A (Presumably) Max Keilwerth-made President

In search of a lovely Max Keilwerth-made President, or other MK tenor

Despite having a lovely collection of vintage horns, there are still a few that I have on my bucket list. One I checked off nearly a year ago, when I brought home the museum-quality Olds Super tenor from WWS in October 2017. Another that’s on my list: a Max Keilwerth-made President, or other MK tenor.

Now in spirit of full disclosure, I do already own two lovely MK horns: a Hohner President tenor and alto. The tenor looks like it was made yesterday, while the alto does have some miles on it, but sounds like a dream. As a matter of fact, I just took it out over the weekend and tried it with the vintage Claude Lakey Jazz MP I got over the summer, and I fell in love with this alto all over again. That little MK-alto shot to the top of my alto overhaul list.

Since I have researched MK’s horns as much as I have, and recently had the opportunity to photograph the Globemaster Luxus alto, and carefully study its construction, I am more interested than ever in perhaps acquiring a tenor made by Julius’ brother before he moved to Germany after WWII to set up the saxophone department at Hohner. Which brings us to the horn I noticed on eBay last week:

A (presumably) Max Keilwerth-made President tenor, in lovely silver plate

Max Keilwerth-made President, President tenor sax, tenor saxophone, silver sax

Source: jlarriola on eBay.com

The tenor looks to be in OK shape given its age—although the low Eb key guard is broken off on the one side. The bow appears to have taken a significant hit on the left side, and separated the key guard from its post on the same side. I see some unsoldering, dent work, etc. in this horn’s future.

Max Keilwerth-made President, President tenor sax, tenor saxophone, saxophone bell engraving, sax key guard

Source: jlarriola on eBay.com

With regards to a description, the seller writes the following about this President tenor:

Información sobre los Hohner President:


Botones de nacar.
Oídos soldados y biselados
Llave de trino de Do/Re – Re/Re#.
Llave de trino de Sol/Sol#.
En excelente estado de plateado y mecánica.
Zapatillas con resonador metálico. Son antiguas, pero cierran bien
Tiene un pequeño golpe en la defensa de la llave de Re#. ( Ver foto) No afecta al sonido
En una funda algo estropeada.
El soporte no está incluido.

Tenor Saxophone President

Made by Max Keilwerth (Julius Keilwerth brother)
The same model as Hohner President

SIlver plated.
Soldered and beveled tone holes.
C/D – D/D# trill key.
G/G# trill key.
Mother of pearl buttons.
Silver plate and mechanics in very good condition.
The pads are old, but work.
In a old gig-bag
Support not included.

I reached out to the seller to get the serial number of the horn so that I could include it in my Max Keilwerth galleries, and I got a most unusual reply to my questions. This is what Jose wrote to me:

Hello, Helen:
Sorry by my english. Is a Google translation.

The sax does not have any brand or serial number other than the name PRESIDENT. No serial number. No PURE TONE logo. (This logo also appears to have been stamped on the Max Keilwerth stencil horns, much in the same way that Julius’ Best In The World logo)
I have had several Hohner President, Tenor and alto. (I still have a alto with high F# in left hand) and I can assure you that it has the same construction, except for the beveled toneholes and the neck tenon. You can check on the Bassic-sax page that Max Keilwerth produced this model outside of the Hohner brand. Also manufacture others under the name PRÄSIDENT

Thanks and best regards,
Jose Luis

Here are the remaining photos of this (presumably) Max Keilwerth-made President tenor saxophone:

Mmm…. No serial number and no Pure Tone Trade Mark stamp. How strange… How closely does this President line up with others made by MK? Well let’s take a look and find out.

The following chart compares some key features of Max Keilwerth-made President saxophones, to those he made afterwards for Hohner in Trossingen, Germany. (First column: current eBay horn. Second column: Graslitz-made horns. Third column: German-made horns.)

