Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Phil-Tone and Theo Wanne "Tribute" Tenor Sax Mouthpiece

It's been a while since I reviewed a saxophone mouthpiece, but with Phil-Tone and Theo Wanne's latest collaboration there seems to be good reason to write one. I've reviewed various mouthpieces from both of these creators in the past, so it was interesting to see what came about when both of them put their heads together.

The mouthpiece is called "The Tribute", and the name points to the creation process by which it came about. Phil and Theo raided their mouthpiece collection and picked a special  example of a Florida era Super Tone Master Otto Link, one of the all time classic tenor mouthpieces model. Then they worked together to recreate its sound and playability without any modernizations.

I'd like to say up front that this mouthpiece does accomplish its goal. It is very similar to the examples of Florida era Links that I've played. That being said there are many variations within the spectrum of Florida era Links, and an example of that is my Florida Link which is a USA (later vintage) and has a slightly smaller chamber lending a more poweful and brighter sound. There really is a spectrum of sounds that various Florida Links produce from brighter to darker, but what unifies them is the core sound with its complexity and depth.

"The Tribute" lands someplace on the darker side of the spectrum and certainly nails the complexity and depth of tone. Its sound reminds me a lot of the classic jazz tenor tones from the 50's. The piece also has punch and power which you expect from a Florida Link, however I prefer slightly more punch or edginess from a mouthpiece. Overall, the tone is deep, has a good presence, and produces a blend of dark and bright timbral qualities leaning towards a warm sound.

The piece plays fantastically. It feels very balanced in terms of resistance, meaning isn't too hard or too easy to blow. That seems to be built into the architecture of the Florida Link and transfers nicely to the Tribute. It plays evenly from bottom to top, responds fantastically, and that results in a great playing experience. The mouthpiece really stands out in that regard.

Here is an example of me playing the Tribute: Solar on the Tribute

Conclusion: Phil-Tone and Theo Wanne's "The Tribute" is a warm and powerful mouthpiece with a complex and somewhat dark tone. Its playability and response are fantastic.


  1. Nice review Ben! You and others that reviewed this got my interest in this mpc. I got my Tribute yesterday and now got an exciting journey ahead in starting to know this piece throughout. I certainly plays lika a vintage Otto Link and I have played most of my career on STM's (modern) so I feel quite at home on the tribute allready. I can hear that its darker than your main piece. Keep up the good work (playing! )/Roger

  2. Sound's amazing... waiting for mine to arrive in the uk

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  4. Thanks very much for this helpful review. Since you reviewed the JJ DVNY mouthpiece, how do you think it compares to the Tribute in terms of being free blowing? I have some JJ DVNYs that I really like, but wanted to add a MP that was just a little bit brighter. It is my understanding that the DVNYs were sort of patterned after the NY Links, hence they are a bit darker. However, I am kind of "spoiled" because DVNYs are fairly free blowing - especially for something that has little to no baffle. Any insight you would provide is much appreciated and many thanks to you for this blog.

    1. From what I remember the DVNY is more free blowing than the tribute. In fact the DVNY is one of the most free blowing mouthpieces I've played that doesn't have some kind of intense baffle. That being said, the Tribute is certainly not on the resistant side of the spectrum and gets a darker more compact tone. Hope that helps.