BY KATE KOENIG

Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In a previous lesson I taught you some suspended triads and seventh chords, and this time we will be revisiting them.

The Work

Let’s start with sus4 chords—remember, a major triad (root, third, fifth) in which the third is replaced by the fourth. Example 1 shows the notes in an A major triad (A C# E), and Example 2 shows an Asus4 chord (A D E). To get to an Asus4 chord from A in open position, see Example 3a, and to do it using barre chords see Example 3b.


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Just as a three-note chord can be suspended, so too can a seventh chord, again by swapping out the third for the fourth. Example 4 shows an A7 chord (A C# E G) and Example 5 makes it A7sus4 (A D E G). Try these chords both with open (Example 6a) and barre shapes (Example 6b).

Chord By Chord A, E, and F sus4 and 7sus4_1–10b TAB and notation

Now repeat the process for E7 and E7sus4 chords, as shown in Examples 7a–8b, then do the same with F7 and F7sus4 (Examples 9a–10b). The F shapes in Exs. 9a and 10a can be difficult to play, as they require a first-finger barre across all six strings at fret 1. A common workaround is to wrap your thumb around the neck to fret the sixth-string F; that way you only have to bar the top two strings. Also, you might have noticed that these shapes are moveable—take the Esus4 chord in Ex. 8b, for instance, and move it up one fret for Fsus4.

The Result

You should now know a variety of ways to get to A, E, and F sus4 and 7sus4 from their major and seventh-chord counterparts. A song that happens to make use of the A7sus4 chord is “Wonderwall” by Oasis. In the next lesson, we’ll revisit another suspended type—sus2.

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