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Discussion Starter #1
Will be getting rid of my Mark VI and moving to the Keilwerth line of Tenor Saxophones. My question is Shadow or SX-90R Nickel Silver and WHY?? Help me out here... Convince me all you Keilwerth players that I will be Happy with my choice and the best possible place to get either one.. I am in the USA. I know there are a lot of diehard Keilwerth players on here. Sell yourself and back up your response here... Let the best one win..... Tried the Shadow, but never tried the silver one... Give me the pros and cons if you will.. Thanks
 

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Do you really think the finish makes a difference? They're both SX90R's so the bores should be the same.

Save the dough and get the nickel silver, and I have a hunch that you'll be taken more seriously as a player with a less elaborate horn, unless of course you're already a seriously kicka$$ player.

Too bad Keilwerth doesn't make unlacquered/bare brass horns.
 

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SaxyA is correct. How about finding which one sounds and plays the best in your estimation? The finish on the horn is about #9 out of 10 on my list of priorities.

Sorry if we sound a bit hard on you, but that really is the only realistic answer you can expect to get from anyone who takes music and playing the saxophone seriously.
 

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SaxyAcoustician said:
.. and I have a hunch that you'll be taken more seriously as a player with a less elaborate horn, unless of course you're already a seriously kicka$$ player.
Yeah, I fight with this every time I brandish my black nickel , triple silver, heavily engraved CJS. I decided I didn't need the extra attention anymore and my playing certainly cannot back it up, so I decided to get my old, ugly, ratty Big B overhauled and just let the chips fall where they may. No one's gonna expect a thing when I present the Buescher.

Dude, just keep your VI. Of course if some guy on a Bundy takes your lunch money on the bandstand then sees you holding a VI -- not good. I suppose it wouldn't be any better with you holding a Keilwerth Shadow either. Six of one half dozen of another.
 

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I own a Shadow, so if SaxyA is correct, perhaps you shouldn't take me seriously. Well call me crazy, but I'm going to reply anyway.

First of all, I'm curious to know why you are switching, and why specifically to Keilwerth. If that is a given, then you ought to play individual horns and see which works best for you. Keilwerth lists the features of the nickel silver SX 90R and the Shadow at these URLs, and the feature sets are quite different on paper:
But your ear will have to tell you how important the differences are to you, and besides, the differences from one specific Shadow or SX-90 to another may be more important than the general differences between the models. I would play test as many horns as possible - and if it were me, I wouldn't be playing only Keilwerths.

As to my own choice, I have compared the Shadow to vintage and modern Mk VIs, but not to the SX 90R. Compared to the Mk VIs, my horn has slightly more resistance, a bigger bottom end, and plays louder if you push it. The keywork is also different. They all sound beautiful, and compared to your own ears, words are useless to describe the differences (IMHO).

Good luck.

ps FWIW, I love my Shadow.
 

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LampLight said:
Keilwerth lists the features of the nickel silver SX 90R and the Shadow at these URLs, and the feature sets are quite different on paper:
Quite different? What's different except for the features related to the finish and engraving?

It says there that the Shadow is an SX90R. It just has a different color than the (regular) nickel silver and more engraving.
 

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SaxyAcoustician said:
Quite different? What's different except for the features related to the finish and engraving?

It says there that the Shadow is an SX90R. It just has a different color than the (regular) nickel silver and more engraving.
Here are some of the differences, taken from the web pages I cited:
Black nickel plating on the nickel silver
Excellent and precise response, perfect intonation
Extremely good response in the altissimo register
Very even overtones

You don't have to believe every word of it, which is why I recommended letting FunkyHorn's ear be his guide, but that is what it says.

Also, while not taken directly from the feature set listings, here are some additional comments from the Shadow page, which are not parallelled on the SX 90R page:

". . .it also features a new, ergonomically adapted keywork."

"The new Keilwerth "Shadow" saxophone combines the advantages of nickel silver with those of a black nickel plated finish. . . In combination with the black nickel plating, a completely new sound spectrum is created."​
 

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It all has to do with personal preference and a deep pocket book with whichever horn you choose. One of my buddies bought a Shadow Tenor at WWBW and sent it back. It was too "buzzy' for him. He really likes the sound of the nickel silver much better. My 2 cents on the difference between the 2 is the nickel silver resonates better than the Shadow. This is because it only has 1 coat of lacquer versus several coats of lacquer and plating for the Shadow. Both horns are made of Nickel silver yes, but with the NS model, you truly get the performance of the Nickel silver because of less finish that interferes with the metal. Just my opinion of course.

Try them both though, there are lots of Shadow lovers out there, there are also lots of NS lovers out there and I am one of them. You really can't go wrong with either one if you like the JK ergs and JK sound. Intonation is spot on really with both of them.
 

