Sax on the Web Forum banner

Intonation on PM Saxes...

13282 Views 40 Replies 30 Participants Last post by  Borganiboy
Okay, y'all, I'd love some feedback on this. I've got a 67R (Alto) and while it sounds AMAZING to me, trying to find where it locks on pitch is giving me fits! When I "just" play, it doesn't "sound" totally out of tune, but then when I look at the tuner, its all over the map. I'm using two A9's at the moment - one small chamber and one medium chamber. Same intonation story on both pieces.

I should add that I'm coming from a Yamaha tenor and a Selmer alto which both play very accurately in tune but don't have the body and beauty of tone for me that the PM's have. This is the first horn I've had where, pitch-wise, the octave F#s don't line up, B2 and F#2 don't line this the way it is on vintage horns and horns with bigger, more "vintage" sounds? I don't even really know WHICH note to tune to at the moment!

Thanks, y'all. Also, any intonation comparisons between the 67R and the 76 Altos?
1 - 20 of 41 Posts
Although, I cannot respond to your query. I think it's great to see a player of your caliber and experience give these horns a good shake. I am interested to see how it all 'shakes' out!

Keep us posted.
Continued efforts seem to be paying off...

SO, what I've learned is that if the mouthpiece is not in the "exact" right spot, the horn responds TOTALLY different (and wildly) with regards to intonation. I spent some great time this weekend with great Nashville saxophonist Jimmy Bowland A/Bing horns and a few mouthpieces and we found a comfortable and reliable-enough sense of intonation through the horn ONCE we got it lined up with the right set of tuning notes. Because of the larger bore-size, the horn doesn't respond to pushing in/pulling out of the mouthpiece in a typical way. Also, its the only horn I've ever played that actually SOUNDS good even when its 30 cents sharp!

Thanks for the kind compliment, as well.

And yeah, I really do LOVE this alto. I always wanted to have a sound with as much expressive quality and weight as Cannonball Adderley's, and I'm as close to that (if not there) than I've ever been with this horn.

And the Vandoren A9 Small Chamber mpc is a RIDICULOUSLY good fit for me with this horn. An at times frighteningly big sound with just enough traditional "alto "CUT" that I prefer. "Special" was the reply to me playing my 67R on that setup from more than one musician who's heard it.
See less See more
Nashville saxophonist Jimmy Bowland
Former Birmingham saxophonist :) Jimmy's a great player.
I have a 67 and have had this same problem. I find it's sharp in the lower notes and have had that "bouncing all over the place" on the meter. I'm after a darker sound and have a Morgan vintage, but maybe it is not the right mouthpiece. Like BBJQSAX, I love the sound of the horn. Everytime I play it's like "I don't believe that note sounded so good!"
I would really appreciate any suggestions.
Another question...

Anyone have intonation issues on the System 76 Alto? I'm wondering if the more traditional design of the 76 doesn't have the intonation "flex" that the 67R does...
Jason Dumars had reported similar findings on his "Allora" Big Boss alto...which looked exactly like a Mauriat horn (and I mean exactly).

This actually excites sounds like the PM has the flexible intonation like vintage horns, instead of the "slotted" intonation that modern horns tend to have.

... we found a comfortable and reliable-enough sense of intonation through the horn ONCE we got it lined up with the right set of tuning notes...
Could you elaborate on your comment, please: What notes did you use? Is there a certain order of notes you found worked well?


MOST saxes I've played (particularly the Yamahas), if the middle F# is sharp, then the middle B is sharp, the low F# is sharp, etc. On the Mauriat, its possible to have a sharp middle F# and a flat middle B and a VERY sharp higher octave B, and a flat low F# and a VERY sharp low B.

We kept pulling the mouthpiece out and using our ears to the point where we finally found where the saxophone behaved fairly regularly in relation to intonation, which was pretty far out on the neck. Just tuning one note doesn't really work on the Mauriats I've played (66R and 67R). Its possible for that middle F# to be in tune and the rest of the horn to be totally WACK, and also possible to get it in tune (in a different place on the neck AND with a different air pressure) and the horn responds much more normally. It didn't make it perfect, but it did make it playable.

