Suspended Chords: Dominant 7 Sus4 Chords (C Major Scale)

Suspended Chords: Dominant 7 Sus4 Chords (C Major Scale)

Four of the scale degrees in the major scale build suspended chords that have a minor 7th interval, also called 7sus4 chords. Those scales degrees are the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th, and for C major, those notes are D, E, G, and A. This article covers the intervals for the chords 7sus, 9sus, 13sus and 7sus ♭9, the notes for each C major scale 7sus chord, and popular song examples that use suspended 7th chords.

 

Dominant 7th suspended chords from major scales

All but the 4th and 7th degrees of the major scale build sus4 chords, and all of those degrees build suspended 7th chords except for the tonic or 1st scale degree. So any chord with a perfect 4th, perfect 5th, and a minor 7th build a 7sus chord, or dominant 7 suspended chord.

The Dorian, Phrygian, Mixolydian and Aeolian modes correspond to the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th scale degrees. If you know your modes then you’ll recognize Mixolydian as the only major mode – the others are minor. But since suspended chords are neither major or minor, that doesn’t matter.

Below are the intervals for each 7sus chord type with additional notes on the chords. If you don’t know or understand intervals then read my Music Intervals article first.

 

7sus4 chord

Chord intervals: Root, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, minor seventh = R-P4-P5-m7 = 1-4-5-♭7
Alternate names: 7sus or 7sus4 are the most common names but also sus7
Equivalent chord: sus add9 on the P4, e.g. D7sus = Gsus add9
Chord tendency: resolves best to the P4 but also the P5 and major version of itself, e.g. A7sus > D major, E major and A major
Scale degrees: the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th major scale degrees all build 7sus chords.

9sus chord

Chord intervals: Root, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, minor seventh, major 2nd/9th = R-P4-P5-m7-M9 = 1-4-5-♭7-9
Alternate names: 9sus4, sus9, 7sus(9)
Equivalent chord: m11 on P5 and 6 add9 on ♭7, e.g. D9sus = Am11 = C6 add9
Chord tendency: resolves best to the P4 but also to the ♭3 and ♭7, A9sus > D, C, and G major
Scale degrees: the 2nd, 5th, and 6th degrees build a 9sus chord

13sus chord

Chord intervals: Root, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, minor seventh, major sixth = R-P4-P5-m7-M6/13 = 1-4-5-♭7-13
Alternate names: 13sus4, sus13, 7sus(13)
Equivalent chord: add9/11 on the P4, e.g. D13sus = G add9/11.
Chord tendency: resolves best to the P4 and major version of itself, A13sus > D and A major
Scale degrees: the 2nd and 5th degrees build 13sus chords

7sus ♭9 chord

Chord intervals: Root, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, minor seventh, minor second = R-P4-P5-m7-m9 = 1-4-5-♭7-♭9
Alternate names: 7sus(♭9)
Equivalent chord: m6 add9 on ♭7 and m11b5 on 13, e.g. E7sus♭9 = Dm6 add9 = Bm11♭5
Chord tendency: because of the tritone, it resolves best up a minor 6th or down a major 3rd, E7sus♭9 > C
Scale degrees: only the 2nd degree builds a 7sus♭9 chord

When it comes to chord tendency, over half of the songs I found with a suspended 7th chord of some type “un-suspend” to a 7 chord. For example, A7sus was followed by A7, E7sus was followed by E7, etc. That was true for 9sus and 13sus as well.

If you do that for the 7sus chords in C major, only G7 would be a chord from C major. D7, E7, and A7 would be secondary dominants. Keep that in mind when writing songs with a 7sus. The two most common chords that follow a 7sus chord (or 9sus and 13sus) would be dom 7 with the same note or the tonic major chord. So D7sus, for example, would be followed by D7 or A major most of the time.

 

Open 7sus4 guitar chord shapes for D7sus, D9sus, D13sus

I have 18 chord shapes for D7sus, D9sus, and D13sus. For all the 7sus chords, take a look at my article Suspended Chords in C major for the sus add9 chord voicings. The sus add9 is an inversion of 7sus chords so they are additional voicings that you could use.

D7sus chord tones: D-G-A-C, equals Gsus add9
D9sus chord tones: D-G-A-C-E, equals Am11 and C6 add9
D13sus chord tones: D-G-A-C, equals G add9/11

Here is a chord diagram of the symbols I use in my chord blocks:

Explanation of the symbols used on my chord blocks

 

 

suspended chords: D7sus4 guitar chord 1st position
D7sus4 guitar chord 3rd position
D7sus guitar chord 5th position
D7sus guitar chord 5th position variation

 

D7sus guitar chord 7th position
D7sus4 guitar chord 8th position
D7sus guitar chord 10th position
D7sus guitar chord 10th position variation

 

suspended 9th chords: D9sus guitar chord 10th position
D9sus guitar chord 10th position variation
suspended 13th chords: D13sus guitar chord 1st position
D13sus guitar chord 2nd position

 

D13sus guitar chord 3rd position
D13sus guitar chord 5th position
D13sus guitar chord 5th position variation
D13sus guitar chord 7th position

 

D13sus guitar chord 8th position
D13sus guitar chord 10th position

 

 

Notes on the chord voicings

D7sus chords: I have the pinky holding the G on the high E string for #1 so that you can use the ring finger to fret the F# which is a common thing with 7sus chords. #’s 1 and 2 sound great but #’s 3 and 4 are hard to hold. The last 4 all sound great and I added the open A string for #’s 5, 6 and 8 to for a more full open sound.

