14 Ways to Escape the First Four Frets, Part 7

14 Ways to Escape the First Four Frets: Part 7

[Escape #6: The Sus2 Chord]

The Sus2 chord is a major triad's cooler cousin and a power chord's more sonically interesting step-sister.

A Major Triad is a:
Fifth
Third
Root

The Third is a "major 3rd," which makes it a major triad.

A Power Chord is the neutered version of that:
Fifth
Root
(Designated by a 5, as in C5)

The there is no 3rd to distinguish it as major or minor.

The sus2 chord replaces the 3rd with a 2nd:
Fifth
Second
Root

The sus2 is similar to the power chord in that it doesn't have a third to distinguish it as major or minor. This is cool, because we can use it to substitute for a major or a minor.

But unlike the power chord, the sus2 has a little more personality to it because of that 2nd.


The most common sus2 on the face of the earth is the Dsus2. (I called the Office for Earth's Face Facts. They confirmed it.) It's your common open position D with the 1st string open.

Here's the beauty: it's movable. A simple four string barre and four fret stretch at the 5th fret and we've recreated the Dsus2 - only this time it's a Gsus2.

The root of this shape is both on the 4th string and the 2nd string. Knowing your fretboard really helps for chords like this.

Check out the video at the end to see this shape in action.

Another common sus2 shape is the Asus2. We looked at that movable version of this in the segment on 5th-string root barre chords. Here it is again. At the 5th fret, this shape is a Dsus2.

Both on the electric and the acoustic, this shape shines. One way I use this shape is to create movement while only one chord is being played. For instance, if the song held an E for more than one measure, I might play the open E shape and then slide up to the 7th fret to play this sus4 shape. (See video for more ideas)

At first blush, this Dsus2 to the right looks like a Dsus4 shape. In this case, it would be an Asus4 triad since we're at the 9th fret. Here's the craziness of music theory -- chords can be the same, different. In this case, the 1st string is the root, 2nd string is the fifth and the 3rd string is the second.

The video will give you some ideas on ways to use this little chameleon chord, but for now, let's look at where it comes from: the open position Gsus2.

Make sure you sluff your 2nd finger over the 5th-string to mute it. Otherwise you'll have the muddy low A in there.
The cool thing about this chord is that it, too, is movable. Everybody moves around the E shape. Not everyone realizes this G shape is movable. The open 4th string creates a doubled 2nd when we slide it up to the 8th fret to form a Csus2. Two more frets and the open 4th string is a doubled root.

Another variation of this shape is made by simply raising the 1st-string root up two frets to form another second.

Check out the video to see some uses of for these movable Gsus2 shapes.





If we can move the open position Gsus2 shape, it stands to reason that we might be able to move the open Csus2 shape. The shape on the left is a true Csus2 voicing. But the voicing on the right is a more common variation of the shape. Because of the third interval on the 4th string, this becomes an add2, which means the second is added to the third rather than replacing it. Confused? Me, too. To make matters worse, some will call this a Cadd9. Yeah, it's a-OK to just trust your ear and play what sounds good.

So back to this open position Csus2 shape. We can move this up the neck to create some nice sounding sus2 chords.

At the 8th fret, this shape becomes a Fsus2. At the 10th fret, it becomes a Gsus2.











The last sus2 chord we'll look at is one that I've already mentioned in connection to Dave Matthews and Andy Summers (of the Police) in the first barre chord article (scroll to the end to find those links). It simply adds a second to the conventional 5th or 6th string power chord.

The video demonstrates this voicing, but we'll dig deeper into this one later when we talk about power chords.





So there you have the major triad's cooler cousin and a power chord's more sonically interesting step-sister. The sus2 is a great chord to use to escape the first four frets.

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