Chord Ornaments – The Sus 4 Chord
The sound of a Sus4 chord is pretty familiar to us from Rock music, it is a very commonly used chord ornament. By that I mean the addition of the fourth chord tone to a major chord (in particular) is often used to add a melodic element to a rhythm part – Think of that massive chord that heralds the transition to the guitar solo in Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin – that is a D chord using the Sus4 ornament. Here we will look at the most common ways of adding in the Sus4 ornament and list a couple of other songs that make a feature of this chord trick.
The Sus4 chord is formed by replacing the third of the chord with the 4th note of the scale. As the Sus 4 chord has no third, this means that it is neither major or minor. It has a pleasant ringing sort of sound. The Sus in the name stands for suspended – which is kind of how the chord sounds.
While the Sus4 ornament can also be used with minor chords, it is most commonly used with major chords.
The Sus4 chord is often formed by the addition of the 4th chord tone to a major chord shape as shown above. The 4th chord tone can be easily added using the 4th finger. It is the hammering on and pulling off of this 4th chord tone that makes this such a useful chord ornament. Probably the best chord to try is a D chord, hammer on the 4th chord tone by using the little finger to fret the third fret of the high E string (as shown above). This is the basis of the chord in the Led Zeppelin song named above.
These shapes are useful when playing these sorts of chords up the guitar neck. The fingerings reflect the fact that it is easiest to play the 4th chord tone by adding it by means of the little (4th) finger.
Many songs use the Sus4 chord in their progression. Here are a few examples.
- Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen) – The verse uses an open D chord, alternating with the Dsus4 chord
- Pinball Wizard (The Who) – The main riff uses the E shape chord with the Sus4 voicing
- Merry Xmas (War is Over) (John Lennon) – The song uses a mixture of Sus2 and Sus4 chords. Unusually this song uses the Sus4 and Sus2 ornaments with a Bm chord.
Free PDF Download: Open Suspended Chords – Shapes
More about Sus2 chords and how they can be used here
Until next time …have fun.