Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Suspensions - sus chords

so what’s the point of suspensions?

thanks to ben’s lesson, i know how to recognize them, and how to construct them.

but what do we do with them, other than play them?

a lot of rock song solos seem to use them. i now realize that several of the rock solos i like to play are built out of varying sus chords. this seems to be so the singer can basically sing the same note over several different sus chords - this both saves the voice (many of these rock singers have extremely limited range) and builds drama and tension through the changing harmony which is then resolved when the chord goes back to the regular major chord.

is there some standard way that song writers use sus chords? they are a lot easier to play on piano than on stringed instruments…

I loved Ben’s sus chord video. It was the best treatment of sus chords I have seen.
Julian, I am no expert, but sus chords are my bread and butter in certain keys and song types. 2 chords are great as a base chord and 4 chords are great transitional chords. When doing many song types in D, I’ll go drop D and use the Dsus2 as the root chord. Allison Kraus and US, and some other “newer” grass groups live off them (it’s just a guess, but I suspect AKUS uses D2 more than a straight D). Dsus2 has a darker and more complex sound than D. In fact, if you don’t get an F# in the mix, I think it can work with a minor scale as well. In alot of the praise music that I do, if it’s in A, I’ll use the open A, B and E as drones while I double the melody and harmony on the D and G string. It sounds rich and is typically easy to do. When playing in G, I often use G5, C2 (some call it a C9) and D2 as my 1, 4, 5. You can also pick out the melody and harmony on the G and B string while droning on the D and E strings (which would be working around a D2). In Bluegrass, if the song hops quickly from G to C and back, I’ll use the C2 form, as the fingering is much easier. In short, they are just something to add to your quiver. They can give a more rich or dark sound than standard major chords, they can serve as a transition, and sometimes, they are easier to do in quick transitions.

Here’s an example of a song chock full of sus chords. It’s got D2, Asus4 and 2, C2 (or 9) etc. and if you try playing it with the straight major chords, it just doesn’t sound right:

Thanks so much. It’s time I learned this stuff because it gets boring playing the same old chords over and over again. And when I do stray from the straight-up chords, I don’t know exactly what I’m doing.

Your examples are great, I’m going to figure them out. Thanx!

I have not watched the video here on sus chords yet, but I have used these a lot…especially out of the D shape and A shape. I always went at them in a sense that “damn it, we are hanging out in this one goofy chord for like 12 bars, might as well start using some suspended versions to make up for it not being any fun”…For the most part I try suspending the “3rd” of the triad…typically is goes down a hole step or up a half step…or even up a Step and a Half. Throw in your “7th” version of the chord and you can do a lot when hanging out for multiple boring bars in a single chord.