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 Powertone mouthpiece
Author: NOLA Ken 
Date:   2019-11-19 19:03

I was rummaging thru my collection of mouthpieces and ran across an old Powertone (no other markings) that I'd never tried. A search of this board and the internet turned up only smatterings of info on sax Powertone mpcs, but nothing on Powertone clarinet mpcs. The sax pieces are said to have been made for Boosey & Hawkes in the Brilhart factory in England. This one appears to be hard rubber. It turned out to have a really nice bold trad jazz sound on a large bore Leblanc, but this one clearly has some issues (warping?). Does anyone have any other information about Powertone mouthpieces?

More specifically, 1) who might be a good person to reface this one? (I've only dipped my toes into having mouthpieces refaced, but have come away with the impression that refacers often have expertise in certain types of mpcs.)
2) Alternatively, is there a contemporary mouthpiece on the market that is similar to the Powertone?

Any info will be deeply appreciated.

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 Re: Powertone mouthpiece
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-11-19 21:06

Arnold Brilhart was a very nice and amazing man. I worked with him at Rico for maybe 15 years. His knowledge with mouthpieces was amazing and he took a lot of chances to improve how mouthpieces were made. He was also one of the best sight readers I've ever played with, this guy had a gift and never made a mistake. I feel he was more at home with playing the saxes than the clarinet.

He was the first mouthpiece maker to start something called injection molding. This process surely worked well for him as he made a ton of money! He was able to mold a mouthpiece in a minute or less. The process is using plastic pellets then heated to the melting point, maybe 400 degrees or so, and then forced into the injection mold. About a minute later the mouthpiece was done. Yes there was still that need to put a cork on the mouthpiece and he also designed a machine t put on the facing. So a mouthpiece from the start to the end took way less that 5 minutes. Injection molding is what I use.

As for refacing, just do a search here. There are a lot of talented mouthpiece makers and refacers. His clarinet mouthpieces were never a favorite of mine, but they were still very good. He had 2 main locations when he made mouthpieces, first just outside of New York City and near me here in California. He never had a company in England as stated above. We were kinda neighbors, lived maybe 4 miles from each other near Northridge, CA. Then during a horrible Northridge earthquake in the mid 1990's his building was destroyed. The place we had dinner at a lot was at the Northridge Mall and that too was totally wrecked. It took 5 years to rebuild the mall. Just smashed. This may have freaked him out too much. We all had a hard time with this quake. I had a condo which suffered $30,000 in damage. His place was 10 times worse and thankfully he lived. He then started focusing on retirement at the age of 91 or so! Yes you read this correctly! He moved to the Palm Desert area, outside of Palm Springs with his son. Oh, his wife of so many years passed away too, which is probably part of the reason for retiring. He still did work for Rico after moving, but part-time. I think he passed away around 93 to 94.

You have a nice mouthpiece, but it's not worth much. I'm not sure if it's worth refacing, but that is for you to decide. Don't spend a lot refacing it. Hope this helped! In this case I thought you'd like to know more about Arnold! A true friend and one heck of a gifted musician.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




Post Edited (2019-11-19 21:14)

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 Re: Powertone mouthpiece
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2019-11-20 03:16

Bob, Thanks for all this interesting information. I have a Brilhart (came with a metal clarinet but I don't use it much) so it's fun to have the back story on the maker. The confusion with England may be due to the similarity in names with the Britone mps, made in England.





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 Re: Powertone mouthpiece
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2019-11-20 03:26

Here's a historical record of Arnold Brilhardt provided by Theo Wayne.

I find it interesting that the Powertone clarinet mouthpiece is not mentioned.

https://theowanne.com/knowledge/mouthpiece-museum/brilhart-mouthpieces/



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 Re: Powertone mouthpiece
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-11-20 06:30

Nice find Dan! To my knowledge Arnold never set foot in England!

The Metalite mouthpieces he designed at Rico actually played really well for the saxophones; if you get them refaced. The facing machine at Rico was terrible and the mouthpiece was FORCED into this bore device and then locked. But the force was so bad the mouthpiece table bubbled in the center and pretty much wrecked any form of putting on a facing. After Arnold died and I left Rico due to using pesticides on the reeds, Rico did hire me to fix these problems. But shortly after this Rico was sold to B&H. The mouthpiece portion was then decided to put on hold and never brought back into production. Lost millions and millions of this project. If they didn't give up I think the issues could have been fixed.

I haven't heard of the Powertone mpc either and I worked with him for 15 years. He never mentioned this model.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: Powertone mouthpiece
Author: NOLA Ken 
Date:   2019-11-20 07:48

Yes, I noted the Theo Wanne site and the absence of any mention of a clarinet mouthpiece there. Also did search this site before it was suggested and found only one passing mention of such a mouthpiece with no detail. As I said, the info I could find on Powertone mouthpieces was slim. Most of what I could find was on the listing of two sax mouthpieces, an alto and a tenor, on the doctorsax.com site.

http://doctorsax.biz/powertone.htm

In this JPEG, I note that the "Powertone" inscription is exactly like that on the mouthpiece I have, only mine is in gold on the black material:

http://www.doctorsax.biz/musical%20instruments/mouthpieces/sax/alto/brilhart/powertone/pict02.JPG

Here's his write up on the tenor piece he had:

http://doctorsax.biz/Powertone_Tenor.htm

I have also found a few mentions of a Powertone saxophone sold by B&H that was reportedly an Amanti stencil. Maybe this is the origin of the Powertone sax mouthpieces:

https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Ready-to-Play-vintage-Powertone-Amati-Boosey-Hawkes-Tenor-Saxophone-Case/133239167188?hash=item1f05ac58d4:g:S2QAAOSwqiVdo7xI

Here's an old Ebay listing for a hard rubber Powertone alto mpc identified as a Brilhart. The inscription again is the same as on mine:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/CLASSIC-POWERTONE-HARD-RUBBER-ALTO-SAXOPHONE-MOUTHPIECE-BRILLHART-/142962391290

Interestingly, I did find on this here site a suggestion of a scratch test to differentiate hard rubber from plastic, and according to that mine tests out as hard rubber (leaves a brown streak on 600 grit sandpaper, not a white streak as plastic is said to do).

Maybe Dr. Sax's comment that they are "relatively little known in the U.S." and that "few were made and fewer survive" is all too true. I was hoping to find someone who is sufficiently familiar with it (or with its putative Brilhart cousins) to restore it. It sure does sound nice for the first few minutes before it starts bubbling and popping with condensation.

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 Re: Powertone mouthpiece
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2019-11-20 17:23

There are a few mouthpiece refacers that have a lot of experience with certain popular brands. I doubt there are any with significant Powertone experience. But their general skills can be applied to all mouthpieces.

MojoMP.com
Mojo Mouthpiece Work LLC
MojoMouthpieceWork@yahoo.com

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