Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The three tenors

What do they say about buses? Wait all day for one and then three show up. Well, it seems the same goes for tenor saxophones. All of a sudden I've got three come in looking for new homes.
Firstly is a Keilwerth EX90. These are German built instruments. In recent years there have been Keilwerth's built in Taiwan and China (?) but this is the real McCoy. Top of the range was the SX90r which had tone-hole rims - similar to rolled tone-holes except they weren't rolled. They just had a piece soldered on top. That could lead to uneven or wonky tone-holes, until they seems to improve their method of manufacture.  http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Saxes/Tenor/Keilwerth_sx90r_tenor.htm  So there's something to be said for your ordinary tone-hole, which is what we have on the EX90.
The EX90 is very similar to the SX90 but it lacks some of the fancy add-ons that they included on the SX90 - adjustable palm keys, extra arms on F and a no-stick G mechanism.  How good these extra actually are is debatable, so the 'cut-down' EX90 is actually a rather more reliable horn than the SX90. If you fancy a Keilwerth, this is well worth a look.

Then we have  a Jupiter 787 - 789. It's always confusing when they muck about with model numbers. the 787 is the tenor version of the popular 767 alto. The 789 version is a later revision with some manufacturing improvements.
Some Jupiters of the past didn't play well. It wasn't they way they were made so much as the way they were padded. Usually you stick in a pad and then level it. Jupiter stuck the pad in and then sucked or pressed them down and hoped for the best. You'd often come across pads in the upper section that wouldn't seal properly so they didn't play well. Once the pads were leveled properly, the instrument sounded very nice indeed. So it was a shame they didn't spend a bit more time getting the padding right. Well by the time of the 789 it seem thy had improved things and the pads seal. A 787-789 is usually a very decent instrument. They were classed as a beginners saxophone but by todays standards I think they are more of an intermediate standard. The build quality is good and it has all the keys to take a player all the way through the grades.  For the price these horns can be picked up they are an absolute bargain. If you can't afford that Keilwerth, this is a great option.

And finally we have an Elkhart series II tenor. This little beast is perhaps in the best condition of the three. It doesn't look to have been used a great deal. It is a similar build quality to the Jupiter being made in Taiwan as well. These were the beginners range from Selmer and were a good reliable choice. Elkhart instruments have been used in schools quite a lot and they tend to have stood the test of time.
As a beginner instrument they chose not to add the upper F# key which is only really used in the upper grades. Frankly you don't need it. Most Selmer MkVIs never had the F# key, though it was an option. The alternative key to use is in almost the same position.
This is quite a sweet sounding instrument. It's very pleasant to play. If I didn't have another tenor I'd be very happy to use this. But if I wanted a darker sound, of the three it's have to be the Keilwerth that I'd go for.  Which do you fancy ?

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