Antique and Vintage Saxophones

As a guitarplayer I was allways interested in the saxophone. Not only as a musical instrument but just being an art object as well. The various chatgroups about the different marks and sometimes obscure builders helped me a lot! For contact:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Where to find information about Saxophones and Makers

I frequently get questions about where to find information
about saxophones and their makers.
At first I need to say that a lot of workshops didn't label some
instruments as the dealer who was buying had put his own name
on these instruments. Besides that, several producers had contracts
with a wide spread dealer field not to sell any of their saxophones
to other dealers.

That resulted in putting other names on an in fact the same
instrument. This was often the case in America but also in Europe.
This was the way to expand the business avoiding a justice cause.

These are the so called stencil instruments. For the USA market a
lot about these instruments and makers can be found at
It is often said that these american stencil instruments are of a lesser

For the European market and especially the French market you will
find much information at the site.
Contrary to the the American way of working the European stencils
seems to be of a better quality than their origin. In fact I doubt that:
Why would a factory change machinery and use of materials in order
to produce a different quality. Dealers are ordering instruments because
of the quality a factory provides!

Another source could be
This site contains the name of a lot of manufacturers.

If anyone has additions to this information feel free to E-mail me at:

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Oscar Adler & Co
The Firm was grounded in1885 in Markneukirchen by the
Pipemaker Oscar Adler (1862 - 1922).
As a model to be copied Adler used an instrument of the
french (Paris) builder Gautrot, which instrument had been lent out
to him by a Museum in Markneukirchen in 1901 (Now the
This was the first Saxophone to be built in Germany.

What surprised me were two things:
The early serial number but allready only one
octave key. This instrument has been played intensively
and can really be seen as a piece of history.

Wether or not the instruments were high class or just immediate,
Adler simply putted on a shield with it's name on it.
Here's a description of a real saxplayer as I do not have the knowledge
to explain all this . . . .

Nickle Plated, many superb features, including
a) left-hand 'pinkie' keys duplicated above right-hand action
(see bottom-middle photo in the first group of four)
b) same photo also shows 'pearl low-D/Eb-trill keys'
- the last two features are also seen on some Buffet C-Mels
c) spatula 'Alt-front-F' key
d) low B and Bb on same side of the bell
e) Martin/Holton style neck brace, which
extends to almost the total neck length
f) very effective cup bumper clips
g) note the very appropriate lack of engraving,
just the classic Oscar Adler & Co stamp
h) soldered toneholes
Für Oscar Adler waren unter anderem auch Julius und Max Keilwerth tätig.
Beide stellten für Adler Saxophone in Heimarbeit her.
Der eine dieser beiden Brüder sollte später einmal die größte deutsche Firma leiten,
die in Deutschland jemals Saxophone baute
For Oscar Adler were busy Julius and Max Keilwerth among others.
Both of these gentlemen made saxophones for Adler in their own
workshop after having built instruments for Kohlert for a few years.
They started for Adler in about 1920 for 5 years.
After that time they started their own workshop.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Bizel / B& S / Paul Beuscher


This beautiful instrument has been imported
by the Lyon based musical instrument dealer Guillard Bizel.
Bizel is not a saxophone manufacturer and after some
information someone gave me this instrument proves to be
a genuine Orsi, one of the greatest woodwind factories in Italy.
Orsi is a manufacturer of about anything you can blow in!
This particular instrument has extra keys and
is modern in the way that intonation proves to be
very good as is ease of playing.

By clicking on this picture you are able to see
that the name Guillard Bizel is a later addition
after the instrument has been send to them.
In fact that part of the inscription has been done
with obvious less care!
A sturdy built instrument with a nice tone.
Knowing the Orsi models the sound is
of course quite Selmeresc.

The case can most often be used as a guide
of finding the right fabrication: In any way
Italian and a lot like the Grassi cases!


Saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax in Belgium.
As an alive and continuously developing instrument,
it is befitting that the saxophone continues its forward growth
while retaining the refinements of the French made
Selmer MKVI's silky feel, style, modern keys,
modern ergonomics and big bore tone....
With this horn, the German craftsman have taken it to a new level!

Indeed a lot of features on this mid seventies produced german
saxophone reminds of the Selmer Mark VI.
While in the beginning B&S only built one model
that had a professional level, they later developed
several models, also intermediate saxes among others.

As I can have had my hands on different B&S saxophones
I must say this instrument, being one of the earlier ones, has
a nice feel and a really smooth tone.

Let's go back to what I found on the internet with
many thanks for the author:

For those of you who havn't heard or played a B&S Sax...I reference it to a Selmer. This sax is definitely comparable feel and tone wise and can go from smoke and sultry to getting that big bore post bop Joe Henderson mean sound. It is many a players opinion that it is a better made horn than most of the Japanese made counterparts. No thin sounding metal here. Think focused centered and THICK big bore tone. Feels like a vintage horn because it is. (1970's hand crafted make)This is not to be confused with one of the recent B&S stencil models.

