The Powell Silver Eagle Saxophone – Designed by Mike Smith

Mike Smith at Howarth of London

On Friday 14th September we had a visit from Chicago saxophonist, Mike Smith, representing Verne Q. Powell.

Verne Q. Powell are renowned flute makers who have now joined forces with Mike Smith to design a brand new saxophone.

“Verne Q. Powell Flutes was founded in 1927 by Verne Powell to provide professional flutists with custom made precious metal flutes”

Olivia Wild, Social Media Coordinator and Saxophonist asked Mike Smith a few questions whilst showing the saxophone department at Howarth the New Silver Eagle Saxophone.

Saxophonist/Social Media Coordinator Olivia Wild and Mike Smith

How and why have you designed a new saxophone?

“I have been a designer with Keilwerth Saxophones for 20 years where I was working with a preexisting designs and features and could not fully achieve the sound I wanted from the horn; by joining with Verne Q. Powell, it meant I could design and build this saxophone from scratch. The Silver Eagle is my brainchild”

“I own vintage saxophones played by such greats as Cannonball Adderly and Charlie Parker and I wanted to build a contemporary version of these instruments that have that 1940s and 1950s sound with it’s big wide bore.”

“Powell owner, Steven Wasser,Canadian clarinet maker an amateur clarinet and sax player, John Weir and Juilliard trained clarinetist, sax player, and woodwind designer, Chris French agreed to help me build this horn.”

Stuart James and Phillip Evans with Mike Smith

Stuart James and Phillip Evans with Mike Smith

What techniques have Powell Instruments contributed to the design?

“Powell flutes have braised tone holes, meaning the tone holes

Mike Smith and Saxophone Technician Sebastian Cohen

Mike Smith and Saxophone Technician Sebastian Cohen

are drilled out after being drawn on. Braised tone holes cut down distortion, reduce stress on the body of the sax. They will be brazed on the tube by our team at the Powell flute factory. I say brazed and not soft soldered, King used this technique. I have a collection of these instruments from 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s that have never leaked. The Powell teams are masters of this technique.”

Take a look at the manufacturing photographs on the Powell Silver Eagle Saxophone Facebook page.

What are the features of the instrument?

“There are two models: The Eagle and The Silver Eagle. The Silver Eagle has a Sterling Silver bell and braised tone holes. Both have alternative pearl for the Bis key to allow for concave or convex pearls under the fingers and a 24 Carat Gold Wash on the inside of the bell”

Howarth Saxophone Department with Mike Smith

You can find their Facebook page for up to date info on the new saxophone.

The Powell Silver Eagle Saxophone Facebook Page

We are hoping to stock these instruments in the near future so keep an eye out for updates!

“I thought it was of the best saxophone I have played in recent years. It is very similar to American bore saxophone such as Conn or Buescher with a bit more clarity”Phillip Evans, Saxophone Specialist

“From seeing the initial saxophone on the facebook to testing the prototype in the shop, I have been very impressed. Seeing a new saxophone emerge on the market which is made by one the worlds top woodwind manufactures is a joy. This is the first time in my decade at Howarth that I have tried an modern instrument which genuinely has the character and appeal of a vintage saxophone; it has qualities that are different from any other type of modern sax and will give players a whole new sound set to consider. With the current fashion, playing on instruments such as the Conn 10M, this instrument has been developed at just the right time” – Stuart James – Saxophone Manager

Contact Howarth of London


About Howarth of London

Woodwind Specialists - Howarth are leading suppliers of oboes, bassoons, clarinets, saxophones and flutes. Makers of fine oboes, cors anglais & oboes d'amore.
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