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pretty pictures of a gold-plated Couf Superba I

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
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IIRC, there was a problem with some of the Keilwerths where they rusted at the posts due to a factory glitch. It was on a number of horns and so it was mentioned a couple of times by people who thought they had a great horn until the premature rust started showing up.
 
Clarnibass- this is IMHO. I have worked on a lot of Keilwerths and and owned more than a few.

Their construction, while solid-feeling, is not the most durable, nor built to the most exacting tolerances in the industry (I've seen quite a few horns that look like they may have been built on a Friday afternoon just before quota was counted). They damage easily, particularly with single-post construction with itty-bitty post feet and heavy keywork. If a Keilwerth has seen a lot of use, the likelihood of posts being knocked around and out of alignment increases, and unless they are fixed correctly this situation leads to ill-fitting keys with ovaled-out hinge tubes and scalloped pivot receivers. As fixing that kind of problem is a time-consuming one and thus an expensive one (not even touching on the abilities of whatever repairman the horn has or hasn't seen) so often times the problem is band-aided rather than fixed at its foundation. Therefore, more often than some other makes, a Keilwerth that has been around the block a few times needs an expensive full mechanical rebuild to correct problems that have been overlooked for years if you want it to play and feel its best.

I believe generally this advice (get a horn in good physical shape) holds for all saxes. For me there are a few makes that I am particularly wary of purchasing when they look like they've seen a lot of use, and Keilwerth is one. Even if they have new pads, unless it has had a mechanical rebuild in the recent past, I assume one will be needed. More often than not it holds true.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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What would you consider "a full mechanical rebuild"? Just curious. To me, that sounds like replacing keywork and stuff.

(FWIW, I've seen older horns with soldered tone-holes resoldered. Inexpertly. That never looks good.)
 
Nah, not wholesale key replacement. That would be a full mechanical re-place (pun!). You can't really replace keys on a vintage horn anyways, only fabricate what you need.

Mechanical rebuild (to me) means refitting the keywork for perfect fit, posts aligned, no looseness anywhere, no binding, square hinge tube ends, no play, etc.

I go into the various procedures involved in painful detail on my website here: http://stohrermusic.com/?page_id=41


This particular procedure and nomenclature only apply perfectly to me, though. Different people call it different things- and do different procedures as well. The only commonality is the problem that is (hopefully) being fixed- imperfect mechanical fit and function.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Clarnibass - this is IMHO. I have worked on a lot of Keilwerths and and owned more than a few.
I understand what you mean about repairing the damage, etc. and how fixing all the foundations will be more reliable. Maybe I'll clarify what isn't clear to me. You wrote:

IMHO with Keilwerths it is particularly advantageous to get them in original good physical condition.
What I don't understand is, in what way it is advantageous for Keilwerths in particular to put back in original physical condition? There are two things here.

First, the original condition.
You just described the original build quality of many of those as not so reliable and accurate. I imagine when you do overhaul them, you bring them back to better physical condition than that? Or maybe the materials used? I imagine they use less than the best materials and you would prefer better ones? So I'm not sure original physical is necessarily advantageous.

Second, speicifically to Keilwerths. I can't understand why, especially considering the original condition you just described, it is advantageous particularly to Keklwerths. In what way would a Keilwerth benefit from going back to original condition in comparison with another model, which wouldn't benefit as much? Especially since it seems the original condition was already problematic.

If what you're actually saying is that these Keilwerths often have problematic build quality, can often get all sorts of damage and wear, but they can play great and be more relaible by fixing all the problems, absolutely, can't disagree. This is the same as many other saxophones. Same as any saxophone with problems that, once repaired (not band-aided), will be far more reliable and play better.
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Nah, not wholesale key replacement. That would be a full mechanical re-place (pun!). You can't really replace keys on a vintage horn anyways, only fabricate what you need.

Mechanical rebuild (to me) means refitting the keywork for perfect fit, posts aligned, no looseness anywhere, no binding, square hinge tube ends, no play, etc.

