You’ve probably seen the chord symbol D sus 4 in many popular guitar songs. But what does this really mean?
Let’s start by looking at what a chord really is.
A chord is three or more notes played simultaneously. Chords provide accompaniment and support for melodies.
There are many different types of chords; the most common are called triads.
A triad is a chord that contains three different notes. To build a major triad, take the first, third and fifth notes from the major scale.
In the C major scale, the notes are:
If you were to take the notes 1-3-5 from the C major scale, your result would be the notes C-E-G. These are the notes required for a C major chord.
There are many C’s, E’s and G’s on the neck of the guitar. You can play any combination of the notes C-E-G, and you will have a C major chord. You may double and even triple the notes as needed. The most common way to play a major chord is in root position. In root position, the root note, or 1, is the lowest sounding note in the chord. In other words, a C major chord in root position has C as the bass note.
Below you will find a very popular fingering for C major.
To build a sus 4 chord, all you do is take the first, fourth and fifth notes from the major scale. So this means for a C sus 4 chord, you would need the notes:
Here is one fingering for C sus 4.
C sus 4
Now let’s look at how to build a D sus 4 chord. To play a D sus 4 chord, take 1-4-5 out of the D major scale.
The D major scale consists of the following notes:
Therefore, the notes in D sus 4 are:
Here is a popular fingering for D sus 4.
D sus 4
By the way, the word “sus” is an abbreviation for the word suspended. So a D sus 4 chord is more formally known as D suspended 4.
As you can probably now guess, understanding the notes on the fretboard and the basics of scales will make it much easier to learn guitar chords. Obviously, when you understand how guitar chords are put together, you will find it much easier to remember guitar chords.