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Discussion Starter #1
I am considering purchasing a “new” Tenor. At this point I am trying do some research. Below are the horns I am considering. Before I ask my questions, I want to mention that I am not asking ‘which horn should I buy?’, merely looking for some of your experiences and knowledge from those more knowledgeable than I in regards to these subjects. Please note that I am doing some looking into a few difference horns and will be posting like threads in their respective areas to pull together my thoughts. Ultimately, I know that the only way I can truly make a good decision is to actively seek out and try the horns I am looking at. Otherwise, however, feel free to answer any or all questions below.

Horns I am looking at:
1.) Keilwerth SX-90R (Possibly a Shadow)/SX-90(non-R possibly)
2.) Couf Superba I (possibly II or Conn DJH or other stencil)
3.) King Super 20
4.) Yamaha (82z or 875)

Questions:
1.) Depending on the horn you have experience with, can you tell any of the issues you may have experienced with mouthpiece or reed selections in combination with these horns?

2.) While Price isn’t the point, it’s always an object. What would you say is a fair price would be for whichever horn you have experience with? Dealer or private seller?

3.) Are there any mechanical issues that seem to be prevalent with the horn you are familiar with? Things I should look out for?

4.) I have generically narrowed my search to these horns based primarily on sound concept and perceived ergonomics. I also looked at players who used these horns whom I enjoy listening to to help narrow to these. The only one I have any direct experience with is the Yamaha. I also consider it the most different sound-wise. Subjectively or Objectively (please state the criteria if you state Objectivity) what horns do you think play the most like each other and what players influenced you towards the concept of sound that led you to choose whatever horn you have experience with?

Thank you in advance for reading this and any responses you may be able to help with. I am trying to narrow my thoughts and what what I should bring with me when I try certain horns. Obviously, if you know anyone with a deal on any one of these, I’m also interested. Ultimately, I may be purchasing two horns from this list; a main and a backup, in time.
 

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Question 1: In my experience with these horns, there are no limitations, depending on how comfortable you are with mouthpiece choice. Perhaps the pickiest would be a King Super 20, but again, I don't consider these horns limited in mouthpiece selection, nor reed selection. Any of these horns, properly set up with no leaks, will play nearly any style of mouthpiece. It will more depend on how comfortable you are with a given mouthpiece in tip size, baffle height, and chamber configuration.

Question 2: This is entirely dependent on condition. A freshly overhauled horn done by Matt Stohrer will command a far higher price than a fresh overhaul done by an unknown source. The condition of the pads, lacquer or plate coverage, dents/dings/dimples, key action, originality of lacquer, etc. will all play a role in value. In general, you can expect to pay the LEAST for the Couf, and the MOST for the King Super 20, depending on series and model (Silversonic, Eastlake, etc. etc.). I will say, if you want a great deal on what looks to be a killer Super 20, one of our members has one for sale right now that was freshly overhauled in a high-end shop. I've met the seller once and done business with him before. Always a straight shooter and his stuff was always quality. I'm absolutely stunned no one has picked up this horn. https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?349122-King-Series-IV-Cleveland-Super-20-tenor

Question 3: All horns have their idiosyncracies. You will want to watch on the Keilwrth SX90R's for tone hole issues. I don't know if it's still going on, but there was a run of them that had some serious issues with the tone holes not being level. If you pursue a SX90R, get it checked by a good tech who can confirm the tone holes are level PRIOR to purchase. Otherwise, you'll want to make sure the horns are in good mechanical shape. The ergonomics on the horns will vary quite a bit. The Yamaha will be best by far, but the rest are still comfortable enough. You'll also adjust in time. Your fingers tend to learn fast. If you buy an early 82Z, check the palm key intonation. Some of the early altos got a bit squirrely up high, same with the tenors that I played. Hit and miss though, and a new style neck might solve that, but just something to pay attention to.

Question 4: In my opinion, the best sounding horn in that list is by far the King Super 20. They're just big, beefy, fat sounds with great resonance and very complex sound and tons of power when you want it. I personally play on a "The Martin Tenor" but if for some reason I couldn't, I'd heavily consider a King Super 20. I was also very surprised by how good a SX90R sounded; really nice horn. The Couf horns have a small cult following for their tone...wide and expressive. The Yamaha will tend to have a bit more focus and probably a bit more brightness in the 82Z model.