Features President tenor sans serial # and MK Logo MK-madePresidents pre-Hohner Hohner-branded MK saxes**
Microtuner not present Present on both alto and tenor Not present
Neck brace “man in the moon” “man in the moon” reinforced simple brass piece
Neck fastening screw wing nut wing nut round thumb screw with crosshatch pattern
Tone holes beveled drawn & rolled bevelled (pre 25XX)
straight (pre 25XX)
rolled (25XX-12XXX)
straight (13XXX onwards)
Key Guards eyebrow wire cage “eyebrow”
“eye brow” (post 72XX)
Bell Keys right-sided right-sided right-sided
Bow Guard rugged-edged, brass reinforcement rugged-edged, brass reinforcement protruding reinforcement
simple, flat brass reinforcement
Engraving very similar to 1 1 Most Common
2 extremely rare 1
3 extremely rare 2
no President designation
Logo none present Pure Tone Trade Mark Hohner Trade Mark 
Hohner accordian player post 10,500
Range low Bb to high F low Bb to high F low Bb to high F (pre-45XX)
low Bb to high F# optional (45XX-13XXX)
low Bb to high F# standard (13XXX onwards)
G# key wider on horn side and plain wider on the horn side with crosshatch pattern wider on the horn side and plain (pre-Transitional & Phase 3 horns)
wider on the horn side and plain post 73XX Hohner log & thinner on horn side (13XXX onwards)
G# trill key present present present until 45xx
C/D trill key present present present until 125XX
bell to body support brace straight brace in the shape of the horn’s posts straight brace in the shape of the horn’s posts a straight brace that had the shape of the horn’s posts
arched piece of brass (13XXX onwards)

**NB: Since we are comparing this (presumably) Max Keilwerth-made President to other known examples of his horns, and to primarily the earlier versions of the Hohner President, I glossed over the Transitional Presidents that occurred around 107XX-12XXX. I felt that covering details about them wasn’t salient to the discussion of this particular President.

If you would like to read more about the Hohner President, I encourage you to read the page I recently rewrote about them for my website.

So OK, after all this, did Max Keilwerth actually make this President?

If this was a modern or newer horn, the answer might not be so obvious. However, in the 1930s saxophones weren’t being copied by Chinese companies by the thousands. ;)   Furthermore, since this isn’t a Selmer Mark VI, there’s no chance it’s a cheap knock-off of a vintage brand either. :mrgreen:

Given we can all but rule out cheapened copies of the original, the answer is: Yes, this is a Max Keilwerth-made President. All the bits and parts appear to be the very similar or the same as those found on MK’s horns, with only a couple of notable exceptions:

  1. It is lacking a microtuner. Although by far and away most MK-made horns had one, a few didn’t. A quick glance through the Max Keilwerth horns that I’ve amassed to date in my Bassic Sax Pix gallery offer up following examples of horns sans micro tuners: Globe alto 2343; Globe tenor 2320; Melody tenor #?; and this New Brunswick International bari 3673 (not sure a bari would have one anyway).
  2. It has beveled tone holes, while MK had rolled ones on his horns. But wait, there are always exceptions… Check out the beveled tone holes on the New Brunswick International bari 3673.
  3. The lack of a logo again is the same as we see on the New Brunswick International bari 3673.

I can’t begin to explain why this horn lacks a microtuner, has beveled tone holes, and why Max Keilwerth didn’t stamp it with his shop’s logo. I might have some theories, but theories are not facts.

Based on the latter-designed features it does have however—the eyebrow key guards and the shape of the G# key—it would lead one to conclude that this unstamped President was made later in the factory’s production run of saxophones. Or…

If one compares the features of the current eBay horn to the very early Hohner President brochure I bought from a dealer on eBay, one is left to wonder: Is this President perhaps a very early Hohner? Its features certainly do line up for that. Even the peaked shaped of the G# key are the same….

In conclusion then….

I’m a try before I buy it kind of gal. Therefore it is unlikely I will ever get a Max Keilwerth-made President, or tenor by any other name, in my stable anytime soon. That doesn’t mean I can’t be tempted on occasion, and yes, this tenor did tempt me.

If this Max Keilwerth-made President tenor sax (or perhaps very early Hohner) is something that tempts you, then you have a few more days to get your bid in. The auction for this horn ends on Sunday, September 23. Bids are to start at €800.00, which eBay estimates to be US $933.56 at the time of writing.

© 2018, 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.

One Comment:

  1. Update: This horn did not sell, and is listed again. This time the auction runs until Sunday, September 30, 2018.

    Opening bid price has been lowered to 750,00 EUR.

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