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Discussion Starter #1
I've recently been thinking about getting a soprano. Obviously, only a Keilwerth will do.

But I can't really figure out what the differences are between the regular SX90 and the Dave Liebman and Dave Leibman Signature sopranos are.

The Keilwerth website is basically useless again and has no qualitative information about their horns, other than finishes.

So, what are the differences between the SX90 and the DL/DLS sopranos?

And why did they stop making the two-piece neck?
 

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The SX90 Soprano's are more focused in sound compared to the DL/DLS more open round and larger bore sound! I own the SX90 1992 black nickel straight one piece Soprano. Very happy with it! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Does that mean that the DL/DLS sounds more or less like a duck playing an oboe?

Plus, I thought I read somewhere that they adopted the DL/DLS bore for the current straight SX90 sopranos.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That's all they are making, according to their website. No two-piece neck, which I would prefer.

Actually, I take that back. Their ST 1100 model comes in two pieces. But why would I buy anything other than an SX90?

And do the DL/DLS sopranos come in something other than the raw brass vintage finish?
 

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So, what are the differences between the SX90 and the DL/DLS sopranos?
Did you check out the Youtube videos where David Liebman is discussing these horns at the JK factory?
 

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Does that mean that the DL/DLS sounds more or less like a duck playing an oboe?

Plus, I thought I read somewhere that they adopted the DL/DLS bore for the current straight SX90 sopranos.
No it does not mean that the DL/DLS sounds like a duck playing an oboe. I would say that it plays beautifully and a little more spread/full/loud Soprano sound. A very good horn. And yes the new SX90's have adopted the new tube/bore like the DL/DLS and is the better value in my opinion. I like the gold lacquer Keilwerth Soprano the best. But the old SX90 like mine is the more narrow traditional tube and plays very nice. The black nickel does make it a bit brighter than a non nickel horn though. My Keilwerth was Grovers last horn before he died.

Here is a video of Grover playing it! https://youtu.be/-iwS4Xn1dlM
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I wish there was a music store in Oklahoma that had all of these sopranos in stock to try out. But most stores only have one Yamaha or Selmer or some other off brand, much less one of each of the Keilwerth models.

From the reading and videos that I have watched, I'm probably learning toward the gold lacquer or black nickel. Not really a fan of the vintage finish, but if there were some real nice ergonomic or sound differences then I would take a serious look at it. I probably wouldn't buy the Signature soprano, just because I don't like having someone else's name on my horns.

But I do want to have a soprano that is versatile enough for both jazz and classical, since one of the reasons that I am looking at getting a soprano is because I want to try to form a quartet.
 

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Essentially, the Liebman sopranos feature modification of a few keys per Dave's preferences, plus cork is used in place of pads on some keys at the top of the horn. The vintage finish with nickel plated keys is available on a non-Leibman SX 90 model as well.

Last spring I was looking for a new Keilwerth soprano to try the larger bore, and finally decided I'd be happy with the standard key format I've been using for over 25 years. I purchased a gold lacquer horn since all the other finishes are produced only when ordered, with a several month wait. Compared to my previous two-piece Keilwerth sopranos the high notes sound much more readily, and it is much easier to pass a swab through. Overall the horn has a warmer, fuller sound than my previous sopranos. I think the current configuration is the best Keilwerth has produced.
 

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Woody Reed (Euge Groove) plays the Liebman soprano and likes it a lot. PM him and he'll give you some info. Or do a search, there was a thread about it a couple of years ago.
 

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Does that mean that the DL/DLS sounds more or less like a duck playing an oboe?

Plus, I thought I read somewhere that they adopted the DL/DLS bore for the current straight SX90 sopranos.
Of the dozens of sops that I’ve played in the last several decades, I NEVER encountered one that sounded like that. If that is the sound you want, you might achieve it, but I’ve learned that the sound coming out of the horn is dominated by the player.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Of the dozens of sops that I’ve played in the last several decades, I NEVER encountered one that sounded like that. If that is the sound you want, you might achieve it, but I’ve learned that the sound coming out of the horn is dominated by the player.
That is NOT the sound that I want. I want a soprano that sounds like a saxophone, just in a higher register.