Look for B&S BLue Label Alto or Tenor and see what players have to say about them.
As you may know, the early blue label models are VERY rare.
B&S Blue Label circa 1975... Hand made by German craftsman.
This label can be seen on the second picture: The Bell to body construction.


These saxophones were produced in Markneukirchen (Klingenthal)
Unlike any other, the saxon region of the Vogtland looks back on over 100 years of tradition in the development and manufacturing of wind instruments. The first German saxophone was built in 1901 in Markneukirchen, and by the 1920's, they were being sold all over the world.

During the times of the old Eastern Germany (GDR), the majority of the Vogtland saxophone manufacturers were brought together to form the VEB Blechblas (Brass Blow) - und Signal - Instrumenten - Fabrik. Today, this tradition lies in the hands of Vogtlandische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH, who as well as continuing the handcraft traditions, also works towards developing new and innovative ideas together with leading saxophone players and specialists from around the world, including Wolf Codera and Dave Guardala.

A picture of the engraving of this instrument that says:
B&S Markneukirchen - Klingenthal.
As for registration numbers: One of the visitors of my blog
found out that the number 9393 is said to be built in 1959.
Doubts are where it is built: In Klingenthal or Markneukirchen.
Then the instrument here above should be even older and
to be honest: I doubt that. Perhaps the cities mentioned
had their own numbering system. B & S is still in business
and you can reach them by tel:  +49 (37422) 581-32
or E-mail under:
The registration of this instrument clearly states
that this is not a later far eastern import saxophone.


Silverplated Paul Beuscher Stencil that appears to be
a Boiste made instrument with more deluxe keyguards.
Manufacturers like Couesnon or Malerne also made instruments
for this music dealer in Paris.

Here's the inscription of the BOISTE (Paul Beuscher)
alto saxophone. Paul Beuscher is a musical instrument dealer
in Paris and had nothing to do with Gus Buescher (USA)
Beuscher's shop still exists near the Place de la Bastille
in Paris. I can only recommend to visit the following
wonderful website in order to find out more about the
french woodwind manufacturers:

This originally silver plated saxophone with the
Paul Beuscher engravings was thought to be a Pierret stencil
instrument model VI. However Luthiers Vents provided 
me with some new information: This instrument resembles the most a 
Maurice (Albert) Boiste, he worked with his brother René Maurice 
who worked for Selmer before he started working for Boiste.
Just take a look at:

As opposed to the americain stencils, european stencils are
equal or better (in this case) than the factory engraved
instruments. This one has more deluxe keyguards.

Take a look in the kitchen!

Detail of the right hand pinky keys.
Maybe interesting to compare these pics with
the Pierret pics on And moreover
the Maurice Boiste saxophones!

Detail of the Paul Beuscher alto saxophone


Connaisseurs maybe claim this instrument not being a genuine

Chu Berry model but it has all the features: rolled toneholes a.s.o.

Click on this picture to take a closer look:
As this instrument was recently refinished
taking a picture becomes more difficult!

Detail of this completely overhauled saxophone.
Difficult to compare but still sounds like the
unaltered examples.

Detail of this entirely relaquered saxophone.
Like it or not: it has been done professionally!


The Dolnet Saxophones are more and more known to be the hidden
treasures in the saxophone world. You should check the website and read some comments.
I can confirm this: I had some alto's Bel air and even M70
and their sound is really promising!

This picture clearly shows the problem with some of these
instruments. The soldering isn't allways that tight!
but a good repairer can do the job for you.
On the Bel Air model they also used letters in
the serial number as can be seen in this picture.


A really collectable tenor made by Dolnet just before
they started producing the "Bel Air" sereies.
These horns have a huge sound and this one is
beautifully "Art Deco" engraved.

On this picture you can clearly see the red "rubies"
being an inlay on the keyguards. The original pads
still seems to be there and in good shape!

By clicking on this picture you get a good vue on this
gorgeous saxophone. The diamond shaped connection between
the tube and bell was thought to be introduced together with
the first Bel Air models. As was common this could
be a transition model. Series II from 1940 to 1950.
Very well done engravings!

Dolnet  "Bel Air" Tenor saxophone. 

An older Dolnet Tenor saxophone in very good 
condition. You won't find them this way very often.
As its' condition is pristine one may conclude that
it hasn't been played a lot and therefore probably
is a dog. However the original mouthpiece has very
deep teeth markings so the opposite is true!
Great player and as has been said to me, played
by a professional in one of the orchestra's that
are working for some dutch broadcasting companies.

