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Saxophone/Tone King tenor saxophone


QUESTION: Hi, take a look at the sax in this listing:

Now the seller has agreed to sell me this tenor for $1500. Is this a good deal, and is this a quality professional sax? What can you tell me about it? I believe it is a stencil by Keilwerth. Thanks.

ANSWER: Mike...

You caught me working late so I'm getting you a very quick answer.... ;-)

Great horn... The answer is this a good deal is both a yes and a no... It could be a great deal just depends on the condition of the horn and what I can not see here.

First the ToneKing is not a Stencil, It's a genuine Keilwerth Professional model. The Keilwerth company has gone through many up and downs over the years and has a bit of a checkered history. Part of the company was lost after WWII when the soviets took over parts of Germany where some of their factories were located. Most of these factories were merged with the Amati Kerschlise family of violin makers. This resulted in some interesting designs coming out of eastern Europe. At first the Amati horns were a continuation of the Keilwerth horns, but as time went on and parts and materials became scarce the instruments changed and eventually were very sub-standard. The Amati Horns from central and eastern Europe often have some of the Keilwerth features mixed with odd ideas and designs. So you have to be very careful looking at these.

From the pictures this appears to be a legit Keilwerth made ToneKing. It has the aux G# key which is good and you would expect to see. If you go to this site you can read more about them.

However the lacquer looks very dark. It's difficult to tell if this is black lacquer or if the original gold lacquer has turned into a very dark honey color. Some of the older lacquers would do this... I've never seen a factory lacquered black ToneKing but anything is possible. Heck Selmer even offered a choice of black, white and red lacquered Mark VI's in the 1950's when the ToneKings were being made so its possible. The fact that the engraving and name stands out means that the engraving was cut through the lacquer. Re-lacquered horns spray over the engraving. So this is either original lacquer that has oxidized and darkened, black lacquer, or it's a re-lacquer with re-cut engraving.

When I first saw the price I was thinking it was a bit on the high side but then I realized you're in Canada. This is about $1300 U.S. So it's not a bad price at all. However you need to see the horn and play it. If it's original lacquer and the horn plays without issues than you have a deal. If it's black lacquer than you have a steal. If it's a re-lacquer with re-cut engraving than walk away fast. If you determine the lacquer is original ask the owner if you can take it to a technician of your choosing. If you don't know a tech go to you can do a tech search for someone in your area. Have them appraise the horn and look for any additional work it may need. This will reduce the price of the horn by the cost of the work. The last thing I would want to see is you get this and then have to put another $1000 or more into getting it fixed up.

Let me know how it turns out and if you can get additional photos in better lighting, send them directly to my E-mail at

I hope it works out.

Charles Harris.  


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I didn't buy the sax yet, I told the seller that I would think about it...because when I saw it in person there were quite a few cosmetic blemishes and scratches (nothing too major), some keys stick, probably needs new springs and might need some new pads. Because of this, the seller has agreed to reduce the price to $1250. Is this a good deal?


I wouldn't allow a few cosmetic problems to worry you to much. As long as there is no physical damage such as dents or other issues you should be ok. Lacquer is not a permanent coating and will wear off over time. Some of the best horns I've ever played looked like they had been in a war zone....

As far as sticky pads, I doubt thats a sign the springs need to be replaced. It's usually just a sign of old and worn out sticky pads. The horn may need a repad. I would recommend you take it to a tech and have it looked over before you buy it. Still $1250 is not a bad price for this horn.

Charles Harris  


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Charles Harris


questions regarding equipment, performance, repairs, lessons, etc. Almost all saxophone related questions.


I am a professional member of N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instruments Repair Technicians). I have been repairing saxophones, flutes, clarinets, and brass instruments since 1993. I perform in several professional groups covering genres form classical, jazz, and rock.

N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians

St. Petersburg Junior College (AA) University of South Florida.

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