Pretty much every soprano that I hear sounds like an oboe or a duck. Even the videos of Dave Liebman playing kind of sound that way to my ear. It's the primary reason that I have avoided playing much soprano to this point. But, I'm on a quest to form a quartet, and I figure I might as well get a soprano for that, since I can't afford the bari that I want.
 

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That is NOT the sound that I want. I want a soprano that sounds like a saxophone, just in a higher register.

Pretty much every soprano that I hear sounds like an oboe or a duck. Even the videos of Dave Liebman playing kind of sound that way to my ear. It's the primary reason that I have avoided playing much soprano to this point. But, I'm on a quest to form a quartet, and I figure I might as well get a soprano for that, since I can't afford the bari that I want.
Sorry if you’ve missed my point - that the sound is dominated by the player (and mouthpiece selection). If “duck” is the player’s concept of a sop, even a dark horn will succumb to the higher power of the player.

On the other hand, if “darker” and “sonorous” is your goal, check out Borgani Jubilee sops. That’s been my personal quest for decades - primarily on tenor, but also the lesser horns. For me, that is met with Borgani Jubilee saxes and Phil-Tone mouthpieces (Sapphire/Intrepid/Intrepid, s/a/t).
 

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That is NOT the sound that I want. I want a soprano that sounds like a saxophone, just in a higher register.

Pretty much every soprano that I hear sounds like an oboe or a duck. Even the videos of Dave Liebman playing kind of sound that way to my ear. It's the primary reason that I have avoided playing much soprano to this point. But, I'm on a quest to form a quartet, and I figure I might as well get a soprano for that, since I can't afford the bari that I want.
I second Dr. G’s statement that player, mouthpiece, and reed selection have more to do with the sound. What the horn has to do with is the feel of the sound, the ergonomics of the keyboard, the responsiveness, and the perception of the sound.

I am unsure what you intend by saying that you want a “soprano that sounds like a saxophone, just in a higher register.” This is super subjective. Edgy, dark and bright saxophone sounds used for jazz in lower registers can start sounding reedy as you get higher. Maybe you have a different definition of a saxophone sound.

And microphone placement can change what you hear and make soprano sound like a mosquito. Sax volume (dynamics) also has an effect.

I suggest you do more listening to develop a better sound concept if you have only ever heard the duck or oboe sound coming out of a soprano, although I would not equate a duck and an oboe beyond the beginner level.

Among jazz artists I suggest
Lucky Thompson
Zoot Sims
Ira Jane Bloom
Grover Washington Jr. who actually played Coufs, which were Keilwerth stencils
Steve Lacy
Bob Wilber

Among classical artists
Remco Jak who plays in the Amstel Quartet - This is the only recording I know of where he is playing solo.
https://youtu.be/VjK6uo0G0sk Note that he sounds a little less reedy after he adjusts his reed at about 1:15.
Arno Bornkamp
Claude Delangle
Amy Dickson
There are also a lot of classical soprano artists playing in orchestras. Recordings of Bolero is a nice place to start to hear some of them. Their performances vary quite a bit. Some try to extend the classical alto sound into the soprano range, others tenors, and others conceive their own unique soprano sound.
Some classical artists do sound a bit like a well-played, not-duck-sounding, oboe.
John Harle is one.

Two crossover artists who play both classical and jazz you should listen to are
Branford Marsalis who was a well known jazz artist and moved into classical.
Anders Paulsson who started in classical and expanded to jazz. Interestingly, plays he both genres on the same horn, reed, and mouthpiece with noticeably different sounds.

These artists all sound very different from each other, but to my ears, there is not a duck or oboe in the lot. You might find one or more that sound “right” to you among them, except as noted. If you think they all sound like ducks or oboes, go to https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?277706-The-Perfect-Soprano-Sound on the Bb Soprano forum “The Perfect Soprano Sound” thread. Especially later in the thread, there are some long lists of soprano players. If you don’t find a sound there you like, then you might be looking at the wrong instrument.
 

