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1921 Keefer JR Trumpet



 
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Leeway
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 4:13 pm    Post subject: 1921 Keefer JR Trumpet Reply with quote

One of these has come up for sale.
Owner says it's based on a French Besson
It has a similar lead pipe brace but the 2nd valve slide points back, not forward like a Besson.

Does anyone know these horns?

I gather they were decent quality, just wondering what kind of tone they produce.

2nd valve has JR and a 2 stamped on it (apart from the 2 for 2nd valve) and L F stamped under the s.n which is 100XX

Im looking for a big, bright, lead horm like a Besson/Benge sound and wondering if this Keefer might be a sleeper that could fit the bill?
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yourbrass
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keefer is a real sleeper. (no poetry intended) My colleague at the shop bought one, had the valves refitted, the thing is totally responsive.
BUT, you're buying a century-old instrument that will likely need major repair, unless you're very lucky.
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Leeway
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yourbrass wrote:
Keefer is a real sleeper. (no poetry intended) My colleague at the shop bought one, had the valves refitted, the thing is totally responsive.
BUT, you're buying a century-old instrument that will likely need major repair, unless you're very lucky.





Thanks man, I had a feeling this might be the case. The horn appears to be in exceptional condition.

It's the kind of sound these horns produce that interests me, like I said, I'm after something in the Bresson ilk, big and bright.

The owner is not really a player so I cant get much in this respect from him.
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OldSchoolEuph
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little background on the maker, from which one can infer a bit about design influences:

Henry Distin started making instruments in England in 1849. He sold that firm to music publisher Boosey & Co. in 1868. After a couple years of blowing all his money on failed concert promotions and making a living playing and tending bar, he moved to the US to superintend at the (by those days' standard) "monster" Martin Pollman & Co. works in NYC in 1876 (which allowed JH Martin the opportunity to work at Conn for a couple years while Distin covered what had been his role). In 1878, he started making the same designs he had made in England in partnership with first FW Busch, and then Moses Slater in New York. In 1882, he moved to Pennsylvania and started Distin & Pincus, a publisher, but within two years (while Slater continued building the same horns under his own name without Distin), set up Henry Distin manufacturing in Philadelphia to make his horns for JW Pepper. In 1889, he moved the company to Williamsport and sold it shortly thereafter to his superintendent, Brua C. Keefer. Keefer operated under the Distin name until 1909 when he put his own name on the firm.

Keefer instruments are descended from Distin and the classic British brass band Boosey & Hawkes tradition, but with American influences. (Sorry, no Besson)

I have not played the model in question, but the Keefers I have encountered are not in the French trumpet sound spectrum. Clearer perhaps than a lot of their period American competitors such as Vega, Peddler, Buescher, etc. But French? I don't know . . . .

{also, my information indicates that Keefer serial numbers start at 20,000. Did you omit a digit?}
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Leeway
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OldSchoolEuph wrote:
A little background on the maker, from which one can infer a bit about design influences:

Henry Distin started making instruments in England in 1849. He sold that firm to music publisher Boosey & Co. in 1868. After a couple years of blowing all his money on failed concert promotions and making a living playing and tending bar, he moved to the US to superintend at the (by those days' standard) "monster" Martin Pollman & Co. works in NYC in 1876 (which allowed JH Martin the opportunity to work at Conn for a couple years while Distin covered what had been his role). In 1878, he started making the same designs he had made in England in partnership with first FW Busch, and then Moses Slater in New York. In 1882, he moved to Pennsylvania and started Distin & Pincus, a publisher, but within two years (while Slater continued building the same horns under his own name without Distin), set up Henry Distin manufacturing in Philadelphia to make his horns for JW Pepper. In 1889, he moved the company to Williamsport and sold it shortly thereafter to his superintendent, Brua C. Keefer. Keefer operated under the Distin name until 1909 when he put his own name on the firm.

Keefer instruments are descended from Distin and the classic British brass band Boosey & Hawkes tradition, but with American influences. (Sorry, no Besson)

I have not played the model in question, but the Keefers I have encountered are not in the French trumpet sound spectrum. Clearer perhaps than a lot of their period American competitors such as Vega, Peddler, Buescher, etc. But French? I don't know . . . .

{also, my information indicates that Keefer serial numbers start at 20,000. Did you omit a digit?}






Pure Gold Oldschool! I'm sure it's a lovely horn but not for me. But for someone who would like it, its silver, pretty darn straight from what I can see in the pics and I'm told the valves are free. US$300 is the asking and I'd say well worth that. This one is the no frills version, I think the William's was the big open model with a 3rd valve throw. . I'll keep looking...
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Evinerate
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had several Keefer Williams and a few Keefer JR trumpets, the Keefer Williams line from Keefer were most likely a model originally endorsed by the trumpet player Ernest Williams. There are also plain Keefer trumpets that do NOT have the Williams name or JR name and are different than the Besson copies.

Keefer Williams trumpets were definitely modeled after the prewar French Bessons and I've had a few of them that were modeled after the different configurations of the Besson trumpets as well.

These Keefer Williams and JR trumpets play similarly to Bessons but I notice they sound more thicker and "rounder" with a bit less brilliance than Besson and Benge trumpets. They definitely have passive resistance like the Besson trumpets have and it is fun to play the horns in the upper register. Not to mention, these Besson Copy Keefers are much heavier than the Besson/Benge trumpets.

For the KEEFER-WILLIAMS and KEEFER JR model line, they all share a strange bore size indicator code system. Most manufactures would indicate the bore size from the smallest number 1 to the largest, usually 3, KEEFER WILLIAMS AND KEEFER JR instruments seems to have it backwards as number "1" being the "Large Bore" .462 bore and "2" being the small/medium .438 bore. The non-Besson Keefers have the standard bore size indicator system with .480 being the biggest I've seen on a 1930s example.

