What is the Police Chord?

The police chord is a musical chord widely associated with the British rock band “The Police,” known for their hit songs in the late 1970s and 1980s. The term “police chord” is colloquially used to refer to a specific chord voicing that was frequently used by the band’s guitarist, Andy Summers. This particular chord shape became an iconic element of their sound and is often recognized as the “Police chord.”


When it comes to music, chords play a fundamental role in creating harmonies and melodies. They provide the backbone for many songs and are essential in conveying different emotions. In this article, we will explore the concept of the police chord, its origin, its structure, and how it is used in music. Whether you’re a guitar player, a music enthusiast, or simply curious about the police chord, this article will provide you with a comprehensive understanding.

What is a Chord?

Before delving into the specifics of the police chord, let’s first define what a chord is. In music theory, a chord is a combination of three or more notes played simultaneously, creating a harmonious sound. Chords are built upon scales and intervals, and they form the foundation of harmony in music.

What is the Police Chord guitar player

A chord consists of three main elements: the root note, the third, and the fifth. The root note determines the name of the chord and serves as its foundation. The third and the fifth are intervals that determine the chord’s quality, whether it’s major, minor, diminished, or augmented.

Understanding the Police Chord

The police chord gained its popularity due to its prominent use in the music of “The Police.” Andy Summers, the band’s guitarist, frequently employed a specific chord shape that became synonymous with their sound. The police chord is a variation of a standard major or minor chord, featuring an open-string voicing that creates a unique and recognizable sound.

How to Play the Police Chord

To play the police chord, you need to position your fingers on specific frets and strings. The exact finger positioning depends on the instrument you’re playing, but for guitarists, the police chord is commonly played as follows:

  1. Place your index finger on the fifth string’s third fret.
  2. Position your middle finger on the fourth string’s fourth fret.
  3. Place your ring finger on the third string’s fifth fret.
  4. Let the first and second strings ring open.

Mastering finger positioning and technique is crucial to achieving the distinct sound of the police chord. For beginners, it may take some practice to get comfortable with finger placement, but with time and dedication, it becomes easier to execute.

he police chord into their music.

Common Uses of the Police Chord

The police chord has found its place in various genres of music, from rock and pop to reggae and jazz. Its distinct sound and versatility make it a favorite among musicians and songwriters. Some examples of famous songs that feature the police chord include:

  • “Message in a Bottle” by The Police
  • “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
  • “Walking on the Moon” by The Police
  • “Roxanne” by The Police
  • “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by The Police

These songs showcase how the police chord can add character and evoke specific emotions within a musical context.

Advantages and Challenges of Playing the Police Chord

Incorporating the police chord into your playing style offers several advantages. Firstly, it allows you to replicate the distinctive sound associated with “The Police,” adding authenticity to your renditions of their songs or similar styles. Secondly, the police chord’s open-string voicing creates a resonant and vibrant sound that stands out in a mix.

However, playing the police chord comes with its challenges. The finger positioning can be initially uncomfortable, especially for beginners. Achieving clean and clear notes without any buzzing or muting requires precision and finger strength. By practicing regularly and using proper techniques, these challenges can be overcome.

Police Chord Progressions

Chord progressions are a sequence of chords played in a specific order, forming the backbone of a song. The police chord can be used in various progressions to create different moods and evoke specific feelings. Some popular police chord progressions include:

  1. Police chord to major chord: Transitioning from the police chord to a major chord creates a sense of resolution and brightness.
  2. Police chord to minor chord: This progression adds a touch of melancholy and tension, often used in introspective or emotional compositions.
  3. Police chord arpeggio: Breaking down the police chord into individual notes played consecutively can create a cascading and dynamic effect.

Experimenting with these progressions and incorporating the police chord can lead to interesting musical ideas and compositions.

What is the Police Chord guitar player

Experimenting with the Police Chord

While the police chord has a recognizable sound, don’t be afraid to experiment and push the boundaries. Modify the chord voicing, add notes, or combine it with other chords to create your unique sonic palette. By exploring different possibilities, you can develop your own signature sound and style.

Think of the police chord as a starting point rather than a limitation. Embrace the spirit of creativity and allow yourself to explore new sounds and ideas.

Police Chord in Music Theory

In music theory, the police chord can be analyzed and understood within the framework of chord progressions, harmonic functions, and modes. Understanding the theoretical aspects of the police chord can enhance your musical knowledge and open up new possibilities for composition and improvisation.

The police chord belongs to a specific key and can be used as a tonic, subdominant, or dominant chord within a key’s harmonic context. Exploring how it relates to other chords and modes can deepen your understanding of music theory and inform your creative decisions.


The police chord, popularized by “The Police,” offers a distinctive and recognizable sound that has become iconic in the world of music. Its unique voicing and open-string resonances make it an appealing choice for musicians across different genres. Whether you’re a guitarist, pianist, or any other instrumentalist, incorporating the police chord into your playing can add character and depth to your music. Experiment, explore variations, and use it as a creative tool to inspire new compositions and arrangements.


  1. Can the police chord be used in jazz music? Yes, the police chord can be used in jazz music. It adds a unique color to jazz progressions and can be incorporated into various jazz standards and improvisations.
  2. Can the police chord be played on a 12-string guitar? Absolutely! The police chord can be adapted for a 12-string guitar. The additional strings enhance the chord’s resonance and add richness to the sound.
  3. Are there any famous guitarists known for using the police chord? While the police chord is strongly associated with Andy Summers of “The Police,” many other guitarists have incorporated it into their playing. Some notable examples include John Mayer, Eric Johnson, and Andy Timmons.
  4. Can the police chord be played on acoustic guitar? Yes, the police chord can be played on both acoustic and electric guitars. The chord voicing remains the same; only the instrument’s timbre and tonal qualities may vary.
  5. Is the police chord suitable for beginners? The police chord can be challenging for beginners due to its finger positioning and the need for accuracy. However, with consistent practice and patience, beginners can master the chord and enjoy playing it confidently.
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