All the lower keys on one side as is the case with
the older series II. But as his 'brother" this one has
that really gorgeous lower end as well!

I simply like this shot of this oldie taken
well care for! As Dolnet shortly named
these saxes "Imperial" and later again "Bel air' or just no type
engravings at all it can be a little disturbing but regarding
the serial number this one must be dated mid fifties.
It has been produced just after the `Imperial` was


This Grassi Alto saxophone was probably made in the
seventies but they started building these "top of the line"
instrument in the "60. In fact a Selmer copy.



By clearing away the attic I was surprised with an old case
and a saxophone of an unknown brand to me. As I'm a
guitar player that is no big surprise of course and a few years
ago I already did some investigations concerning this brand.
Luthiervents is a France based saxophone repairer who
helped me in finding the origin of this instrument. At first
he was surprised as well but the address on this instrument
cleared up the mystery. Charles Grass had a factory on the
Chaussee d' Antin 12 in Paris so it has to be from that
factory. This is an Alto saxophone that didn't surprise me
by its' looks but the sound is professional in every way!

A fairly straightforward built horn but built with a lot of 
experience and taste but Ch. Grass was a very good player
in his own right. As can be seen this instrument has a small
bore as most French saxes have from that period. This
instrument can be dated around 1930.

This particular model has been marked "PRIMA" which
was their most successful and best sounding saxophone.
In spite of the small bore the tone is sooo big! With
lots of lower end and a beautiful rounded middle and
upper register. This was simple to conclude even for
a guitar player like me! I compared it with my Buescher
Aristocrat from 1933 and this saxophone, I have to
admit, out roars the Aristocrat while the Buescher is
a great sax as well. I tried this one out with my standard
Selmer mouthpiece and a 1,5 reed (I didn't have a better 
suited one at that time) that in fact makes a saxophone 
sound too thin. Not with this one!

Of course this saxophone has a single octave key and the next
investigation was if it was a low or high pitch instrument as the
high pitched instruments are non usable with other instruments.
That was again a nice surprise: It plays well on A = 440 Hz.

The extra's on a saxophone regarding extra keys I'm
not familiar with as I can play the standard notes but
no more than that. In spite of the older pads that in fact
better can be replaced it already played down to the
lowest notes so it can only grow better!

The GARDET is a very sturdy built instrument and not
a light one. By hearing a saxophone like this I can only 
wonder how it can be possible that this brand ever disappeared
but it counts for more French (and German) brands as most
of the time they did little effort to conquer the international
market what resulted in a too small market for France
alone. These Gras labeled saxophones are the ones
to look after. Hearing is Believing!

A brochure from 1933 in which the address at the
Boulevard Chaussee d' Antin 12 is mentioned.
You are able to enlarge by clicking on the pics.


Although Grassi is most known for their mediocre instruments
it is in fact sad that the better instruments were produced and the
end of their production when it was already clear the factory
had to shut down.

On this picture you can clearly see the two coloured
combination that was very popular in the sixties.

A chance to take a closer look at the "Ida Maria Grassi"
inscription and of course "made in Italy"


Normally I wouldn't start a presentation of an instrument
with a particular shot of a specific part but I simply like this
photo. It shows the near mint condition of this saxophone.
It has been built around 1934 - 1935 anfd though a while
after Julius Keilwerth left the company to start his own
business some features on instruments of both makers appear
to be identical.

These saxophones are sturdy built instruments and de
history of this company shows us a lot of ups and downs.
Kohlert even produced a while for H.G. White, an americain
based company. This saxophone has been built for the
french market. There are links with B&S and the Keilwerth
company as well. In present times the markname Kohlert
has been reintroduced into the market but these instruments
are cheap instruments produced in the far East and can not be
compared with the earlier well built saxophones.
Though there is no elaborate engraving on this saxophone
it has a microtuner neck, rolled toneholes and pearl inlays.
It also has a bit of the Aristocrat Buescher looks but good
designs were often copied from one another.
The left pinky keys are remarkable identical to Julius
Keilwerth instruments of the same time. Take a
look at for detailed pictures of the Keilwerth
instruments. It has been said allready that even after
J.K. started his own company parts of the instruments
were made for the rivalling company and even
whole instruments.

By clicking on this picture you are able to see that this
instrument has been made for a music dealer in
Paris though the name of Kohlert still was there.
Confusing may be that there's a company named
Köhler as well.
The rolled toneholes can be clearly seen.
The microtuner neck of the V. Kohlert as was common
on instruments of other manufacturers as well.
Conn, Pierret and Malerne to name a few.


The Pierret "Super Artiste"
Though Pierret never was a forerunner regarding
new inventions, they are sturdy built instruments
that really speak easily.