ZKT 1503 Review!

Discussion in 'Horns' started by Heavens2kadonka, Jul 2, 2004.

  1. Heavens2kadonka

    Heavens2kadonka Forte User

    Jun 17, 2004
    Lebanon, TN
    I planned on waiting for the ten day trial period to end but, being the impatient person I am, I couldn't wait to post my first day thoughts and impressions! Here goes:

    DAY 1: The Post Office.

    Opened the package there, and immediately noticed the Pro-Tec contour case. My reaction was a sort of "The funk?" This was the first pro-tec case I had seen for a trumpet, and I was almost half-expecting some version of those ugly-butt egg-shaped clarinet and sax cases I have become used to seeing around these parts. I was pleasantly surprised, and very much like the case, although I am not fond of velcro (Not that this will be my proudest recollection, but I had some trouble getting the velcro binders together later on....)

    I then proceeded to open the case. I was surprised and sort of agitated that the case doesn't open up a full 180 degrees, but not so agitated I'm going to write any more about it.

    I then proceeded to look down. OOOOOO... Shiny. The very first thing that caught my eye was that the color of the slides are lighter tinted (I'm partially color-blind, so I'm not going to embarass myself with guessing if the color is manilla or yellow). It also had a smell I have never smelled on a trumpet before (the smell was akin to cork grease, but milder.. SPICED CORK GREASE!).

    Using my glow clothes (The post office employees were staring at me) as a make-shift glove, I pulled out the horn. The bell portion of the Pro Tec case was stubborn, and didn't want to part with the trumpet, so I spent another few second fiddling with that. That done, I started looking at the horn.

    No dings, no scratches. Unblemished.

    Noticed the larger bell and valves almost immediately. I hadn't brought my mouthpiece with me, so I couldn't test it just yet. I returned the trumpet to the case (the bell holder of the case gave a bit of trouble again), and left for my sanctum.



    I immediately laid the horn case on the couch, next to my '94 bach strad (I can start calling the strad mine, I guess!), pulled out my 68MD, slid it into yon Kanstul (no problem with the mouthpiece reciever), and started to play.

    I played my basic C scale, stopped, went "Duh-huuuuhh!?" and played my D scale. Amazing sound, and I can tell and feel the difference already! I could sometimes when I was really into my strad create this secondary "hum" of what I was playing in my ears. One of the best things I like about the 1503 is that all I have to do is think and move a LITTLE bit towards where I THINK it is, and darned if I can produce that "hum"! Never have I actually just sit around in my living room (AHEM, studio!) and just play notes in a warm-up to just hear them, or maybe "feel them" is the term I am searching for...

    SCORE (Out of Five Stars): *****


    After a bit more scale/chromaticness, I proceeded to whip out my Concone lyrical studies, and play through a few of my favorite passages (#17 is my favorite). Slurs are noticeably improved, for instance from second-octave F to First F, are EXCELLENT. It's almost like all I have to do is WILL it, and the horn slides down to my destination perfectly! The slurs From the second octave to my sub-octave (Below low C but not quite pedal?) are also much improved (though I can tell now it's me doing the slight "fuf-sound" mistakes when I initially hit those low notes. I can no longer blame the strad fo my imcompetence :D )

    When I wasn't stopping on notes to "hum" (I've found a new habit!), I would use a slight to moderate jaw vibrato. The vibrato sound I perceived coming out of the Kanstul was what I have been wanting to create- the "hmhmhmhm" sound, NOT the "wahawaha" that has plagued me for SO long. Again, super sound!

    SCORE (Out of 5 Stars): *****


    Now that my hunger for playing has been slackened slightly (Price is Right was one, haha), I spent the time off looking at the difference in design between my strads and yon Kanstul.

    Taking the thing apart, found everything to clear very well (I always watch the main tuning slide-bell clearance, I HATE DINGING BELLS!!). The space between the 3rd valve slide was also what I have been searching for, when I clean a horn, I DESPISE not being able to reach an area of the trumpet. Strads are hard to clean in the space between the third valve slide loop and the part of the lower bracing that is obstructed by the slides, it was ALL so easy to reach. For an obsessive-compulsive like me, I thank the 1503 designers heartily.

    Noticed the rings on the horn are smaller than any horn I have ever played on. Of course, I didn't notice this until this time, but now it feels a bit differently in my hand.

    I'm going to have to get used to amado water keys, I keep reaching for the lever! Minor nuisance though. THANK YOU for putting a water key on the 3rd valve slide! Removing stop nuts was so annoying....

    The way the trumpet prevents the 1st and 3rd slides from falling out is INGENIOUS. The screws are almost invisible to the naked eye, and seem more build into the horn than two nubs with a screw and two nuts soldered onto the bottom of the horn.

