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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I emailed back and forth with Phil a few weeks ago and discussed a mouthpiece to upgrade to, at his suggestion I chose a second hand Link NY. It arrived yesterday and I have to say I'm impressed.

Sound
I can't say I fully understand how to describe sax tone, but let me tell you I sound better with this mouthpiece. I wasn't even expecting much in the way of tone, I just wanted something that was more comfortable and easier to play than my Rico B7 but this has gone well above my expectations. I'd found the low notes too spread, the mid range stuffy and the high notes shrill and sharp but none of that is the case now. I'm getting a rich but focused and controlled sound on the whole of the standard range, the low notes slide out easily at any volume and the top notes have a lot more depth and support. It's brightish I suppose, but darker than I got with the rico and definitely not a contemporary or rock'n'roll sound. I told Phil I wanted to sound like Dexter Gordon. I'll need a lot of practice but I have to say it got me closer than I expected. I thought I might have just been imagining it but I had an ensemble rehearsal earlier today and the conductor told me a few times that I'd made a big improvement and sounded really good before he even noticed I'd changed mouthpieces.

Playability
This is where it really shines. Admittedly part of it is probably the fact that I've switched down to a specified .095" opening from a .105" (although I haven't measured), which I think I was having trouble giving enough breath support for due to childhood asthma.
Anyway, this plays great. As I said before, all the notes in the standard range speak easily and with great response. I used to squeak on high G all the time and I haven't done it once on this piece, my middle D is bright and free when it used to sound like I had a pillowcase in the bell and I can play just as fast below low D as my fingers will move - and probably a lot faster. Apart from all that it has just the right amount of resistance for me, which is to say that it will take as much air as I can put through it but it still plays pretty loud and projects well without requiring me to blow too hard to be comfortable. I love the feel of it too, it's a lot smaller in my embouchure than the Rico which I find more comfortable and I prefer the feel of metal on my lips than rubber or graftonite.
I didn't get to try it before the refacing, but I tried a friend's Link NY and have to say mine sounds and plays much better - whether it's because of Phil's work or just general inconsistencies I can't say, although I know where I'd put my money.

Appearance
What can I say? It's a metal Link, it looks like a metal Link - the best looking mouthpiece ever, in my opinion at least. The work looks good too, the rails are very smooth and flat and all the interior work is even and polished; admittedly I don't really know what mouthpiece refacing involves but as far as I can tell it's been done well.

Service
Phil was good to deal with. I found him a little curt, bordering on rude at first but he was forthcoming with information and replied to all my inquiries quickly. He was extremely apologetic in an email he sent when he realised that some kind of business error (he didn't specify) meant that my mouthpiece was posted a few days later than he indicated, and apologised again when I let him know it had arrived. Adding to this, due to the time difference I think it was actually about six o'clock on a Sunday morning when I first emailed him and he replied within fifteen minutes so all is forgiven.

Negatives
I was always taught to look at both sides of an argument so here's basically everything I can think of that's wrong with it: there are some minor tuning issues that I didn't have with the Rico and really can't explain; middle B and low C# and E are noticeably flat, and I think a couple of notes tend to play sharp although I forget what. I squeak occasionally on middle D which is something I'd never done before and my altissimo, which in fairness I'd just started working on in the past month, is completely back to square one. That said, these points - the second two especially - quite likely relate to reed choice. So far I'm still using the same Rico #3s I used on the wider tip and I should probably shift up half a size at least.


Overall, I'm really pleased with this purchase. It was priced pretty reasonably because of the second hand blank and it plays and sounds great, as I said. The stock ligature isn't so great and slips easily, as a lot of modern Link players have mentioned, but as long as I'm careful not to knock it on anything it keeps the reed in place perfectly well, and I'll probably change it soon anyway.

If anyone has anything to ask please feel free!
 

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I am glad you are enjoying the piece. My guess is that the intonation issues will iron out as you get used to a smaller mouthpiece. I recall when I began changing back and forth from HR to metal things were a bit dodgy in the realm of intonation. In time it works itself out. Additionally, coming from a tip that may have been too large may have you in the habit of biting. If you relax and keep a steady embouchure you may find some assistance with intonation issues.

I am most certainly sorry if I seemed curt. I do enjoy corresponding with players. I am sure, however, that there are times that my answers seem a little short and may be construed in a way I do not intend....that is always a risk when using email. I also find my self very busy at times and may be doing too many things at once. I will take note of this and slow down before hitting the send button. I consider it a privilege to be trusted by players. I sincerely enjoy working with all my customers and want them to feel served as well as receiving the product they desire and deserve.

Thanks for the review and pointing this out.

Phil
 

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Re: tuning issues, try pushing in until that low B is in tune and then loosen up your embouchure until everything above it falls into tune. Should help everything sound even better than you're reporting. The other side of this is, maybe you need to "adjust" the way you blow certain notes compared to your last piece. Give it a week (as you should make subtle subconscious changes) and see if it improves.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hey thanks for that Phil, it's completely fine. I really do appreciate your work and all your help. I probably should have left it more than a couple of days to write the review so I'd have some time to adjust, but I was too excited about the compliments I was getting not to tell anyone! I hadn't thought about biting before but it'd make sense so I'll try to be more conscious of it in the next few days, and anyway I'm certain you're right that the tuning issues will iron out quickly.

Thanks for the tips buddy lee, people are always saying to relax the embouchure as much as possible but I've never actually tried it. Can I ask what exactly you mean by "adjusting" the way I blow certain notes though? Do you mean literally that some individual notes need to be blown harder or softer than others?
 

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Definitely work on relaxing the embouchure (think "firm, but relaxed" if that makes sense). Shouldn't be tense, and watch out for pressure from the jaw- there should be none, just support on the mpc from the lip itself.

As far as blowing differently, sorry for the confusion, it's more a thought in my head about playing subconsciously. But when I switched mouthpieces recently it took me a day or so (a few hours) to "blow right" to get everything to sound big and clear. It's not about blowing harder, but rather tongue position and airstream direction/size etc. Hard to put into words well I'm afraid =(
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It's all right, I think I understand it on some level at least. For example, to play a high G without squeaking on the Rico mouthpiece I had to drop my tongue a lot lower in my mouth than most other notes so it follows that the Link would have some peculiarities like that that I haven't figured out yet. Thanks for putting it in perspective like that.

As for the relaxed embouchure, would you suggest I keep the same shape otherwise? I was taught the old fashioned lip over bottom teeth, top teeth on the mouthpiece style but I've seen a lot of people on this forum saying that you should keep your lips in a completely natural shape. I tried this once and I sounded incredibly bad so I never tried again but maybe I should work on it some more?
Thanks for letting me pick your brain by the way, it's very helpful.
 

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Phil makes great stuff, glad you're enjoying it.
 

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Go to Phil-Tone for great mouthpieces (I have two), but not for chit-chat or verbose email exchanges.
 

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Wow, this is an interesting thread. I never had any idea my communications were perceived this way. Most people I know want me to shut up!

I guess I do most my correspondence while rolling between the work bench and the computer desk.

Please know that I enjoy the emails I receive. There are times I answer as many as ten before making a players piece. I take no offense to that at all. I want to know what my customers and potential customers want so please ask questions, even if my responses are at times brief.

Thanks for all the positive comments....and by the way, I love when players send me sound clips on their new pieces. It makes the work really fun and rewarding.
 
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