Keilwerth Crestone Toneking (1957)

The Story

This was made by Julius Keilwerth in Germany in 1957. I bought this from Tony at Maggini Supplies around 2001. It was at the beginning of my quest to acquire all historic and unusually saxophones. As usual I made a trip to our local reservoir on a Sunday morning to pick the instrument up from the ack of Tony’s car.

The Instrument

Although Crestone is officially a stencil sax, it has identical features to the Keilwerth branded saxes (rolled tone holes, for instance). This example has a stainless steel keyguard on the right hand side. These were interchangeable with clear Lucite ones. There is a Lucite guard on the left hand side. The instrument has silver keys on a gold lacquered body. The bottom keys are on the left, as with most modern saxophones
According to saxpics Julius Keilwerth became the largest saxophone manufacturer in Germany before the second world war with around 150 workers. It managed to survive the Nazi regime which considered the saxophone a ‘Western menace’, although I’ve never seen one engraved with Nazi regalia as reported
The company was nationalised in 1948, with the Czech workshops in Graslitz being taken over by the Amati collective Richard Keilwerth worked with Amati until 1949 and Max, until 1951.
Amati saxophones built after the war and into the 50’s retained the name Toneking (see below), which Julius Keilwerth had originally used as the name of his top professional-model horns.
Julius Keilwerth fled to Nauheim, Germany in 1947 and moved into a new, larger facility. This company was handed over in 1962 to Julius’ son, Josef Keilwerth, and was then sold in 1989 to the French company Buffet (from the group of firms formerly owned by Boosey & Hawkes). The instrument division of the Boosey & Hawkes company was then sold to the Musicgroup company in 2003. Unfortunately Keilwerth has now stopped German production, ending the splendid history of this important quality European manufacturer.
The horn comes in an excellent Lifton case – see Kirtley Music for more.

The Player

This is a good semi-professional horn It lacks the finesse of a Selmer or Conn, but holds the intonation well in both octaves. The fingering is reasonably well-balanced, although it’s a bit ‘clicky’. The tone is strong, but not as loud as it might be. I put this down to the relatively thin metal it’s made of: although the story of Charlie Parker’s blind test and selection of the plastic Grafton among other mainline brass instruments teaches us that the material a saxophone is made of makes little difference to the tone – either that or the fact that Grafton had marvellous marketing!


  • Make – Keilwerth (Crestone stencil)
  • Model – Toneking
  • Serial Number – 30026
  • Date of Manufacture – 1957
  • Place of Manufacture – Nauheim, Germany
  • Finish – Gold lacquer body with silver keys and keyguard
  • Weight – 4lbs 13 oz
  • Sound – Light and clear
  • Ease of Blowing – Wide and easy
  • Ease of Fingering – Reasonably well balanced, but with slightly ‘clinky’ keys

More about Keilwerth saxophones can be found currently on the Web from saxpics and Wikipedia.
Do you own a Keilwerth? Have you ever seen one with Nazi insignia? Please let me know by commenting on this post.

26 Responses

  1. this Saxophone it is for sale…?????
    I’m waiting an answer at this question….???

    • Mihai
      Thanks for your comments.
      This is a review site – none of the horns appearing here is for sale.
      If you’re looking for a vintage Keilwerth try ebay Germany.
      Best Wishes

      • Hi Martin:
        I just listed one of these on EBAY with the extended Brass Key Guard instead of the SS model.

        Have you seen one of these?

        Please let me know,
        Thank you!

  2. Nice looking horn! I have a keilworth tone ing soprano.. It plays really well. It came with a cannonball mouthpiece though, which should be replaced 😛

    • Jackson
      great to have your comment. Take some pictures and send them over if you want us to profile it here. Does it have the ‘made in Germany’ stanp on the back?
      Best – Martin

  3. I have one of these just sitting around, it needs restoring but I am trying to sell it. I am going to list it on ebay and will repost when I do.Cheers!- Harmony

  4. I have a slightly earlier version of this alto (mine is serial number 23224 and doesn’t have the smaller lucite guard on the inside/ right hand side when facing the bell) – you say yours holds its intonation well in both octaves – can you give any advice on what mouthpiece would work best/ gives best intonation as mine plays sharper in the upper octave with my runyon custom no 5

    • Jim
      Thanks so much for your comment.
      A mouthpiece with a soft reed and small tone-chamber and shallow lay (the angle between the reed and the edge of the mouthpiece) will allow you to control the intonation more than the wide open mouthpieces I tend to use. Most new student saxes come with something appropriate – try Yamaha perhaps. However you’ll pay for that with a weaker tone. As always you need to listen and pitch in the upper octave. Practice with a tuner for hours. I find my ability to tune the upper octave is getting worse with age unfortnunately. By the way all saxophones compromise on tuning – a bit like the tempering on pianos.
      Best Wishes

      • Thanks for your advice, I’ve tried quite a few mouthpieces now and it seems that the best for intonation so far is an old leblanc which has a large chamber – it has quite a small tip opening which is starting to irritate me! I play with an Otto link 7star on tenor so am thinking I need to try the equivalent for alto

      • Jim – best of luck with your mouthpiece choice. There’s an excellent site which compares the sounds of many mouthpices, but I can’t find it today. Perhaps someone else can help.
        Best – Martin

  5. I have a similar sax but a tenor. Same ss key guard, logo, made in Germany stamp and case. S/n 29922. It belonged to my father who played semi professionally. I know this is not a buy-sell site, but if anyone is interested contact me. I’m not a sax player, and I’d rather it be in the hands of someone who plays or appreciated these instruments.

  6. Gerry
    This is an information-only site, but it would be great if we could feature you Keilwerth on it. Send me some pictures if you would like to see it reviewed.

  7. […] I’m already a fan of the related Keilwerth saxophones, but this is better than the earlier Toneking we have reviewed elsewhere. It’s a very modern instrument and every bit as good as the […]

  8. I am restoring one just like this also from 1957. Thought the case was not original til I saw yours. It does not appear to be a Keilwerth case. Wonderful vintage horn !

  9. I have one here it has crestone on the horn and serial # is 30690

  10. I have an old Crestone guitar that I’m having trouble finding any info on..Did that company make other instuments that you know of?

  11. I have a keilwerth crestone horn and would like to know the value of it. I would also like to sell it because i havnt picked it up in almost 20 years. Could someone help me out please thanks sn# 28314

    • Ryan
      It depends on its condition. The cost of replacing pads could be as much as £250 or more these days. Vintage Keilwerth stencils don’t appear very often on eBay, so it’s difficult to value. You should do it up and learn to play.
      Best – Martin

      • I use to when i was you but im dont have the time and its just collecting dust. Noone seems to know the value here in canada. And i cant seem to find a place to put it for sale or know the value. Do yoy have an email that i could send you some picture? Or could you maybe refer me to someone please.

      • Ryan
        This is not a site for buying or selling instruments. I suggest you try you local music store or eBay.
        Best wishes Martin

  12. The last one sold for $464 on EBAY. Mine is now listed from 1959 model and I will let you know.
    It is a Jean Barre model, I expect to get between $500 – $600.

  13. My Jean Baree, Alto, with a brass “Angel” key guard, back on ebay due to non-payment. Identical to the Crestone.
    Great horn and close to a Pro Model!

  14. […] ↑カイルベルトの「ToneKing」。ToneKingはいろいろなバージョンがありますが、こちらはメタル・カバーが珍しい1957年のバージョンで、通称”Engel Wing”。プラスチック・カバーの個体もあります。【画像元:SAXIMUS MAXIMUS】 […]

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