Friday, December 2, 2011

P. Mauriat 66R Tenor Sax Reviewed

Recently I had the chance to really get to know a P. Mauriat 66R Tenor, which was a very positive learning experience. The horn has a large number of strong points, and only a couple of weak points. This particular saxophone is on my list of favorite modern horns, which is a very very short list.

One of the 66R's strongest points is the fact that blowing through the horn feels extremely similar to a vintage horn.  There is only a very light back pressure to the horn similar to a Mark VI or SBA. The amount of sound out for effort in is well balanced. Basically, its easy to scream or play at a whisper, and the horn is very easy to inflect and achieve your personal sound on.

The keywork of the horn feels great. I played this horn for a week, and by the time I was done I preferred the keywork and setup over my SBA and it felt weird going back. I played 4 different P. Mauriat tenors, and of the 4 only 1 had the spring pressure set up uncomfortably heavy. The 66R that I spent the week playing felt near perfect in terms of the keywork and setup.

The intonation of the horn is also very good. The palm keys require less work that I'm accustomed to keep in tune, and there were a number of other notes and registers on the horn that felt like it took less work to keep in tune. At the same time, the horn does have potential problems with intonation for different reasons, which I'll explain shortly.

The sound of the tenor is sweet, warm, vibrant, and big. The horn definitely projects as well. All of this should add up to a near perfect horn, however there is an Achilles' heel. The sound of the horn is SO warm that it doesn't quite have enough punch or edge to keep the player behind the horn completely informed of the sound. This interprets into having some difficulty hearing yourself clearly when playing very fast. There is also potential danger of intonation problems in result of this sound attribute. Finally, it also means that you have a kind of fixed warmth to your sound, which some players will dig and others won't. Every saxophone has its particular characteristic sound, and it's something you'll either love or won't.

Here are two clips from a live performance on this horn live at Twins Jazz in D.C.
AloneTogether66Solo.mp3      IsotopeSolo.mp3

Conclusion: This is a fantastic modern horn that blows like a vintage horn. It has great keywork and good intonation. The sound is sweet and vibrant, however it will be too warm for some players.


8 comments:

  1. Always nice to hear your reviews. I've always wondered about these saxes. They seem very well made. A pleasure to hear your thoughts and impressions.

    Keep up the Blog...I like it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm sure you'll see one come through your repair shop soon enough. Might even give your Conn (thats what you play on, right?) a run for it's money.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Man! This horn sounds great!.....i also play a 66r and it does get difficult to hear when playing with loud electric instrument but i felt the same way with the mk6 i use to play. Bottom like this horn sounds dam good and its pluses far far out number the minuses!.......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear you. I actually almost ended up playing one of these. After a trial run I decided I needed a horn with a fair bit more bite. Thus I'm now on a Mark VI.

      Delete
  4. Hi there! I just spent a week playing a 86 UL. I'm a MK VI owner and player since...say 15 or so years? The horn seemed very interesting in terms of sound but 3 issues I came across : 1) key work is too stiff, need to redo the blue steel spring tension; 2) left palm key pitch issue for the high E, it is 1/4 tone too high... Possibly adjusting the key max opening would fix it? 3) Seems like a very large bore tenor! Sound is great but requires a lot of air stream to fill it, which is definitely not the case with my old MK VI. That bothers me for subtle playing.
    Any of you came across these issue? What are your thoughts?
    I was trained classical and now playing jazz, for the last 25 years.
    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean on the large bore. I actually really enjoy that feeling of being able to push lots of air through the horn. My Mark VI actually feels slightly restricted when I compare it to larger bore horns, however I find that the smaller bore lends me greater ease of control. The larger bore has more flexibility and can be controlled through voicing technique (overtone exercises help with this). With the larger bore horn there is a wider palette of tone colors and expression, though smaller bore horns tend to get a slightly brighter tone often unattainable with the larger bore horns. There are a number of players who use larger bore horns and sound fantastic, Chris Potter is back on his SBA now, and Mark Turner, Donny McCaslin, Rich Perry, and Ben Wendel all play SBA's which have a bore that is shorter and widens more quickly than the Mark VI.

      Delete
  5. Hi...great to read your review on the p. Mauriat 66r tenor...i have recently bought a Buffet-Crampon 400 series tenor...and not that pleased with it...issues with some poor key work i think...and some key positioning issues as well...i have the opportunity to try a 66r and am wondering wther it might be a closer build to my MKVI...i would appreciate your opinion...Adam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adam, I'm not sure if I've played a Buffet-Crampon 400, and it's been a long time since I've played the 66r. However, I will say that I remember the key work feeling fantastic on the 66r, but I'm sure I said as much in the review. I do remember that it didn't feel like much of an adjustment going from vintage selmer keywork to the 66r, except that I liked the 66r keywork somewhat better. Unfortunately, the tone on the 66r doesn't even come close to a Mark VI. The 66r doesn't have much core, and for that reason I couldn't make it my main axe.

      Delete