I've spent the last couple of days with my new tenor ligature from Echo Brass. It's of course a copy / reissue of the Brilhart 3-band with plastic reed plate and epoxy-covered screw heads. The Brilharts are selling for $500-$1000 lately, and I've really loved the ones I've played, so it's great to see someone finally make a modern version.
I bought it from Brian at Getasax, who is great to work with and delivered it quickly.
So here's what I think of it:
Quality: It's very well made, with nice attention to detail. Seems to be a very well-built, meticulous copy of the original.
Fit: I tested it on 4 different tenor mouthpieces (hard rubber), and it fit all of them nicely.
Function: The big epoxy (bakelite?) heads on the screws make it difficult to really crank down to tighten it. While it holds the reed as securely in place as well as many other ligatures, and I found that it didn't clamp it down as well as Rovner or standard 2-screw ligatures, so the reed / lig moved when I adjusted the mouthpiece.
Sound: Where the rubber meets the road! I pulled out a couple of my other ligatures to do a good comparison:
In short, I really, really like it.
The Echo lig had the biggest, fattest sound and the best altissimo overall. The top 3 were the Echo, a Harrison, and a Francois Louis. The Harrison, while noticeably darker than its modern Rico H reissue, is really great all around. The Francois Louis is my favorite from a playing standpoint, as it has the most buzz and richness throughout. The Vandoren Optimum was less free / more restrictive, and somehow made the reed feel softer. The Rovner holds the reed in place the best, which I do appreciate, though it was darker and less vibrant. The stock, standard 2-screw ligature was the surprise of the bunch: big, buzzy, great altissimo, and clamps the reed down as securely as the Rovner.
I tested the Echo on 4 different mouthpieces: 1 classical, and 3 jazz - dark (Drake Getz), medium, and bright (JodyJazz JET). The Echo beat out the other ligatures consistently. On the classical setup it had a nice and warm sound that wasn't stuffy. All 3 jazz mouthpieces responded really well to the Echo. It seems to open up the sound with a big middle range, not bright & buzzy or fat & tubby, just a good big sound.
Summary: The Echo Brass is a great ligature with a wonderful sound and a great retro vibe. It's not cheap (currently $170ish). I love that it does such a great job recreating the iconic Brilhart. It doesn't clamp the reed down as securely as I'd like. If you're just looking to hold your reed on a mouthpiece, keep your stock 2-screw brass lig. If want everything a Brilhart has (except for collector value) for 1/5 the price, you need an Echo.
PS - one quirky thing I loved is how the sides of the reed plate line up so perfectly with the edges of my Rico reed:
Seriously, just feast your OCD eyes on this. Soak it in for awhile. It's such a thing of beauty. So perfect. So satisfying.