A Late Model President Tenor Saxophone Made By Max Keilwerth

This morning I saw a very interesting, late-model President tenor saxophone on eBay.

saxophone, Max Keilwerth, President tenor saxophone, vintage, German, Pure Tone Trade Mark, bell engraving

Source: g.mu6

saxophone, Max Keilwerth, President tenor saxophone, vintage, German, Pure Tone Trade Mark,

Source: g.mu6

Despite its eye brow key guards, this horn bears the Pure Tone Trade Mark label, which indicates that it wasn’t made by Hohner, but rather by Max Keilwerth when he worked for himself.

saxophone, Max Keilwerth, President tenor saxophone, vintage, German, Pure Tone Trade Mark, bell logo, serial number

Source: g.mu6

The 7302 serial number is the highest that I have seen thus far in an MK horn. The previous highest number also happened to be on a President, but was 51XX. It however, had the same wire key guards that the other Pure Tone Trade Mark horns had.

The President tenor saxophone currently on eBay is a bit of a different animal. It looks almost identical to the Presidents sold under the Hohner name. As already noted, the eye brow key guards on the bell and bow keys of the Hohner, are the same as we see on this horn.

saxophone, Max Keilwerth, President tenor saxophone, vintage, German, Pure Tone Trade Mark,

Source: g.mu6

saxophone, Max Keilwerth, President tenor saxophone, vintage, German, Pure Tone Trade Mark,

Source: g.mu6

The left pinkie cluster is also the same general shape as those that we see on the Hohner Presidents.

saxophone, Max Keilwerth, President tenor saxophone, vintage, German, Pure Tone Trade Mark, left pinkie keys

Source: g.mu6

And finally, if you take a look at the shape of the left palm keys, you’ll notice that they too are the same shape as those on the Hohner saxophones.

saxophone, Max Keilwerth, President tenor saxophone, vintage, German, Pure Tone Trade Mark, left palm keys

Source: g.mu6

Where this Pure Tone Trade Mark President differs greatly from the Hohner Presidents, is in the neck, and neck and bow guard. This MK-made tenor has a microtuner and ornate neck guard, whereas the Hohner does not.

saxophone, Max Keilwerth, President tenor saxophone, vintage, German, Pure Tone Trade Mark, sax neck with microtuner

Source: g.mu6

The bow guard too, is rather pronounced on this Pure Tone Trade Mark tenor, while on the Hohner it is not.

saxophone, Max Keilwerth, President tenor saxophone, vintage, German, Pure Tone Trade Mark,

Source: g.mu6

What is very interesting, is that these pronounced neck and bow guards are both shown in an early Hohner President brochure that I picked up on eBay a few years ago. To this date however, I have yet to see a Hohner-made President that has these types of pronounced guards.

At this point, my educated guess is that the horn currently on eBay is one of Max Keilwerth’s later horns, perhaps last horns, before he began working for Amati briefly, before moving on to Hohner in Trossingen, Germany. Most importantly, this President tenor saxophone clearly shows how Max Keilwerth’s designs evolved over time, and how the Hohner President came about.

Sadly, this Pure Tone Trade Mark tenor is in rough shape, and needs some repair work, besides the usual overhaul. Here are the rest of the pics…

Source: g.mu6

This is how the seller describes this vintage German saxophone:

Interesting, very old Tenor saxophone. It has a micro tuner at the neck. There is no makersname on the mouthpiece. The bell reads “President” . The back is stamped “Pure tone trade mark 7302” It seems that the instrument was made by Max Keilwerth, the younger brother of Richard. These 2 were in a competition to build the better saxophones. Unfortunatelly the “thing” (sorry, dont know the english word) that holds the mechanic close to the table is missing. (see pictures) I dont think this is a big thing for a repairman. No other missing parts! No dents! The toneholes are rolled. The silvern color is partly worn. The instrument needs adjustment, cleaning, repair and overhaul. No case, but of course it will be packed very well for the transit.

BTW, the seller got the brothers confused. Richard never made saxophones. It was of course Julius who was the saxophone manufacturer.

The auction for this vintage, Max Keilwerth-made President tenor saxophone runs until April 14. Bids are to start at $499.00 US. At the time of writing, there were no bids on the horn yet.

If you are interested in reading the history of Max Keilwerth, check out the page about him on my website. If you’re interested in reading about the Hohner Presidents, I have a page on those as well.

And finally, if you’d like to see all the Pure Tone Trade Mark saxophone images that I have managed to collect, you can find them in the Max Keilwerth gallery of Bassic Sax Pix. Looking for Hohner pics? I’ve got those too. They’re in the Hohner President Gallery.

