NEW: Phil-Tone Line of Mouthpieces

Introduction

I have seen various saxophonists playing on Phil-Tone mouthpieces as well as vintage mouthpieces refaced by Phil Engelman for sale on eBay and Craiglists but have never had the chance to test play Phil’s various mouthpieces for myself until now. I will be test playing four different Phil-Tone tenor mouthpieces (2 metal & 2 hard rubber) and four different Phil-Tone alto mouthpieces. I will be reviewing each mouthpiece on the following criteria: Tone, Build Quality, Intonation, and Overall Thoughts.

Tenor Mouthpieces

Phil-Tone Eclipse 7*

Tone

The Eclipse model leaned towards the darker side of the sound spectrum. The Eclipse featured rounded inner side walls with a medium open chamber. I Found the Eclipse had a nice core to the sound rather than playing more spread. This mouthpiece could play edgy when pushed and overall had good projection.

Intonation

The intonation was great on the Eclipse. Compared to my Slant Link the Eclipse was very comfortable throughout the entire range of the saxophone and it took little time to adjust to.

Build Quality

The baffle, inner side walls, side rails, chamber and table on the Eclipse was even and I did not notice any flaws or un-evenness on this mouthpiece. I believe this can be attributed to Phil working on each mouthpiece by hand and test playing each one numerous times before sending them out. This is a common theme you will see with all of Phil’s mouthpieces.

Overall

The Eclipse is a great playing “straight ahead” hard rubber mouthpiece for those players looking for a medium dark sounding mouthpiece with a little bit of resistance that very much reminded me of the play-ability of my link.

http://www.phil-tone.com/tenor/eclipse

Price: $325

Phil-Tone Intrepid 7*

Tone

The Intrepid model was designed for those players who enjoy or have been playing on an Otto Link Reso Chamber. This model features a flat angle step baffle rather than a rollover baffle seen on Phil’s Sapphire model. In addition, the window is also longer than one would see on various vintage link models. I found the Phil-Tone Intrepid was even darker sonically compared to the Eclipse. The Intrepid had complexity, warmth, and edge to the sound as well as playing slightly more resistant than the Eclipse.

Intonation

The intonation was great on the Intrepid. Similar to the Eclipse, the Intrepid was very comfortable through-out the entire range of the saxophone and it took little to no adjustment.

Build Quality

The baffle, inner side walls, side rails, chamber and table on the Intrepid was even and I did not notice any flaws or un-evenness on this mouthpiece.

Overall

The Intrepid is a great playing complex sounding hard rubber mouthpiece for those players looking for a dark sounding mouthpiece with some resistance that very much embodied characteristics seen in the vintage Otto Link Reso Chamber mouthpieces.

http://www.phil-tone.com/tenor/sapphire (Intrepid description)

Price: $385

Phil-Tone Tribute 7*

Tone

The Tribute model as according to Phil was produced in collaboration with Theo Wanne to introduce the best possible Florida Link without any modifications so players had access to a mouthpiece that had the best feel and sound of  a Florida link. Sonically, I found the Tribute to play medium bright with the sound being best described as “Coltrane-ish.” I am not saying you will necessarily sound like Trane playing this mouthpiece (one would wish) but the edge, color, complexity and resistance pertaining to the tribute simply reminded me of Trane’s sound. The tribute had a great focus to the sound as well as was very easy to articulate.

Intonation

The intonation was great on the Tribute. Compared to my Slant Link the Tribute did take me a little bit of time to adjust to but this metal mouthpiece played well through-out the entire range of the saxophone.

Build Quality

The collaboration between Theo and Phil clearly shows in the quality of manufacturing the Tribute. The attention to detail and R&D can clearly be seen by the machine work being extra clean with no flaws anywhere on the table, side walls, tip, etc.

Overall

If you currently play on a vintage metal link or have been searching for one as well as are a Coltrane fanatic, the Tribute is a mouthpiece you should take into consideration. Please note that the standard tip opening for the Tribute is a 7* (.105) but Phil does take custom tip orders.

http://www.phil-tone.com/tribute-and-mosaic

Price: $495

Phil-Tone Mosaic 7*

Tone

The Mosaic model as according to Phil was produced in collaboration with Theo Wanne to introduce a mouthpiece inspired by the sound of Dexter Gordon. Phil told me that this mouthpiece is a cross between a Dukoff Hollywood and Dukoff Stubby and is not a copy. Sonically, I found the Mosaic to lean towards the medium-bright side similar to the Tribute but the sound I found to be broader, denser, and not as focused or edgy as the Tribute. I found the Mosaic to have a warmer sound than the Tribute as well as was less resistant which as many of us know is a personal preference.

Intonation

The intonation was great on the Mosaic. Compared to Tribute I found it took me less time to adjust to based on the facing curve which I am more comfortable playing on. The Mosaic mouthpiece played well through-out the entire range of the saxophone.

Build Quality

The collaboration between Theo and Phil clearly shows in the quality of manufacturing the Mosaic. The attention to detail and R&D can clearly be seen by the machine work being extra clean with no flaws anywhere on the table, side wails, tip, etc.