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Hmmm. Interesting feedback. Has everyone above played both? I've played both and I own a lacquered SX90R. If the cost of both the Shadow and nickel-silver (NS) was the same, I would take the Shadow I played, hands down. It had an edge in response, dynamics and particularly ergonomics over the NS (and over my lacquered JK). It was a truly wonderful horn. Just because it might be true that the metal composition doesn't make any difference between the two, it does not follow that they play the same. In my comparison play-testing, the Shadow gave more to me.

At the price difference, I think you can get everything you need from the NS, though. I would probably pay up to an extra $400.00 or so for the Shadow but not much more because after a point the value added return, IMO isn't there. I can coax as much out of my lacquered JK as I did out of the Shadow, but I got the feel that the Shadow is more refined.

The Shadow I played, played better than other JKs I've played but, depending on differences in horns even within the same model, that might not necessarily true for you. The respective Shadow and NS you get might be different so, as is often said, when in doubt....test play! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the responses I have received so far... Been playing my VI for over 15 yrs and just feel a need for a change. I still like my VI but I am hearing a different sound... I was torn between a Yamaha ZU unlacquered and almost settled on one until some of my friends that play Keilwerth got the buzz going for me telling me how these horns are superior to any other horns they have played.. When some of you mention NS are you talking about the silver Keilwerths? Or are you talking about the black nickel silver as well. It just seems that with Keilwerth there are so many more choices and IF i decide to go with this line, I want to be completely happy with my decision. I am looking for something with a little less resistance then my VI. As for tonal concept which a lot has to do with the player and his mouthpiece, reed, and neck combinations, I like bright horns, but not horns that are OVERLY bright, as my neck and mouthpiece would compensate for that. Love a warm sounding bright though, and not the buzz saw bright sound like some other horns produce. So Aside from JUST the finish of the horn, I am more or less looking for comparisions etc. Which is warmer but fuller? Which can also be pushed in an R and B and Funk Situation? Which has a bigger lower end? Are the Altissimo fingerings different and easier to achieve from the different Keilwerth horns? Where would you recommend in THE STATES might I be able to get the best deal etc since I would probably be trading in my VI. In Chicago I have noticed that there are not too many choices as most are either on a VI, or various other vintage horns, and the few places I have talked to informed me that Keilwerths really are not that popular out in Chicago for some reason.... Since this horn will no doubt be the horn I will use for possibly the rest of my life, I want to acheive the BEST possible sound on the best possible horn.. May the best one win....
 

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FunkyHorn626 said:
Thanks for the responses I have received so far... Been playing my VI for over 15 yrs and just feel a need for a change. I still like my VI but I am hearing a different sound... I was torn between a Yamaha ZU unlacquered and almost settled on one until some of my friends that play Keilwerth got the buzz going for me telling me how these horns are superior to any other horns they have played.. When some of you mention NS are you talking about the silver Keilwerths? Or are you talking about the black nickel silver as well. It just seems that with Keilwerth there are so many more choices and IF i decide to go with this line, I want to be completely happy with my decision. I am looking for something with a little less resistance then my VI. As for tonal concept which a lot has to do with the player and his mouthpiece, reed, and neck combinations, I like bright horns, but not horns that are OVERLY bright, as my neck and mouthpiece would compensate for that. Love a warm sounding bright though, and not the buzz saw bright sound like some other horns produce. So Aside from JUST the finish of the horn, I am more or less looking for comparisions etc. Which is warmer but fuller? Which can also be pushed in an R and B and Funk Situation? Which has a bigger lower end? Are the Altissimo fingerings different and easier to achieve from the different Keilwerth horns? Where would you recommend in THE STATES might I be able to get the best deal etc since I would probably be trading in my VI. In Chicago I have noticed that there are not too many choices as most are either on a VI, or various other vintage horns, and the few places I have talked to informed me that Keilwerths really are not that popular out in Chicago for some reason.... Since this horn will no doubt be the horn I will use for possibly the rest of my life, I want to acheive the BEST possible sound on the best possible horn.. May the best one win....
The NS is used to describe the horn made from Nickel Silver. It is actually a brushed nickel horn with a clear lacquer. The only NS horn that is black is the Shadow. It its case the NS is then black nickel plated, as opposed to the regular black nickel horn that is a plated brass.

Although I'm no altissimo wizard, the Keilwerth horns seem harder to me. The upper end of the JK horns in general take more work to get them to speak, IMO.
 

