Sus2 (Add9) Chords - Metal Rhythm Guitar Basics

This mistakenly-labeled chord is perhaps the most commonly used chord in all of progressive metal.

Ultimate Guitar
Hey, guys! So, continuing this recent trend of mine to delve into metal rhythm styles, let's take a look at a chord whose name is a subject of much debate. I so often see this referred to as the ninth, or the add9, or the 5add9, which I suppose is in some respects a proper designation, but fundamentally, what you're actually playing is most easily described as a Sus2.

Tosin Abasi and Misha Mansoor in particular have really popularized the hell out of this chord, and for good reason. The open sound of the fifth combined with the subtle tension between the root and the second, often raised an octave to the ninth in the voicings they favor, creates a wonderfully unique sound, especially hen combined with distortion. At this point, simply because it so saturates the genre, it is even fair to state that the use of this chord will give you instant progressive metal sound.

To learn all about this chord, including multiple voicings and applications, check out the following video:

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Thanks for reading/watching, and I'll see you guys next time.

By Kevin Goetz

10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    But if the chord is becoming typical in progressive music, does that make it the opposite of progressive? Lame puns aside, it a cool but very bare bones lesson. You pretty much only told us that we could use a Sus2/add9 chord
    I haven't watched the video, but just based on the title, I feel like something should be made known: sus2 and add9 chords are not the same thing. A sus2 chord has no 3rd in it, which is why its a suspended 2nd; you're basically replacing the 3rd the 2nd. An add9 chord just adds the 2nd as a tension, so it has the 3rd
    He explains that in the vid, I'm assuming he added that in the title simply because that's what most people refer to it as and might not have clicked on the article otherwise.
    Just to clear something up "root third fifth seventh ninth" is not a 9th chord, its a major 9th. For example a D major 9th would look like: Dmaj9. A major 9th and a 9th are totally different. A 9th has a minor seventh and would look like: D9.
    Rebel Scum
    Joe Satriani's Mind Storm is a good example of how to use this chord effectively.
    Cool vid. Just wanted to clear up something real quick: Cadd9 does not have the 7th in it, it's just root, 3rd, 5th, 9th. What you described in the video when you mentioned Cadd9 was a C9 chord.
    "The add9 is simply root, third, fifth, skip the seventh, and go to the ninth." Were you even listening to what he was saying?
    Here's another inaccuracy: sus2 exists only within the octave of the triad. The chord he is suggesting, with root, fifth and ninth is actually a quintal chord and would not be named as if it were a functional suspended tertian chord. Since there is no such thing as a sus9 chord, this chord wouldn't be given a tertian name like sus2 because giving it a tertian name would denote functional purposes in a harmonic system that it does not imply. Therefore, a more accurate name for this lesson would be "Quintal Chords: Metal Rhythm Guitar Basics."