This Kanstul 920 piccolo trumpet is built in Anaheim, California, and is visibly similar to the Schilke P5-4, from whom it gets its inspiration. A few details separate these kin. The Kanstul has a larger bore of .460" through the pistons versus .450" of the Schilke. The Kanstul bell is 4" diameter, made of brass, though various bell options of gold or red brass, or copper are available for a small charge. The Kanstul is lacking any finger hook for the right hand. Players using four fingers on the right hand won't notice, but players preferring to finger 3+1 could possibly be put off by the omission. The Kanstul does offer an adjustable third valve slide and finger ring to allow easier pitch adjustment, and includes 2 separate leadpipes pitched in Bb and A. Further pitch adjustment for changing keys is done by pulling all the valve slides out slightly for the key of A. The Kanstul is a beautiful instrument, but we think the fit and finish is of a slightly lesser quality than the Schilke. Sometimes buffing or polishing marks can show on the Kanstul, the pistons may need multiple cleanings and a longer break in time, and there's just a little bit less shine to the instrument. That said, the Kanstul is still a popular professional quality instrument, and it has a very nice price as well. The Kanstul includes Bb and A mouthpipes, mouthpiece, and a Gladstone hard case. The standard mouthpipe receiver is for cornet shank mouthpieces.
Specs aside, how does it play? Look at any trumpet forum on the internet, and you'll find opposing opinions. Our take is that the Schilke, the standard for excellence in a piccolo trumpet, has a slightly smaller, compact, clear sound, nearly perfect pitch, and is the easiest to play. The response is even from top to bottom, and though the slightly smaller bore may create more back pressure for some, it can ease the effort needed for the high range for most players. Piccolo trumpet is a difficult challenge in the best of situations, and the Schilke can make things a bit easier. The Kanstul is quite surprising. The tone is a bit broader and warmer, and it sounds a little louder. Pitch is also nearly perfect, though the feel of the horn may not be as even throughout the entire range. To me (Steve), the Kanstul sounds a bit more enticing. There's something captivating about the sound and volume. For a strong player, you can play louder on the Kanstul without risking a shrill sound. To play some large jumps from the low to high range may take more effort for some players. One local snarked that you might play a Kanstul until you can afford a Schilke. But truly these horns are quite different in price, and that's important too. Not everyone cares to spend everything they have, and more, on a niche instrument such as this. And varying tastes among the many opinionated trumpeters will ensure that both models find happy homes.
For 2015, Kanstul has upgraded their facilities to improve buffing and polishing, lacquering, and cleaning of their instruments. Our previous comments about obvious finish blemishes on Kanstul instruments may be a thing of the past.