Last updated on March 1, 2023
Saxophone Mouthpiece Refacers & Makers
My favourite saxophone mouthpiece refacers & makers: Phil Engleman “Phil-Tone”, Sebastian Knox, Brian Powell, Robert Scott.
Phil Engleman “Phil-Tone”
Phil Engleman is easy to get in touch and he responds to the emails quickly. His fee is reasonable but when he works on a vintage (valuable) piece he will ask about 20% more on regular fee and his turnaround time is really short, about two weeks plus transit time so if you need the job to be done quickly, Phil is your man, he lives in Salem, Oregon. He signs the mouthpieces he worked on Phil-Tone with actual tip opening. Also if you want the piece to play darker or brighter just let him know and he will make it play how you want it. He developed his own line of handcrafted saxophone mouthpieces so check it out here.
He worked on a couple of my pieces (Vandoren, Otto Link Florida), and turned them all into excellent players. I sold most of them as I had to clean out my drawer. My Otto Link Florida 8* (No USA) for tenor he customized was all original when I bought it but was stuffy and unresponsive. Phil just flattened the table, cleaned the facing but tip opening remained original (.115) and now it plays in its full potential. He also corrected my Eastern Music DG MB pieces.
Sebastian Knox built his skills in Ted Klum’s mouthpiece workshop as his apprentice for several years. He is now back to his home town Toronto, Canada and offers woodwind services and mouthpiece designs. His fees are slightly higher but still reasonable and turnaround time is about a month after he receives the mouthpiece. He is easy to talk to and responds to all emails promptly, so you won’t be in radio silence for months after you send the mouthpiece (which can happen with some well-known refacers). He does not sign the mouthpiece for some reasons, although I think it would be nice, but he thinks that his work is recognizable and there’s no need to sign it.
He worked on a Vandoren A45, a mouthpiece that already played well but it was quite rough and needed some cleaning. He reshaped the baffle a little bit, flattened the table and recreated facing and rails. The mouthpiece retained its original character, but it now plays bigger and easier from top to bottom and it is reed friendly. Also he refaced my Otto Link Florida (tenor) from 8* down to 8 and this mouthpiece now plays unbelievably smooth and balanced.
My first couple of mouthpieces I have refaced were done by Brian Powell. He is also easy to get in touch, his fee is reasonable and turnaround time depends on how much work he has, but expect about eight weeks give or take. He lives in Dayton, Ohio. Brian is probably one of the busiest men in refacing business and you can find a great amount of the mouthpieces he refaced floating around the globe at buy-sell forums and eBay. When you send him a mouthpiece he will ask you what you want from the piece, what problem you have, what reeds strength you use, what music you play and other details. When you get the mouthpiece back from him you get also a kind of signed certificate with all the details of what was done on the piece. The mouthpieces he refaced are signed BP with actual tip opening. In a partnership with Erik Greiffenhagen they have their own saxophone mouthpiece line called Mouthpiece Cafe.
His work for me was on Otto Link Florida 8* which was heavily damaged (don’t ask how) and sitting in my drawer for ten years. He managed to save the piece and turn it into a great sounding Otto Link, he also put the new bite plate on it. I sold it to a friend as he offered me a price I could not refuse. 😉 He worked also for me on a few Selmer Soloists HR (all sold) and my current Blue Vandoren T75 tenor mouthpiece.
Robert Scott seems to be a kind of a mystery man; he is not easy to get in touch with as he does not advertise his business nor does he have a website or publicly available phone or email (can’t find any in Google). I assume, as I haven’t met him personally, that he is older because he has been in the business for decades, but still is doing the job as of writing this post. I got his email from a SOTW member who knew him personally. Anyway, Bob lives in Lansing, Michigan, his fee is more than acceptable ($50 per mouthpiece, plus shipping), turnaround time is short and as a payment method he accepts only Western Union or cash if you visit him personally.
He is famous for his work on Selmer (classical) mouthpieces for Donald Sinta and James Umble and other American classical players, but he works also on other classical pieces. An info I found on SOTW forum is that he only does the mail-order refacing on alto pieces, as the only horn he owns is an alto. If you want soprano, tenor or baritone mouthpiece done, you need to visit him at his house with your horn, but that might have changed since. The mouthpieces he refaced are signed C.R.S.
The work he did for me was on Selmer S80 C* alto mouthpiece. This piece already played well out of the box but was picky about the reeds. I wanted Bob to do his magic on it, and as I see he flattened the table, did some chamber work and I think (after looking at other pieces he worked on) that his trademark are those quite wide side rails. The piece is now more free blowing, reed friendly and balanced throughout the entire range.