Phil-Tone Eqinox and Eclipse Tenor Saxophone Mouthpieces

Today I am reviewing the Phil-Tone Equinox tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  I’m also including a sound clip and comparison to the Phil-Tone Eclipse mouthpiece.  I reviewed the Eclipse over two years ago on this site when it was just called the Phil-Tone.  Here is that review.

The Phil-Tone mouthpieces are made by Phil Engleman.  Phil has been making and refacing mouthpieces for a number of years now.  I have had him reface a couple of mouthpieces for me and a number of my students play his mouthpieces.

Phil-Tone Equinox Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Phil-Tone Equinox and Eclipse mouthpieces both look great.   Phil always does excellent work on his mouthpieces.  The table, tip and rails look perfect.   The tips line up perfectly with the reeds I used. The engraving and logo is nothing fancy but it does the job. The Equinox has a slightly higher and longer rollover baffle in comparison to the Eclipse mouthpiece.    Also, the Equinox’s baffle declines straight down evenly to the back of the chamber.  The Eclipse has more of a scooped out chamber to it.  This makes the Eclipses chamber larger than the Eqinox chamber.  They both have curved sidewalls and both have chamber and baffle work that looks great.

 

Phil-Tone Equinox Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here is a description of the Equinox mouthpiece from the Phil-Tone website:

“Twice a year our planet spins upon its axis at a point where neither pole is inclined towards the sun.  This balance and equilibrium is expressed in the Phil-Tone Equinox.  This mouthpiece shines in a broad variety of musical situations. It is especially suited for the tenor player looking to add some focus to their sound, while still maintaining a big, warm, vibrant tone.  Subtle sophistication and comfort exist in its focused core. The highs and lows are rich and singing while the mids carry through its even range. With clarity and definition, the altissimo is exceptionally resonant.  Articulation is quick, easy, and precise.  If you are looking for complexity, focus, and resonance in all registers, look no further than the Equinox.”

As you would expect because of the higher rollover baffle and smaller chamber the Equinox had a brighter sound than the Eclipse.  It was very focused sounding and had a nice buzz to the sound.  It was very easy to play around the horn.  The intonation was great and it had a lot of power when you pushed it.  The sub-tone was nice down low.  The tone seemed drier to me than the Eclipse.  You can hear the difference when you listen to the sound clips.

Phil-Tone Equinox Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Eclipse was close to the brightness of the Equinox but it seemed to have a fatter and wetter tone to me.  More spread sounding.  To put these words in perspective…….the Equinox reminded me more of a Coltrane type sound.  A tight dry core to the sound that leaned to the brighter side.  I think you can hear these differences when you listen to the clips.  The Eclipse sounded fatter and more spread tone wise.  One isn’t better than the other, which one you like is a matter of personal choice.  They both played great!

Here is what Phil says about the Eclipse mouthpiece on the Phil-Tone website:

“When the moon moves across the sun, the earth is enveloped in a sweeping darkness lit by a powerful, illuminating edge.  For a brief moment in time both light and shadow become one.  It is in that spirit that the Phil-Tone Eclipse is crafted.  It is a powerful mouthpiece with a rich, medium-dark core that has roundness and warmth, but with a scintillating brightness at its edge. This powerfully resonant piece can carry you through ballads or your loudest gigs.  It will take all the air you can give it without breaking up or losing its warm focus, and has an unparalleled dynamic range.  The highs sing out with rich harmonics, and the low end is broad and expansive. The Eclipse allows the player to shape their tone with ease of play and unparalleled richness. Discover your own sound with the most robust tenor piece in the Phil-Tone lineup.”

Phil-Tone Eclipse Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

These mouthpieces are very reasonably priced. Right now, I have 4 of my students playing on Phil-Tone mouthpieces and refaces.  If you like the Phil-Tone Equinox or Eclipse sound clips then visit Phil Engleman’s website and check one out for yourself! (or maybe both………)  http://www.phil-tone.com/.

My ratings above are only for the Equinox mouthpiece as I have rated the Eclipse in a past review.  Let me know what you think in the comments below.  If you have the Equinox yourself and want to review it, feel free to do so below with the comments and stars.   Thanks,   Steve

Phil-Tone Equinox Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Phil-Tone Eclipse Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

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Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 25 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site Neffmusic.com.

Comments

  1. I want to buy the Phil-tone Eclipse tenor saxophone mouthpiece 7*

  2. Martyn Wood-Bevan says:

    I love the Eclipse – it produces a wonderful sound, lots of power as needed and oozes character. It is my mouthpiece of choice and the piece I always return to after having the odd experiement or two with other pieces.

    Would like to try an Equinox at some point but not out of desperate need, more curiosity!

  3. Justin Cummings says:

    Hi Steve, Would you/could you, use either of these mouthpieces on a R&B/loud kind of gig?

  4. I don’t think I would use the Equinox I tried but I have used the Eclipse in the past and it performed really well in that setting. I really had to push it though. It had loads of brightness and power though that is for sure.

