Sus Piano Chords 101

Lisa Witt  /  Chord Inversions / Feb 8

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Want to add some bling or pizzazz to your chords? Well then sus chords are for YOU! In my own playing and learning journey I found that I got bored very quickly after mastering the basic chords. I wasn’t quite ready to move into inversions, but I wanted something to make things more interesting. Discovering how to play sus chords was a great way to add some “sparkle” without making things more complicated.

First we need to know what the heck a sus chord is!


Sus stands for suspended.

Honestly, you don’t really need to know why they are called sus chords because the explanation is complicated and not helpful in practical application. What you do need to know is that there are two kinds of sus chords. Sus2 and Sus4. When we play a sus chord, we are going to trade the 3rd of the chord, for another note.

Here is a break down using C chord as an example:

If I were to play a C chord I would play C-E-G.
If I were to play a Csus2 I would play C-D-G.
If I were to play a Csus4 I would play C-F-G.

Once you have played these chords, you will get an idea of how they sound different from a standard chord. Then it is up to you to go have fun with them! My rule of thumb is generally to resolve back to the non sus version of the chord each time I utilize the sus. For example, if I have C chord for 4 beats, I will play 3 beats on a sus, and the final beat on the non sus C chord.

The main thing is to go play these chords, have some fun and go with what sounds best to YOU.

Happy playing!,


Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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