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Saxophones Keilwerth ST90 - Another student model worthy of consideration

So I have been curious about these for a while, never really took the chance on buying a fixer and seeing what they were all about. Fairly ubiquitous on the eFlay US market, and they tend to go fairly cheap on auction.

Ultimately, I didn't have to buy one...a repeat customer of mine won one on auction and sent it to me for refurb/servicing.

ST-90, ROC-made (the first ones were actually assembled in CZ...at some point, apparently JK subcontracted to china).

This is a pretty good sax, really. I was pleasantly surprised. In general it is modeled after a Yamaha 23 as far as most keywork mechanics and such, although the feel of the JK's keys under the fingers is slicker, more responsive. Body gauge is quite robust, heavier than a student Yama. Offset lower stack holes, 'modern' ergonomics. Pinky table has tilted Bb with the tab connection to the C#; a regulating arm on the end of the B key keeps C# closed when Bb is activated. It's a nice-feeling table.

Point screws are nicely threaded, unlike many budget chinese makes. Posts are structurally solid, there was little key play on this horn - something quite common again in a lot of student model chinese horns. The lacq wear on this one was significant, lacq discoloration as well but I cannot say for sure whether that is because the factory lacq finish is so-so or because the horn was kept in a bad location as far as climatic conditions. (Previous owner actually stripped the lacq from neck and gave it a fake patina treatment (glad they stopped at the neck) ).

Blowing-wise, nice and free blowing. Sound wise, and this was a surprise...it sounds quite good. Definitely darker and lusher than your typical asian student horn tone. Sonic quality remained consistent up and down the registers, intonation was actually very, very good. People who are familiar with me know that when it comes to many china-manufactured horns, particularly student models, I take no prisoners - my general feeling on 'em is very critical and with good reason.
This one held up pretty well to my bench scrutiny, though.

On used US market, in good playing shape these tend to be priced similarly to a Yama 23 or such....but they do not get scooped up as quickly as the Japanese models do. I have seen many ST90's sit for sale for a while.
For those seeking a solid budget/student horn with perhaps a bit more sonic colour and a slicker feel, I'd say these are worth checking out of you get the chance. I may start hunting for some of these to service and sell.
Just passing along my impressions....



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thomsax

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I think the last verison of ST90 was a stencil made by Jupiter or KHS Musical Instruments, Co., Ltd, ROC to be more correct. I think there were 4 versions/phases. Good horns, they use to go for less money. Jupter use to go for less money? I don't understand why?
 

DavidUK

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Yes, four. Coming back to me now... early ones German, later ones... or is that the EX series...? :doh:

Oh... just looked at George's post #1 again... that too is an Evette!
 

thomsax

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This is what I have heard. I just played version I and IV. Version I was an entirely german made sax. Probably in Nayheim. But after 1990 there were no West- and East-Germany. Version II: tube and parts were made in Germany and shipped to CZ for assembling. Ver III: more work were made in CZ. Ver IV: a KHS stencil, The ST 90 vas a sax with darker tone and more body compared to ST90 ver IV. I thought the JK EX90 was a sax wo JK wide bow. But some CS members convinced me thar they have the wide bow as well. The last EX 90 were also a KHS stencil. I'm not complete sure about his. Might be some new info?
 

JayeNM

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Right, I will say that as well. The ST90 III and the IV are different horns. I always suspected the IV actually had no JK specs left to it....

I have never seen a 'last EX90'....so cannot comment on that...
 

JayeNM

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Below is another ST90 I had refurbed....note the spat keys are not the same shape as either the Eveetes nor the ST90 of the auction you posted at the start of this page.

Something else I wanna mention....you will notice in my pic on p.1...the neck is a different finish, it was a used JK neck purchase on eBay by the owner. That is a bona-fide JK neck on that ST90, and it fit without needing any tweaking whatsoever.