  5. Martyn Wood-Bevan says:

    I have had the Equinox 7* for several months and it is now my main mouthpiece. I enjoy the greater focus of sound and it is just so easy to play. I think it is a beautifully balanced and dynamic sound – brightness and darkness in equal measure and speaks very naturally in terms of both colour and tone.
    Best mouthpiece yet, in my experience!

  6. Steve,

    You would use the Eclipse over the Equinox for rock/RnB even though the Equinox is the brighter of the two?

  7. Bob, I found the Eclipse much more powerful and brighter. I could get an almost Brecker type vibe from the Eclipse I had. The Equinox struck me more as a Coltrane kind of sound. It was bright also but more in a Coltrane type of sound way. That was my experience anyways……….

  8. Michael Rosenthal says:

    Steve,
    I’ve listened to a lot of your sound clips and you always sound good, but on the Eclipse you sound so much better than that. Don’t know if that is the mouthpiece or just you on that particular day. Whatever, the sound you got here is perhaps the best I’ve heard of those I’ve listened to. This is one hell of a mouthpiece to my ears.

    One thing I wonder however is that you play the different pieces with different reeds and ligs quite often. Is that because you had had time to work out the best setup for each piece beforehand? I assume it was because that is what one always has to do, however in terms of comparison testing of any kind it seems to me that one has to limit the variables as much as possible, which for all these mpcs would be to use the same reed brand. Something consistent (lol) like a Vandoren Java or Trad, although you could naturally change the hardness as needed.

    The other thing is what you play, which I know is just free improvizing in most cases, but if you played the same piece of music in each case it would make comparing the different pieces much easier to do I think, because it would remove any influences from the music on the tonal characteristics of the sound generated by the mouthpiece. That after all is what we are trying to hear, rather than the emotional qualitties of the piece of music or your interpretation. It’s like in A & B tests of different stereo speakers you play the same pieces of music so you can compare the sound of the speakers and not have your feelings about the music color your judgement.

    What’s your take on this?

  9. Thanks Michael, The Eclipse was a great mouthpiece. I liked it so much that I bought it after I did that review. As far as reeds, I just use what I find works best for the mouthpiece. Many of the older clips were on Vandoren Java’s because that is all I used. Later I switched to Rigotti and Woodstone reeds and used those. I still use Java’s on a few mouthpieces that don’t like the Rigotti’s though. As far as ligatures, I just use what I feel like in the moment. I also choose which one sounds the best to me. I played a mouthpiece the other day and tried my Marc Jean on it and then later tried a Francois Louis and I liked the Louis better on that mouthpiece and reed. Sometimes it’s the opposite where I like the Marc Jean better.

    The last issue about playing the same thing every clip is actually how I started the mouthpiece clips. I played “My One and Only Love” on a bunch of mouthpieces. To be honest, the reason I stopped is I was just bored to tears after awhile. There is no way I would still be doing this if I took the excitement of playing something different every time I did a review out of the equation. For me that is the best part about it. Also, different mouthpieces move me in different ways. Some pieces just inspire me in a different creative or energetic direction. The Eclipse was one of those pieces. I just felt like I was on fire playing it and could give it 100% of what I had. If I was just stuck playing “My One and Only Love” nobody would ever hear that creative or energetic direction that the mouthpiece helped me to get to. Hope that makes sense. You have some valid points though and I see the benefit of what you are suggesting. I do the reviews this way out of a combination of what works and what excites me to keep making them every day. Thanks, Steve

  10. Hi Steve,
    I am an adult student and have been playing tenor for about two years now after playing the classical clarinet for a long time. I have enjoyed working with your intermediate level lessons and have gotten a lot out of them.
    I have been playing a Phil-Tone Eclipse 7* for about a year and a half and really like it, as does my teacher. I decided I want to experiment a little and try something new for fun to see what it does to my sound. I have looked at your reviews of Phil Engleman’s Sapphire, his and Theo Wanne’s Tribute, and Theo Wanne’s Gaia. You seem very high on all of them and say some similar things about the sound they produce and why you like them. I also like how you sound on all three. Are you willing to make a recommendation as to which of these is your favorite, or which you think would be a good next piece for me to try? Thanks.

  11. Phillip,
    I plan on writing a blog article on this subject this week but as a quick answer, I really can’t tell you which one of the ones you have listed is the best. They are all excellent mouthpieces! When I think of the 3 of those mouthpieces I have nothing but good memories of all three. It’s really just a personal preference that you have to decide. That being said, the Eclipse you have is a top-notch mouthpiece in my opinion also. I don’t think any of those 3 will be radically different in sounds from the Eclipse but might offer subtle changes in response and tone. I think you just have to try them out to see what you like the best. Sorry I couldn’t be more definitive for you……..Good Luck, Steve

  12. Hi Steve, I have a Jody Jazz HR 8, and I’m looking for something similar but with more sound quality, do you think the Equinox could be a good alternative? Or maybe you can suggest me some other option .. thanks

  13. Hi Leo,
    By more sound quality I assume you mean more character, fatness or fullness perhaps? I think any well made piece with a bigger chamber will give you these qualities. I’ve never measured the JJ HR pieces but the ones I have tried looked to have a medium small chamber to me. Not large like an Otto Link chamber. I think the Equinox might be a great fit if you like the sound of it. Phil is a great craftsman and does great work! Let us know how your search turns out……….Steve

