Some Interesting Thoughts About D&J Saxophones By A Learned Repair Tech

This entry is part 27 of 30 in the series Dörfler & Jörka Saxophones

     Ravoy Tenor 77XX  Source: Kjell Lundman

For a few years now I have been researching and writing about the horns built by the German, saxophone-only manufacturer, Dörfler & Jörka. D&J horns are very good copies of Julius Keilwerth horns, and thus share many of JK’s best features, especially the tone.

Yesterday I happened to come across a 2003 post on SOTW, by the late, great Steve Stransky, AKA Sarge, who founded and owned World Wide Sax. This is what he wrote about these vintage German saxophones:

Yep, I agree, the Dörfler and Jörka’s are great playing horns… I just did a custom repad on a Voss tenor (also a Dörfler and Jörka) for a very good customer and it smoked… I think 1200.00 is a great bargain for it. [The price of the D&J tenor being discussed in the thread.]…

sarge

$1,200 for a D&J tenor? (Mind you, the seller was adamant that the horn was a JK, which it apparently wasn’t, hence the price.)

The closest that I’ve seen to this price was $799 for this Voss tenor, and that was a rarity. More often than not, here in North America these tenors go for around or under $600—if they go at all.

There’s no law against owning more than one!

What really surprised me however, was Sarge’s suggestion that the $1200 asking price for a D&J tenor was a great bargain. Fast forward only a few short years, and you almost can’t give these horns away. What’s up with that anyway? :wtf:

True, these horns are somewhat of an unknown in the vintage saxophone world. That said, more information is known about them now, than was when Sarge wrote this SOTW reply in 2003. If anything, you would think that the desirability, and/or value of D&J horns would have increased over the past decade.

Vintage sax players/owners are a fickle bunch. Also, the world’s economy has gone to hell in a hand basket, and the need for the necessities and essentials of life, has replaced the pursuit of luxury and non-essential items.

Let’s face it, how many saxophones does the average player need? Realistically, 1, or at most 2 of each voice that they play. (And 2 only if they need a back-up because of constant gigging or touring.)

As much as I love—and live by—Sarge’s motto: “There’s no law against owning more than one!”, for most players having a lot of horns makes no sense, and actually becomes somewhat of a liability. There is the original financial outlay; the upkeep if they are to be kept playable at all times; and the ongoing purchase of gear for the various horns: mouthpieces, reeds, stands, neck pouches, etc. etc. All these accessories start to add up over time.

Let’s face it, if baby needs new shoes, or the Roxy needs a new mouthpiece, which is going to win out? Even a non-parent like me will buy the baby new shoes. ;)

…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!

The Condor Has Landed, But This Time It’s A D&J Stencil

This entry is part 26 of 30 in the series Dörfler & Jörka Saxophones

Just when we thought that we had seen all the names that Dörfler & Jörka had stencilled their Toneking and The New King clone horns under, yet another turns up. This morning, while browsing for vintage horns, I happened across this Condor tenor on the German eBay site.

Condor, vintage, German, tenor saxophone, Dörfler & Jörka, stencil,

     Source: boplover

Just a quick glance gives the sax away as a D&J, and not a J. Keilwerth. The key guards with their mother of pearl, or erstaz MOP buttons, are a tell-tale sign, as is the engraving. I can recognize those mountain peaks anywhere…

Condor, vintage, German, tenor saxophone, Dörfler & Jörka, stencil,

     Source: boplover

Like many owners/sellers of the D&J horns, boplover thinks he has himself a genuine JK there. But as the old saying goes: Close, but no cigar.

Here is how the seller describes this D&J-made Condor tenor:

Julius Keilwerth stencil CONDOR vintage Tenor Saxophone serialnumber:10538 rare tenor saxophone from the 1950s built in Western Germany by Julius Keilwerth it has the same features,the short solid thumbrest and the rest of the construction is similar as JK [emphasis added] some minor dings,needs repadding and welding on one place:the brace between bell and body rolled toneholes gold finish is gone for the greater part,nice engraving on the bell huge sound as all Keilwerth tenors have,this will be a monster horn after an overhaul no case,sold as is.

Note that even the seller states that the construction is similar to a Keilwerth—not identical. As I’ve pointed out many times, Dörfler & Jörka made copies of The New King and Toneking saxophones. However, these were not JK stencils since they were not made by Keilwerth, which is why these saxes are different than true JK-made horns.

  Source: boplover

The serial number, 10538, also doesn’t fit into the Keilwerth serial number system, since clearly this sax was not made in 1937. (Keilwerth was still in Graslitz, and made saxophones that looked something like this at the time.) The serial number does however fit with known D&J numbers. This Condor tenor would be circa 1955.

