Bass Guitar Exercise – Sus Chord Triad Arpeggios – Bass Practice Diary – 13th July 2021
Last week I was demonstrating a line played by Rick Beato. He uses a lot of sus chord arpeggios and chord voicings in his playing. It’s a really popular idea among improvising musicians and I can see why. The sus chord arpeggios create a really distinctive sound and they are incredibly versatile. You can use them over all kinds of different harmonies and chord voicings. And you can find five different sus arpeggios hidden within a major scale. So, you can create improvised lines by sequencing different sus arpeggios together.
What’s a sus chord?
A sus chord is a chord with no third. The third is usually replaced by either a fourth or a second. So a sus chord triad goes either root, 2nd 5th (sus2) or root, 4th, 5th (sus4). As I mentioned in the video, a sus2 triad is an inversion of a sus4 triad. So, for example Gsus4/C is Csus2. So you can think of sus2 arpeggio shapes as being the same as sus4 arpeggio shapes. The only difference is which note you think of as the root note.
The absence of the major or minor 3rd makes it ambiguous as to whether the chords are functioning as major or minor. And that ambiguity makes them very versatile. When you play these arpeggios you get a lot of perfect 4th and 5th intervals. That means that you can create modern sounding jazz lines in the style of quartal harmony.
The exercise that I’ve come up with is quite advanced because it uses some big stretches. There are easier ways to play sus arpeggios. But I think this exercise is good because it really gets you moving around the fretboard. That’s a big advantage when it comes to improvising melodic lines. Here is the exercise.