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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
P Mauriat 86UL Tenor Saxophone review,
With reference to the System 76, Mark 6, PMXT 66 and Conn 10M
By Roger Manins
www.rogermanins.com

About a year or so, I did a review of the System 76 Tenor. After extensive research, testing, gigs, recordings, tours on the 86UL Tenor, I now feel ready to give a comprehensive report of this fine horn.
When I first came across P Mauriat horns, I was happy with my lot. At the time I was on a much-loved Conn 10M, and still sometimes used of my Selmer Mark 6, which I had previously used for 20 years or so. However when I tried the P Mauriat horns, I was so impressed with the evenness, intonation, build, feel, price and sound of these horns that I was keen to endorse the product. Between the 76 and 66, I chose the 76. You can read this review, and my review of the 67UL alto by going to
http://www.pmauriatmusic.com and looking under my artist profile “Roger Manins”. I also posted it on Sax on the Web but can’t find it now!!
As I was still very keen on the 10 M, I had a non-exclusive agreement with P Mauriat. I was right behind the horns, and the ethos of the company, but as an artist, I needed the freedom to play what was right for me on a gig/ recording. This usually worked at half /half depending where or what I was playing. I also have 2 X fine mark 6 Tenors, which have been under the bed since then—not because the 76 is better than a 6. I say in my review there are improvements, and yes there are, but a killer horn will always be a killer horn. Also improvements are usually made at the expense of something else (I.e. bigger sound = less focus,). Every time I play the 66, I am amazed at its HUGE sound and evenness, but with my open set up (at the time Otto link9# with a 4 reed), I found that the more focused 76 with the more centered sound directed the flow better.
Compared with the 10 M, with my set up, the 66 was just that bit TOO much for me—and I thought it did not have the character of the 10 M. Don’t get me wrong I would go so far to say that as a saxophone, and in the context of saxophone evolution, the 66 is probably the best horn I have ever played, but you have to find what is right for you.
When the 86UL came along, I took a risk and ordered one to sell on consignment in NZ from P Mauriat, and at the same time test it. What a learning curve. You know—I was totally happy before P Mauriat came along, and then I was suddenly in a “ Sax Quest” (Good name guys!). The process of changing horns for me, really, I have to say, this has been a total pain in the *** experience. The old saying “ If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind—then the human response “ but these horns are so good!!” Damn!!!
So being a human, I spent the next and a bit year swapping, sweating, cursing, doing saxophone comparisons with any poor victim that would care to listen, changing reeds, recording, choosing…. between the 76, mark 6, 66, 10 M. Then the 86 came into the mix. It had something that I wanted. Really for the first time, I was able to play a horn against my Conn 10 M- That free blowing beauty, and hear and feel qualities that took what it had, and left it behind. To me the 86 is neither French sounding, nor American sounding. I have said to a few people” Its in between!!”—But I am not sure that’s true either (in retrospect). To me—and I think I am right, the 76 is from the mark 6, and the 66/67 from the Conn/ American big sounding horns.
The 86 has the bigness of the 66- but not as broad, or in your face, and not as refined or silky smooth as the 76. The 86 has a bit of vintage Martin in it I think. You know those old martins have that dark warmth. The 86 has this and more—it still has the aggressive bite to it, flawless intonation etc, but a very very rich, dark, brooding compelling sound. It has more resistance than the 66—It’s a little bit harder to blow. I think you have to work a little harder to get what you get. In this regard it is similar to the 76. Check out the following links and see if you can hear the difference between the Conn 10m on an Up temp rhythm changes, and the 76 on a up tempo blues

Conn 10 m --- Roger Manins Rhythm changes solo (9# Otto link HR)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRZYaV13kQM&feature=related

System 76—Roger Manins blues solo (9# Otto link HR)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x577fSOO1A&feature=related
At this stage I don’t have any “burning” stuff on the 86, but in the below comparison you can get an idea of the difference between 66R and 86UL. Also, on my you tube site there are plenty of other comparisons- Magnum vs. super 6 necks—and OK! my humorous look at smooth jazz playing ( now for the record I have a tonne of respect for the great players in this genre, but laughing is good, and I will be bagging out plenty of others in time!)

