10/18/12

P. Mauriat's Professional Quality Trumpets

The 655 and 700 models are as impressive as company's saxophones

P. Mauriat has gained a very good reputation as a manufacturer of excellent saxophones. Their roster of endorsers includes highly regarded players like Greg Osby, James Carter and Marcus Strickland. In recent years, the company has been working to increase its profile in the trumpet game. And while plenty of modern trumpet manufacturers would love to be the next Monette, creating an instrument that successfully looks, feels and sounds innovative, many more efforts only accomplish surface newness, leaving a product that is little more than shiny finish. P. Mauriat have wisely left superficial innovation to their competitors and instead chosen to make professional-quality trumpets that sound and feel—get ready for it—like professional-quality trumpets.

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P. Mauriat's silver-plated PMT-655 trumpet
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P. Mauriat's unlacquered PMT-700 trumpet

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Their newest B-flat professional trumpet models, the 655 (I tested the silver-plated version) and 700 (unlacquered) are unquestionably successful additions to the market. (Other available finishes for the 655: clear epoxy lacquer, dark lacquer and unlacquered; the 700 also comes in clear epoxy lacquer, silver-plated, lacquered matte and matte silver-plated versions.) Both Taiwan-made horns are on the lighter end of the normal weight range, with the 655 coming in slightly heavier than the 700 (roughly 38 oz. and 36 oz., respectively). They do play differently from each other, and deserve separate discussion.

The 655 is a truly solid offering with a 5-inch yellow brass bell, a reversed yellow brass leadpipe, hefty valve casing and two available bore sizes, .46 (medium-large, which I played) and .465 (large). It’s extremely balanced and versatile and plays evenly through the entire range of the horn. It has very good intonation, most notably in the higher registers, where I found the horn to shine. This model can handle a lot of air and at the same time does not require a huge blow. It’s very responsive to loud and high playing.

The intention behind the 655 was to provide a well-rounded instrument that would be suitable for varied professional situations. This horn is definitely a success in that regard, with the caveat that it feels most suited to lead, commercial and big-band situations. It’s not the trumpet you want to bring out character and emotion in a small-group setting. If that’s what you seek, the 700 model might better serve you.

Before I continue with the 700, let me first oversimplify trumpeters into two camps using barely appropriate yet effective shorthand: big-air players and focused-air players. Big-air trumpet players use so much air that it doesn’t have to be used all that efficiently; focused-air players get maximum results with minimum effort. If you’re big-air, this is not the horn for you: It borders on stuffy, and does not respond particularly well to a massive, intense, spread-out airflow. However, if you’re a focused-air player who prefers a more compact, economic setup and wants nuanced response with relatively little effort, I strongly suggest checking out the 700.

The P. Mauriat 700 features a slightly smaller bell (4.8 inches), a standard gold brass leadpipe and .46-inch (medium-large) bore. It plays smaller than its counterpart. (P. Mauriat also offers the 700R, with a reversed leadpipe.) As the 655 works solidly as an all-purpose instrument, the 700 is perfectly at home among older, reliable “small-feel” horns, which are generally used to cultivate a personal sound. This trumpet’s main strength is its ability to make room for personality and beauty. It sounds great played softly, and the compact feel brings the registers closer together, making flexibility and intervallic playing easier. The downside is that it’s slightly more difficult to find the slots for pitches, though I think developing familiarity with the horn would solve this problem.

P. Mauriat has contributed two very different yet equally fine instruments to the professional-trumpet landscape. I can recommend the 655 particularly for commercial playing, and the 700 might be the horn a focused-air improviser has been looking for. P. Mauriat has not reinvented the wheel. They haven’t succumbed to the pressures of superficial innovation. They’ve done something fairly old-fashioned: made stuff that works.

Greg Glassman is a New York City-based trumpeter and composer whose latest release is Into the Wild (Etoile). Visit him online at www.gregglassman.com.

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