Kessler Custom Sonus Saxophones

Sonus is Latin for Sound.

Sound is all we care about as musicians. The sound that we get out of an instrument is the perfection that we as players are always seeking. We want to hear and feel every nuance and frequency that we hear in our heads to be what we hear out of our horns. Saxophone players are notorious for this never ending search for the “right” horn to give us the sound we want to hear.

I have already explained in previous articles that in the end, playing saxophone is about the player and the mouthpiece, and I am not going to depart from that here at all. In my “Saxophone Sound Equation“, I assigned only 4% to the saxophone with 90% to the player and 6% to the mouthpiece. I stand by that. However small 4% may be, of the overall equipment, it is actually 40% of it all (mouthpiece being the other 60%) and therefore extremely relevant to the amplification and not of transformation to your sound.

There are many great saxophones out there. Most people will spout off horns like the Selmer Mark VI, Reference 54, Keilwerth Shadow, Yanagisawa, etc… and they would be absolutely correct. However, over the past 10 years, the level of high quality saxophones available on the market that are not the typical major name saxes has increased dramatically. Gone are the days of HAVING to purchase a major name brand in order to get top tier performance. Asia is rapidly gaining major prominence in the world of saxophone quality.

Some might be thinking at this moment in reading that they either disagree emphatically or that they are thinking “duh, we know this already”. Keep reading.

It is true that Taiwan specifically has been making some great saxophones for a long time. It is also true that there are a larger number of OK saxophones out of Taiwan than truly great saxophones. Just like in any country and in any industry, not all makers are equal and there is a wide array of quality to choose from.

Concept of Sound
Every player has their own concept for what is the best style of sound from a sax. Many players will find that their own definition of this sound changes as they grow older. I have talked to many professionals who radically change their own style of sound as they get further in their career. Its not that the universal definition of sound changes but rather that our own audible palate matures with time… kind of like our opinions on many things (remember when you used to think the best restaurant in the world was McDonald’s?).

So it makes sense that as time goes on, we as players switch the equipment in our hands and mouths in order to produce the sound that we are now desiring to hear.

For some players, a great focused core with amazing upper register projection is the way to go. Others want something dark, big and broad with presence to fill up even the biggest hall with their own funk of sound. There are different styles of saxophone to help make these dreams become reality.

Kessler Custom Sonus
Literally, these saxophones are designed to produce “THE Sound” that we desire from a sax. This IS the Kessler Custom Sound. Our other models of Kessler Custom produce more of the traditional French sax style of sound. The new Sonus saxophones are handmade in Taiwan to specifications that produce a sound that is unlike any other we have heard. They have a massive presence to them like the best vintage American horns but possess a darker, thicker resonant core to their sound. They produce immense power and projection.

Key Features
Red Brass Alloy – These models use our preferred “Red Brass” alloy. Comprised from a higher 85% Copper (15% Zinc) compared to standard 70% Copper (30% Zinc) of standard brass. When combined with the unique bore of our Sonus model, the Red Brass helps to contribute to the tonal color of this horn.

Soldered Tone Hole Rims – The Sonus models also use soldered rim tone holes. These rims add more weight to the tone hole which does actually deepen the tone of the horn. Some might disagree with me on this but we have done side by side testing, on other horns as well (SX90 vs SX90R Keilwerth models) and found every time that the horns with the tone hole rims possess a richer tone, especially in the altissimo and when subtoning. The tone hole rings also give a wider contact area to the pad so that the pad seat does not get overly deep into the pad. When combined with proper consistent swabbing, this will help prevent sticking pads. However, if you do not maintain your horn well, these rims will stick easier and harder as their is more material to stick to… so clean your horn!!!

Special Neck Design – We also use a very unique neck bore that incorporates a spiral groove in the tenon of the neck. This groove slows down the air column giving better compression to the air column which helps to produce the unique tone of the horn. Both the alto and tenor possess this groove, but the design and width of the groove is different on the alto and tenor, designed for optimal performance for the specific instrument. 

While we all should get the sax we want based on playability alone, the truth is that for many, the cosmetics of the horn must match the sound. We are emotional beings and to the sax player, nothing evokes more emotion from them than a saxophone.

Tapping in to this truth, our Sonus models are made with a “Vintage Dark Brown Lacquer”. Basically, envision a vintage Selmer Paris sax that has been sitting in a closet for 60 years… they develop an extremely dark color to them that is just stunning. They posses a slight unevenness to the finish with a light speckling. This is what the Sonus models look like brand new. We further compliment the look with a set of beautiful abalone pearls.

Is it the best sax available?
There is no such thing. The sound of the Sonus is truly amazing and competes with any saxophone available, from any maker and any vintage. We will be arranging professional play tests that we will video/audio record with comparisons to some of the best professional horns currently on the market in the very near future so that you the customer can simply see and hear for yourself. We offer our trial policy as well so you can test it for yourself.

Right now, we are looking likely for October/November 2011 for the first real availability.

Kessler Custom Sonus Alto Sax -view-
Kessler Custom Sonus Tenor Sax -view-


2 thoughts on “Kessler Custom Sonus Saxophones”

  1. Dec 20, 2012
    Dear Dave,

    After hearing the Sonus alto in person (not the YouTube recording), I am compelled to offer our opinion of the sax and to compliment you on your great work.

    Musically, my son, Simon, (sophomore saxophone performance major) grew up (7 1/2 years) with the black nickel Keilwerth SX-90R; he and the Keilwerth are “one”!

    To his musical taste the Keilwerth is the king of the hill and nothing comes close……..until last night!

    After putting both saxophones, Keilwerth and, the just arrived, Sonus, through its paces, my son put his Keilwerth in its case as a “back-up”!

    Sonus’s appearance is striking. And its sound, intonation, and key work (smoothness) are superior to the Keilwerth!

    Simon and I still maintain that the SX-90R is a great horn, but what you have done with the Sonus is truly marvelous.

    I truly believe the enhanced intonation and the richness of Sonus sound will further enhance Simon’s sax playing and I would go as far as saying that Sonus may, one day, become the next “Selmer MK VI”.

    Sonus is truly a Kessler GRAND SLAM and I am very pleased that I made the investment! Keep up the great work! Please let us know if anything else good is coming down the Kessler pike.

    Dave, for the past few years you have assisted my family navigating through the complex and often confusing task of musical instrument selections and purchases. I can go on and on about how we appreciate you, but let me just say that your expertise and integrity have served us well. You are truly a “musician’s friend” and a friend.

    Thank you, again, for the wonderful instruments and I wish you and your family a blessed 2013 and beyond!

    Your friend from Maryland,

    Bill Yeh

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