Acoustically Elegant describes this beautiful Kanstul trombone. Custom built in Southern California by one of the premier brass makers in the world, the Kanstul model 1662 has been one of our most popular bass trombones. Its beauty arises from its simplicity and graceful curves, ease of response, distinctive tone, and user comfort.
One of Kanstul's talents is designing a horn that will recreate a vintage sound. That's an obscure concept, but they are very good at it. In this case the vintage sound is from one of the classic bass trombones of the 20th century: the Conn 62H. Introduced around 1968, the 62H is a rare and fairly unusual design. It is among several vintage Conn trombones that featured a one-piece conical bell section and no tuning slide at its posterior. The Conn's tuning adjustment was instead located within the bracing of the hand slide. This design was not a new concept, going back to at least the 1890s. Tuning in the slide was the primary design of several trombone makers in the early 20th century. Production of the 62H only lasted a few years, but that vintage instrument has been embraced by players worldwide to this day.
What's it About?
A well proportioned trombone is about 2/3 cylindrical and 1/3 conical. A movable tuning slide in the tapered bell section is counter to this idea. The tuning slide sleeves add a straight section to an otherwise expanding part of the instrument, so they're right out. Absent those parts, a perfectly tapered bell section can be had. Additional bracing is located in the hand slide to allow tuning adjustment, but it's minimal if done well. Flugelhorns tune in the same fashion. With its tuning adjustment in the mouthpipe, a flugelhorn achieves a nearly perfect conical taper throughout the instrument.
Benefits of Tuning in the Slide
Why should you want this? It's magical. You'll play a warmer, broader, more open sound with less effort, better in tune harmonics, and a liveliness of tone and projection. It's noticeable; you can hear it. Anyone can hear it. We've inadvertently converted players who didn't believe they would like such a trombone. We simply handed them a Kanstul bass trombone, let them play a bit, and enjoyed their contagious smile.
Adjusting the tuning mechanism is not complicated: Simply loosen the small knob 1/4 turn, slide the hand brace up or down until you're at the desired pitch, then re-tighten. Usually a 1 centimeter extension is about right. To compliment this setting, play the open Bb also about 1cm out from the bumpers. This encourages a more fluid slide technique, easier pitch adjustment on any harmonic, and greater technical agility. It also limits bumping the hand slide into the cork barrels and rattling your teeth.
Over 40 years old and counting, those Elkhart Conn trombones are difficult to find. Despite their fame, they have issues...
The Vintage Conn 62H
Despite these limitations, the Conn was a workable instrument at the time, and still is. Many have been improved by repair technicians, including the well respected Larry Minick of Los Angeles. Minick instigated many of the improvements now featured on modern bass trombones. Minick added crossover linkage systems, open wrap loops, Bb/F/D tuning, new mouthpipes, and ported rotors. His designs inspired this Kanstul as much as any vintage instrument did. The Kanstul is an evolution of ideas from several instruments, and is a notable improvement over the vintage trombones in many respect.
Kanstul 1662 Innovations
The Kanstul CR rotors are notable and deserve additional mention. These rotors were designed to improve the open feel and resonance of the horn, but also allow some efficiency and crispness of attack by not being too open. Compared to a vintage horn, you'll find you can relax and breathe into this instrument, rather than pushing in the low range. Compared to a Thayer or axial rotor, a CR equipped horn feels more efficient, and is not such an air hog. Despite being oversize, the Kanstul rotor is very light. It is formed of individual tubes soldered inside a lightweight skeleton. Unlike heavier rotors machined from a solid rod, the CR rotor should resonate like the open horn. The rotor linkage is designed for a very short throw, and can be adjusted for hand size and length of throw.
Included: Protec PB309 hard case, three .562" mouthpipes