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Manufacturer: Julius Keilwerth
Model: SX90R Vintage Tenor

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By: Al Maniscalco  See all of this user's reviews  on Feb 03, 2012

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
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
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.

[email protected]

-Ed Enr.ight


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