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Sus2 Triads on Guitar

To me, triads are the lifeblood of the guitar. They’re so integral in everything you play, from rhythm to lead. Additionally, they help you map out the fretboard and connect chord tones to larger musical structures such as pentatonic and diatonic scales. In this lesson, we’re going to expand our triad repertoire and dive into sus2 triads.

Suspended Chords

Suspended triads are the building blocks to suspended chords. If you’re not sure what a suspended chord is, be sure to check out the suspended chords lesson.

As you may know, major and minor chords are built from a root, 3rd, and 5th scale degree. In the case of a major chord, the 3rd is major while the minor chord contains a minor 3rd.

Suspended chords, on the other hand, don’t contain a 3rd at all. It’s suspended and replaced with a 2nd or 4th. Therefore, suspended chords are neither major nor minor. They have a unique sound all to their own and take on different tonal qualities based on the surrounding chord progression.

In this lesson we’re just going to cover the 2nd, or sus2 triad. Sus4 triads will be covered in a separate lesson.

Sus2 Triads

To build the sus2 triad, or suspended 2nd triad, we can start with the major triad, which consists of the root, major 3rd, and perfect 5th, and simply replace the major 3rd with the major 2nd giving us the following triad formula: root – major 2nd – perfect 5th

Major triad to sus2 triad intervals

With this formula in hand, we can map these intervals to the fretboard to create triad shapes for sus2 triads.

Sus2 Triads on the Fretboard

Just as the major and minor triads have distinct shapes across string groupings, so, too, do sus2 triads. In fact, we can easily create these shapes by simply dropping the 3rd degree of a major triad to the major 2nd degree.

Major triad to sus2 triad, root position
Major triad to sus2 triad, 1st inversion
Major triad to sus2 triad, 2nd inversion

We can do this across all string groupings to get all of the sus2 triad shapes available to us. Let’s work through each of the string groupings.

Sus2 Triad Shapes on Strings 1, 2, & 3

On strings 1, 2, and 3, we get the following sus2 triads:

  • Shape 1 (First Inversion): 2nd on string 3, 5th on string 2, root on string 1
  • Shape 2 (Second Inversion): 5th on string 3, root on string 2, 2nd on string 1
  • Shape 3 (Root Position): root on string 3, 2nd on string 2, 5th on string 1
Sus2 triads vertical diagrams for string grouping 1, strings 1, 2, and 3
Sus2 triads horizontal diagrams for string grouping 1, strings 1, 2, and 3
Guitar tab for sus2 triads on strings 1, 2, and 3

Sus2 Triad Shapes on Strings 2, 3, & 4

On strings 2, 3, and 4, we get the following sus2 triads:

  • Shape 1 (Root Position): root on string 4, 2nd on string 3, 5th on string 2
  • Shape 2 (First Inversion): 2nd on string 4, 5th on string 3, root on string 3
  • Shape 3 (Second Inversion): 5th on string 5, root on string 3, 2nd on string 2
Sus2 triads vertical diagrams for string grouping 2, strings 2, 3, and 4
Sus2 triads horizontal diagrams for string grouping 2, strings 2, 3, and 4
Guitar tab for sus2 triads on strings 2, 3, and 4

Sus2 Triad Shapes on Strings 3, 4, & 5

On strings 3, 4, and 5, we get the following sus2 triads:

  • Shape 1 (Root Position): root on string 4, 2nd on string 3, 5th on string 2
  • Shape 2 (First Inversion): 2nd on string 4, 5th on string 3, root on string 3
  • Shape 3 (Second Inversion): 5th on string 5, root on string 3, 2nd on string 2
Sus2 triads vertical diagrams for string grouping 3, strings 3, 4, and 5
Sus2 triads horizontal diagrams for string grouping 3, strings 3, 4, and 5
Guitar tab for sus2 triads on strings 3, 4, and 5

Sus2 Triad Shapes on Strings 4, 5, & 6

On strings 4, 5, and 6, we get the following sus2 triads:

  • Shape 1 (Root Position): root on string 4, 2nd on string 3, 5th on string 2
  • Shape 2 (First Inversion): 2nd on string 4, 5th on string 3, root on string 3
  • Shape 3 (Second Inversion): 5th on string 5, root on string 3, 2nd on string 2
Sus2 triads vertical diagrams for string grouping 4, strings 4, 5, and 6
Sus2 triads horizontal diagrams for string grouping 4, strings 4, 5, and 6
Guitar tab for sus2 triads on strings 4, 5, and 6

Wrap up

Sus2 triads can be used just as sus2 chords would be used. In many cases, you’ll find them paired with major and sus4 triads to create a little melodic movement over a persistent tonic note. Check out the suspended chords lesson for some examples.

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