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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, its not broken.. but I have a question.
Recently purchased an Indiana Band Instruments tenor (Martin) in 'aged' condition, 1942, fully mechanically sound and with only one small dent (which I have already removed, so dent free).
Along with the saxophone came a Brilhart Ebolin 5 mouthpiece, of the same era. It has the trademarked logo on it (Brilhart with mouthpiece on one side and reed on the other) and Ebolin written on the neck. I cannot tell whether it has been boogered with or not as it has a little wear from use, and I wouldn't know how to tell anyway - but my issue is that I am all over the place trying to keep a note steady. I mean like if I do not hold my embouchure to the 1000th of an inch I'm squeaking or honking..
I'm just starting out with the saxophone (I played french horn for 16ish years, but always wanted to play the saxophone) so I am definitely in the beginner stage.
I have two other mouthpieces (cheapazz Prestini and Rico) neither of which I have any trouble with, so I'm wondering if there could be something wrong with the Brilhart, or maybe I'm not 'ready' for it yet??
Any insight to what could be the issue?
 

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The piece is probably too open for you or maybe too hard a reed. You should start on something like a Selmer S80 with a 1.5 or 2 reed. What reed are you trying? As your embouchure gets stronger you can go to a more open piece and a stiffer reed. If you’re not already, it’s a good idea to take lessons to avoid bad habits. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have both soft and medium soft.. not being absolutely sure which I should start with, and maybe then having the next strength to go to as my embouchure improves.
The Prestini is a Hermes model, and according to Prestini (who doesn't offer more than one option) is a 'beginner to intermediate' setup..?
The Rico is a Graftonite B5, also kind of a beginner-middle setup. The two don't look that different, if at all, so they are probable the same tip and facing, but that is an eye-ball comparison, and definitely have similar chamber....
The Brilhart on the other hand, is noticeably more open in every way, and definitely a longer facing. I can see light between the mouthpiece and reed almost down to the ligature.. and as such I can only put a short amount of the mouthpiece in my mouth and still produce a note - I guess maybe not having enough strength/leverage, or consistency, to close down the reed with such a long facing? (Sorry, just applying a little physics to the equation << retired mechanical engineer)..

Its not like I cannot play, practice, and learn with what I have with the Prestini and Rico.. I kind of like the Rico as far as playability goes, and the Brilhart doesn't seem to offer anything to the tone, or character, as the Martin itself is already large, round, and growly..:)
I was just curious why the Brilhart was so narrow on the playability scale, or maybe its been boogered with to the point that it needs to be redone.

-- As for lessons.. They will likely help a great deal, at least as far as hastening the curve, though having dated every woodwind from grade school to after college (every instrument type, not every player :lol:) I'm reasonably comfortable with the base elements of playing, so not immediately concerned with forming bad habits at this juncture. Once I get past scales and intonation exercises (which I still remember from school and/or girlfriends) I will likely look into a teacher accustomed to the 'old dog new tricks' experience..
 

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Yeah, tougher to control a larger tip opening but improves with time. The B5 should be fine to start on, so just spend time on the horn doing all the scales and work on long tones. Holding each note for a few seconds as you work through the scales will help with breath support and will build your embouchure. Is your horn an Alto or Tenor? I started on Alto but find Tenor to be far more forgiving after taking a break from playing. Love Martins so I think you made a good horn choice!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
..and thank you for your time.. the editor timed out before I could finish above.

Its a tenor. (Beautifully aged, for whatever psychological benefits that might provide to playing and learning.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So what would be the benefits of such an open mouthpiece?
From a physics perspective I would think it would allow one to 'bend' the sound more as there is literally more room to move the reed..

Silly gear head, I initially assumed it would provide greater ease to play if the reed had more room to move.. I was not immediately aware how narrow the range of reed movement was relative holding a note steady, especially in having two other mouthpieces that are apparently pretty forgiving.
 

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More volume and projection potential with a larger tip opening, though it takes more skill to tame the beast!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So you think its something I should hold on to?
Not that I have any 'need' to get rid of it.. just figured if its something that I might want later... and it does complete the horn sort of.. its not a Martin mouthpiece, not even a IBIC mouthpiece, but made in the same era as the horn itself, likely purchased at the same time as the horn back in 1942.
 

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Almost a month with no answer? Let's fix that. Some of these statements are fairly general and anecdotal, but I think on the whole pretty accurate.

First off, hold onto the mouthpiece. Assuming nothing has messed up the facing over the past several decades it should be a good piece. I'm loving mine!

