Guitar chords guide - Sus 4 chords

Guitar chords - sus 4 chords

Sus 4 chords, shorthand for suspended fourth chords,are a very useful thing to learn on guitar, as they are widely used in songs from rock to pop. The chord formula for a major chord is 1, 3, 5.

If we move the 3rd up one semitone or one fret, we get a 4th. This is an interval, it just means it's four notes up the major scale. So in the key of C, CDEF - F is the 4th.

As the sus4 is an unstable chord, we want it to resolve to another chord, as in A7sus 4, A7, D.

You will usually find the sus 4 chord in this context, i.e. on the V chord (also known as the dominant 7th chord) leading back to the I chord, or tonic.

James Taylor and The Beatles both use this chord frequently, and another good example is Pinball Wizard by The Who, B sus4 to B as shown on the chord chart.

Sus 4 chords

Barre chords

The barre chord version is demonstrated by the G7 sus4 chord, which resolves to the G7 or G. This is the famous chord at the start of A Hard Day's Night by the Beatles, although it is more complex than that due to multitracked parts that add other notes. Combined with a F add 9 chord, played on a second guitar, you are getting close.

Move this up 2 frets for an A7sus4, up another 2 for B, up one more for C, etc following the sequence of notes on string 6.

Final example

The last two chord grids show G sus4 moving to G, a common move in Simon and Garfunkel songs and most folk music. To play this, refinger the G chord so you have your first finger free to do the sus4 note - which is a C in this case, counting G A B C to find the 4th interval.

Now for two top tips:

  • This type of chord shape is much easier if you use a capo in fret 2 or 3
  • Many Dylan songs sound good with this chord and the use of a capo.

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Comments 2 comments

Michael E. Horton 6 years ago

Great writing.


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Jon Green 6 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK Author

Thanks Michael. All the best with your guitar playing.

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