Stacked Sus2 Arpeggio Exercise With Chris Zoupa

Get you Sus2 on with this adventurous stacked arpeggio lick.

Ultimate Guitar
I've always loved a good sus2 chord. Whether it was in a song by the Police or some early to mid '90s grunge, I've always had a soft spot for these chords. It wasn't until Periphery, Animals as Leaders and Scale the Summit brought this sound back in a very cool way that I fell in love with this sound all over again and was inspired to put together this lick involving stacked sus2 chords.

You may find practicing this will tighten up your playing as we play each note twice to give the lick a more percussive and riffy aspect. It may potentially sneak into some of your solos or help you build some delicious riffs of your own.

The way I've stacked the arpeggios is using 5th intervals till I run out of strings. For the first 3 bars of this exercise I play Fsus2, Csus2, Gsus2 and Dsus2 then reverse it. Once I finished that cycle I shift the whole idea up a minor 3rd to G#sus2 and the party begins all over again. Let's take a look at the lick! (See diagram below)

There's a really cool futuristic sound that comes from these arpeggios. It's really interesting having no major or minor 3rds, 6ths or 7ths in any chord.

Please beware if you practice this to a click that there are some cheeky 7/8 bars here and there.

Well that's it from me gangsta gees. Happy shredding!

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By Chris Zoupa

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Great exercise, as always...and i'm going to listen to "Floods" right now!
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    This is an exercise in quintal harmony, not in sus2 arpeggios. Sus2 chords are built from a root followed directly by the suspension and then followed by the fifth - not root, fifth and ninth, which is technically harmony built on fifths, or quintal harmony. This lick provides so many possibilities for solos, leads and riffs though - a really cool lick demonstrated very well. Thanks, Chris!
    Chris Zoupa
    isn't an Asus2: A E A B E? That's root, 5th, octave, sus2 and then the 5th again. You'll have to clear that up for me.
    yea but ur not playing A E A B E pattern, ur playing A E B, E B F# it doesn't sound like sus chords moving in 5ths to me, it sounds like stacking 5s on top of each other and moving up the entire pattern in minor thirds
    The A, B & E on the 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings (to use the example of an Asus2 chord in first position) are what gives the chord that "suspended sound" - the root and the fifth on the lower strings don't actually add any color to the chord. Think of the root and/or fifth as the "anchor" that keeps the chord in a specific key. That's why jazz chord voicings tend to avoid the fifth, and in some cases even the root, because in jazz, it's all about the color of the chord, not the function of the chord in the key (particularly in modern jazz genres like free jazz, modal jazz, hard bop etc.). I think the other reason that the Asus2 is voiced like that for the guitar is because if you were to get rid of the root and fifth on the 5th and 4th strings, the chord wouldn't have any bass to round out the sound - it's not like chords on a piano where you can fairly easily disperse various notes in the chord voicing through multiple octaves (we unfortunately don't have that many fingers to do that on the guitar...). On guitars, especially when you're not playing in a band with a bassist or a pianist, there's a real necessity for full-sounding chords to accompany the voice/another instrument or for playing in solo guitar situations. Regardless, it's a really cool exercise and that's really all that matters haha \m/
    Chris Zoupa
    You raised a really valid point about piano too. Sometimes I think the guitar is so badly designed for chords. Your explanations are really clear dude. Thanks for taking the time to write back in a constructive and courteous manner.
    Reminds me a part of Chinese Democracy (I mean a part of a song in the album, I don't remember wich one => reason to listen to it again) when he plays it first. That's a cool lesson ! Thank you !
    Pretty simple concept, but a really awesome sound! Thanks for reminding me of how simple it is to sound cool! I've always loved sus2 chords, too! Mainly because of BTBAm, I guess.