Some Interesting Things And News, From And About Keilwerth

Just over a week ago I mentioned that Keilwerth has a Facebook page. And as Kumar mentioned in his comment to that post, it is JK’s hope to connect with younger players through Facebook.

I went back to SOTW to see what else I might find about JK’s new incarnation, and I happened across this thread titled, The truth about keilwerth saxophones!! The thread was started by Julius Keilwerth—the company again, not the ghost 😉  —and was an attempt to dispel some of the myths and rumours that were circulating out there since the takeover by Buffet.

If you haven’t yet seen the thread, and you’re interested, I’ll let you explore it for yourself. There are some interesting tidbits of information, sprinkled amongst the usual questions and commentary that is familiar to readers and members of SOTW.

The 2 things I personally found most interesting in the thread, were links to videos on JK’s YouTube channel. Both links were posted by Julius Keilwerth, and both were of the factory—presumably post Buffet takeover.

The first video is an overview of how Julius Keilwerth saxophones are made. Notice how much handcraftsmanship goes into the horns.

The second video shows how the rather infamous rolled, but not really rolled, tone holes are done on the SX 90R series horns. JK of course dropped real, rolled tone holes, in favour of rings soldered on top of their straight tone holes.

Why did JK drop the real, rolled tone holes? I’m not sure. I’ve not read any reliable information that explains their choice.

So, there you have it. Some pretty interesting, and overall good information if you’re a Keilwerth fan. The company is moving ahead, and going strong. Right? Maybe not so fast…

Apparently on April 3, 2012, Foundations Capital acquired the Buffet Group. According to the Woodwind Forum’s Super Sleuth, and Admin, Pete Hales, Foundations Capital has among their holdings, a restaurant chain and pre-fab concrete industry.  :wtf:

What, if anything, does this mean for Keilwerth—who just got saved by Buffet? Time will tell. Maybe nothing. Maybe something. Regardless, it’s a sad day when the 2nd largest instrument manufacturer in the world, has to sell itself to a company that has nothing to do with music.

I’m a bit surprised that we didn’t see Buffet sold to a petrochemical or pharmaceutical company. The latter would have at least made sense—given musicians propensity to use misuse drugs. 😈

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

© 2012, Helen. All rights reserved.


Helen Kahlke is a professional horn player and sax teacher who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She plays soprano, alto, C melody, tenor, baritone, and bass saxophones.


  1. Thank you all for sharing the posts and comments, and most importantly for your appreciation for Keilwerth Saxophones. To address a few of the comments in the thread above I’ll share the following info.

    – The recent purchase of Buffet Group by Foundations Capital is a very positive thing as this transfer of shareholders happened out of WANT rather than NEED and is testimony to the strength and value of our brands.
    – The tone hole process changed several years ago for various reasons. yes cost, but also production time and easier repair for damaged tone holes. However as you see in the video it is still very much a “hands on” process to ensure it is done properly and maintains quality.
    – Buffet Group is very committed to the continued growth and prosperity for the Keilwerth brand. So much so that they have appointed me as Group Keilwerth Product Manager – from the U.S. so we can focus the development from the perspective of the North American market where Keilwerth has always had the strongest presence and following. As one who has played JK for over 20 years I am humbled and honored to have this position, and will do my best to see it succeed as it means as much to me as it does to all of you.

    I ask you to please share the news that Keilwerth is going strong and in production. I invite any questions to

    Thank you!!

    • Hello Product Manager for JK.

      Thank you for taking the time and addressing the issues brought up in my article, and setting some minds at ease. Personally, I was quite worried what would happen to JK in light of the latest sale. (And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.)

      Although I am a recent convert to Keilwerth—and an admitted vintage horn junkie 😉 —I have been fascinated by the JK brand for years. Truth be told, I nearly bought a new, Silverstar tenor a couple of years ago. In the end however, a minty Max Keilwerth tenor came up, followed 12 months later by the remarkable Toneking I just had restored. (I’m currently awaiting a replacement angel wing from Germany.)

      I will do my best to stay on top of any new developments with regards to Keilwerth. Also, now that you know this site exists, feel free to drop by anytime, and update us with JK’s latest news. There are many loyal JK users who read this site, and also players who are looking to buy their first, or another pro horn.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

      Warm regards,


    • I too would like to say thank you for chiming in. I wonder if you have seen Stephen Howard’s SX90R reviews here:

      In these, he notes problems with the soldered “rolled” tone holes. These appear to have been addressed since the initial reviews appeared, so be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for the latest word.