Combination of those horns above, I'd seek out a S20. But that's just me. Plenty of players enjoy all the horns on your list, and when they're in good mechanical shape, all will do what you need them to do. I just feel the the Super 20 is the superior horn for most playing. That being said, I have only played a Couf twice, although I knew a few guys who really enjoyed them. The others I've been able to play several times. A friend of mine had a Super 20 that was lights out...fantastic horn.

Anyways, hope that helps. All just my opinion, YMMV. Like you said, being able to play the horns first is really the only way you'll know which one is for you.

- Saxaholic
 

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Odd that you left out a Selmer. Even a newish model is better than any of those you listed and some less expensive than a clunky Super 20.
You could probably get a Couf or Keilwerth on the cheaper side.
 

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1.) Depending on the horn you have experience with, can you tell any of the issues you may have experienced with mouthpiece or reed selections in combination with these horns?

I've owned both an SX90R and a King S20 (Series 2). The Keilwerth was LOUD and very hard for me to tame. I had to use a large chamber, no baffle piece on it or I always felt like it was just "roaring" all the time. I sold it and bought a Borgani. The S20 (I still own it) has worked with every mouthpiece I've thrown at it, from Links to Bergs. It always has a great core and voice.

2.) While Price isn’t the point, it’s always an object. What would you say is a fair price would be for whichever horn you have experience with? Dealer or private seller?

I bought (and sold) the Keilwerth for $2800. I bought it from a Sam Ash and sold it to an individual. It took me nearly 6 months to sell it, which means I was probably a few hundred dollars high on it. If I were looking for a used SX90R today for some reason, I wouldn't pay over $2500 for it. That's just me.

The S20 is another story. You will pay more for a S1 or S2 model, and they get cheaper as they get newer. There are people who say the Eastlakes are "just as good" as the Clevelands, but I can't speak to that since I've never played an Eastlake. I've seen Cleveland S20s go for anywhere from $3500 - $5500, depending on condition.

3.) Are there any mechanical issues that seem to be prevalent with the horn you are familiar with? Things I should look out for? the Keilwerth I owned had the adjustable palm keys, and one of them didn't "adjust" anymore (it just spun around). Nothing else of note on mine. My S20 has some keys that are a little "clanky" but it's a 60+ year old horn that's been played.

4.) I have generically narrowed my search to these horns based primarily on sound concept and perceived ergonomics. I also looked at players who used these horns whom I enjoy listening to help narrow to these. The only one I have any direct experience with is the Yamaha. I also consider it the most different sound-wise. Subjectively or Objectively (please state the criteria if you state Objectivity) what horns do you think play the most like each other and what players influenced you towards the concept of sound that led you to choose whatever horn you have experience with?

The Keilwerth and Couf are going to sound closest to each other, with BIG and SPREAD voices. The S20 is closer to a Mark VI to me, in that it has a nice core and isn't laser-focused or super-spread. I've never played a Yamaha I've liked, but I'm not saying you couldn't.
 

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I am considering purchasing a “new” Tenor. At this point I am trying do some research. Below are the horns I am considering. Before I ask my questions, I want to mention that I am not asking ‘which horn should I buy?’, merely looking for some of your experiences and knowledge from those more knowledgeable than I in regards to these subjects...
You mention sound and mouthpiece compatibility.

Do you have any particular goals, and any particular mouthpieces in mind?

Jazz, rock, chamber music???

High baffle, small bore vs large chamber HR pieces?

The more info you share, the better feedback you’ll get in return.

Otherwise, just get a Selmer Serie III or a Borgani Jubilee. Get both and you’ve got all bases covered.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So, let me begin by saying thank you to all who have responded so far. To answer a few of the questions posed. I am... and I know this will come as a shock to some... not a huge fan of Selmer horns. That doesn't mean that I don't like any of them, but as a general rule, they are not my favorite. Odd given that I play a Selmer Balanced Action Alto (worked on by Matt Strohrer) as my main Alto. Traditionally though I prefer a more spread and mutable sound. Something that doesn't hold me back but that I can learn to control. I grew up playing old Conn horns until mine was stolen. I am familiar with Yamaha because I went to college playing a 62 and have tried many a Yamaha. I find that most modern horns *can* be bent to your will... or least that of your mouthpiece/reed/ligature combination if you are good enough with breathe control. That being said, I've played Buescher's (Big B's and 400 THCs) and Conns and tried out some of the other horns. Not a huge fan of the Taiwanese horns. My preference is old, large bore American style sound concept. Keilwerth's from my ear's experience also exhibit some of this.

