Theo Wanne's saxophone mouthpiece museum was created as a historical study of the major vintage mouthpiece brands. Visit www.mouthpiecemuseum.com for comprehensive list of mouthpiece manufacturers and to share images of your mouthpieces with others.
Brilhart Saxophone and Clarinet Mouthpieces
One thing to remember about all vintage Brilhart saxophone mouthpieces is that the tip opening numbers do not mean much. I've seen threes that measured a modern seven, and vice versa. They were made primarily in five models:
Tonalin: The ivory colored model with the black bite plate.
Ebolin: The black colored model with the white bite plate.
Tonalite: The clear plastic model.
Hard Rubber: These were mostly large chamber mouthpiece made from a very good quality hard rubber.
Personaline: These were their top of the line mouthpiece. They had a Personaline model identical in interior shape to all the above mouthpieces. These all had a unique 'Vita-Curve facing on them.
Designed by Arnold Brilhart:
These were the very first saxophone mouthpieces made by Arnold Brilhart and were marked "Designed by Arnold Brilhart" on the back. They all had a rather large chamber and serial numbers. They were made in Great Neck, New York. All Tonalin, Ebolin and Tonalite models were made at this time. They all had four digit, large font, serial numbers and the tip openings were marked on the table. They were also marked "Great Neck, NY" on the shank.
Great Neck New York:
Shown below, we have the Tonalin (white mouthpiece with black bite-plate) and Ebolin (black mouthpiece with white bite-plate). They had a medium sized chamber with flat sidewalls and a five digit serial number. They also had the name Great Neck, New York stamped on the shank and are highly desired mouthpieces. The first ones had the tip opening marked on the table. Later, they stamped them on the back.
Here is an example of the serial numbers of a Great Neck mouthpiece (which has a larger font) and a later Carlsbad mouthpiece:
The Ebolin, Tonalin and Tonalite models looked the same as the Great Neck models. However, they did not have the Great Neck, NY address on the shank and the serial number font was a little smaller. Internally, they remained very similar, but the overall volume of the chamber was just a little smaller.
The Personaline model had a more aerodynamic shaped body with the same chamber as the Ebolin and Tonalin. These models had a wood-grain look round bite-plate.
A hard rubber version of the Personaline was also made. This came in two models. One had a large round chamber with rounded inner-side walls (like the Brilhart mouthpiece stamped "Hard Rubber" on the shank). These hard rubber mouthpieces are among the best mouthpieces ever made. The second version had a medium to large chamber with only slightly rounded inner-side walls and the floor was a bit lower. This mouthpiece tended to be a bit darker and centered than its larger chambered brother.
The classic hard rubber Brilhart model was stamped "Hard Rubber" on the shank. These used an amazing hard rubber compound that when ground to dust smells very sweet. These had a relatively high floor for the period, giving them great projection. They had a very short facing curve though, so tend to play better when a longer facing is added. These had a large round chamber with rounded inner-side walls very much like the Otto Links. The floor was a bit more rounded though.
Streamline mouthpieces were made both during the Great Neck, NY and Carlsbad periods in both the Tonalin and Ebolin models. Charlie Parker supposedly played a Tonalin Streamline on alto during a period of his career. The body and chamber of these mouthpieces is a bit thinner and narrower than their counterparts. Hence, they also have a bit narrower and more focused sound as well.
The rarest of all Brilhart mouthpieces is the Velvet Brass model. These were mostly a prototype mouthpiece. However, a few finished production models were made. They had the standard oval, medium-chamber design with flat side walls and were very heavy due to the large amount of brass used to make them.
The Brilhart Carlsbad mouthpieces were also being manufactured in England at the same time. There were far fewer of these made. Most of them were Tonalin Personaline models. These came standard with a band on the shank and 'made in England' stamped on the side. The band was a VERY good idea as cracking shanks were always a problem for them. It would have been nice if they did that on their American models as well.
Below is a mouthpiece Ad for the Carlsbad models of the Brilhart mouthpieces:
Brilhart Level Air:
These mouthpieces were made in the 60s and 70s and were relatively very bright. They were made from stainless steel and for the late models the serial number actually reads the manufacture date. A serial number of 122474 would mean it was made on December 24, 1974. This is just a rule of thumb, though, and only applicable for the later vintage models.
A model of the Level Air is currently being made, though it is completely different from the vintage ones. Below is the vintage model, which can be divided into two versions. The first version made had heavy machine marks going from side to side on the table. The later vintage models, that otherwise looked the same, had length-wise machine marks on the table. The first version played better than the later version.
These rare and highly desired vintage ligatures came in three designs:
Three banded body made of heavy gauge metal.
Three banded body made with a metal reed-plate and brass thumb screws in the shape of a B or A.
Three banded body with tan plastic reed-plate and black epoxy ended thumb screws.