Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In the previous lesson we went over A, E, and F sus4 and 7sus4 chords. This time I’ll show you these same chords, but with the second, rather than the fourth, suspended.

The Work

Remember that a major triad is built from three notes: the root, the third, and the fifth. In a sus2 chord, you simply replace the third with the second. Example 1 shows the notes in an A major triad (A C# E); to make it an Asus2 chord (A B E), simply replace the third (C#) with the second (B), as depicted in Example 2.


Example 3 shows how to turn an A chord into Asus2 using open voicings. Notice how much of a difference that one note makes—A sounds cheery, while Asus2 feels open and ambiguous. Moving on to dominant seventh chords, do the same thing; just exchange the third for the second. Example 4 gives us the notes in an A7 chord (A C# E G) and Example 5 shows A7sus2 (A B E G). To derive an A7sus2 chord from A using open shapes, all you need to do is remove one finger, as demonstrated in Example 6.

tab and notation for a, e, and f sus2 and 7sus2 acoustic guitar chords

It’s generally impractical to play sus2 chords with root notes on string 6. However, you can do this with Esus2 due to the open E strings, as depicted in Example 7a. Sus2 chords are most often played with barred shapes, as shown with a root note of E in Examples 7a–8 and F in Examples 9–10. Remember that these are moveable—shift any Esus2 or E7sus2 chord up one fret to get Fsus2 or F7sus2.

The Result

You should now know a variety of ways to play A, E, and F sus2 and 7sus2 chords on the fretboard. One song that makes use of Dsus2 and Asus2 chords is “Behind Blue Eyes” by the Who. (Note that in the video I use a capo at the fourth fret, to suit my vocal range.) In the next lesson, we’ll revisit major ninth chords.

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