I also had a rare "3" bore which was a silver KEEFER WILLIAMS with the same under slung 3rd slide ring configurations that many medium bore versions had but the bell was very narrow peashooter style bell.


At the moment, I have a KEEFER WILLIAMS "1" large bore for restoration right now at Josh Landress Brass and the bell has the same extensive cupid baby engraving that are on the Gold Plated Keefer Williams trumpets but the bell is a 2 piece bell, with the metal changing from yellow brass to red brass halfway from the middle of the bell to the bell rim. It is a "copy" of a Besson Rapuano (slightly longer 3rd valve slides with no rings or intonation helpers).
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OldSchoolEuph
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread got me curious, so I looked into the model a bit. There are some visual similarities to a Besson, and the slide geometry, a key detail in how a horn centers, looks pretty close. But the bell flare doesn't look like much of a match for the Besson bells I have. Also, the leadpipe taper would be critical, as would bell thickness and annealing. I really doubt Keefer would have had the resources or desire to match at that level. The bell taper looks rather British to me - but then the camera may be distorting that.

At any rate, it appears these are somewhat sought after. Some people have paid impressive amounts for them.
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Evinerate
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not that that is out of the way,

Here is some Keefer-Williams eye candy from when i had a bunch of them,















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Leeway
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems that in the day, players and thus manufacturers were going for a darker sound than continental makers, but still utilising the Besson Pattern.

It's an interesting era and some great trumpets were around it seems. For someone wanting that sound - which many makers are still exploring, some of the higher level instruments would be very usable I would think.

It also seems there are still plenty of case queens around that saw little use and havent seen the light of day for generations. Enter: the Trad guys.....
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jrpbrass
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 6:36 am    Post subject: Keefer Williams Trumpets Reply with quote

Keefer-Williams trumpets are great playing horns but you might want to buy one from a seller who can tell you the bore size and valve condition. I have had one that played terrible due to worn valves but I have one now in the 25K range with a "1" bore that plays fantastic. My bore is 0.458" so they may not all be consistent since another response here has a "1" at 0.462". I cannot compare the sound with a Besson but a friend of mine has a pre-war Besson and loved the sound of my Keefer. The Keefer is trying to imitate the look of the Besson and even though it might not sound quite the same, it's still a bargain for a good playing horn.

I also had an earlier Keefer trumpet with the Bb/A rotary valve in the 10k range from about 1918 that was a #2 with a 0.462" bore size.
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Evinerate
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for the bore size indicator for KEEFER-WILLIAMS OR KEEFER JR trumpets as I posted several months ago, the bore size referencing system seems to be backwards from the standard system most manufacturers use.

Number "1" being the largest size bore offered at .460 or .462

Number "2" being medium bore at .435, .438 OR .440

Number "3" being the same sizes as bore #2 but with a very narrow peashooter bell.

Beautiful instruments that play great but have a short history, I'm glad I still own 2 Keefer Williams both in #1 large bore sizes, they are fantastic playing and have a character that is reminiscent of the old Bessons but have more of a distinct edge to them.
Keefer is also rumored to have sold tooling to Benge back in the day.
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yourbrass
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the pistons (valves) are loose, it will be difficult to tell anything. That's why valve refitting is the issue w/old horns. It's really expensive now and very few reliable people are doing it.
So if you have money to blow...
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jrpbrass
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:50 pm    Post subject: Keefer Bore Sizes Reply with quote

I recently bought two beautiful Keefer trumpets; a Keefer-Williams in the 25k range and a JR in the 10k range which is nearly identical but lacks the third slide adjustment. Both are a #2 bore and measure 0.435". Both have a great sound and smooth valves. The JR is nearly mint condition and has a satin silver finish. Their original cases are identical which leads me to believe that they are not too far apart in age despite the serial number.

My only complaint with these trumpets is the odd valve guide system with the removable pin. These are friction fit and have a tendency to fall out on occasion. My one K-W started playing bad during a band rehearsal so I pulled the valve to see that the pin had fallen out allowing the valve to drift. After that I soldered them all in.
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mike ansberry
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beautiful horns.

Stupid question- do any of these have the cool finger button inlays?
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jrpbrass
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:10 am    Post subject: Keefer Finger Buttons Reply with quote

No enamel finger buttons on these two but that is a rare option on the later K-W trumpets. I have them on two cornets from the teens but these later trumpets have a rounded silver plated edge with a large pearl insert.

You can view them all at www.brasshistory.net/museum.html [/img]
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DickieG64
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Recently I had my 1973 Schilke B3L in for a tune up with Dr Valve. They said that the bell was made by the Keefer company. I had never heard of the Keefer company at that time. They said back in the day Schilke made some horns with those bells on them. I assume it is the same company?
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OldSchoolEuph
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DickieG64 wrote:
Recently I had my 1973 Schilke B3L in for a tune up with Dr Valve. They said that the bell was made by the Keefer company. I had never heard of the Keefer company at that time. They said back in the day Schilke made some horns with those bells on them. I assume it is the same company?


Steve Winans certainly knows a lot about Schilke, but it seems a bit odd given that Keefer was wiped out by a fire in 1960.
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jrpbrass
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:57 am    Post subject: Keefer Bells Reply with quote

A 1973 Schilke using a Keefer bell is impossible unless they had some really old stock. By the 1940 US Census there was no one left listed in Williamsport as an instrument maker and only two left at Keefer who may have been capable of making one; Brua Keefer Jr and Arthur Magliocco (who was listed by then as just repairs). I am sure all the tooling was destroyed in the 1960 fire then Brua died in 1973.
I wonder where that story came from?
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