If you’d like to read all about D&J, and the saxophones that they built, be sure to check out the Dörfler & Jörka page on my website. If you’re interested in reading about Julius Keilwerth saxophones, I have my newly completed JK sections that might offer you something different from the same old, same old.

For photos of the above-mentioned brands, I literally have hundreds. If you’d like to see some D&J horns, check out some of the 900+ images in the Dörfler & Jörka gallery in Bassic Sax Pix. If you’d like to compare those to the horns that they were copied from, be sure to check out the Toneking and The New King galleries.

As far as the Condor tenor currently for sale on eBay goes, the seller has bids set to start at €300.00. (xe.com currently estimates that to be $384.44 US.) At the time of writing there were no bids on the horn yet. The auction is set to run until September 14.

…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!

Now Here’s One That Got Away…

This entry is part 24 of 30 in the series Dörfler & Jörka Saxophones

I was looking for photos of Julius Keilwerth Lucite angel wing key guards this morning, and happened across this interesting auction on eBay. Not only does this horn not have a Lucite key guard, but it isn’t even a Keilwerth. This particular tenor is a Dörfler & Jörka that never got its engraving at the factory.

Source: madeinusa14

Mmm… I wonder how that happened? Did it get buffed away? I suppose that’s possible, but it doesn’t really look like it. It looks like it was never engraved with an ordering company’s name. I suppose an employee from the company might have taken it as his own. Or it might have been a test horn.

In any event, it is a D&J and not a JK. The engraving on the bell is identical to the engraving found on most D&J stencils.

Source: madeinusa14

The mountain peaks above the name badge immediately tell us it’s a Dörfler & Jörka. Here is a D&J-stencilled Voss bell for comparison.

Source: madeinusa14

D&J used metal clothes guards on their saxes, while J. Keilwerth used ones made of Lucite. Here is a clothes guard on a H. Genet alto, compared to the Lucite one found on a Keilwerth Toneking.

Source: madeinusa14

Another Dörfler & Jörka feature were the large mother of pearl buttons on the key guards. (In many horns these were fake mother of pearl, depending on what the ordering company wanted.)

The Keilwerth horns on the other hand, had felts on their key guards which allowed for the adjustment of the key heights. Here this is illustrated on a Toneking alto.

It appears that one of the key defining features of D&J horns—the round thumb screw which fastened the neck—may have been lost at some in this eBay horn’s history. In the photos the screw that is in the existing hole isn’t screwed in very far.

Therefore either the screw is a replacement, and doesn’t fit right. Or the original screw isn’t screwed in right. Regardless, if a person was interested in this sax, he/she might want to ask for more detailed photos of this area of the sax.

Source: madeinusa14

One piece that is definitely missing on the sax is the floating lever which operates the upper octave key on the neck. It is broken off as the above photo indicates.

This obvious damage aside, the seller needs to be forgiven for thinking what he has there is a Keilwerth saxophone. The things I pointed out are pretty obscure to those who know little or nothing about the subtle difference between the 2 brands. D&J were, after all, clones of the Toneking and The New King Julius Keilwerth models. (I didn’t even get into the really obscure differences like post shapes.) ;)

Here is how the seller describes this unlabelled D&J tenor:

TENOR SAX MADE BY JULIUS KEILWERTH IN GERMANY, C. 1935-1950?. Keilwerth made many saxes for other companies, including stencils made for dealers that dealers would then label with their name. This one is not engraved with a dealers name, but is clearly a Keilwerth. Early Keilwerth serial number records are sketchy but I think that it dates from the 40′s or 50′s. This one does have “rolled tone holes” like the vintage Conns. All keys move freely. The key that operates the octave key on the neck is broken at the top of the instrument see photo. Probably would benefit from new pads and corks. It is stamped “MADE IN GERMANY”. There is also a no name mouthpiece and French ligature and cap included. Some dings as seen in the photos. The case is pretty much worthless, I’d probably throw it away. Yes, it’s a tenor, about 29.5″ or 75cm long without the neck.

Source: madeinusa14

If you are interested in putting a bid in on this runaway from the Dörfler & Jörka engraving bench, you only have another day to do so. The auction for this unlabelled D&J tenor ends tomorrow, September 26. At the time of writing there was 1 bid of $299.99 on the sax already.

To read more about the Dörfler & Jörka brand, check out the D&J page on the main portion of my bassic-sax.info website. It contains all kinds of info about the history of the company, lots of photos, as well as comparison/contrast information about the D&J and JK brands.

…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!