I go into the various procedures involved in painful detail on my website here: http://stohrermusic.com/?page_id=41


This particular procedure and nomenclature only apply perfectly to me, though. Different people call it different things- and do different procedures as well. The only commonality is the problem that is (hopefully) being fixed- imperfect mechanical fit and function.
I think most techs would call this description a "mechanical overhaul". Restoration in my use of the term includes the mechanical overhaul plus restoring the overall cosmetics of the saxophone to look like new. In my experience key fitting serves two purposes: (1) To allow for more perfect regulation, (2) To eliminate key noise.

Precise key fitting on the stack keys involved in the regulation of keys which close together is essential---even on what one would call a "repad" in order to have perfect seating and sealing of the pads. The precise fitting on the independent keys has more to do with key noise and clatter, but is also an important part of the "mechanical overhaul".

Because of time and cost restraints I do not ordinarily do the 8+ hours of key fitting when repadding/overhauling a student's Bundy II that I would on a Mark VI mechanical overhaul, or complete restoration.
 
Clarnibass wrote: "What I don't understand is, in what way it is advantageous for Keilwerths in particular to put back in original physical condition?"


Its not that it is particularly advantageous to put them back into good physical condition. It is that it is particularly advantageous to purchase one that is still in good original physical condition.


You've got variables from original construction (so do many horns). You've got single post construction with heavy keywork. That is a recipe for damage and wear over time taking a heavy toll on the mechanics, which is a time consuming and expensive problem to fix. But a recipe does not a finished product make- it needs time in the oven. I'm saying get it before it goes in the oven to potentially save yourself expensive mechanical work.

Mechanical problems are not only expensive to fix, but difficult to see upon cursory examination by the layman. Therefore I am advising that the overall physical condition be used as a sign to judge the potential for needed mechanical work. This applies to any horn, but even more so to certain makes including Keilwerth that in my experience are more prone to damage/wear/mechanical issues over time for varying reasons. Obviously there are exceptions- a well used horn that is well taken care of. A fantastic looking horn that came out of the factory with loose fitting hinge tubes. But I'm not giving advice here for the minority of occasions or for the expert who doesn't need my advice- I'm trying to give a generally helpful statement to those who can't judge the mechanics of a saxophone on their own, or to those who are purchasing one of these horns from afar from an unknown or private seller. Probably most of the folks posting in this thread do not need my help to purchase a sax, or even to overhaul one! But I assume there are folks reading it that might benefit.

Hopefully I'm making at least a little sense.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
I've always been told that...

...a saxophone with key work fitted directly to the body was (in effect) an accident waiting to happen. Probably the folks that urged this point of view on me were those who sold or pushed horns with key work mounted on ribs, but it became an article of faith with me when purchasing the things.

The kind of force that could be directed into a post/surface solder mount by a chance encounter of a post/rod end against the proverbial hard place is pretty substantial. Having that same stress spread out against a rib (where the attachment could be of a more robust nature) that was soldered along a great length would have a much greater chance of not damaging the saxophone body proper. Or, so it seems to me.
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
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I've never tested a longer post with a base on it compared to a shorter post soldered onto a rib which is soldered onto the body. But I have seen both of them broken off before. What I know is that if you bump anything it can take something out of alignment, and wear can cause keyslop on any type design of horn.

What I don't like is when a horn has rivets to center the rib before being soldered on which are clearly visible inside the horn.

The marketing muscle of Selmer certainly did everyone in in the earlier days. Keilwerth (and Buffet too) had been plagued of an inability to market their product and has relied upon other "marketers" to bring their horns to a larger market whether it was Bundy, Couf, DJH & Ponzol.

I think the variances/irregularities in the vintage Pro horns (JK, Buffet, Selmer etc) is nothing like one would find in a vintage Mexican Conn horn.

The important thing is,
One can be brought back to life as a great player.
The other is brought back to life as a lamp.
 