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Morry said:
Although I'm no altissimo wizard, the Keilwerth horns seem harder to me. The upper end of the JK horns in general take more work to get them to speak, IMO.
I certainly agree with this. The other thing that I have noticed in several cases, is that 'special model' instruments that are very close to standard instruments come from the factory with a little better setup...this is mostly just gut feel on saxophones, except for the Yani silver models and the JK NS horns in general...I've never played a Shadow, but if the Shadow is as much better than the NS as the NS is to the brass SX90R, then it might be worth it. If you plan to just get your horn professionally setup, then I'd bet the SX90R can be made to play as well as a Shadow...just a hunch. I recently noticed how much better the Yamaha special 40th anniversary flutes played than the regular models and actually bought one.
 

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I love my J.K. SX90R Shadow

When I decided to buy a tenor, I did plenty of research and shopped around for a couple of years. I had decided to purchase a new pro level horn. I play tested every pro tenor I could get my hands on, at local stores, over a period of a few of years.

Unfortunately, and this is not an exaggeration, none of the new pro level horns I played at the stores in my area were in proper adjustment. Even so, I was able blow past most of the leaks to get an idea of how the horns sound, and also got to evaluate the key-work and ergonomics. So far, nothing had really peaked my interest.

I wanted to play-test a J.K. Shadow for some time and never found one locally. Eventually, I gave my email address to WWBW and they emailed me when they got another shipment of Shadow's in. I called ahead and they were nice enough to hold one for me. The next day, my girlfriend and I drove out to South Bend, IN to the WWBW store to play test a Shadow, and a some other horns. They have the best facilities to play test instruments I've ever seen.

Of all the tenor saxophones I tried so far, the Shadow felt the best in my hands. It played the best of any tenor I had ever played, and I found this very impressive being that I was the first person to play it since it left the factory.

I also played a black nickel plated brass SX-90R back to back with the Shadow. It was a very nice horn, well setup, and sounded fantastic, with a nice darkness.

I left the shop that day with my new Shadow SX-90R and I still love it. Here are some of the reasons I purchased it:

• The Shadow fit's my hands as if they designed it for me. After tweaking the adjustable palm key risers and the adjustable thumb hook, it's even better.

• I love the sound of it. I find the sound interesting and unique. I'll call it a complex sound that is dark with an edge.

• The ergonomics of the horn and angles of the pearls feel great under my fingers, it has the best feel of any tenor I have ever tried.

• The nickel silver body is noticeably lighter than brass body horns, and this enhances my comfort.

• It looks very cool. It's appearance varies with lighting conditions which keeps it interesting to look at. Also, the intricate engraving varies from horn to horn making it more unique.

My recommendation is to play test all the horns you are interested in and then select what you like best.
 

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Regarding some extra comments above, FunkyHorn, if you "love a warm sounding bright" sax it would seem to me that the YTS 82Z is more in that ballpark than the Shadow. I think most who seem to get JKs are looking for more of a Conn-ish, dark-ish sound, not what you describe.

Generally speaking, my experience with the Zs and JKs is that the JKs favour more the lower spectrum of the overtone series and the Zs the middle to upper. The JK seems to produce a purer sound while the Zs a more complex, or rich sound.

Regarding ergos, I agree with TJ, at least as far as JKs go. The Shadow ergos are definitely more comfortable for me than those of my SX90R. I believe it was Randall who was quoting Stephen Boesken as saying that the improved ergos had more to do with the way the pearls were angled than any thing else. I wouldn't know, but many say one of the drawbacks of the JKs are their ergos (in comparison with some other makes, that is), while that problem does not exist with the Shadow.

BTAIM, what you describe as your ideal sound, I would think would come more from the Z than the JK. Just to qualify my comments, I've got both a JK and a Z about ten feet from me at the moment.
 

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I highly recommend also trying a regular SX90 (non-R). Still big sounding and a hint more complexity to the sound than an SX90R. Really, though, it's a very significant purchase and you should play different horns until you can say "AHA!!! This is the one!" Otherwise, you'll be on a first name basis with your UPS driver before long.

And don't be afraid of JK ergos. It is harder to switch off of them than it is to switch on to them :)
 

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EZ said:
Otherwise, you'll be on a first name basis with your UPS driver before long.
:sign5:

Good one, Ed!
 

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EZ said:
And don't be afraid of JK ergos. It is harder to switch off of them than it is to switch on to them :)
That is SO true! :D After having played on JK tenors for about 7 years now, I recently tried a Ref54 and thought ¨Gosh -- what a weird ergo!!¨

Back on topic: I tried both the Shadow and NS (which I own -- thanks to EZ!) and found very little differences in the ergo, and none in the sound.
 

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EZ said:
I highly recommend also trying a regular SX90 (non-R). Still big sounding and a hint more complexity to the sound than an SX90R.

I agree with Ed. And, you can get used ones realtively cheaply, as has been discussed ad nauseum in the KW thread.
 
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