Brilhart used a different tip opening numbering system than those of Meyer or Otto Link. His standard sizes were consistent to his numbering system, however many of the very small and large sizes varied from piece to piece. So it is best to measure the tip openings. Brilhart had five primary 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.
- 1904 – Arnold R Brilhart was born in Connecticut on September 30, 1904
- 1939 – Designed by Arnold Brilhart mouthpieces released in August of 1939. Company based at 435 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck New York. The phone number was: Great Neck 4054
- 1940 – Tonalin and Ebolin mouthpieces release on August 14, 1940
- 1942 – On Jan 20, 1942 the Brilhart Trademark with mouthpiece on left and the reed on the right was released.
- 1946 – In December of 1946 Company address changed to Box 31, Mineola, New York
- 1951 – Personaline model released. Company address changed to East Neck Road, Huntington, New York.
- 1954 – In May of 1954 the Brilhart Company moved to Carlsbad, California
- 1954 – Brilhart files an application for his trademark in Great Britain. Shortly after, he starts making mouthpieces there.
- 1965 – Brilhart patented “Fibercane,” the first composite reed material.
- 1966 – Selmer buys Brilhart Company and the rights to the Brilhart name. In the contract Arnold Brilhart is is not allowed to make woodwind mouthpieces for ten years.
- 1977 – ARB (Stands for Arnold Ross Brilhart) trademark first used. ARB saxophone and clarinet mouthpieces made with Beechler (Remle Musical Products Inc).
- 1980 – On January 15th, 1980 the Arbex trademark first used.
- 1980’s – Graftonite and Metalite mouthpieces released.
- 1988 – Arnold Brilhart passes away in California on May 21, 1998.
1939 – DESIGNED BY ARNOLD BRILHART – Version 1:
These were the very first mouthpieces made by Arnold Brilhart made from August 1939 until August 1940. They were marked “Designed by Arnold Brilhart” on the back. They were made in Great Neck, New York and only came in hard rubber for clarinet, alto and tenor. These had quite large chambers, similar to the Otto Link mouthpieces of the same era. They all had three or four digit numbers with a simple font, and Great Neck, NY written on the shank:
1940 – DESIGNED BY ARNOLD BRILHART – Version 2:
The second version of the “Designed by Arnold Brilhart” mouthpiece was made from August 1940 until January of 1942, and were also made in Great Neck, New York. The Tonalin, Ebolin and Tonalite models were made, as well as the hard rubber. They all had the tip openings marked on the table.
The serial number font changed to a large ‘Old Fashioned’ font, and Great Neck, NY was stamped on the shank. The STREAMLINE version had a narrower body:
Streamline mouthpieces were made during most of Brilhart’s career, from 1939 on, in Designed by Arnold Brilhart, Tonalin and Ebolin models. 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.
1942 – GREAT NECK, NEW YORK:
These still had a large five digit ‘Old Fashioned’ font with Great Neck, NY was stamped on the shank.
Lester Young played on an Ebolin for a time:
1946 – MINEOLA, NY MOUTHPIECES
In December of 1946 Brilhart changed their address to Box 31, Mineola, New York. The ‘Great Neck, NY’ was removed from the shank, however, it still had the Large ‘Old Fashioned’ font and ligature line around the body.
1951 – PERSONALINE MOUTHPIECES & MOVE TO HUNTINGTON, NY
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.
1951 also marks the start of the ‘small font’ serial numbers, and no more ligature line on the mouthpiece. Brilhart restarted the serial numbers at this time as well, so even though you may see four digit serial numbers it the mouthpiece doesn’t have ‘Great Neck, NY’ on the shank, it is from this Huntington period.
1954 – CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA:
From May of 1954 until November of 1966 the Brilhart mouthpieces were made in Carlsbad, California. 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 still the smaller Arial style font. Internally, they remained very similar, but the overall volume of the chamber was smaller as they did not have the enlarged chamber of the Great Neck models.
Here is an example of the serial numbers of a Great Neck mouthpiece (which has a larger font) and a later Carlsbad mouthpiece, with the smaller ‘Arial Type Font’. The Carlsbad mouthpieces also had no ligature placement line on the mouthpiece:
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. These are arguably as good or better players than the ‘Slant Signature’ Otto Links.
Zoot Sims played on the ‘Hard Rubber’ Brilhart Tenor Mouthpiece:
Mouthpiece insert from the Carlsbad period of mouthpieces:
Charlie Parker played on this mouthpiece:
Gene Ammons also played this mouthpiece on tenor:
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.