This is sorta interesting....more in the reverse than in the forward. The modern Evette Buffet Crampons are ignored, they have no reputation as being decent horns (although I have refurbed 3 of them, 2 altos and a tenor, and quite honestly....give me one of those over a Yama 23 any day) and are even sometimes described as being made in China.
There are KHS details on both the Evettes and the St90's. Wouldn't it be interesting if those Evettes were made at KHS ?

If the Evettes are the same horn as the JK St90 III...then that, IMHO, elevates the Evettes almost, perhaps, as hella sleeper horns.

Dang, now I wanna compare a III, a IV, and an Evette....on the bench....

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DavidUK

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So, George, we have two different ST-90's, the "Tapered Spat" (and roller) type as in post #1, the eBay one, and the Evette above, and then the "Symmetrical Spat" as in your last post.

Do Evettes have both spat types I wonder? Well a quick Google shows mostly tapered but all sorts of kinds of horn - one of the reasons folks steer clear of them as nobody knows what they're buying perhaps?

From you memory, which is better, Tapered or Symmetrical spat type?

What difference in manufacturing do the spat types denote? Country of manufacture? Date range?

Here's link to a previous thread with an Evette with similar symmetrical spat keys but different in other ways: Saxophones - When is a Buffet not a Buffet ?

Oh... and in your opening post you seem to be saying that the "ROC made" one is Chinese whereas ROC is, strangely, not China but Republic of China which is actually Taiwan.
It's PRC which denotes People's republic of China. I believe.

I'm Still none the wiser as to which Evette might be worth looking out for, and despite my penchant for research I don't really think I'll ever get to the end of who made what in this regard... :confused2:
 

JayeNM

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I believe you will see later in my comments where I correct myself regarding ROC.....

I dunno, honestly the thread you just provided regarding the Evette Buffet is too dense for me to look at in detail at the moment, although I am glad someone actually did such an in-depth analysis of a horn which gets ignored even MORE than Jupiters get ignored (seemingly impossible, I know...but true, apparently :rolleyes: ).
As I had mentioned, when I got my hands ona few modern Evettes, I was surprised at how decent they were.

When I tried to sell them...I guess I was NOT surprised at how un-interested the market is in them. I think I sold an overhauled Tenor for $300, and the altos for around $250...so that was the end of me trying to flip those.

There's an Alto that needs servicing, on eFlay US with an asking price of $175 at the moment. Then another for $229 where the seller accepts offers. And both have been listed for over 2 months. So that about says it all about how these fail to ping anyone's radar....

You have a good eye, I dunno why I let the ST90 spats in my initial post slip by me, they were certainly recognizable as the modern Evette spats and I had done the latter horn prior to the ST90.

TTYTT, if I recognized that the Evettes were ROC when I refurbed them....I had since forgotten; in my skull of fading grey matter I had always considered them Chinese. So thanks for the 'jog'.

No idea which is 'better'...the only way to really tell what is going on is to get an ST90 III or IV, get an Evette, and do a bench comparison. It may well be all they did was change the spat keys and keyguards....and the body, neck, majority of keywork remains exactly the same. Anything simply visual is sorta speculative.

But that they were made by the same plant, at least the ones which we have been discussing here...seems likely. And that the factory is KHS, almost indubitably.
So in and of itself, that's an important piece of info which is not publicized enough.

If I had $800 kicking around (lol, like ever) I might buy one of each and see for myself...but....
 

JayeNM

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It seems to be a 100, actually, at least visually speaking. I have seen these on eFlay sporadically....
 

DavidUK

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Here's a symmetrical spat Evette, high F#, in great order. Is it KHS? Is it Buffet/Keilwerth?

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Note the real pearls. At £200 I just feel like buying it to see if this type is good or rubbish, but then I'd have to but the tapered spat one and the Keilwerth one and I'd be forever looking for other versions...

I'd end up with a load of horns nobody really wants!
 

DavidUK

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Another lookalike... a Hanson Concerto (prototype) I happened to spot for sale...

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Heavily engraved. looking a little Buffet/Keilwerth again. Another one I could easily get stuck with... :doh:
 
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