Overall

If you are looking for a metal mouthpiece that is dense, spread, and even-throughout the entire range, the Mosaic is a mouthpiece you should take into consideration. Please note that the standard tip opening for the Mosaic like the Tribute is a 7* (.105) but Phil does take custom tip orders.

http://www.phil-tone.com/tribute-and-mosaic

Price: $495

Alto Mouthpieces

Phil-Tone Rift

Tone

The Rift model as according to Phil has a unique mouthpiece design with a rollover baffle and a secondary baffle in the floor. Phil said that this will help facilitate clean and robust sounding highs as well as lows. Sonically, I found the Rift was incredibly easy to play with a rich core that really projected and could take a lot of air without cutting out. I noticed especially in the palm keys that the sound was not thin but rather full and even. Of the Phil tone alto models I test played, the Rift was by far the loudest and really projected.

Intonation

The intonation was great on the Rift. I would say at first I had to adjust because for me the Rift is incredibly easy to play with very little effort across the entire range of the saxophone which possibly can be attributed to this facing.

Build Quality

Similar to Phil’s tenor model mouthpieces, the Rift’s baffle, inner side walls, side rails, chamber and table were even and I did not notice any flaws or un-evenness on this mouthpiece.

Overall

If you are looking for a very free-blowing and dynamic hard rubber alto mouthpiece that really projects and cuts, the Rift might be the right model for you.

http://www.phil-tone.com/alto/the-rift

Price: $325

Phil-Tone Novella Jazz

Tone

The Novella Jazz model is one of Phil’s newest mouthpieces he has just released. Phil informed me that compared to the Novella Classic which has a traditional Soloist type baffle, the Novella Jazz has a rollover baffle inspired by the music of Kenny Garrett. Sonically, I found the Novella jazz had a bit more resistance than the Rift but had a nice balance between a solid core with good projection and was a medium-bright playing mouthpiece.

Intonation

The intonation was great on the Novella Jazz. Compared to the rift, this mouthpiece was not as free-blowing but had a facing more used to what I am comfortable playing on so it took little time to adjust.

Build Quality

Similar to the Phil-Tone Rift model, the Novella Jazz baffle, inner side walls, side rails, chamber and table were even and I did not notice any flaws or un-evenness on this mouthpiece.

Overall

If you are looking for an alto mouthpiece with good projection, core, and slight edge, the Novella Jazz is worth checking out.

http://www.phil-tone.com/

Price: $325

Phil-Tone Solstice

Tone

The Solstice model is one of Phil’s original model alto saxophone mouthpieces that has gained much popularity. Unlike a Meyer, the Solstice was designed with the “West Coast” sound in mind which reminds me of such saxophonists such as: Lee Konitz, Paul Desmond, Art Pepper, etc. According to Phil, The Solstice has a rich core and full harmonic palate that is easy to achieve and not resistant like other mouthpieces going for the “West Coast” vibe. Sonically, I found the Solstice had a complex timbre which played brighter than various Meyer mouthpieces I have test played. This Solstice was incredibly flexible with slight resistance compared to the Rift. I found this mouthpiece was balanced from top to bottom and really did have that “West Coast” vibe to it.

Intonation

The intonation was great on the Solstice. Even though I found the Solstice to play on the brighter side, it was not shrill in the palm keys and was easy to adjust to which is not always the case with various alto mouthpieces that lean towards the brighter side.

Build Quality

Similar to the Phil-Tone Novella Jazz model, the Solstice baffle, inner side walls, side rails, chamber and table were even and I did not notice any flaws or un-evenness on this mouthpiece.

Overall

If you are looking for that “West Coast” vibe, I really think the Solstice is a great option that you should test play and see how it compares to your current setup.

http://www.phil-tone.com/alto/the-solstice

Price: $325

Phil-Tone Meyer

Tone

The Phil-Tone Meyer is one of Phil’s most popular mouthpieces. The Phil-Tone Meyer is a corrected and customized version of the current Babbitt Meyer. Phil told me that with his Meyer, “he made sure the table is flattened, the throat is slightly enlarged, and a proper facing is applied for easy of play and response.” Sonically, I found the Phil-Tone Meyer to play very similar to various N.Y. Meyer’s I had played in the past. The Phil-Tone Meyer was free-blowing with a solid core. I found the sound to be right in the middle neither too bright nor too dark. This mouthpiece had the edge and projection which I did not find on my modern Meyer and the overall play-ability and resistance level felt much closer to a vintage Meyer compared to my modern Meyer.

Intonation

The intonation was great on the Phil-Tone Meyer. This mouthpiece for me took no time to adjust to and felt right at home.

Build Quality

Similar to the Phil-Tone Solstice, the Phil-Tone Meyer baffle, inner side walls, side rails, chamber and table were even and I did not notice any flaws or un-evenness on this mouthpiece.

Overall

If you are looking for a really good copy of a vintage N.Y Meyer or Meyer Bros mouthpiece that comes very close to an original, you must try the Phil-Tone Meyer and see what you think.

http://www.phil-tone.com/alto/the-custom-meyer

Price: $279

Overall Thoughts

I want to thank Phil Engelman for taking the time to send me his various tenor and alto model mouthpieces. I really enjoyed playing each one of them and was overall impressed by the quality of work on each mouthpiece. I ended up purchasing the Phil-Tone Meyer mouthpiece because it was noticeably better than my current setup and I am currently interested in play testing Phil’s Sapphire model in a 7 tip opening which I believe will play similar to my slant link. Again, I want to thank Phil for sending me his various model mouthpieces and if anyone is interested in one of Phil’s mouthpieces or has questions regarding a specific model, please reach out to Phil and I know he is more than happy to assist.

Website

http://www.phil-tone.com/