86UL vs. 66R—( Jodi Jazz HR 10# mouthpiece)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhbGKRY2FQ4

Below are some more audio files, free to download, or play on line, of Conn 10M and my Mark 6 Selmer
Conn 10M: Pennies from Heaven, Don’t get around much, and End of a love affair

Selmer Mark 6: Falling in love with love, Love letters, Without A Song. Beatrice, Blues in the closet, Easy living

http://www.rogermanins.com /downloads.html

Now back to my review. I found that the 86 needed something, and after some thought I realized I need to try a few mouthpieces out. Now here I want to say something—I hate changing mouthpieces. I had been playing a 9# Otto link for 10 years solid, and the piece before that (Berg Larson HR 130M) a good 7 years. You see—the 9# link worked well on the Conn, mk 6 and the 76—and good on the 86 (but not great)—but I was “hearing” that I needed something to bring out the richness of the horn more. The horn needed something a little brighter, bigger and better. I am an ex student of George Garzone's, and was intrigued with his involvement with Jodi Jazz—and love his sound, so I ordered a Jodi Jazz HR 10#. This particular one I have is a darker sounding version than the stock Jodi 10#- but still a little more edgy than the Link—The mouthpiece on the 86 was perfect, but a hard set up to play. In order to get over this, I have been doing a lot of chop building long tones – quiet and LONG! This piece does require more chop strength to play, and I do not recommend it (I would highly recommend the 8*) You also really need your breathing and posture to be spot on, as this really is a mouthpiece for an experienced player.
BUT—now here is the thing!! With this mouthpiece, and this stunning horn, I feel closest I have ever come to realizing that sound in my head. I absolutely love playing the horn. It is chocolate—gorgeous. Also with 6 weeks of long tones behind me, I can take it!

Criticisms of the 86 Tenor

If your technique is good
Palm Keys—Eb too high, D a little low. I think this goes beyond personal preference, as the palm Eb gets in the way. Going from a Bisk key Bb to a palm key Eb there is too much movement needed—a waste of energy, and diminishing effectiveness of technique. The Eb key also gets in the way of the low Bb
Alt F key—Too smooth/ small—Needs to be a little chunkier in order for altissimo chromatic runs to feel solid. Generally altissimo comfort needs a re think in horns in general. I find the side keys (Bb, alt C) a little low too—this however I guess is personal preference but, chromatic altissimo runs is advanced stuff and saxophone design needs to pay a little more attention to this-Like design it like it would suite someone who only played up there.
Hi F#-- Now this could be horn set up, but the Pre F# key, F# fingering – i.e., not using the F# key provided, is not as clear as in other horns. I am wondering if when the horn is designed, they all assume we want to play that horrible F# key. This is good for certain things, but hopeless for chromatic runs. You have to use the old fingering for best results, and the old fingering does not seem to work as well. Interesting too, the F# key provided does not really sound to my liking either.
PS- My above comments could be argued as personal preference, hand size etc, but I do not have any complaints regarding the key heights of the new 66 or 76….
Color—Looks beautiful—but I have to say that being so dark you have to shine a light on it to notice it!! —So if you want to stand out with a shiny horn, you gotta get another!!

EVERYTHING ELSE
Everything else on the horn is fantastic. Intonation is flawless, keywork—great. Feel – great (except as mentioned above)
SOUND- Magical—the most beautiful, rich, lush, brooding, want to hug it sounding horn I have ever played.

OVERALL CONCLUSION: This horn will not be to everyone’s taste—in fact I would say it is a little more specialized than the 76 or 66. I would probably steer a beginner or intermediate// semi pro / wanting a top class Mauriat in the direction of 66/67 and 76 first—which are “Standards” in excellence in top of the line professional horns- and maybe a little more accessible and forgiving.
The 86 has serious Bark, with this brooding Martin/ Selmer/ Conn like tone, but this beautiful creation needs an owner who wants what it has, and is prepared to work for its rewards.
For me, the 86 is the one that finally for me totally beats the others—by a long shot, however, whenever I make statements like this—I have to step back and say again—All the great horns are great in their own ways; masterpieces/// legends in their own right and there will always be musical situations where a I, or others would find them or others more suitable, but for me, now, today, I have found the answer.
Summary
The 86, has that great big sound that a Conn has, but more brooding, and a real richness and depth that the Conn does not have. It has the warmth of a Selmer—but more “bite”- and more depth, yet retains the 66 like aggression if required. It is no Conn, no 66, mark6 and no 76. It is a horn on its own and a great one. I absolutely love the 86. Mated to the right mouthpiece it is a stunning, gorgeous horn. I am totally excited about it.
Rating ***** (5 out of 5)

Roger Manins
28.7.2010
www.roger
 

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Thanks so much for your review Roger, I am agree at every issue you are talking about 86 UL model. I am playing it for last 4 months and it is a beautiful horn, my favorite one until now (I have two 70xxx Mark VI under my bed). When you were saying it is between Conn and Mark VI I would like to say that it is between gold lacquer and silver finished under my point of view, I love that mid term about resistance. That is because of copper/phosphorus material I guess. BUT, as you said too, it is a special way of sounding you have to look for. Really important the set up you blow though it, I use to play it with a metal Theo Wanne mouthpiece and rubber Freddie Gregory´s one. Those are the best combination according to my way of playing and I thing I found my set up for a long time!
Ferva
 

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Great review Roger............very thorough and thought-provoking!! So much so in fact, that I just spent the last 3 hours play testing the 2 P Mauriat 86UL tenors that we have here in the Saxquest shop against some of the best vintage tenors from our museum.

