My personal alto sax is a P. Mauriat 67 Vintage Dark Lacquer horn. I was a little naive with this purchase a few years ago because I ignored some issues I encountered when play testing a few of these horns. The low D was horribly sharp during my play tests and that no matter what P. Mauriat 67 I tried, I could not find one that worked better.
Fixated on it’s tone, look, and price range, I bought it anyway. My reasoning being something like: my D is slightly flat on my current Yamaha 23, maybe I have been over compensating and that is what is ruining a functioning horn? Naive, like I said.
Months after I bought it, the problem wasn’t going away. I couldn’t lip it low enough without the note breaking into something like a multiphonic (like you would get on any horn), and other people who tried my horn were having issues with the D as well. I accepted that it was the horn and learned to cope by fingering a D with the low B key engaged and have been working that way ever since.
Two weeks ago, high on my excitement over wrapping up the overhaul on my Buescher Aristocrat Tenor sax, I took a look at my alto to see how the Mauriat was sealing based on a new trick I learned from fantastic repairman and educator Matt Stohrer (see the video).
The video shows Matt wrapping a surgical glove around the bell, and inhaling from the neck while holding a low Bb, thereby closing the entire horn and creating a vaccuum inside. I tried this on my tenor and it worked perfectly. I then tried this on my alto and there was a hiss, indicating a leak, that was intaking nearly as fast as I could breathe in.
There was a leak coming from the lower stack on the alto, but not from the pads that I was over-compressing at this point. It was from the bow-body brace that was clamped, not soldered (a feature of a few horns). The leak light showed a leak once the brace was out of the way. Reseating the connection was leaving a leak on either side of the body tube. I took apart the horn and cleaned the dirt and other gunk that I found around the receiver and the tenon but that did not fix it. Ultimately I used some sealant to fix the leak. I would like to take it again some day to see if either tenon or receiver were out of round using some better tooling than I had at the time.
A follow up of the glove test proved that the leak was fixed.