      In any case, I mostly wanted to ask if the rolled tone holes haven’t proven to be more trouble than they are worth from a mechanical perspective. It seems to me that if pads stick and have to be treated regularly, this negates the benefit of having them last longer — trading regular replacement of the pads for constant treatment of those same pads is not something I would personally choose. The difficulty in repairing damage also is somewhat of a concern, but it could reasonably argued the SX90R is not the sort of horn you want to subject to abusive environments in the first place. Do the rolled tone holes significantly affect the feel or sound of the instrument enough to justify the extra work (on both the player’s end and your own)?

  2. From what I can gather, the rolled tone holes on, say, a Conn professional horn (apps. 1916 to 1956), were there for one reason: to extend pad life. You can probably put together an argument that rolled tone holes seal better or something, too.

    The tone rings on the SX90Rs are supposed to enhance the tone, according to Keilwerth, possibly along the lines of a thread Groovekiller and I were posting in on the Woodwind Forum regarding the Powell Silver Eagle saxophones ( going from brass tone-hole chimneys to sterling silver makes a significant difference, according to him. Therefore, I’d say it’s possible that the SX90r can sound better than the SX90, just due to that change.

    As a more prosaic reason, it may be easier/cheaper to fit the tone rings than roll a tone hole. I do know that repairmen sometimes use the tone rings to repair bad rolled tone holes on other horns.

    Personally, I’ve not tested an SX90 vs. an SX90R. Keilwerth currently does not have an SX90 and SX90r available in the same pitch with the same finish/materials, so I couldn’t make an exact comparison if I wanted to. (Richard Keilwerth used to use SX90 horns as their stencils. I don’t know if they currently still stencil Julius Keilwerth horns.) However, you can check to see if rolled tone holes vs. straight make a difference: get a Conn New Wonder and a Conn-made Selmer NY from about the same year, get them into the same condition and test. I’ve not had luck with New Wonders, so I’ll skip that :).

    Anyhow, Keilwerth’s got a new digital catalog that’s pretty shiny. It’s at

    • Maybe they are just interested in the Buffet brand and instruments? Not even the Buffet saxes of today! They had to take over Keilwerth as well.

      I think Keilwerth stop manufactoring saxes with “real rolled tonholes” to cut costs. So did also Conn. And H.N. White stop silversolder the toneholes of the King Super 20. I think it was all about to to cut costs.

    • “going from brass tone-hole chimneys to sterling silver makes a significant difference” … solder on brass chimney vs solder on sterling silver chimney? I’m not a member to the forum but some interesting reading.

      I had a Conn tenor -47 wo rolled toneholes and one with rolled toneholes c -46(old inventory I guess)and I couldn’t hear any differences. Both saxes were “factory setup” (or as close as possible) and they both had the same type of pads. Modern with plastic reflectors.

      • Thomas, in the case of the Powell horn, you can get either brass tonehole chimneys or sterling silver tonehole chimneys. If you go to the forum, there’s *also* discussion about how to solder those toneholes in the same thread, as well as a discussion on whether chamfered tone holes can make a significant difference in tone.

        Anyhow, the point is that it’s possible that what the tonehle chimneys are made out of could affect the tone. This isn’t according to me, but according to a guy who has owned a lot more horns than I ever will and is a real repairman. However, as I mention on the WF, this is the point where we start talking about materials you make a sax out of mattering. That’s a topic with no bottom. Although I think I can accept that the material you make the tonehole chimneys out of matters because of who said it.

        On a related bit of the topic, since approximately 1917, Conn-made pro horns have had drawn tone holes, not soldered — for any of the definition of the word “soldered.” The reason is obvious: solder can deteriorate and leak. Leaks are bad. However, if you have a horn that has solder in good shape, you can have a really, really nice horn, like the Buffet Dynaction I used to own. In other words, soldered or drawn tone holes do not “make” a good horn. It is arguable if either could make a good horn “better.”

        As far as Buffet is concerned, the only sax that they’ve actually made over the past few years has been the S2 intermediate model (non-US) and the S3 (Prestige). The Buffet 100/400 is made in Taiwan or China. The Buffet Expression was a stencil of the Keilwerth SX90. I do not know exactly when the S2/S3 was discontinued, but the S3 was available as late as 2006. Hey, Buffet’s known more for their clarinets.

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