  14. Frank Zona says:

    Hello Steve,
    Received my Equinox 8 (.110) yesterday and in the middle of getting acquainted. I purchased this mpc based on your review and from my familiarity with the Phil-Tone Rift Alto mpc I own. Again, from your earlier review. First impressions are great. It appears to be a very versatile mpc, sounds great on straight ahead jazz but can really come alive when pushed. Altissimo notes really pop, surprised at how easily the altissimo “G” speaks. It’ll take me some time to try out different reeds, but right now a Vandoren ZZ 2 1/2 seems to work great. Also, testing out a Francois Louie and Rovner ligs.
    Over the years I have stayed with metal mpcs, never could find a HR which didn’t sound “tubby”, until now.
    It sounds great here in my home studio, looking forward to road testing it on a gig. Thanks once again for your mpc reviews and help in steering me to yet another great mpc from Phil.

  15. Warren Keller says:

    The Eclipse has a bit of that kazooish tone I don’t like in a mouthpiece. I much preferred the Equinox. I have one here for trial! It was much better for me than the Jody Jazz HR* or the D’Addario Select Jazz. I’ll be trying a Mouthpiece Cafe House Blend, and will have a shootout between these two for my backup mouthpiece. I’ve always played metal. I didn’t want to invest another $500-700, and I was curious, so I tried HR. So far, I’m glad I did! Thanks for all you do Neff.

  16. Hi, Steve, I surely am wrong, but I find more Coltranianan the Eclipse than the Equinox.
    Can it depend on the computer speakers? Or, perhaps, do we think of different periods or records of Coltrane? Or does it depend on the speakers of my turntable?
    Referring to the two mouthpieces in question, which of the two do you consider most similar to the sound of Trane in the album “Like someone in love”, in that piece and in the piece “Lush life” recorded by Coltrane?
    P.S. Can you tell me which mouthpiece Coltrane used in that Prestige record?
    Please, if you have to answer that depends on my ear, do it gently and gradually… Thanks.
    Giuseppe.

  17. Giuseppe, For me the Equinox had a more Coltrane vibe. That being said, a huge part of Coltranes sound is the fact that he used a 5* Otto Link with a pretty hard reed. (I have heard it was a 4 or 5 strength, can’t attest to the truth of that). Another person that uses hard reeds but a bigger tip opening is Jerry Bergonzi who has a similar sound to Coltrane in my opinion. I have never used hard reeds like that since my brain surgeries back in 1995-2000. Before 1995 I was using 3 1/2 usually. After 2000 I had to back down to 2 1/2 because the resistance and pressure was too great and giving me headaches. So my point is that I have never used really hard reeds and have never considered myself to have a Coltrane sound on any mouthpiece. Steve

  18. Dear Steve,
    I did not want to say if you have more or less a Coltranian sound, but only that it seems to me more Coltranian the sound you have with the Eclipse, instead that with the Equinox.
    I can be wrong, but I have this impression, even though I know that Phil advertises on his website that the Equinox has a Coltranian vibe.
    Probably I think to another period of the sound of Trane?
    Yes, I knew about the reeds 4 and 5 on mouthpiece 5 and 5 *! Maybe he worked on them a little, otherwise they seem impossible to play, even if someone still sells them. Maybe that’s why he always had pain in his teeth and had to put the tape on the mouthpiece?
    I really love the sound that Trane had on “Like someone in love”, of the Prestige, and on “Blue Trane” and “I’m old fashioned”, same disk, of the Blue Note, very different sounds, that of the Prestige and that of the Blue Note; probably the first of the Prestige product from a mouthpiece in hard rubber and Blue Trane from one in metal: for years I would like to find someone who can tell me with certainty in the two disks wich mouthpieces Trane used: you know that thing? If not, is there anyone who can explain it to me?
    Thanks in advance!
    P. S. Dexter Gordon also used tip opening 0.080 and Rico 3.
    Giuseppe.

  19. Hi Steve,
    please listen to your clip on Eclipse mouthpiece at point from 00.42 to 00.46! This is the most Coltranian sound in the world! Tell me I’m wrong and I stop playing the sax!
    Giuseppe.

  20. Hi Steve,
    I often follow your address book and listen to your audio clips that you propose. I do not play the sax, but I like jazz and dealing with “sound”.
    The two Phil-Tone Equinox and Eclipse mouthpieces have a nice sound. I prefer the Eclipse that I find more coltranian of the Equinox, also listening to the audio clips of the Phil-Tone website.
    Thank you
    Paolo

  21. I’m listening to many times the mouthpieces Phil Tone, thanks to Steve who introduced them to me with his site and, in the end, I think I prefer the Eclipse, among all.
    Compared to the Equinox it seems more delicate in the sound, less harsh and more balanced in the various registers between low, medium and acute notes. The Equinox seems to me to have bigger low and medium notes and thicker, more subtle, acute notes; the Eclipse seems to me more homogeneous in the extension, more contained in the low and medium notes and more open in the highs notes, and the sound more “fresh”.
    At least in my humble opinion.

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