Every note in the key of C major, except B, can build either a sus2 or sus4 chord. The notes C, D, G & A build both sus2 and sus4 chords, while F can only build a sus2 and E only a sus4.
I have a total of 74 closed and open guitar chord shapes for those chords as well as for the sus add9 chord, but only 34 suspended guitar chords are in this article.
Suspended chords in the key of C major
This article is only for the 3 note sus chords sus2 & sus4, and the sus add9 chord, I have a different article for all the suspended 7th chords in C major.
The notes in C major are all the natural notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, B. Only the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th degrees \ notes have both a major 2nd and perfect 4th. As a result, those notes build sus4 sand sus2 chords. That is true for any major key.
In the key of C major, B has a diminished 5th so it can’t build any suspended chords at all.
The minor 2nd of the note E and the augmented 4th of the note F restrict the number of suspended chords those notes can build. However, you can build Fsus4 chords and Esus2 chords but not in the key of C major.
Suspended chord types in C major
Here are the 3 suspended chord types that can be built in any major key, not including 7 suspended chords. I considered adding the sus4 chord with the added 6th, which I call 6sus, but I never saw that chord in any song.
Chord intervals: root note, perfect fourth, perfect fifth = R-P4-P5 = 1-4-5
Alternate names: sus, sus4 or suspended
Resolve tendency: resolves to the major triad version of itself or the major triad on the perfect 4th, e.g. Csus > C or F
Chord intervals: root note, major second, perfect fifth = R-M2-P5 = 1-2-5
Chord equivalent: sus4 in 1st inversion
Alternate names: none
Resolve tendency: resolves best to the major version of itself or to the major version of its fifth, e.g. Csus2 > C or G
Sus add9 chord
Chord intervals: root note, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, major 2nd/9th = R-P4-P5-M2/9 = 1-4-5-9
Alternate names: sus4 sus2 or sus2 sus4. This chord name is in the song Tangled up in Blue by Bob Dylan.
Resolve tendency: resolves best to the major version of itself or to the major version of its fifth, e.g. Csus add9 > C or G
Check out my article on Major Chords from the key of C Major for an explanation of chord tendency.
Closed & open suspended guitar chords in the key of C major
I only have 2 closed suspended guitar chords for sus add9. The closed sus4 and sus2 guitar chord shapes are in my article Suspended Scales & Sus Chords where I also have open sus2 and sus4 for the notes D & G. Check out my article E Sus Chord for Esus4 guitar chord shapes.
My general rule for open chords is that they must have at least 2 open strings. But I break that rule from time to time. Csus4 and Fsus2 only have 1 open string but the voicings still sound good.
Csus2 chord tones: C-D-G, equals Gsus4
Csus4 chord tones: C-F-G
Csus add9 chord tones: C-F-G-D
*Dsus2 chord tones: D-E-A. Equals Asus4
*Dsus4 chord tones: D-G-A
Dsus add9 chord tones: D-G-A-E
**Esus4 chord tones: E-A-B
Fsus2 chord tones: F-G-C, equals Csus4
*Gsus2 chord tones: G-A-D, equals Dsus4
*Gsus4 chord tones: G-C-D
Gsus add9 chord tones: G-C-D-A
Asus2 chord tones: A-B-E
Asus4 chord tones: A-D-E
Asus add9 chord tones: A-D-E-B
*For these suspended guitar chords see my article Suspended Scales & Sus Chords.
** Go to my Esus Guitar Chord for Esus4 guitar chords.
Here is a chord diagram of the symbols I use in my chord blocks:
Notes on the chord voicings:
Sus add9: Both shapes are difficult to hold but they sound good.
C sus chords: Both sus2 chords sound good and resolve nicely to G major. #2 Csus4 is the easier one to hold and just don’t mute the open D for the Csus add9 shape at the 8th fret.
D sus add9 chords: #2 is hard to hold, #’s 3 & 4 sound identical. #1 sounds the best.
F sus2 chords: I only like #1.
G sus add9 chords: #’s 1 & 3 sound good.
A sus chords: All 4 of the Asus2 chords sound alike, but #1 sounds the best. You can slide that shape up to the 9th fret for the #4 shape which is a nice effect. Asus4: #1 & #2 sound great, #3 is hard to hold and #4 sounds fantastic. Asus add9: #1 is the chord from Tangled Up In Blue., and #’s 2 & 3 are my favorites.
If you like the sound of suspended guitar chords, then I guarantee you I have some shapes above that you will love. As with all sus chords, use them to break up a long section of the same chord or to add a different sound to your chord progressions.