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Ok first, I don't have a lot of experience on Kw sops. I can recall a SX90 in the mid 90s that blew me away. Far more open feeling and less resistant than the French saxes I've had - Buffet and SML. Nothing at all like a vintage Conn, either. That open feel has been carried over to Taiwan horns as well. The ones I've had are shorter and seem wider than the Buffet.

So, if you don't use a Dukoff D7 and constrict your throat while blowing too hard, you are likely to be pleased with the brand. I'd go for a lacquered sax, nothing too exotic if you think you may want to move it later.
 

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I've owned 2 SX90 II two-piece models, and the palm keys were always challenging (putting it mildly) to sound consistently. I realize that it is 99.99% likely that it's me and not the horn, but I had been hoping to find a used one-piece SX90. I guess I can have my wish now pretty easily.
 

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Developing a soprano saxophone sound with an "orchestral" quality of tone is highly recommended for playing soprano in solo, quartet and chamber situations. As has been discussed already, the instrument has less to do acquiring that tone than the importance of mouthpiece, tonal concept, etc. The subjectivity of what constitutes this tonal quality runs rampant in this forum and often descends into uninformed partisan "debates". Why not email me so I can send you audio samples of my classical soprano playing in solo and quartet contexts. If you like what you hear, then I can make some recommendations.
Paul Cohen
[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Wow, I never expected Paul Cohen to show up in a Keilwerth thread. I've been meaning to send you an email, since I'm trying to find some SATB quartet arrangements of anything by Percy Grainger. (I see your website has several quintets, but no quartets).

I will definitely send you an email shortly.

I guess this thread has kind of gotten off topic, since it started out trying to find out what the differences are between the two Keilwerth SX90 lines of sopranos, rather than the overall approach to the sound.

Despite being out of practice for a number of years, I think I have a pretty solid overall concept of my sound on the saxophone, and it should carry over to the soprano pretty well.

The biggest roadblock now is trying to find a place that has a couple of the Keilwerth sopranos in stock to try out and see if they fit my sound and ergonomics preferences. And then of course, getting the wife to actually approve a $6,000 purchase. :yikes!:
 

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I think that You’ve received the answers to your questions. Let me summarize.

The new SX90 line uses a new bore, and all SX90 models use the same bore. They should all sound about the same, but I am sure there is a little variation even horn to horn. The primary differences between the main line models and the Dave Liebman models are in the key work, so they will feel different. The Dave Liebman models (DL and DLS) have key work that felt right to Dave including cork in the palm keys and a few other keys. This potentially could change the sound a bit, but I have not heard that it does. The difference between the DL and DLS was additional engraving and an accessory package for the DLS. Different finishes are not available on the DL or DLS model.

The standard line of Keilwerth sopranos has standard Keilwerth key work, which is very nice. You have the option of the DL-type vintage finish, black nickel, or lacquered brass.

In addition to Dave Liebman’s recent videos on YouTube Where he is playing his Keilwerth, there are a number of masterclass videos where he plays his horn in a variety of styles and dynamic levels. I think this may showcase the horn a little better than some of his performances.

You were also given the name of Euge Groove, an SOTW member, who has a DL model. He usually does not mind being contacted and could tell you about his experience with his DL sax. And, there is a rather long thread where he answers questions about his experience with it. https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?221985-SX90DL-Soprano-review&highlight=make+euge

I will add that Saxquest in St. Louis, MO has had these models in stock. What is that about a 6-hour drive from Tulsa? For a $6000 purchase, it might be worth a romantic get-a-way with your wife that includes a sax audition. Check to make sure they have one in stock, and you can try some other sopranos while you are there.

What more do you want or need?

Hopefully, you will find a sound concept the appeals to you more than a duck playing an oboe.

Best of luck
 
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