Phil-Tone Novella Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today I am reviewing another great alto saxophone mouthpiece made by Phil Engleman at Phil-Tone mouthpieces.  I have reviewed quite a few Phil-Tone sax mouthpieces on the site already and am always interested when Phil announces a new mouthpiece model.  A couple of months ago he announced that he had a new mouthpiece model called the Novella that was based off of the Selmer Soloist alto saxophone mouthpiece.  There is a “Jazz” model that I am reviewing today and a “Classic”model also.   Phil’s description of the “Jazz” model was that “it has a significant rollover baffle and is a seriously versatile lead alto piece. It has a nice warm buzz and more focus than a Meyer. It’s a ton of fun to play and even through the range. It is reminiscent of the Kenny Garrett vibe……..”

Here’s another quote from Phil about the new Novella alto sax mouthpiece from his website:

The Novella is inspired by the Short Shank Soloists.  It sports a horseshoe chamber and a beautifully hand sculpted rollover baffle and and incredibly responsive facing.  The Novella was inspired by the music of Kenny Garrett.  The Novella Jazz is an excellent choice for the player who wants the zip and pop of a great jazz alto piece along with the added focus made possibly by this design.-Phil Engleman 

Phil-Tone Novella Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Phil-Tone Novella alto saxophone mouthpiece I received to review is hard rubber.  The exterior of the mouthpiece is pretty plain looking.  There is no engraving on it except “Novella” hand engraved on on side of the body and “Phil-Tone” hand engraved on the other side.  Phil’s mouthpieces usually have more engraving on them to represent the brand and model so I am thinking this might just be a prototype mouthpiece of the Novella.  The mouthpiece is a .076 tip opening.

Phil-Tone Novella Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The tip rail is very close in shape to my Rigotti Gold reeds and the table and rails look even and well made.  The baffle has a nice rollover to it and then the baffle heads straight down into the back of the chamber area.  The sidewalls are straight.  The baffle looks like it narrows a bit as it heads into the chamber because the sidewalls look to angle in a bit.

The Novella alto mouthpiece has a classic horseshoe shaped chamber reminiscent of the classic Selmer Soloist alto saxophone mouthpieces.

Phil-Tone Novella Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

When I first played the Phil-Tone Novella alto mouthpiece it was with a Rigotti Gold 3 Medium reed.  I ended up recording on that same reed.  I found it to have a bright focused sound that got a bit more of that classic Kenny Garrett tone when pushed. At a soft or medium volume it had a nice bright bebop sound to it.

The .076 tip opening felt a little small for me on this mouthpiece.  I think I would prefer the .081 tip opening as I am generally more comfortable with an .080 tip.  I think the slightly bigger tip would allow me to put more air through the piece and be able to push it farther into that Kenny Garrett sound.  At the .076 tip opening the Garrett sound is in there if you listen to the recording but I think it would be even stronger with a more open tip.

Phil-Tone Novella Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Phil-Tone Novella alto saxophone mouthpiece played easily for me.  It was smooth and even throughout the range of my alto and the intonation was good.  I found the middle D#,E and F to be slightly more sharp than on other large chamber alto mouthpieces but I believe that is due to the smaller more focused chamber of the Novella. Although a little sharper, the intonation is still easy to  control once you are used to it.

At the beginning of the sound clip I start with a little bit of a Kenny Garrett tune I remember.  I can’t remember the name or what album it is from but I’m pretty sure it is Kenny Garrett.  The “Garrett” tone is very unique in my opinion.  To me it has a bright hollowness to the sound that I would describe as almost having a “nasal” quality to it.  I see these qualities as what makes the tone so unique and special as not many people have this type of tone.

Phil-Tone Novella Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

If you like the clips below and the Novella mouthpiece interests you contact Phil Engleman via his website at Phil-tone.com.   Phil is very knowledgeable about sax mouthpieces and will answer any questions you might have about the Novella or any of his other mouthpiece models.  Thanks for letting me try the Novella Phil!

 

Phil-Tone Novella Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece- Rigotti Gold 3 Medium Reed

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation or products at the time this review was written. I borrowed this mouthpiece from Phil who was kind enough to let me try it for the review. Regardless, I only review mouthpieces and other saxophone related products that I enjoy and believe will be a good choice for other saxophone players to try also.    Steve Neff
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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. The song is “Happy people” sounds great!

  2. Rob Stone says:

    That piece sounds great! Wish you’d recorded some more upper register and altissimo stuff on it.

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