7 ways to play a C sus 2 chord on guitar

After mastering your basic chords on guitar, you’ll also want to learn sus 2 chords which often come up in many popular songs. These chords have a cool, airy, open sound that will freshen up progressions. In this lesson, we’ll specifically be covering how to play the C sus 2 chord, which is short for “Suspended 2”.

This chord has an easy open shape but there are many different ways you can play it throughout the guitar fretboard. By knowing different chord variations, you’ll be able to use them in different musical contexts. 

We’ll first go over some basic chord theory and then show you 7 ways to play a C sus 2 chord on guitar. Let’s get started!

C sus 2 chord theory

“Suspended 2” means that the 2nd degree replaces the 3rd of the chord. For example, a Major triad chord has the chord tones 1, 3, and 5, but a sus 2 chord has chord tones 1, 2, and 5.

This means that a C sus 2 chord has the chord tones C, D, and G.

Here is the formula for sus 2 chords below.

C Sus 2 chord formula

To compare, here are the notes for other chords with C as the root.

If needed, check out this other post to understand the difference between sus 2 chords and add 2 chords.

Now that you know what notes belong to the chord structure, let’s look at how to read the chord charts.

How to read the chord charts

For the charts below:

  • The top horizontal line of the chord chart represents the high E string and the bottom horizontal line represents the low E string.
  • The vertical lines separate each fret. 
  • The numbers in the blue dots tell you which fingers to use on the fretting hand. 
  • The letters on the right of the charts tell you what notes you are playing on each string.
  • Circles on the left represent open strings.
  • Red X means to avoid that string.

You can check this link for more on how to read guitar notation symbols.

C sus 2 chord – open shape

An easy way to play the C sus 2 chord is to use the following open chord shape with only two fretted notes on the 5th and 2nd string. This is essentially an open C chord but taking off your middle finger on the 4th string.

C sus 2 chord - open shape

C sus 2 chord – barre starting on 5th string

This next C sus 2 chord uses a barre on the 5th string. This shape comes from shifting the open A sus 2 chord. You barre the 3rd fret and add the notes on 5th fret (3rd and 4th strings). This shape looks like a power chord, except you are also barring with your first finger.

If you can’t get the chord to sound clear, first try to get the notes from the 5th to the 2nd fret. As you develop more strength in your fingers, try adding the 1st string as well.

C Sus 2 chord barre 5th string

If needed, you can check out these 5 tips to get better at playing barre chords.

C sus 2 chord – barre starting on 4th string

For this variation, we use a mini barre starting on the 4th string, 10th fret. This chord originally comes from the open D sus 2 chord shape but we use the 1st finger to barre and shift the chord.

C sus 2 chord - 4th string barre

C sus 2 chord – 2nd inversion starting on 5th string

This next chord is in 2nd inversion, which means that the 5th of the chord is the bass note. This chord shape can be more difficult because it requires a wider stretch between your 1st and 4th finger.

C sus 2 chord - 2nd inversion starting on 5th string

This shape originally comes from the open F sus 2 chord in 2nd inversion, starting on the 5th string.

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C sus 2 chord on the 6th string

The following chord shape can also be trickier to play because of the wide stretch between your fingers. This variation would be more suitable for a rock style because of the way the notes are arranged in the lower strings. The G note on the 3rd string is optional.

C sus 2 chord on the 6th string

You can also use this same shape starting on the 5th string, 3rd fret while avoiding the strings that are not fretted.

C sus 2 chord – 6th string variation

Another way to play this starting on the 6th string:

C sus 2 chord - 6th string variation

C sus 2 chord – 6th string variation 2

Here is the last variation which comes from the open G sus chord:

C sus 2 chord - 6th string variation 2

Wrapping up

Sus 2 chords sound great as replacements or embellishment for Major chords to create an open sound. Try replacing these chords to add a little twist to chord progressions you already know. Experiment to get a feel for how these chords work best.

It’s good to know different variations of playing sus 2 chords because you have more flexibility to move around the fretboard and also when you need a specific note in the top to help define a melody that you are playing over.

I hope this helped you understand how to play a C sus 2 guitar chord or learn new ways of playing it. You can also try shifting the shapes that have all fretted notes to play other sus 2 chords on the same string.

Get the free guitar practice guide here!

All the best,

JG Music Lessons

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