What styles am I playing. R&B, Rock, Jazz, Funk, Fusion.... I may play at playing some classical from time to time but, I am not a classical player at all. I like to practice it though. Mostly control. Of course I also used to practice out of Arban's so...

Mouthpieces... I like to keep a few... I like high baffle metal mouthpiece and your standard Link STM types. I tend towards the Dukoffs and Bergs for some applications but other pieces for others. I have Bop Boy 8* (.113) right now that I am enjoying. I think the largest piece I have played was a .145 Dukoff but I use softer reeds with that. I have played Bergs too. With the .113 I tend towards 3.5-4s (Alexander NYs) depending on my mood and what I am playing. I tend to use Ishimori and Winslow ligatures. Honestly, when come time I'll do more looks into mouthpieces but I think of this sort of as a base. I also have a 2 Links (9 & 7) and a Lawton (7*B special .107 tip) as well at the moment so. It has been said that I use a lot of air. So, the horn needs to be able to take a lot of air and still speak when I slow the air down as well. I used to like the Guardala Reeds until I ran out. Those I played 4.5-5s on. I need to try some other reeds as some of the ones I like to play are getting harder to find.

I think my actual goads center around finding a main tenor. Something with more comfortable ergonomics than some of the elder horns. Not that I don't know the key placement on them. I've played them forever, but I think I am looking for something with at least keywork on par with my BA. I want something that doesn't sound small as well and can take a lot of air.

I've been going back and forth between the Keilwerth and the S20 for some time. Eventually I may end up with both. As for the Couf horns. I have listened to some other players with them and I like the sound quality they possess. Similar in nature to the other Keilwerth's. I have a Couf stencil soprano already (although I may trade/sell it for lack of strap hook). I just have never had the opportunity to play an S20 or Modern Keilwerth.

Does the material with Keilwerth's make that much difference? What about the differences in the Silversonics and those with a non silver bell S20s?

I hope this gives a little more color to my request.
 

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I grew up playing old Conn horns until mine was stolen...

I've played Buescher's (Big B's and 400 THCs) and Conns and tried out some of the other horns. Not a huge fan of the Taiwanese horns. My preference is old, large bore American style sound concept...

I think my actual goads center around finding a main tenor. Something with more comfortable ergonomics than some of the elder horns. Not that I don't know the key placement on them. I've played them forever, but I think I am looking for something with at least keywork on par with my BA. I want something that doesn't sound small as well and can take a lot of air...
Well, then...

Modern ergos and vintage American sound are the basis of the Italian horns from the factories of Rampone & Cazzani and Borgani. I came from playing Selmers (BA, Serie III, Ref 36), then discovered my first Borgani Jubilee - that was about 15 years ago. Since then I have had the pleasure of owning and playing well-restored vintage horns including Buescher Big B and Top Hat & Cane, and King Super 20 (320xxx). The Borgani Jubilees are the best that I have experienced as they combine the core sound,vibrance, and response of the vintage American horns with modern ergos. I have now sold all my vintage American tenors, sold my Selmers, and live with two Borgani Jubilee tenors (as well as a sop and an alto).

I played J-K tenors only briefly - didn’t care for the feel of the pearls and the layout. I’ve never experienced a R&C.

If one pops up on your radar, I suggest that you consider trying it. The bad news is that they are in rather short supply - output is about 300 horns a year from a factory with only 12 people.

G’luck with your quest,

George
 

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Based on your posts I would indeed suggest a Keilwerth or a Couf. If you need a dark, very loud, room filling sound, there is nothing better in that regard in a modern horn, IMO. I got the chance to try/play many horns, especially numerous Keilwerths from the 1950's to the 2000's and I really like them. The best one was a 1964 Toneking Special (Couf Superba I). It's a generalization, but I feel these have indeed some of the sound qualities of older horns (I played 1920s Conns for about 10 years) which I find are richer/more complex/3D sounding if you will, as opposed to the blank/hollow tendency of most modern ones, even if I like that at times though.

Anyway, I played for about 6 months a Borgani Jubillee too and it was good, but it was brighter and a bit less complex than that 1964 Keilwerth, IMO.

If I may digress for a second, I would suggest to check a The Martin as well.
 

