What Key Harmonica Should You Use for Long Train Running?

Photo of author

As a harmonica player, I have often wondered what key harmonica is best for playing the classic song “Long Train Running”. After playing this song on different keys and styles of harmonicas, I have come to the conclusion that a G Major diatonic harmonica works best. In this article, I will explain why this is my preferred choice.

Types of Harmonicas

Types Of Harmonicas
Harmonicas come in a variety of keys, enabling players to choose the key that best suits their musical needs. The most common harmonicas are diatonic, chromatic, and tremolo.

Diatonic harmonicas are the most popular choice among harmonica players. They are designed to be played in one key, with a full set of notes that can be played in two octaves.

Chromatic harmonicas are equipped with a slide button which allows the player to play notes outside of the key. This is ideal for more complex pieces and improvisation.

Tremolo harmonicas are designed with two reeds for each note, creating a vibrato effect. This is great for a more mellow sound.

Finally, octave harmonicas are tuned to two octaves, allowing for greater range and versatility. This is ideal for more advanced players.

Benefits of Playing Harmonica

Benefits Of Playing Harmonica

  • Enhances lung capacity and breathing control
  • Improves coordination between eyes, ears, and mouth
  • Develops discipline and patience
  • Reduces stress
  • Enhances creativity
  • Increases self-esteem and confidence
  • Improves memory
  • Increases finger dexterity
  • Provides an outlet for self-expression

Discover Top 3 Harmonica Bestsellers

Bestseller No. 1
East top Diatonic Blues Harmonica Key of C, Blues Harp Mouth Organ 10 Holes 20 Tones 008K with Blue Case, Standard Harmonica For Adults, Professionals, Beginners and Students
  • Professional harmonica for adult-East top 10 hole professional diatonic harmonica, suitable for Blues, Folk, Rock, Country, Jazz etc. Great for professional harmonica players and beginners. This Professional Blues Harmonica has exquisite workmanship, beautiful appearance, accurate tone and responsive.
  • Rich sound, responsive, airtightness - Precision-made plastic comb with phosphor bronze reeds; 1.2mm thickness reed plate is easier to get the higher pitch, rich sound and timbre. The reed plate with electroplating antirust, the hole, reed gap is better after electroplating. At the same time, you will feel comfortable when playing, easy to use the skill, such as over-blowing and bending, giving the performer a new experience.
  • Pocket size and easy to bring-(4.01x 1.06x 0.75)"/ (102x 27 x 19)mm(L x W x H), you can put it into your pocket, it can be played everywhere, such as party, school, office and trip etc.
  • Beautiful packaging- The package is exquisitely small and can be used as a birthday present, a gift for further study, a holiday souvenir or a business meeting gift and wedding anniversary etc.
  • Package includes 1x harmonica (key of C); 1x instruction and 1x cleaning cloth. We are the harmonica manufacturer of the East top brand.Backed Up with East top 30 Days Unconditional Money Back . You can rest assured to buy our products.
Bestseller No. 2
JDR Harmonica Set of 7 (Key of C D E F G A Bb) 10 Holes 20 Tones Blues Harp Diatonic Mouth Organ armonica with EVA Protective Case for Adults Kids Beginner Professional Intermediate Student Gift Black
  • ♪ Professional harmonica set: Excellent design and exquisite workmanship 7-pack of harmonicas includes keys of C, G, A, D, F, E, and B♭. Great harmonica system suitable for blues, folk, pop, jazz, country and classical music.
  • ♪ High-quality Raw Materials: The JDR harmonica high-sensitivity phosphor bronze reed plate differs from inferior aluminum, it is made of copper. The 1mm of copper reed plate is conducive to the sound more clear and melodious.
  • ♪ Precise Manufacturing: The JDR harmonica comb is specially crafted with non-toxic food-grade ABS resin and chrome-plated mirror. It is not only lightweight, but also can prevent rust and corrosion. JDR harmonica set is child-friendly and safe, and has also passed Food Safety Certification.
  • ♪ Portable Size: The JDR 10 holes 20 tones key of C harmonica is cleverly designed with a streamlined body. Each harmonica is 4.09"x0.31"x1.10", you can slip into the pocket wherever you go. Each harmonica is carefully tuned and tested during manufacturing to ensure best sound and quality.
  • ♪ JDR Service Policy: Package includes 7-pack of Harmonica, premium protection box. For any possible defective products 90 days no reason to refund, 180 days replacement service.
Bestseller No. 3
Fender Blues Deville Harmonica, Key of C
  • Key of C
  • Designed to sound as good as the Fender brand name would suggest
  • Its richer tone and pitch is made possible with a molded PVC comb and precision phosphor bronze reeds
  • Traditional shape and black satin covers will make your harmonica look as good as it sounds
  • Includes vented hard plastic case

