Keilworth SX90R Alto Saxophone Review

The Keilworth SX90R saxophone is a bit of an oddball in the saxophone community, as it tends to be one of the few professional-level horns on the market that isn’t an actively rip off of the Selmer Mark VI in one way or another.

Instead, Keilworth went their own way on this saxophone, designing key mechanisms and other features that would remain unique to their brand for a long time.

Over the years, the SX90R has been available in a wide variety of colors and finishes, from deep silver with wooden pearl inlays to bright gold lacquer and traditional pearl keys.

Regardless of the appearance, though, the Keilworth SX90R delivers a bright, versatile tone that’s sure to please the professional player looking for something new.

The Keilworth makes BIG's list of the best alto saxophones and gets a BIG 5 stars.

BIG Rating

Highlighted Features


  • The low Bb to C# Link features a unique pin-and-socket arrangement
  • Beautiful engraved finish
  • Blued steel springs for precise action and durability
  • Wide bell rim for a large, deep tone
  • Specifications
  • Key: Eb
  • Range: Low Bb to High F#
  • Material: German Brass
  • Keys: Mother of pearl
  • Palm keys: Adjustable
  • Thumb rest: Metal, adjustable
  • Pads: Leather Pisoni
  • Resonators: Metal
  • Body and key finish: Gold lacquer
  • Engraving: Laser precision engraved
  • Tone holes: Drawn with Hand Soldered Rings

Keilworth SX90R Alto Saxophone Review

Keilworth’s German origin is obvious in its precision construction. Angular pillars and well-fitted keys are precisely placed for maximum playability. The large bell brace is stylish, but also gives you a feel of definite stability as you reach for high and low notes. The brace is also removable, which is a bonus should you need to get some work done on the instrument at some point. The bell is also removable to for cleaning and maintenance. The horn is very response, with quick action all along the body.

Unique Design

The bell keys have a different design than what you might find on a lot of other alto saxes. The link for the Bb and C# keys features a sturdy and unique pin and socket arrangement, which is a simple, elegant alternative to the more commonly seen closed box design. Other keys have similarly unique constructions, such as the prong-and-fork arrangement for the side Bb and C keys. The leather pisoni pads are also a rather uncommon feature, and give the SX90R another feather in its cap when it comes to its unique qualities. In other words, everything about this saxophone is just a little bit different, and speaks to the German’s love of simple, elegant engineering solutions.

Quick and Responsive

The action is quick and responsive all along the horns. Blued steel springs (which, we admit, are pretty standard fare among professional-level horns) help to keep the keys quick, and last much longer than regular stainless steel to boot. The pearl keys are thick and sturdy (to some, too thick). All of this means that as you rip through the passages you can be sure that the horn can keep up.

Versatile Tone

The tone for this instrument is extremely versatile, giving you the ability to sound great while playing a variety of styles. The wide bell rim aids in delivering both darker and brighter tones, and with the right choice of mouthpiece and reed you could really use this horn to play just about any style you wanted to.

Visually Stunning

As said above, this horn was made in a variety of styles and finishes over the years, although typically it’s the gold lacquer finish that is most commonly seen. Beautiful and shiny, the visual appeal of this instrument is only heightened by the intricate laser-precision engraving. Visually stunning, musically sonorous, and precision-engineered: that’s a combination that any professional-level player would envy.

Pros

  • Features a rich, versatile tone suitable for many styles of music
  • Beautiful engraved finish
  • Gold lacquered for tone and response
  • Large bore gives players a large sound almost more like a tenor sax

Cons

  • Thicker pearls take a while to get used to
  • This model of horn can be known for warped tone holes

Keilworth SX90R Alto Saxophone Video

Summary

For the professional-level player, it’s important to have an instrument that says something unique about you and your playing style. The Keilworth SX90R might just be the horn that checks off all those boxes. Unique in design, with many features just not seen in other saxes, you still also manage to get a great sounding saxophone with a deep, wide, resonating tone that can hold its own against any other sax. The versatility of the sound is also a plus, allowing you to play classical, jazz, rock, or any other style you need to. It also looks great, with a bold golden finish and laser-crafted engraving to finish the look. In short, this is a great instrument for the professional-level player looking to make a statement

The Keilworth SX90R Alto Saxophone gets a BIG 5 stars and is highly recommended.

BIG Rating


Still not sure which sax to buy? Visit BIG's Saxophone Buying Guide for information and buying tips.