Before we pulled out the tuner, both of us got comfortable playing the horn about 30 cents sharp! (That's scary, in a way, because the horn isn't "supposed" to respond well at that extreme.) Because of the bore of this horn, there's plenty of places where the design and resistance causes notes to be flatter or sharper if we were to play "how we normally would play" on smaller-bore designs, especially as notes move down the body of the tube.

Hope that helps,

See less See more

I'll stick with my Buescher. Good intonation, everywhere, all the time.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Hey Rahsaan, one thing to try is pulling the neck out some instead of the mouthpiece. Having the extension lower in the body can change intonation. I have played several of these PMs now and am not impressed in the slightest. Internal intonation seems to be a major problem on virtually all of these horns.
I play on a P. Mauriat system 76 alto and tenor. And the intonation on these is spot on, when i first got my horns I sat down with 2 tuners, one a peterson and one a korg with a pick-up, for about 2 hours and I could not believe how great the intonation was. Coming from vintage selmers I was pleased to have that, in addition to a nice more focused sound. I have spent a lot of time played the 67R, and I did not have the intonation problems that you have experienced. I am curious to know if the horn was used or new. I have played almost every single model that P. Mauriat makes and they all have really good intonation. Let me know how it turns out. Also have your key heights been adjusted?
My 67R Alto is new. Except for my RH pinky Eb, my key heights have not been adjusted. That note was 35 cents sharp when I first played it. Had to do something about it. I'm considering sending this horn off to have it adjusted professionally or setup. I've heard that can make a big difference with intonation. Is that true?

Also, Trahan, why'd you pick the 76 over the 67R?
- Enviroguy, happy playing with your Bue.
- Jason, thanks for the advice.
I do a lot of classical performances, but I do an equal amount of performances in jazz as well, I just fell in love with the focused centered sound that the system 76 has to offer. the 67r is a great horn I love the rolled tone holes, each notes just pops out so easily on that horn, the tone is meaty and fat. I enjoy playing on both, but all in all the system 76 just fit my hands more comfortably.

I have adjusted key heights on my vintage selmers and it helped them a lot, I actually opened up each key just slightly and it gave me a bigger sound and more solid intonation. I did the work myself, after i repadded them with saxgourmet pads. I would suggest finding a good tech, I'm sure you have one in nashville and setting up a few hours that you can actually sit with him while he does the work.

Let me know how it turns out.

"The Rock has come ba"...errr, wait. Never mind that.

With the mouthpiece much further out on the cork than "normal", I had a good "normal" day of articulation on the 67R. Didn't have to change air-speed or manipulate anything. Maybe I'm crossing a learning-point with the horn. Hoo-friggin-ray! We'll see how it handles this weekend playing up in NYC at Cleopatra's Needle. Should be fun.
Its official!

After about a month and a half, I LOVE THIS ALTO! Just played a couple of great weekends up in NYC and I no longer have any complaints about this axe. Its simply phenemonal. I've got the intonation thing together, now, too. Everything's solid. I'm going to send it off and have it setup just to have the action lightened and other adjustments, but yeah, this axe is SERIOUSLY GREAT.


Thank you all for your detailed feedback! Soon I hope to go to the Schmitt Music store near my house and try a PM. I'm soo excited:D

Thanks again!:cool:
Hey Rahsaan, one thing to try is pulling the neck out some instead of the mouthpiece. Having the extension lower in the body can change intonation. I have played several of these PMs now and am not impressed in the slightest. Internal intonation seems to be a major problem on virtually all of these horns.
Right on Jason!!
They have soft keys and don't play in tune.
About soft keys, i can not comment. Mauriats not playing in can promise you that the ones that I have played do play in tune (System 76 tenor and 66RUL tenor).
1 - 20 of 41 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.