Understanding Keys and Scales

Understanding Keys And Scales

  • A harmonica is a versatile instrument that is typically played in one of many keys or scales.
  • The most common keys are C, D, G, A, and E, with some instruments being available in other keys as well.
  • The key of the harmonica determines the notes that can be played on it, as well as the type of music it is suitable for.
  • A harmonica in the key of C is typically used for playing blues and folk songs, while a harmonica in the key of D is typically used for playing country and western music.
  • Harmonicas in the keys of G, A, and E are usually used for more traditional music such as Irish or Scottish folk tunes.
  • When selecting a harmonica for a particular song, it is important to consider the key of the song as well as the key of the harmonica.
  • For example, if the song is in the key of D and the harmonica is in the key of C, then the harmonica will not be able to play all of the notes in the song.
  • In this case, it would be better to choose a harmonica in the key of D.

Choosing the Right Key for Long Train Running

Choosing The Right Key For Long Train Running

To find the right key for long train running, it’s important to consider the type of music you will be playing and the range of notes you’ll need to reach. A harmonica’s range is determined by the key it is tuned to. The lower the key, the lower the pitches and notes available.

Key Range
C Lowest Range
D Low Range
G Medium Range
A High Range
High G Highest Range

When playing long train running, it’s best to use a harmonica in the key of G or A. These keys will provide the best range for the style of music and will allow you to reach the higher and lower notes needed for the song. If you are playing a song that requires a wider range of notes, you may want to consider using a harmonica in the key of D or C. These keys will provide the lowest and highest notes needed for the song.

No matter which key you choose, it’s important to practice with the harmonica to ensure that you can reach all the notes you need. You will also want to make sure that the harmonica you choose is well-constructed and easy to play. With a little bit of practice and the right harmonica, you’ll be able to play long train running with ease.

Learning Long Train Running

Learning Long Train Running

Playing the harmonica requires a good sense of rhythm and breath control. Long train running is a technique used to play a long, continuous melody with the harmonica, and it takes practice to master. To start learning the technique, practice playing the same note repeatedly, then start adding in different notes to create a melody. Make sure to keep a steady rhythm and control your breathing. As you practice, you can add variations to the melody, such as trills and rolls. Once you have the basics down, you can start practicing playing scales, which will help you to become more familiar with the notes and chords used in the music you want to play.

When learning long train running, it is important to have the right harmonica. The best harmonica for the technique is one with a low-pitch, because it allows the player to play the notes more easily. A chromatic harmonica is also a good choice, as it gives you access to all notes in the scale. With practice, you can learn to play long train running with any harmonica.

Tips for Playing Long Train Running on Harmonica

Tips For Playing Long Train Running On Harmonica

Start by learning the basic chords and melody for the song. The song is usually played in the key of G on the diatonic harmonica, so you’ll need to use C, D, F and G chords, as well as the B flat chord. Learn the melody before attempting any improvisation.

Once you have the basic chords and melody down, focus on mastering the rhythm. The rhythm of the song is very important, as it’s the main element that keeps the song going. Take your time and practice the rhythm until it’s perfect.

Work on singing the song while playing the harmonica. This will help you to get the timing down and keep you in key. Also, it’s important to learn how to switch between chords and notes quickly and accurately.

Practice improvising with the melody. You can use scales and arpeggios to create interesting melodic lines. Also, practice rhythmically varying the melody to give the song some life and energy.

Finally, practice the song with a metronome or a drum loop to make sure you’re keeping the tempo steady. This will help you to stay on beat and stay in time with the rest of the band.