D9sus chords: These are the only 2 open D9sus voicings I could find and #1 is the easier one to hold.

D13sus chords: #’s 1and 2 sound very similar so pick your favorite. I also like #’s 3, 5 and 8. #7 is hard to hold.

 

Open E7sus♭9 guitar chord shapes

I could only find 8 chord shapes for E7sus and E7sus♭9.  Let me know if you know of some I missed.

E7sus chord tones: E-A-B-D, equals Asus add9
E7sus♭9 chord tones: E-A-B-D-F, equals Dm6 add9 and Bm11♭5

 

suspended 7th chords: E7sus guitar chord 2nd position
E7sus guitar chord 2nd position variation
E7sus guitar chord 5th position
E7sus guitar chord 7th position

 

E7sus guitar chord 9th position
suspended chords: E7sus(b9) 2nd position
E7sus(b9) 7th position
E7susb9 9th position

 

Notes on the chord voicings

E7sus chords: They all sound good but #3 is hard to hold.

E7sus ♭9 chords: All of these sound good and are easy to hold. Test them out by going to a C major chord.

 

Open 7sus guitar chords for G7sus, G9sus, G13sus

I have 10 chord shapes for G7sus, G9sus, and G13sus.

G7sus chord tones: G-C-D-F, equals Csus add9
G9sus chord tones: G-C-D-F-A, equals F6 add9 and Dm11
G13sus chord tones: G-C-D-F-E, equals C add9/11

 

suspended 7th chords: G7sus guitar chord 1st position
G7sus guitar chord 8th position
G7sus guitar chord 10th position
suspended 9th chords: G9sus guitar chord 1st position

 

G9sus guitar chord 3rd position
suspended 13th chords: G13sus guitar chord 1st position
G13sus guitar chord 3rd position
G13sus guitar chord 8th position

 

G13sus guitar chord 8th position variation
G13sus guitar chord 3rd position variation

 

 

Notes on the chord voicings

G7sus chords: I only have 3 of them but they all sound good and are easy to hold.

G9sus chords: They both sound good but unfortunately you need to fret the root note with the thumb unless you can hold that note with your index finger without muting the open A string.

G13sus chords: #’s 1 and 3 are hard to hold but #1 sounds great. #3 is the easiest and I like #5 a lot. I have the 13 in the bass for #4 and it sounds interesting voiced that way.

 

Open 7sus guitar chord shapes for A7sus and A9sus

I have 15 chord shapes for A7sus and A9sus.

A7sus chord tones: A-D-E-G, equals Dsus add9
A9sus chord tones: A-D-E-G-B, equals G6 add9 and Em11

 

suspended chords: A7sus4 guitar chord 2nd position
A7sus4 guitar chord 2nd position variation
A7sus guitar chord 3rd position
A7sus guitar chord 3rd position variation

 

A7sus guitar chord 5th position
A7sus guitar chord 7th position
A7sus guitar chord 8th position
A7sus guitar chord 10th position

 

A7sus4 guitar chord 3rd, 5th, 8th & 10th positions
suspended 9th chords: A9sus guitar chord 2nd position
A9sus guitar chord open and 12th positions
A9sus guitar chord 3rd position

 

A9sus guitar chord 5th position
A9sus guitar chord 7th position
A9sus guitar chord 5th position variation

 

 

Notes on the chord voicings

A7sus chords: My favorites are #’s 1, 3, 6 and 7. The asterisk on #9 means there are 4 frets you can fret for this voicing: 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 10th (each chord tone). You can use #9 to go crazy up the neck and add any notes that work: the 9, ♭3, 3rd, 13, etc.

A9sus chords: #’s 1, 3 and 5 sound the best. You can strum all open strings for #2 but try fretting any open strings at the 12th fret for a more interesting version. I like fretting the D, G, and high E strings at the 12th for that chord.

 

Songs using 7sus & 13sus chords

Here are some suspended 7th chords I found in my songbooks. I did not find any popular songs with a 7sus♭9 chord. That’s a classic Phrygian chord that only jazz players would use.

 

Suspended 7th chord examples

Beatles:
A7sus in All You Need Is Love and Revolution
C7sus in The Long and Winding Road and Hey Jude
G7sus in Come Together

Jerry Reed: E7sus in The Claw

Grateful Dead:
B♭7sus in Sunrise
C7sus in Shakedown Street
D7sus in Birdsong and Black Peter
E7sus in Jack Straw
F#7sus in Jack Straw and France

Simon & Garfunkel: C7sus in Bridge Over Troubled Water

Stevie Ray Vaughan: C7sus in Say What!

Doobie Brothers: E7sus in Taking It to the Streets

9sus and 13sus chord examples

Beatles: G9sus in The Long & Winding Road and A9sus in That Would Be Something

Sam and Dave: B9sus in Soul Man

Doobie Brothers:
D13sus, B9sus, and E9sus in Minute by Minute
F9sus and F13sus in What a Fool Believes

Take a look at my Sus4 and Sus2 Chords from C major article for more suspended guitar chords. Also, look at my article Comprehensive List of Chords for all the chords that can be built from C major.

 

Final Thoughts

The suspended 7th chord is not a chord you hang on for more than a measure, but it’s a great chord to spice up a measure or two that has a single chord. Try turning a regular dominant 7th into a 7sus for a beat or two and then go back to the 7th. Suspended 7th chords can also act like a V7 chord taking you back to the tonic chord.

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