Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast

Rick Epping interview

April 24, 2021 Neil Warren Season 1 Episode 37
Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast
Rick Epping interview
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Rick Epping joins me on episode 37. 

Rick worked for Hohner USA for 18 years and played a pivotal role in improving the quality of their harmonicas back to their former glory. While at Hohner, he also developed the XB40, the all-bending harmonica. Rick is also an expert customiser of harmonicas and can be credited with the creation of embossing reeds to improve playability.

Rick has a real passion for playing Irish music, to such an extent that he even moved to Ireland so he could immerse himself in the music. He has released several albums with notable Irish groups for us to enjoy his traditional music playing.

Rick is also adept at playing harmonica on a rack, perhaps with the less orthodox instruments of the concertina and the banjo.

Article by Rick on harmonica types used in Irish Music:

Article on reed longevity:

Pat Missin page on the XB40:

Easy third tuning:

Brendan Power's Slip Slider harmonica:

Iron Lung:

Harmonica UK Chrom Weekend: (2021 info will be available from May 21)

Willie Clancy Summer School:

HarmonicaUK Virtual Chromatic Weekend:


One man show for Irish Cultural Centre:

YouTube workshop on harmonica maintenance:

Another harmonica maintenance workshop:

Session that Brian McDonagh, Philip Duffy and I held every Tuesday for 15 years:

NHL Concert: Buckets Of Rain:

Podcast website:



If you want to make a voluntary donation to help support the running costs of the podcast then please use this link (or visit the podcast website link above):

Spotify Playlist: 

Also check out the Spotify Playlist, which contains most of the songs discussed in the podcast:

Podcast sponsor:

This podcast is sponsored by SEYDEL harmonicas - visit the oldest harmonica factory in the world at

Born in California and moved to Ireland and love of Irish music
First harmonicas Rick played
Played some blues early on but gravitated to traditional tunes
Rick had some lessons on violin and piano when young
Also plays concertina, banjo and jaw harp, and love of free reed instruments
Plays harmonica on a rack with concertina and banjo
Advice on how to play harmonica on a rack
What to focus on when playing the harmonica
Techniques playing on a rack with the concertina
Learning Irish rhythms from fiddle player
Playing on a rack with other instruments besides a guitar, including piano
Reason why Rick moved to Ireland
Won a music competition in Ireland with his band Pumpkinhead
Opened for T-Bone Walker when young
Won All Irish Harmonica Championship in 1975
Jigging the Blues album with Frankie Gavin and Tim Edey
Did an album of traditional Irish music with the band New Road
Has recorded two albums with the band The Unwanted
Why Rick uses the diatonic harmonica to play Irish music
Irish musicians welcome harmonica in their music
Tremolo harmonica is more commonly played on Irish music
Rick uses an octave harmonica in Irish sessions, to get more volume
What is an octave harmonica?
Octave harmonica uses auto-valve reed plates
Worked for Hohner for 18 years
Was Product Manager on harmonicas and accordions at Hohner USA
Rick improved quality of Hohner harmonicas in late 1980s by improving tolerances between reed and reed plate
Rick is credited with inventing embossing reeds
Early customisers, such as Joe Filisko, had an influence on improving Hohner harmonicas
Rick has recorded some workshops on YouTube of his customisation techniques
What exactly is embossing?
Do people need to emboss and set-up their own harmonicas?
Rick is appearing at HarmonicaUK Chromatic Weekend on June 19/20 2021
Anything different about chromatic set-up to diatonic?
Devloped the XB40 harmonica at Hohner
Brendan Power’s recent SlipSlider harmonica is an example of continuing harmonica innovation
Rick played in a trio, Triple Harp Bypass, with Brendan Power and Mick Kinsella
10 minute question
What harmonicas does Rick play
Different tunings, including Easy Third
Amps, mics and effects pedals
Future plans
What has Rick been working on over last year during pandemic
Learns tunes by ear mainly