Kenny Garrett made this ligature very popular. He played on the plastic plate version shown above.
1954 – BRILHART – MADE IN ENGLAND:
From 1954 to 1966 Brilhart Carlsbad mouthpieces were also being manufactured in England at the same time by ROC. There were far fewer of these made. Most of them were Tonalin and Personaline models. These mouthpieces were longer, 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.
The name ROC came about when the two company founders, Norman Taylor and Harry Chance, were sitting in their office trying to think of a short name for their range of new mouthpieces when a large van passed the window. On the side of this van was the company logo “Rubery Owen Company” hence the name ROC. It wasn’t long before they remembered that ROC was the name of a mythical bird…hence the logo was born. ROC manufactured the mouthpieces from scratch and also made mouthpiece for at least 6 other companies. Hope that this info is of interest to you. ROC Instrument Co. stopped the manufacture of mouthpieces many years ago and moved into the manufacturing of office furniture. Subsequently the company name changed to ROC Office Furniture. ROC was eventually sold in 2006.
Here you can see how the Made in England mouthpieces by ROC were longer:
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.
1966 – SELMER BUYS RIGHTS TO BRILHART
In November of 1966, Selmer buys the Brilhart Company and the rights to the Brilhart name. In the contract Arnold Brilhart is is not allowed to make woodwind mouthpieces for ten years. They make mouthpieces with serial numbers until July 1967. After that, only the Level-Air model has serial numbers.
These mouthpieces still had the small Arial style font, but the ligature placement line got added back on. A unique quality of this era is that the serial number actual gives the date of manufacture. The serial number below shows it being made on February 9, 1967.
1966 – BRILHART LEVEL-AIR:
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.
1977 – ARB
ARB, which stands for Arnold Ross Brilhart, started making mouthpieces again since it was then 10 years after he sold the Brilhart name to Selmer. Part of his contract when selling the Brilhart company to Selmer was to no longer make mouthpieces for ten year.
At this time he started making saxophone and clarinet mouthpieces made with his good friend Elmer Beechler. Elmer Beechler was a mouthpiece refacer for Arnold Brilhart in the 1940’s, and formed his own company in 1950. His company (Remle Musical Products) still makes mouthpieces today, and is currently ran by his daughter Judy Beechler.
1980 ARBEX MOUTHPIECE
In 1980 ARB released the ARBEX mouthpiece:
The ARBEX mouthpiece came in both black and ivory. The material was the same however, the pigment used in the black (to make it black) was harder, so the mouthpiece had a brighter sound. The pigment used in the ivory model (to make it ivory in color), made it softer. Brilhart described the ivory as having a more ‘singing’ sound.
ARB GREAT NECK ORIGINAL
Remle Musical Products, which is currently run by the wonderful Judy Beechler, currently sells this model.
Remle had vintage blanks left over, so released them as ARB GREAT NECK ORIGINAL models. These had plain text on the back, and are vintage Tonalin blanks. As they don’t make the blanks, just put the name on them, once they sell out of these they will no longer sell them anymore. They ran out of the tenors in December of 2004, so now just sell the clarinet and alto mouthpieces.
1980s ARB METAL & HARD RUBBER MOUTHPIECES
The metal version is still sold by the Beechler company now. They are machine faced and hand finished. The tip openings and facings numbering are those developed by Arnold Brilhart. These mouthpieces are made from Stainless Steel and have a very high baffle similar to the ‘Level Air’ type design.
1980s – GRAFTONITE MOUTHPIECE
Arnold Brilhart’s final mouthpiece designs were the Rico Graftonite and Metalite mouthpieces. Mr. Brilhart was very proud of these mouthpieces. All of these mouthpieces had a rough look finish on the exterior.
The Rico Company made the Graftonite mouthpieces for alto and tenor in 3 chambers (A, B, & C). A is the darkest, and was meant for concert playing. The B chamber was versatile, and meant for Band playing. The C chamber was bright and catered to jazz and rock & roll music. The soprano and baritone models only came in the B chamber.
1980s – METALITE MOUTHPIECE
The Metalite model was brighter than even the C chamber Graftonite, as it was based on the vintage version of the Level-Air design with a high Step-Baffle. These had the rough exterior like their Graftonite brothers.
Eventually Rico stopped production of the Metalites, with the last of these having a smooth finish instead of a rough finish. Though in 2009 Rico re-introduced them in soprano, tenor and baritone. In 2010 they released the altos. These had the same smooth finish as the last of the Metalites from before they stopped production prior to 2009.