 'Aint Theory grand! Happy Face

I hope you have enjoyed this session on Suspended 4th Chords. These chords tend to leave you 'hanging' or 'suspended' 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, they can add interest. Try it - you may like it.

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