Your comments about comparing it to a Martin were especially interesting to me. I've always loved the sound of a great 50's vintage The Martin tenor. By the way, all of my comparisons were done using a new vintage series hard rubber Otto Link 8. While the core character of the sound had certain similarities (they both lean towards a dark rich sonority), I have to say that the 86UL pretty much buried the Martin, especially in the lower register. The Martin is certainly a fat sounding tenor in its own right, but I was definitely surprised to hear how much more the 86UL had to offer in terms of just sheer power. The 86UL has that kind of vibrancy in the lower end that you can almost feel as much as you can hear.

It actually made me think more along the lines of a Buescher 400 Top Hat & Cane tenor. So, I did that comparison...........this was a closer match sonically. Again, it was the bottom register that really blew me away. Both the 86UL and the Top Hat & Cane have such tremendous resonance. Although, overall the 86UL was a meatier, more aggressive sounding horn. This was especially true as you went up into the higher registers. The Buescher wants to change tone quality the higher I go and get sweeter, a seemingly more purer sound, if you will. The 86UL was more consistent and maintained a nice depth of sound, even up into the palm keys and beyond.

While the character of sound between these two horns was similar, they definitely have a different feel in how they take the air. The Buescher is about as free blowing as it gets. Its true that the 86UL has a little bit more built in resistance. I found this to be a great asset when putting a lot of air through the horn and for evenness of sound when moving up into the mid and high registers.

I also had fun pitting the 86UL up against the Conn arsenal. I play tested against three Conns (gold plate artist model Chu Berry, WWII vintage 10M and 30M Connqueror). All three of the Conns had much more of a spread sound, as you would expect. But they are such expressive horns. I just found myself starting to blow Dexter's version of I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry. This put me in a whole different mind set.............While the 86UL definitely has more focus than any vintage Conn, it doesn't lack anything in tonal character or ease of expression. I found myself doing that Dexter warble thing (you know that vibrato that's as wide as a house that he does so perfectly, just listen to the beginning of I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry on GO! if you're unsure of what I'm referring to - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCLJuD6cH-k). The 86UL reacts extremely well to subtleties of expression that you can get by slight changes in air-stream, throat position, etc...... This is when I really started having fun with this horn and next thing I knew 3 hours had passed!!!

Kudos to P. Mauriat for adding yet another unique and interesting voice into their saxophone lineup.

Cheers,
Mark Overton
http://www.saxquest.com
 

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Hello all,

Thank you Roger for the incredibly comprehensive review and to Ferva and Mark for the 'follow on' as well. I play the 66RUL with a Mark Spencer (incredible Australian refacer and mouthpiece maker) customized 'V' Tone Edge Link and have been very pleased to be on side with P. Mauriat. I"ve now had the 66 for some months and did some alterations myself, I'll post this soon for all to see. I've playtested the 76 (both editions) and now want one of those models since it is as close to a Mark VI as it gets (only bigger...), which seems to be everyone else' thought as well. This thread makes me very interested in the 86, so many models and all quite unique, I'm sure I'll be after one of those in the future. Alex has kindly offered a 'Magnum' neck to it's endorsers as a generous 'thanks' to our involvement, I'm anxiously awaiting this aftermarket neck to try with my 66RUL, although I'm very pleased 'as is'. Roger's comparison of necks was fantastic, he sounds incredibly on both but the 'Magnum' does have a seemingly bigger sound, hard to imagine it getting any bigger, what great playing Roger! I too think th 66 is Conn-esque, which is why I got it, I have played and owned them all, but the ergonomics of 10M's was always beyond me, now I've got the best of both worlds with the 66 and can't wait to playtest the 86, once again, thanks for this thread and all the info guys!

best, DC (Dusty Cox)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks so much for your feedback...( all of you!!) Took a while to write, .-- but it has been a journey. Interesting comments regarding the top hat and Cane- Beucher--Thanks sax Quest! I have tried these, but do not have one handy-- I actually was thinking about that model when I was writing, but just don't have the time on the horn, and not able to test. I agree regarding the Martin too- the 86 blows it away, but there seems to be some lineage there. The 86 is a horn to be reckoned with-- and I agree too-- It does have more focus than the Conn.
Thanks again for all your very interesting observations!!--
Roger
 
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