    The bell is larger than what I am used to, but I cannot get the specs on the diameter or bore (DARN KANSTUL AND ITS 404 NOT FOUNDNESS).

    SCORE (Out of Five Stars): ***** (WHATS THE BORE AND DIAMETER!?!)


    Obee-Kaybee, after a brief warm-up, I pulled out my tattered Arban and decided to play the back sections (Like most everyone else, ignore the front :D ).
    Played intro and theme on Fantaisie Brilliante.



    %[email protected]%!^%#$^%#$*&(*&(&......

    After THAT initial reaction, I remembered Dr. D's essay on how you sacrifice slotting and tone for flexibility.


    [email protected]#&[email protected]%#&%@$&@^%.....

    I then started thinking. "It IS a new horn, and everything new I've ever had brass wise, from trumpet to mouthpieces, needs a settling-in period."

    Of course I knew this was right, but I


    Still needed to vent. Its not like I have a gig to play with this horn in the next week, and I AM wanting a heavy horn, flexibility problems or not. I have the patience, and its not like I'm doing anything else...

    So, after playing The Little Swiss Boy, Favorite Theme, Carnival of Venice, and the ending of Norma (The only part of it I LIKE), I called it a mid-day, and went to my room to play some Diablo 2 and grumble.

    SCORE (Out of Five Stars): ***.. (Probably just a bad practice, I've had them MANY times before).


    So, later in the evening my father arrives from work, wanting to see what all the fuss was about. He looked it over too, immediately noticing the diference in size, and immediately noted a change in sound.

    He thought the sound was actually brighter to him.

    My mother arrives, and she too does the same thing, and I play a bit for her too.

    She thinks the sound is darker.

    Two different opinions on what the trumpet produces? Well, must remember this for a later test :) .

    I have been thinking more about sound than price, but I am hoping to get to try a Wild Thing sometime (Mr. Turner is to call me soon), was hoping to try a ZeuS Guarnerius (No reply to my e-mail in a week at least), and am meaning to drive over to Decatur and Blackburn's sometime (Town's so backwoods, is frightening. Its almost dumfounding how such a renouned trumpet maker hides in the boon-dogs of Tennessee like that..). In all but the ZeuS's case, they are over one grand more expensive. I'm just hoping I can tell a grand's worth of difference, is all I am saying..

    So generally, the reception towards the horn is good, though they can't decide weither its darker or brighter. They noted a great improvement over my over horns, which is what I wanted.

    SCORE (Out of Five Stars): *****


    Ahh, when everyone else in my class is out partying, here I am practicing. I guess we all have different values, heh.

    Pulled out older quintet music. Played arrangement of All Beautiful the March of Days.

    My range has returned slightly.

    I could reach the high Bb before it sounded forced, which relieved me (slightly). My max range is still cut to a C#, which is annoying, but not too bad, I guess.

    Sounded good, so I went on the Intrade from Pezel's Three Pieces.

    My tonguing in the upper register was slightly forced, but maybe it's because I am shot.

    I'M SHOT!?!?!?

    I only practiced three hours, in hour increments over the day, and I shot myself? Guh, no gooooooood. Hulk smash. HULK SMASH.

    So, I finished with a good warm down (could still get the "hum", so I felt better). I tested the baby right good, and, even though I shot myself on second octave G to C *SHUDDERS*, I guess I will have to call it a day.

    SCORE: ***.. (HULK SMASH!!)

    Well, that was my thought on yesterday's playing. Overall, I thought it went excellent (Minor complaints aside). I might not like having to re-work range (when it was still comparatively small), but the ends justify the means. I was hoping to also get some curry heavy valve caps, and a Wartburg backbore. Won't that be good for range :) ?

    Today, day two of trial, will be a review/chill day for me (My lips are mushy on the inside, dangit). Tomorrow, I will resume testing with playing in an open environment (my pature), and a closed environment (Basement). I also hope to get some time in my college's concert hall, but Dr. Farnsley hasn't returned my call, so I dunno.. Literature for day 3 will be something a bit harder, increasing the difficulty rating, so to speak. The review for day 3 will be posted Sunday morning, same bat-time, same bat-channel!

    Van "Bb" Bryant
    (Never curse in an audition if you played concert pitch scales!)
  2. W Scott

    W Scott Piano User

    Dec 8, 2003
    Carson City, NV.
    Sounds like you might have a horn with a bigger bore than your Strad. That can cut down your range. You may also have to change to a different mouthpiece to fit this horn. The other thing about horns is that the real 'electric kool aid acid test' of whether the horn will work for you seems to come after you've had it for about a month. By then the 'gee whiz' phase has worn off and reality has set in. All horns have a shortcoming or two----the question is, can you live with it?

