Saxophone

Equipment is no more than 10% responsible of your sound. You are 90% of it, if not more. I will sound very similar if I take your set-up. It will be different of course, but the sound is produced by ME, not the gear. The gear is a detail. A very important one though. All that to say that you should not expect the gear to make you sound good but only to help you express it.

I have bought my Keilwerth saxophones in 2000: Soprano SX 90, Alto Model 75 and Tenor Model 75. For a moment I was briefly involved with another brand and I came to realize my Keilwerths were simply better for me. I remember when I tried my alto in Paris I thought I had found the alto of my life (still have to find the wife...). I have traveled the world with it and recorded all my albums. I am looking forward to play some more music for years with my Keilwerth saxophones.

Different brands and models do have different sounding qualities due to the tube conception (mainly the diameter of the bore) and the quality of the brass used. Also one should know that a saxophone will change a little bit over time and open up.

One sound characteristic of Keilwerth, I think, is a big and spread out sound. That doesn't mean it's better than a straight and focus sound. It depends on what you like and are looking for.

Mainly what I like in this brand is the quality of these instruments. Every components is of the highest quality and here are some points I would like to share:
  • The brass used: I do not know the details of the conception of the brass used by Keilwerth but all the professional repairmen I know told me it was very good. Mostly the keys are strong but a repairman can still work on them to adjust if necessary. A lot of cheaper brand will use a cheaper material and the keys will bend too easily.
  • The felts are of very good quality, they don't get flattened easily like poor quality felts you can find on some brands.
  • The pads: the leather used for the pads must be of the highest quality to resist time, dust, humidity etc...
  • The corks: on your neck, if you have a poor quality cork, it will get worn out very fast and you will have to get it fixed. More annoying is having poor quality corks on the keys. You can change the height of the action of the keys with those corks, so you need them to be durable or it will get flat easily and that will result in leaks.
  • The craftsmanship: I have had my saxophones for 12 years and everything works perfectly and smoothly. Those instruments will still be playing music long after I leave this earth. These instruments are handmade in Germany by talented and professional craftsmen. With some brands that are not so careful about the quality, you may have loose keys, corrosion, problems with screws etc...

Specifics about the soprano:
  • The Keilwerth soprano is a real one piece: some brands make a one piece soprano with actually two pieces. If you look between the top keys and the cork, you may look or feel like a little bump in the metal. If you look inside the soprano you can actually see very clearly that the top part (what could be considered the neck) is a separate piece put inside the body and then soldered.
  • The tone holes: the straight tone holes on my Keilwerth soprano are higher than some other brands. I do not know if that has any impact on the sound, but repairmen seem to agree that it is good in case of an accident if some work is need on a tone hole. If you look at the tone hole on your soprano and see that some are almost right on the level of the body, hope that you will never have to get some work done there!
  • The left hand table keys are specific to the soprano: that means the table is a little smaller than for the alto and the tenor. Sounds obvious, right? Well, that is the kind of details you will notice on a lower quality brand, the left hand table is the same for soprano, alto and tenor, so you end up with a huge table on your soprano.

Specifics about the alto and tenor Model 75:
  • The neck and the bell are in silver, which I feel tend to make the sound a little brighter than the black nickel model for instance. I have a large and powerful sound that I like.
  • Rolled tone holes: Al Maniscalco from Keilwerth explained to me "they do not necessarily impact the actual timbre of the sound, they do effect the way sound projects from the horn. Imagine the rolled tone hole as a "miniature bell" at each hole - the curved edges help to project the sound a bit differently than a straight hole would".    Repairmen have told me it also reduces the chances of leaks. Also it is softer on the pads than the straight tone holes that can damage sooner the pads with the sharp edge.
I am going to update soon this blog with videos about the alto and the tenor.I appreciate vintage horns but I have never been a fanatic of vintage horns. The ergonomy is often bad and it can be difficult in the extreme parts of the register and the tuning can be questionnable. Keilwerth saxophones have a great ergonomy, great action and excellent tuning.


What do you think about this? Please share with me your thoughts, suggestions, questions etc... tell me what saxophones you are playing, what and why you like or dislike, things you have done to improve your horn etc... I want to know!!!

3 comments

  • Marc06

    Marc06

    I personally go crazy for Selmer saxophone, like many Americans I guess. I think this is because my Idols were playing on those sax (Coltrane, Bob Berg, Michael Brecker..) and also modern guy such as Eric Alexander, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman and so on.. I'm really happy with my Sop Mark Vi saxophone from 1973, I also like my Tenor M6 from 1964. I have tried other selmer tenor and realized that I pretty sounded the same, I just found sometime easier to get the sound I was aiming for on some. I have also realzed that the mouthpiece and the reed do influence more on the sound that the sax. THe horn is more influent on intonation and key action. Then I'm however curious to see those Keilwerth.

    I personally go crazy for Selmer saxophone, like many Americans I guess. I think this is because my Idols were playing on those sax (Coltrane, Bob Berg, Michael Brecker..) and also modern guy such as Eric Alexander, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman and so on..
    I'm really happy with my Sop Mark Vi saxophone from 1973, I also like my Tenor M6 from 1964.
    I have tried other selmer tenor and realized that I pretty sounded the same, I just found sometime easier to get the sound I was aiming for on some. I have also realzed that the mouthpiece and the reed do influence more on the sound that the sax. THe horn is more influent on intonation and key action.
    Then I'm however curious to see those Keilwerth.

  • AlexTerrier

    AlexTerrier

    Marc you got it right (in my opinion). I always say that the sound is first what you hear in your head and your embouchure. Second is your mouthpiece, this is really the key part to the edifice, and then the saxophone. Saxophones will have different characteristics of course: mainly if the sound is focused or large, open or stiff(again that is only my opinion and my experience, which can be different for everyone). I also like to feel how the instrument vibrates and sings. Then there is things like tuning: cheap brands will be out of tunes, vintage horns can be a nightmare. Ergonomic issues are common to vintage horns. I like to know that unless a truck drives on my Keilwerth saxophones, they will last my lifetime and probably a few other generations. Also I rarely need to go to the shop to fix leaks and things like that, these instruments are very solid.

    Marc you got it right (in my opinion). I always say that the sound is first what you hear in your head and your embouchure. Second is your mouthpiece, this is really the key part to the edifice, and then the saxophone.

    Saxophones will have different characteristics of course: mainly if the sound is focused or large, open or stiff(again that is only my opinion and my experience, which can be different for everyone). I also like to feel how the instrument vibrates and sings.

    Then there is things like tuning: cheap brands will be out of tunes, vintage horns can be a nightmare.

    Ergonomic issues are common to vintage horns.

    I like to know that unless a truck drives on my Keilwerth saxophones, they will last my lifetime and probably a few other generations. Also I rarely need to go to the shop to fix leaks and things like that, these instruments are very solid.

  • Bruce Smith

    Bruce Smith Iowa

    Keilwerth for me have the edge and response similiar to the conn new wonder horns. The larger key work of the keilwerth fits my hands better than the old horns. The intonation is worry free. For me, there is perfect flexibility in the tone. I truly believe Keilwerth has made the ultimate saxophone.

    Keilwerth for me have the edge and response similiar to the conn new wonder horns. The larger key work of the keilwerth fits my hands better than the old horns. The intonation is worry free. For me, there is perfect flexibility in the tone. I truly believe Keilwerth has made the ultimate saxophone.

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