Using the Right Tools and Accessories for Harmonica

Using The Right Tools And Accessories For Harmonica

Tool/Accessory Function
Harmonica The harmonica is the main instrument used to play “Long Train Running”. It is available in different keys, such as A, Bb, C, D, E, F and G.
Harmonica Case A harmonica case is used to store and protect the harmonica. It helps to keep the harmonica safe while traveling.
Harmonica Stand A harmonica stand is used to hold the harmonica in place during performances. It is also helpful for keeping the harmonica clean and dry.
Harmonica Reeds Harmonica reeds are the metal plates that vibrate inside the harmonica to produce sound. They should be replaced regularly to keep the harmonica sounding its best.
Harmonica Tuning Hammer A harmonica tuning hammer is used to adjust the pitch of the harmonica. It is also used to adjust the reeds, ensuring the harmonica is in tune.
Harmonica Wipes Harmonica wipes are used to keep the harmonica clean and free of dirt and dust. They are also effective in reducing bacteria growth.
Harmonica Amplifier A harmonica amplifier is used to boost the sound of the harmonica. It can be used to increase the volume of the harmonica when playing in large venues.

When playing “Long Train Running”, it is important to use the right tools and accessories for harmonica. The harmonica itself is the main instrument, and it is available in different keys. A harmonica case is needed to store and protect the harmonica. A harmonica stand is helpful for keeping it in place during performances, and for keeping it clean and dry. Harmonica reeds should be replaced regularly to keep the harmonica sounding its best. A harmonica tuning hammer is used to adjust the pitch of the harmonica and the reeds. Harmonica wipes are used to keep it clean and free of dirt and dust, while a harmonica amplifier is used to boost the sound of the harmonica when playing in large venues. Using the right tools and accessories for harmonica will ensure that the instrument is in good condition and produces the best sound possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Key Harmonica is Best for Playing Long Train Running?

The key of A harmonica is best for playing Long Train Running. It is in the key of A minor, which is the same as the original recording of the song. This harmonica key allows for the melody and chords to be played accurately. Additionally, an A harmonica allows for more room to improvise and create individual licks.

What type of harmonica is used in Long Train Running?

The song “Long Train Running” by The Doobie Brothers uses a D Major diatonic harmonica. It is an 10-hole instrument with a key of D, allowing for blues, folk, and rock styles of play. Additionally, the diatonic harmonica is a common choice among blues, rock, and country musicians.

How do I choose the right harmonica key for Long Train Running?

The key of the harmonica should match the key of the song. Long Train Running is usually performed in the key of A. Therefore, the best harmonica key to use would be a harmonica in the key of A. If you are unsure of the key of the song, you can use a chromatic harmonica which can play in any key.

Who played harmonica on Long Train Running?

The harmonica in the iconic Doobie Brothers song “Long Train Running” was played by John McFee, the band’s lead guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. McFee also helped write the song, which was released in 1973 and reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

What techniques should I use for playing Long Train Running on harmonica?

When playing Long Train Running on the harmonica, use techniques such as bending, vibrato, and hand effects to create a full sound. To create a full chord sound, use a chord harmonica with multiple reeds. Additionally, use the tongue blocking technique to create a fuller, more powerful sound. Use a 4-hole octave harmonica to play the melody of Long Train Running, as well as riffs and solos. Finally, practice improvisation and practice with a metronome to refine your timing and rhythm.


The best harmonica for playing Long Train Running is a key of A harmonica. This key of harmonica has a range that allows for playing the melody of the song accurately and with a wider range of notes. It also has a deeper, fuller sound than other keys of harmonicas. The key of A harmonica can be used to play many types of traditional and modern music, making it a great choice for those interested in playing Long Train Running.


About the author

Hey, my name is John Peters, and I’m a co-founder and Jack’s co-editors. My country sole was born when I was not more than 4 years old and my dad brought several country records home. These were the records by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Asleep at The Wheel, and Neil Young. I fell in love with the genre forever back then. Before entering the university, I managed to gather a collection of over 1200 vinyl records with both classic and modern country releases.

Leave a Comment