Keilwerth SX90R Vintage Tenor Saxophone Unpolished Expressiveness Handmade in Germany, the Vintage model tenor saxophone from Julius Keilwerth is a high-precision, professional horn with modem key work design, plenty of tonal enhancement features and a unique finish that gives it a distinguished appearance. Based on Keilwerth's SX90R tenor sax, the Vintage is a visually striking instrument. The unpolished brass on the body is allowed to tarnish before a clear lacquer coat is added to preserve its vintage-looking characteristics, which include a deep, burnished color and visible solder marks. Each horn in the series ends up having its own distinctive identity based on its ability to "age" naturally before the lacquer effectively locks the cosmetics-flaws and all-into place. Smooth satin nickel plating is applied to the keys, and black finger pearls (without rims) and black pads (with metal resonators) contribute to the horn's smoky look, which is perfect for bandstands where jazz is being played. The Vintage offers a large tonal palette, giving players a wide range of sonic colors to choose from. The bore of the instrument-which is the same as on Keilwerth's regular SX90R model-gives tenor players an incredibly large sound and presence. A bigger-than-usual bow section makes low-register playing easy at all dynamic levels, and a hydraulically formed neck allows for excellent intonation and immediate response. Like the SX90R, the Vintage has soldered-on tone hole rings that resemble the rolled tone holes of professional horns from the '40s and '50s, providing better security against air leaks, greater sound emission and much quieter mechanical action; the replaceable tone hole rings also go a long way toward promoting longer pad life. Upon play-testing the Vintage, I found the notes spoke with ease from low B-flat up through high f-sharp (a high F-sharp key is included, but the commonly played altissirno fingering worked just as well). I experienced a noticeable difference in tone, however, in the different registers of the horn: bell tones were noticeably dark and mellow; midrange tones were smooth and rich in subtle noir overtones; and the higher palm-key notes opened up with a surprising brightness that sang effortlessly. Intonation was nice and solid, with no need for any serious adjust- . ment between octaves or any quirky notes that required me to "lip" up or down. However, using just the right amount of chops strength, I was able to bend pitches and growl in a highly stylized fashion. This flexibility and expressiveness made the instrument fun to blow and opened my mind to plenty of creative ideas that I could execute with great confidence. Important features of the Vintage include a pivoted low-B-flat key that makes life a whole lot easier for the left-hand little finger; an extra F arm with an adjusting screw that provides increased security against air leaks in all registers played by the right hand; adjustable palm keys that allow you to set the angle and height you prefer; and a G-sharp pad cuplifting mechanism that prevents sticking . The SX90R Vintage comes with a hard wood shell case covered in a stylish tweed that looks like it came right out of the bebop era-a nice finishing touch.