Sus9 Chords in Theory and Practice

Sus9 chords.

This is a fun chord to know about and to make your rhythm guitar playing more colorful.

The formula of the sus9 chord is:

1 4 b7 9

Translating this formula to notes, starting on G, gives the notes G C F A . This is a Gsus9 chord.

You could also call it a G9sus4 chord, or G7sus9. All these are acceptable names for this chord. sus9 is the more common name, because the shorter name keeps charts uncluttered, making notated music easier to sight-read.

The sus9 chord can also be written as a hybrid chord.

Hybrid chords are chords that contain 2 letters in the chord name:
The first letter is the chord name
The 2nd letter is the bass note you play underneath that chord.

The hybrid chord name for Gsus9 is F/G.
Indeed when you look at the notes above, G C F A, this is really an F chord (notes F A C) with a G note in the bass.
It’s a major triad, with a bass note up a whole step from that triad’s root.

This is also easy to see in the following shape, where you see an F chord on the D, G, and B strings with a G bass note underneath on the low E string.


The chord could also be played like this:


The sus9 chord in jazz music is used as a V chord.
As an example: in the key of C, you could play the G chord as a Gsus9 chord.

Cmaj7 | Dm9 | Gsus9 | Cmaj7 ||

However: there are actually three sus9 chords possible in a major scale.

The Three Sus9 Chords In the Major Scale.

The idea to keep in mind here is that the sus9 chord is a major chord with a bass note up a whole step from that chord.
As you know, there are 3 major chords in a major scale: I, IV, and V
In the key of C, those chords are: C, F, and G

When you add a bass note up a whole step up from the root of these 3 chords, you get:

C/D, F/G and G/A

Another name for those chords is:
Dsus9, Gsus9 and Asus9

You can see the fingerings here:


And the other chord fingering:


Learn these new chords and have fun with them.
From now on, in addition to the chords you already knew in the key of C, you can occasionally throw in one of those sus9 chords to jazz up your chord progressions.

A Song I Wrote Showcasing Sus9 Chords.

As an example, I wanted to share a chord progression to a song I wrote, that has a couple of those sus9 chords.
I wanted to share this example here because I know out of the experience, that the sus9 is one of those chords you need to see in action in order to get a feel of what you can do with this chord.

I still remember how, many years ago when I first found out about this chord, how it took me a while to figure out how I could use this unusual sound.

the example is a 7-bar song section, with a Steely Dan type of feel. The progression has an Asus9 and a Gsus9 chord.

||: Am7 | A/G | Fmaj7 | Dm7 D#m7 |
Em7 | Fmaj7 | F/G :||

The chord progression is in the key of A minor. (Relative to the C major scale)

Hit me up anytime at if you would like me to send you backing tracks for any of the above chord progressions, if you have any questions, or if you would like to book a lesson.
You’re on your way to becoming a great guitar player.
Have fun! 🙂


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