Saxophones A few thoughts on some Mauriat tenors.

Linky Lee

Salisbury, UK
Hi made a day trip to the london branch of today and took a couple friends along who were after a few different things. I didn't really need anything and money is a bit short so I resigned myself to a box of reeds.

I explained my situation to the very kind man there and asked me if there was anything I'd like to try. I mentioned the Mauriat 66R and within minutes I had my own booth, the same mouthpiece as I use, reed and a ligature along with two 66Rs, two 66R UL (unlacquered) and a 66RX (some fancy thing with different key pearls as far as I could tell).

I tried some Mauriat saxes about 2/3 years ago when I was first looking for tenors and these had caught my eye. I played 4 different ones from a couple different shops. 2 didn't play, one was crap and the other was pretty good but wasn't set-up right so felt too clunky. I've heard they've improved a lot since then and that they're much more consistent nowadays. So to the little reviews.

66R - Number 1
I played this first, It's the standard horn I've been reading and hearing about all over the place recently. First impressions were; it's a bit heavy, finish is only effective from far away and the pearls are huge and hideous making it feel sloppy. I played it for a while and broke the reed in. It responded well and was very even with it's tone across the range, but felt distinctly average.

66R - Number 2
First impressions were obviously exactly the same. This one played a bit easier, especially towards the bottom but was tighter up the top and there was a lot of play in the octave mechanism. Nothing had looked distinctly wrong with any of them yet but they weren't quite doing their reputation justice either. It felt a bit reserved for such a 'powerful' horn.

I didn't know what this was so decided to try it next as it had different pearls (and I mean different!) to the others which I don't like the feel or finish. They felt much nicer under the fingers, but are too far from the traditional for me to feel comfortable with them under my fingers.
The horn was a much better blow and responded really quite nicely (having comfortable fingers helped too). Unfortunately, I think I could of fit my tenor reed between the low B and it's Key cup. Everything else was great so I sent it off to there workshop for a fix up. I wasn't too impressed that it hadn't been noticed for a 2K horn, something had obviously gone wrong there.

So I got to the most curious part of my trial. I don't really go in for all this 'the finish/material etc. makes all the difference' even though ironically enough I have a phosphor bronze tenor...

66RUL - Number 1
First impressions of this were that it looks great, you can see the heat marks on it, fingerprints, blemishes, solder marks, it was fantastic. I spent quite a while looking at this and the 66RUL No.2 comparing the differences and they really are individual. Lovely and golden brown they are. I was suitably impressed, and noticed the Made in Taiwan sticker on the LH thumb rest, which was nice to see after reading Steven Howard's review about them.
This horn felt a bit nicer under the hands and I could tell I was biased before I even put it in my gob. I started playing and the notes were flowing out rather nicely. It definitely had a bit more of everything, volume, depth, charm, character and soul. It responded really nicely all over the range, but the middle register was a bit average after been pleasantly surprised by the low and high register performing really well. It felt rather similar to my Walstein and articulated itself in a rather familiar way.
I couldn't just play one though, as we all known horns are all completely different.

The rather generous man had said before he left me too it that the UL ones were very different to each other so I was more than willing to give the other a go and fully prepared to find out it was rubbish, the unlacquered sax made no difference and it was all a load of crap.

66RUL - Number 2
I put this horn round my neck and got myself ready. Blew a couple steady but cautious notes and all seemed well, the sax was set up perfectly and felt really nice under the fingers, I was liking this sax so I started to blow, and blow, and blow. I didn't stop for quite a while. It was stupidly good! Wicked or Vicious comes to mind. It responded like a well groomed butler, slick and to the point and sounded like a classic ferrari through an Italian alpine tunnel. This sax had horsepower!
So, in the end it seemed both unlacquered saxes blew better and had a better tone for it. Make of that what you will.

I also tried a Yamaha 82Z to bring me back to more familiar territory, but no it was far superior. So all in all I think Mauriats' have definitely improved and are much more consistent, though predictably variable.
Don't buy one you haven't played and if you are thinking of playing one, get your hands over as many as you can, unlacquered or not.
Personally If two were the same to play I'd go for the UL because of the finish and a nicer feel under the fingers. It's individual too.
Yes with handmade sax's such as Mauriat,Selmer,Keilwerth,Borgani,R&C you should check out as many as you can.Yamaha and Yanagisawa are more consistent in there sound i feel.I tried 2 66RUL'S at Studio Saxophones with Pete Scaddan and he had picked his choice and wrote the serial number and put it in a jug,i came and blew the horn's and was very torn but slowly i grew to like 1 more,i picked the sax and it was pete's choice also that he had written down so i was more pleased with my pick.Selmer horn's vary alot even though it's the same model,just look at mk6's,there's plenty of not that special mk6's flying about.I sold my Yam 82Z Tenor to get my 66RUL and the 66RUL has got more of everything,so much more depth,power and i love's it.

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