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

© 2013, 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. Hi Helen

    Here is a President with the serial number 8020.
    The key guards are straight.
    The High F key is not straight.
    No extra right hand palm thrill key.


  2. Hi Helen,

    Here are some pictures of an ey-brow, pure tone stamped, president alto. The serial number is comparable to the tenor.


  3. Update: It took a few listings on eBay, but on May 11 this auction came to a successful conclusion when a winning bidder paid $499.00 for this late-model Max Keilwerth President. For the record, there were 6 bids on this vintage horn.

  4. Hi Helen, you found a missing link.
    The main difference with the first Hohner President is the type of toneholes.
    There is also a small difference in the position of the high E-flat tonehole.

    • Hi there Theo.

      Ah yes, I see you’re correct. If I compare the shape of the left palm keys in this photo of a MK President & Hohner President tenor side by side, I can see the different shapes of the high Eb keys. The current eBay horn has the same shape Eb key, as the MK President tenor # 51XX in the photo. (Nice photo BTW Theo.) ;)

      Tell me a little more about the tone hole differences between the MK & Hohner saxes Theo. It looks to me like the MK might have soldered, while the Hohner’s are drawn. Is that correct?

      What’s interesting about Hohner’s first saxophones, is that they had soldered, bevelled tone holes—like Martin did. So far I have only seen 1 Hohner like it. I’m guessing since Hohner never made saxophones before MK’s arrival at the company, it took a bit to get the right machinery in to draw tone holes. According to Uwe Ladwig, it seems to have taken about 4 years, since President production started in ’49, and drawn and rolled tone holes first appeared on Hohner Presidents in approx. ’53.

      • Hi Helen,

        All older Max Keilwerth saxophones known to me have drawn and rolled toneholes, while the first Hohners have soldered toneholes.

        Around the same time his brother Julius also works a few years with soldered toneholes, by lack of equipment.

        Both, Julius and Max (at Hohner) go back to the rolled and drawn toneholes, so there must be a good reason why they prefer them. It could be both the sound or the amount of labour.

        It makes me curious to the difference in sound.

        • Soldered tone holes are more work, require separate parts to be made, and the solder itself can fail (whether by corrosion or melting). Brazing instead of soldering largely eliminates the risk of melting, but the rest remains a problem. On the positive side, the tone hole chimneys can be made a lot more consistently (and flatter) if they’re manufactured separately from the body tube. They can also be made to a different thickness than the body tube, which can eliminate the need to roll the rims. Mostly, soldered tone hole chimneys cost more money and time which is largely why they’ve fallen out of favor. A body with drawn tone holes comes off the machinery with the chimneys already in place, eliminating about 26 steps (not counting the manufacture of the chimneys themselves).

          However, if I were looking to make a short production run (or a single prototype) WITHOUT the hydraulic presses used to stamp out body tubes, soldered chimneys would be a perfectly viable option. It works just fine, and may or may not have a durability issue many years down the line, but it doesn’t scale up very well to mass production. If you make 10 instruments a year, soldered tone holes are probably just fine. If you make 100 a year, it might be worth looking into that hydraulic press. If you make 1000 a year… soldered tone holes are going to eat your lunch.

        • The story about the JK tone holes is actually an interesting one. When Julius and has family had to flee Graslitz in 1945, they were each only allowed to carry no more than 50 kg (roughly 110 lbs) of luggage with them. That meant that Julius had to leave all his company’s factory machines in Graslitz.

          When he eventually began setting up his own saxophone manufacturing shop in Nauheim, he didn’t yet have access to all the tools and materials he did in Graslitz. That’s why his early Graslitz horns reverted back to left sided bell keys, simple key guards for the bell keys, and yes, soldered tone holes, since at the time Julius didn’t have access to a machine that would draw tone holes.

          On the JK pages of my website, I explain the company’s history in more detail, as well as show the evolution of the JK tone holes, key guards, and horns in general.


    Hello HELEN , the number on my Hohner President Tenor is 6168 .I bought it in 1963 but it was in the shop for more than one year before that .I have posted four tracks recorded by me on Youtube with pictures of me playing that Hohner President Tenor .If you do have the time please listen to these tracks .Go to Youtube and enter my name KUMAR MOLLIGODA . THE TRACKS ARE – 1. ALL OF ME 2. DONT IT MAKE MY BROWN EYES BLUE 3 THE WAY WE WERE 4 .THIS MASQUERADE [ on Weltklang Soprano ].

    • Thank you for sharing those on YouTube Kumar. I listened to all of them, and left you some comments.

      You have a wonderful tone on your Hohner President. It is full and rich, and the spectrum of overtones is amazing. I also thoroughly enjoyed your version of Masquerade. I had no idea a Weltklang soprano could sound so good.

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