If the Brilhart has a serial number, and especially if it says "Great Neck N.Y." on the underside of the shank, it's a highly sought-after piece. If you hold onto it for a few years and try it again and it really doesn't do much for you you could easily find someone to take it off your hands (pick me!)

If the serial number reads like a date from 1966 or 1967 (e.g. 032567) it's probably a post-Selmer buyout, and is less desirable, but still collectable. No serial doesn't mean it's bad, just that it's not as collectable.

As a whole Brilharts are woefully undervalued. The Hard Rubber and Tonalin (white plastic) versions can bring a good price, but the Ebolins often sell for under $100. I have several Ebolin alto and tenor pieces, and I think the most I've ever paid for any of them is around $85. They're all Carlsbad-era pieces, which are a little more common and less valuable than Great Neck pieces. Ebolins without serial numbers usually go for under $50. Sometimes more, but not often.

You can look at Theo Wanne's website to figure out what you have: https://theowanne.com/knowledge/mouthpiece-museum/brilhart-mouthpieces/

Welcome to the saxophone. Good luck, and enjoy!
 

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By chance I recently measured a couple Brilhart #5 tenors.

The facings were, if I recall, about 0.085" tip opening by 25 mm length (or so). I would call this a "medium" to "slightly open" facing of average length. It's not the sort of thing that would require heavy duty chops, but I guess if you don't have any chops, you might well have trouble controlling it.

OP, at your stage, it sounds like you need to pick one, medium to medium-closed, mouthpiece, and practice with it to build embouchure strength. There is a wealth of information out there. You can't go far wrong by adopting the standard embouchure and trying the Joe Allard method; but there are subtle variants in the way you think about what your anatomy is doing that may be easier to come to grips with. At a bare minimum I would take a small number of lessons from a qualified professional saxophone teacher, to make sure of not getting off on the wrong foot. I am always a bit surprised how many people will invest in a musical instrument but seem to resist basic instruction to get started using correct technique.

It also sounds from your description like you may be mistaking the effect of embouchure clamping pressure for the effect of proper airstream support. Developing proper airstream control in someone who has never done anything like this is a big challenge. Experience playing a brass instrument will only partially cross over due to the much higher back pressure and lower air flow rate compared to a single reed. Again, proper instruction can go a long way in a short time.
 

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A Brilhart 3 would be better for starting out.

But I would hold on to the 5. Might want that later.

I think the Rico 5 is too open, as well.

It might take you a year to be ready for the more open pieces.

The last sax performance major I sat next to [now also a band director] played a TL3 Vandoren at about a .070 opening, compared to your .095 for the Rico 5. You might never go to more open tip than a Brilhart 3.

Here is a guy playing a stock Brilhart 3 on alto:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IieFhYZvTQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_0alsFnxwI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JawQn7gKdJo

Does not seem to be holding him back much.


Finally, I agree with you that you should get a tutor.
Make sure you got the fundamentals working correctly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the advice.. Honestly I had wandered away from the thread because no one had replied, and then for some reason I wasn't getting any notices about updates from the forum.. but thank you again for the replies.
I have recently picked up a Bari Esprit Tenor mouthpiece which is playing easily. It was suggested by the sax teacher at our local school district (stumbled across her doing a construction job.. kismet huh) that I should get some kind of 'student' piece, which I already knew, but was having trouble finding anything at our ONE music store out here in the countryside that wasn't made in chinasia.
With the new Esprit I'm on my way! I have gotten some instructional things from her, not in a tutor arrangement, but in a 'teachers gotta teach' way lol, and I am diligently working on those. I can already play bits of some songs by ear, and I think my tone sounds pretty good if I say so myself o_O, but I'm trying to hold myself to practicing the fundamentals first..
 

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Thanks for the advice.. Honestly I had wandered away from the thread because no one had replied, and then for some reason I wasn't getting any notices about updates from the forum.. but thank you again for the replies.
I have recently picked up a Bari Esprit Tenor mouthpiece which is playing easily. It was suggested by the sax teacher at our local school district (stumbled across her doing a construction job.. kismet huh) that I should get some kind of 'student' piece, which I already knew, but was having trouble finding anything at our ONE music store out here in the countryside that wasn't made in chinasia.
With the new Esprit I'm on my way! I have gotten some instructional things from her, not in a tutor arrangement, but in a 'teachers gotta teach' way lol, and I am diligently working on those. I can already play bits of some songs by ear, and I think my tone sounds pretty good if I say so myself o_O, but I'm trying to hold myself to practicing the fundamentals first..
Lol, and I had forgotten about the thread (notifications going to spam) and failed to respond. Glad folks responded and great you’re hooked up with a teacher!
 
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