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yes, sort of- they're Eastern European stencils from the 1960s, one of my buddies has a tenor one... decent student instruments with a huge tone but nothing really special.
 

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It's a Weltklang

The Berg Larsens were relatively late Weltklang (B&S) stencils. The altos and tenors weren't great by this time, I believe, but the Weltklang baritones were entirely different. Reputedly made by Max Keilwerth, they are very good instruments. Saxquest had a couple for sale and raved about them a while back. This is clearly one of the Keilwerth/Weltklang baritones (the bell-body brace, octave and pinky cluster are very distinctive) and might end up as a serious bargain if nobody else notices! (I have a pristine example in silver, by the way.)
 

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I looked out my old copy of (UK) Jazz Journal International from April 1978 which has an article by Dave Gelly reviewing the new line of Berg Larsen saxes. He did some play testing with Barbara Thompson and here is the review (good old scanning and OCR):

If you are, say, a tenor player toying with the idea of getting a soprano, or a clarinettist thinking of taking up saxophone — a first timer or a would-be doubler — you will be looking for a reliable, inexpensive instrument. There was a time when this automatically meant buying second-hand, but most of the classic models seem to have found permanent homes by now and it's rare to come across a Conn Underslung, a Selmer Super-Action or Martin Handcraft these days; the prices are going up, too.

When you start looking into the matter of new saxophones you soon discover that there are three basic price levels. The lowest, with alto at around £200 and tenor £250-300, includes most of the East European models and names like Corton, Lafleur, Guban and New King (which has nothing to do with King). Then comes the middle range, of which Yamaha is a good example; the alto costs £308 and tenor £411. At the top of the market, say Selmer Mark VII or Buffet, altos cost around £540 and tenors £600. There is also the King Super 20, which Wardell Gray and Cannonball Adderley used to play. The top-price King tenor (the one with the silver bits) will set you back £1175, and if that doesn't frighten you off you're too rich to need further advice from me.

The latest range of instruments in the lower bracket bears the venerable name of Berg Larsen, a mark which has hitherto only been found on mouthpieces. Larsen saxophones come, complete with case and mouthpiece, at £210 (soprano), £220 (alto), £250 (tenor) and £480 (baritone). It's worth taking the case into consideration, because if you bought a new Selmer tenor, for instance, you'd have to lay out another £63, unless you wanted to carry it about in a paper bag.

Berg Larsen saxophones are made in East Germany and distributed here by Rose Morris Ltd. I recently went to look at them at Rose Morris's depot in North London, and invited Barbara Thompson to come along and try them out.

Barbara regularly plays the whole range of saxophones, and this is important because a tenor player who hasn't touched an alto or baritone for years can operate the works, but doesn't have the instinctive feel for those instruments.

Right, so what do you look for? Firstly, tuning, because that can't be put right later. There's not much you can do to an out-of-tune saxophone, and there's no telling when you will come across one. That's why you should always get a good player to check an instrument before you buy it. I know someone who sent for a new — better not give the name — from America and when it arrived it was useless. He should have known better.

The other main points to watch are balance of sound (all notes having the same strength and resonance) and the placing and balance of the keys. This last is a bit difficult to judge, because every strange instrument feels awkward when you first pick it up. You can have small alterations made to keywork, too.

So, with saxophones lined up like bottles at a wine tasting, we started. The soprano: nicely balanced and perfectly in tune, but the top left-hand assembly is very awkward. "Look," says Barbara, "either you have to shift your hand about like this or else you take your fingers right off and bend them like this." It certainly looks a peculiar grouping of keys. "I don't think I could get used to this. It would bug me all the time." But, as I say, you can have alterations made to keywork and this low price for an in tune, well-balanced soprano is pretty sensational.

The alto: "Very easy to play. It compares very favourably with my Conn." Really? "Yes, it's a very nice little instrument, with great response and very nippy keys. I'd be happy to play it."

The tenor: "The angle of the crook is different from my tenor, but I would soon adjust to it. The balance is nice and it's fine on the bell notes."

The left hand top keys are a problem again. They must have enormous hands in the Democratic Republic. "The G-sharp is hard to find and the sound isn't as bright as you might expect from having played the alto, but the notes are nice and even from top to bottom."

At this point I got in on the act and had a blow on the tenor. It felt cumbersome after mine and the sound was a bit agricultural — sort of stuffy and laboured — but this may have been due to my mouthpiece, an Otto Link, being a poor match.

Finally we came to the baritone. "Very comfortable," according to Barbara, and with a low A—a valuable feature at the price. The low A of a baritone is very low and it seemed to strike a resonance in the building's central heating system. The whole place shook and faces appeared at the glass panels in the door.

"It's the easiest to play of all the instruments," Barbara remarked. "The baritone and alto alto are really nice horns. The soprano is, as well, provided you can sort out those keys. The tenor is adequate for the price but lacks brightness."

So there you are. My general impression was that the Berg Larsen range is considerably better than you would expect from the prices. The baritone, which is a doubling instrument for most people, may well be the best buy of the lot, while the alto, according to one very experienced player, performs almost as well as Conn. And remember there are no extras to take into account. You can't say fairer than that. Dave Gelly

There's that word agricultural again !

Jazz Journal used to be a great magazine - I wonder what happened to it ?

Rhys
 

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That's an extremely helpful contribution, rhysonsax. Thanks very much for taking the trouble.
 

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Berg Larsen alto

I bought an alto in a second hand shop in London about twenty five years ago and played it for a couple of years before career took up all my time. It was marked Berg Larsen - a name that rang bells at the time. It played better than the old Pennsylvania which had just been stolen, but then stood in the corner until 2005, when I started playing again. Basically, I have had to start from scratch and have been taking lessons from a pro (cornet) player who can read very well and play anything that you blow into. Anyway I have been battling away with exercises, scales, etudes, play-a-longs etc and he has just let me start practicing with his juniors - I sit next to a seven year old trumpet maestro - which is a humbling experience.
Having heard a lot about Chinese horns, I decided to invest and bought an anonymous alto from Gear4Music - the improvement for me is incredible and the new horn makes the Berg Larsen seem rather "agricultural" and clumsy y comparison - though that might be me. My teacher is also impressed by the Chinese instrument although he preferred the sound of the East German instrument when he did a side-by-side comparison.
Does anyone else have experience of Berg Larsen altos? My horn's serial number is 44780 and I believe it was made by Keilwerth (I was told they supplied instruments for military bands,) in the mid '70's.
 

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Hello stansfriend

You need to read through the post above by rhysonsax. That's as much info about Berg Larsen saxes as you will find anywhere on the Web. They were not made by Keilwerth (a West German company) but by the East German company that also produced the B&S and Weltklang horns. In fact they are, I believe, Weltklangs with "Berg Larsen" engraved on them.
 
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