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Odd that you left out a Selmer......some less expensive than a clunky Super 20.
There's two words and a number I've never seen in this combination. Clunky? Super 20???

+1 for Martin Comm 3 and try a Buescher 400 if you like the Keilwerth.
 

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There's two words and a number I've never seen in this combination. Clunky? Super 20???

+1 for Martin Comm 3 and try a Buescher 400 if you like the Keilwerth.
The OP says that he's played a 400 TH&C, but I agree - the Super 20 and TH&C are both top tier horns. I haven't played Martins in top shape to have a good sense of them, but either King or Buescher can be big sounding horns. You just have to find one of prime serial number in freshly overhauled condition. Even then, there are issues with the pinkie table and lost motion in the key work of the TH&C. There's nothing clunky about a good Super 20.
 

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From your description and list, the Keilwerth or Couf will do best.

I can heartily recommend a The Martin Tenor as well. Pkayed one for many years, and although I've tried many excellent tenors, The Martin combines everything I like. Huge presence and dynamic level, versatile sound, always retains a warmth and richness even with bright powerful setups, and the action is quite good (save the left hand pinky table which takes time to get used to) and above all, excellent intonation when set up properly.

Highly recommend trying one in top shape if possible. But on your list, the Keilwerth might just be the ticket. Just watch those tone holes.

- Saxaholic
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So... thank you to everyone who has been helpful. I am still looking at the moment but my thoughts were definitely “confirmed” by your comments. I am trying to find some places to try some horns in the nearby area. Probably headed to Raleigh here in the next few to check with one of the dealers there. Any thoughts south of Pittsburg or needing a flight to get to from the Charlotte NC metro area?
 

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Price is not your main consideration, I understand. But for a backup tenor I doubt you would regret buying an SX90R.

Currently the rumor of rampant tone hole issues that is being propagated mostly by people who have never owned one has caused a significant resale price decline. You're talking a realistic $2,200 to $2,800 in a private sale for a true pro-level horn that isn't ancient or quirky and that plays well with any piece you choose to put on it.

With that said, my first choice for a backup would be a Yanagisawa 901 or even a Yamaha 52. "Backup" being a scale practice horn that goes out only when the main one is down. Buying one of them likely leaves you with an extra grand in your pocket for the main one. Call me thrifty.
 

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So... thank you to everyone who has been helpful. I am still looking at the moment but my thoughts were definitely “confirmed” by your comments. I am trying to find some places to try some horns in the nearby area. Probably headed to Raleigh here in the next few to check with one of the dealers there. Any thoughts south of Pittsburg or needing a flight to get to from the Charlotte NC metro area?
I think getasax.com is in NC somewhere? Worth looking into, he always has some tremendous horns in stock.
 

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My SX90R has no issues with tone holes and plays great, in particular as I have large hands. I have more tenors than I really need :) I have a Toneking Exclusive, last of the Toneking line before the SX90 came out. Also a nice horn, but the palm keys tend to be a bit flat. That can be almost corrected by using the SX90R neck. A SML Gold Medal II is in the same ballpark as the Keilwerth. Super large bell, plays great, I just like the ergos on the SX90R better. My SA80 does not come close but still needs some further adjustment after an overwhaul. An early 2001 from B&S is much sweeter, but also free-blowing and responsive. I have played some Super20s and and Conns for some notes at German forum meetings. Nice, but so far I like the SX90R most.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yeah no, this isn’t for a backup. I am saying I may look for a backup too.

Getasax is in Raleigh and I will be going to peruse his stock here in the near. Unfortunately, he has no keilwerth horns at the moment except the Couf’s and some of their stencils. He said he would have an SX-90R here in stock soon though. Even still, I am always about how a horn plays. I still want to opportunity to try keilwerth horns so that I can make my decision.

At this point, I kind of know my direction of horn. It’s now more, where do I find them? I am still looking in the marketplace here as well but if I am going to spend between 4 and 10 on one more more horns, I think I am allowed to be a little picky. And since I am not a huge Selmer fan, I should be able to find something in that range.

As for SML, I had played. A little stuffy for my tastes. I have an old Dolnet that is in need of some work and hurt my hand when playing so I am probably going to get some work done to it but donate it to the local school or work something out with a student. Sound was pretty good but the weight and whatnot was not. It was a backup to my 400 TH&C at one point; before I sold the Buescher.
 
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