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The Kohlert VKS Models

A preliminary note:

Originally, the designations "Regent", "Popular" and "de Luxe" seem to have referred to finish, tonehole and/or keywork choices, and were not a "real" model desgination. However, by the 1950's, this not only referred to finish choice, but also, with the addition of the Bixley models, student through professional quality.

I base this on a couple of observations:

  • In my "Pre-WWII" set of horns, I have pictures of several nickel plated altos that lack G# trill keys and forked Eb keys labeled "Popular", but the silver plated, unlabeled altos have both and have more elaborate engraving (no help from the contrabass or sopranino)
  • I've got several of the beautiful "VKS" horns in my databases, but they're all engraved a bit differently:
    • I have pictures of a lacquered alto with no engraving (other than the standard), but it has additional pearl inlay
    • I have pictures of a silver plated horn labeled "Regent", but it lacks additional pearl inlay
    • I have pictures of a silver plated horn labeled "Popular", but it lacks a G# trill and fork Eb fingering.
    (Do note that the G# cluster also is somewhat different on each)
  • In the 1950's, I have pictures of the Regent, again. The tenor I have pics of looks exactly like a 57, but it's in nickel plate and the serial number sorta-kinda indicates it's made in 1956 - when Kohlert's pro model was really a Keilwerth stencil by way of Amati.

The "de Luxe" made its debut or re-introduction in the 1960's, after Kohlert quality had taken an immense nosedive. However, this model had rolled tone holes - and that seems the only difference between this and other Kohert models of the same era.

One other note: only the names below not in quotes are the Kohlert bona fide model names. The others I've "invented" to make the below list easier to create.

Early Models

1900/01 to 1925

The earliest Kohlert horns are reminiscent of Couesnon's award-winning design, but have some marked departures, especially seen in the reduced keywork and straight tone holes.

I don't know when Kohlert switched to rolled tone holes or if they offered rolled tone holes as an available option this early.

These horns probably switched to a "full" keyed range (i.e. low Bb to altissimo F) and to roller keys around 1910, when Kohlert started exporting horns for HN White to use as stencils (which stopped in 1916).

1920's Models

1926 to 1929

There are at least four horns that Kohlert specifically engraved with years: 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929.

People want to compare the Modell1926 to the Conn 6M Artist ("Naked Lady") model, and I suppose you can, as far as just cosmetics go, but because the 6M Artist was introduced several years after Kohlert introduced this horn, it's more accurate to say the Modell 1926 is like the ORIGINAL Colonel Conn design mixed with a Conn New Wonder. Heck, the Modell 1926 even has the Mercedes-Benz-logo low C keyguard and microtuner neck!

The Modell 1928 is interesting because the design is again split-bell-key and the horn looks overall like a Buescher True Tone trying to be a Conn.

I have no pictures of the 1927 or 1929 models (at current). I've asked the folks that told me they own these horns to send pictures.

1930 - 1934 Models

These horns are essentially Modell 1928's without the engraving and with slightly redesigned keywork, particularly the G# cluster.

VKS Models

1935 to 1938

Sometimes INCORRECTLY called the model A880 ("A880" is actually "Concert A=880hz; i.e. 'low pitch'"), this horn is probably the highest evolution of the VKS design: some models have extensive additional pearl inlay, like the Conn "Virtuoso Deluxe" horns and all have intricately designed keyguards that spell out "VKS" There's also additional keywork, like the altissimo D# trill and G# trill on some models. Finally, the bell keys are moved to the right side.

I tentatively date these horns around 1935 because of the presence of the Keilwerth-made Selmer Pennsylvania Special models that have similar features. One also assumes that, by 1939, these models were discontinued as the Kohlert plant was retooled for the war effort.

WWII Models

1939 to 1944

Very few horns were produced during WWII and most were hand-made. In other words, you might see horns with split bell keys, left hand bell keys, or right hand bell keys and a variety of different keyguards and keywork designs.

Most of these horns are also fairly elaborately engraved, sometimes with full Nazi regalia.

I've seen a couple of these horns. I regret to say that I don't have pictures.


1945 to 1947

Amati "nationalized" the Keilwerth and Kohlert plants immediately after WWII. Amati, however, generally used the Keilwerth design for their "new" horns. The Kohlert versions are somewhat redesigned VKS horns (most notable thing that's different is the keyguards) and seem to have old VKS serial numbers.

It is interesting to note, though, that later Amati horns definitely look a lot like Kohlerts.

Post War


After WWII, and Kohlert's relocation to Winnenden, Germany, it's rumored that there was a beveled-tone-hole model that was produced, for a very brief time. It's likely that the horn in question is the New King model actually produced by Keilwerth, but I don't have any pictures of a horn labeled "Kohlert".

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