Johnny Hiland’s Train Horn

Joe Satriani tracked possibly the greatest steam train whistle lick in history on his self-titled 1984 EP. But if you want to wail like a big ol’ diesel train, then Johnny Hiland’s Licks & Tricks, Vol. II [Mel Bay] has pulled into your station right on time. In this book Hiland shares the classic train horn approach shown here. “I often use this on ‘Orange Blossom Special,’” says the Nashville guitarslinger on the accompanying CD. He then demonstrates the horn lick in a few long and short “blasts.” The E, G, and C# together deliver the trademark minor 6th voicing of most diesel horns, while the swell of the volume knob emulates these monstrous noisemakers’ characteristically soft attack. The simultaneous bent note evokes the lonesome-sounding Doppler effect you hear when a thundering diesel zooms by and just barely misses hitting you. “The only note you’re gonna bend is the fourth string,” says Hiland. For more on Hiland, click to