A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to get this late-model Kohlert Regent tenor sax from my tech. It had been in his shop’s inventory for years, but was in need of an overhaul before it could be sent out as a rental instrument. Truth be told, David was not ever going to rent it out, and finding the time to even overhaul it for sale was not likely to happen either. So year after year this poor Kohlert just sat in its case waiting, and waiting, and waiting… until I came along.
How I happened across it in David’s back room is kind of funny. I needed a replacement case for my 1957 JK-stencilled Jubilee—which is really a Toneking in Jubilee clothing—when I remembered having seen a nice-looking Kohlert case in the back at one point in time. I asked David if there was a sax in the case, or if the case was empty. David explained that yes, there was a sax in the case, but that it was unplayable. If the faux alligator skin case fit my JK however, I could have it.
The Kohlert’s case was in amazing condition. It hardly had any damage to the outside at all. It looked like it had only been taken out of the closet a few times in its entire life. When I opened up the case, not only was the interior in the same remarkable condition, but so was the horn. It was hard to believe that the horn could be unplayable. I asked David if I could try it out. He said something along the lines of: OK, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I slipped my S7 Dukoff on this baby and gave it a blow, and the sound the came out of this Kohlert Regent tenor sax was nothing short of remarkable. It was warm and round; full of core tone; overall the stereotypical dark sounding, mid-century German-made saxophone. What it also had was a lot of volume, much more than any of my other tenors. None of my tenors had exactly this kind of sound either. I was hooked. I asked David if I could borrow the horn for a bit while he restored my JK. He said sure, and that was the last time that particular horn was in David’s shop.
David and I came to an arrangement, and the Kohlert Regent now lives with the rest of my saxophone family. Although it still needs an overhaul, I have taken it to lots of rehearsals with the blues band I worked in, and this bad boy was more than a match for the loudness of the Hammond and guitar players. As a matter of fact, none of my other tenors can manage to do what it does in an electric environment. The Regent has amazing projection from low Bb to high F. The mic’ing of the horn seems to allow this unassuming sax to find its potential as a screamer, but not at the expense of the richness, or fullness of its tone.
The horn, despite having been in its case for years, plays extremely well. It can subtone down to low C without any problem. It has a very nice tone, which is very malleable, and can be made to play nice with others. Its intonation is spot on.
I have played the Regent head to head against my friend’s 202XXX Zephyr, and surprisingly, they sounded quite similar. The Zeph was not quite as malleable however.
These late-model Kohlert saxophones made in Winnenden, Germany have a bit of a rep online (thanks Saxpics 😉 ). While some of the Graslitz-made horns, like the VKS models, are revered, and Winnenden-made models like the 57 and 58 too can go for a fair amount of change on sites like eBay, these late-model Kohlerts are not nearly as in demand. Why is that? Quite simply it is because circa 1960, Kohlert stopped producing the same pro-quality saxophones they once did.
In an email exchange I had with German saxophone historian, repair tech, and pro player Uwe Ladwig, he described the Winnenden-made Kohlert Regent that I have as an upper-middle class instrument. That makes sense to me, since while it might not have all the fine adjustment screws my pro horns have, its construction is not lacking. It still has rolled tone holes, and many of the features we see in the 57 and 58 model horns.
Kohlert Regent Tenor sax specs:
- Serial # 75XXX – circa 1963 according to Saxpics
- Made in Winnenden, Germany
- Finish is 2 tone – lacquer body with nickel-plated key work
- Rolled tone holes
- Same bell to body brace as the 55, 57, etc. models
- Same key guard shapes as the 57 & 58 models
- Same clothes guard shapes as the 57 & 58 models
- Right sided bell keys like the 57 & 58 models
At some point I plan to get this Kohlert Regent tenor restored by David, but for now I’m playing it the way it is. Its scale is not quite as even as in the rest of my horns, but that could quite likely be because it likely has most of its original pads in it, and has also likely never been touched much by a tech. Many of the pads are not particularly well seated. (Yah, we know that Kohlert’s quality was not as good as it once was, but the basics are here. It just needs a chance to be great, rather than merely good.)