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Hey Matt, I see what happened now... maybe it's a language thing... because it's not my first langauge. Or maybe just because it's possible to understand it in a couple of different ways (not being my first language, I'm not sure). What you wrote was:
IMHO with Keilwerths it is particularly advantageous to get them in original good physical condition.
You wrote "to get them", which I understood as "you should get them repaired to original good physical condition" but I guess what you meant was "it's better to buy them already in good original physical condition". So this whole thing came from that I didn't understand what you meant :)
 
BTW another question, although I prefer a white or bright background to musical instrument photos, your photos do look goo, merging with the background. What background did you use that got so dark in the photos while the instrument still got so bright (even too bright :))?

I see you didn't use a flash, which makes sense since I think the background would probably have bright spots if you did. If you don't mind a suggestion... I see you used 1/8 shutter pseed. Was this hand held or on a stand? If you have VR (for Nikon) then I guess this is about as slow as possible for good photos? So if you are using a stand then I would suggest using ISO 100, aperture priority mode, using long exposure if necessary, for the sharpest photos.

I just started getting into photography and if you thought woodwinds were bad... just a suggestion... don't! :)
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
BTW another question, although I prefer a white or bright background to musical instrument photos, your photos do look goo, merging with the background. What background did you use that got so dark in the photos while the instrument still got so bright (even too bright :))?
I'd say it's Photoshop (or similar) that did it - often there is some contour tool that separates fore- and background.

And yes, don't even try without a tripod - if you don't have a heavy five-pound camera, the inevitable body shake is obvious even in broad daylight.
 
Clarnibass, I get it now! Sorry for the confusion.

Haha wow I guess you can tell all of that from the "exif" data? I am a photographic noob although I am getting into it. Like you said, it gets complicated and expensive very fast. I'm particularly interested in taking better audio for videos so I can do sound samples.

I used black velvet as a background, my camera is a Canon s8100 point and shoot. For lighting I used bright sunlight diffused through a curtain- early afternoon in a particular room of the house has good light. I resized the photos in photoshop but that is the extent of my abilities. I just take 20-30 photos with slightly different angles, put them on my PC and click through a slideshow, deleting the bad ones as I go along. Usually a couple actually come out really nice.

The stuff you said about aperture, ISO... is all greek to me. I've got a lot of learning ahead of me with photography. Only thing I know so far is the trick to use the grid of the photo divided up into ninths for good composition.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Its not that it is particularly advantageous to put them back into good physical condition. It is that it is particularly advantageous to purchase one that is still in good original physical condition.

You've got variables from original construction (so do many horns). You've got single post construction with heavy keywork.
I think Steve touched on this earlier, but I'll also chime in:

Probably all Keilwerth horns are a little bit custom, but I know that the H-Couf and DJH Modified horns were especially so. I've heard of tinkering with the bow and bell, specifically. Does that translate into keywork interestingness? I don't know. I can say that I've told other people -- and written here, someplace -- that if you're going the route of buying two parts horns and trying to make one work, make sure you've got close serial numbers.

Another thing I noticed the other day is that there are fairly few Keilwerth baritones out there, up until they started making stencils, like the Bundy, Armstrong Heritage and King Tempo. I've also seen more H-Couf baritones than other Keilwerth models. I know that Keilwerth always had basses as a "custom build" thing (I even remember the ad that said that), but not baritones.
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
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Only thing I know so far is the trick to use the grid of the photo divided up into ninths for good composition.
When I visited Dave Kessler's shop in Vegas I use a practice room that also housed his light box. Lined with velvet, there at least two lights on stands with filters, and that's about it. I always thought his pictures turned out well. Controlling light is a large part of taking great sax equipment shots.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Keilwerth, yes. SX90 straight alto and tenor (see attached pics). H-Couf? I've not seen one.

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I've got a 1958 and 1959 catalog of Keilwerth's horns. The '59 one's in German, but already online. The '58 one's got much smaller pics and has fairly illegible copy.

Hey, Helen: the 1959 catalog's interesting because it's got the "angel wing" models AND both New King and Toneking models are listed. The other fun thing is that the bari -- New King only -- has sheet metal keyguards. Makes that bari you sent me pics of more interesting!
 
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