    Have fun!
  3. Heavens2kadonka

    Heavens2kadonka Forte User

    Jun 17, 2004
    Lebanon, TN
    EXCELLENT IDEA! I shall use different mouthpieces for the playing tomorrow (I have a 5b bach, 2 5c bach that feel different, a 3c blessing, and *URGH* a Jet-tone merian C...).

    Yeah, I guess I am in the gee-whiz phase. Maybe that'll wear off a little quicker than you say it should (I only have it until next Friday!), and I can eventually make the decision about what horn is the one for me?
  4. Kanstulbrass

    Kanstulbrass Pianissimo User

    Nov 10, 2003
    Anaheim, CA
    ZKT 1503 specs


    http://www.kanstul.net/pages/instruments/zk models/zkt1503m.html

    The 404 phenomena you are experiencing is easily resolved. Those buttons are "rollovers" so don't click on them.

    Sorry about the confusion. I inherited the website and I don't have time to re-do 90 pages of instrument specs; we'll all have to just roll over the "Specs" and "About" buttons. 8)

  5. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    Van, you probably need a little tighter thoat and/or backbore on that mpc. You need to really play around with mpcs to find a match. If you can't find a better match, then you probably shouldn't keep the horn.

    Let the excitement wear off and then try a few other mpcs (a 68MD is pretty big). 3C is a good place to start, or a GR3 or 66M or 66MX.

  6. Heavens2kadonka

    Heavens2kadonka Forte User

    Jun 17, 2004
    Lebanon, TN

    Seems tomorrow, or day three of the trial, I will get to go over to my friend and trumpet compatriot's house (STUDIO!) for some playing of horns.

    Should be interesting. He plays on a B&S Challenger and Holton something (Theres nothing on it, its laquer, older model, and plays as good as a professional. Maybe he just got real lucky and found an excellent intermediate horn.) and perfers brighter sounds from his horns. He also plays on mouthpieces I have been meaning to try, a bach 7C and 1 1/2C, so I can see if the mouthpiece has some to do with the flexibility change.


    I'm not big on mouthpieces. In fact, until last summer, I hadn't played on one mouthpiece I liked (3C Blessing, 5C Bach, 5B Bach, Merian C Jet-Tone, A VERY shallow-rimed mouthpiece I could hit extremely high notes on, but lost all tone with, and a Bach 1C I never REALLY tried, but found it more comfortable.). My lips are considerably large (Not quite Steven Tyler, but they are quite large), and I always had trouble with my lips buzzing out of the mouthpiece. With the 5B, I didn't like the "Swimming Pool" feel AT ALL, so I almost had to be content with my 5C I had played on since 5th grade.

    My last trumpet teacher let me use an old 68MD he had stopped using. It's in my case today, and its the only mouthpiece I can feel comfortable using, really. The rims soft and more fitting for me, and the depth is not overly too deep or shallow. If anything, I've been thinking about getting ANOTHER 68MD (The dings in my rim are starting to irritate my lips slightly)!

    I tried playing the Kanstul on my other mouthpieces. They sucked, plain and simple. The 5C was the closest to my liking, and it didn't work with me in the upper register as much as I have come accustomed to (I'm such a strange one with my trumpeting and how I like it..).

    I do believe you're (much) more educated than me in trumpet testing than me, Dave, so I will make it my other mission to test as many mouthpieces on the Kanstul as I can, though. Its like a mouthpiece King of the Hill match!


    The link works, but when I select "specs", it leads to the 404 error again. I'll just go ahead and make the assumption that by the looks of things, the 1503 has a larger bore :D .
  7. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    Doesn't a 68MD measure .68" in inside rim diameter. If so, that's large, if not, I don't understand the nomenclature. I'm no expert on large lips (mine are fairly thin), but I do know some very thick lipped players that use mpcs as small as .62" for lead and in the .65 to .67" range for "legit."

    The .460" bore of the 1503 would make you think that it'll blow much like a ml Bach 72, but your loss of range makes me think it's blowing too free for you. Tighter backbores and/or throats will usually compensate for this.

    Scurry around an find as many mpcs as you can to try to find a match. If you can't find a match, you'll never be happy with a horn that takes away that much range.

  8. King High

    King High New Friend

    Feb 19, 2004

    You are asking about the specs. If I am on the Kanstul 1503 page and click on 'specs' I get the same error. If I just roll over it, they will show up. You might try that. Anyway, the bell is 4 7/8" . The bore size is .460. It is a 25-O mouthpipe. I thought that would be a good match for you based on our phone conversation and from reading your post in the Zeus forum where you talked about the Blackburn pipe. And based on your initial response to the 1503, I think I guessed right.

    Now you've gotten some advice from people here on switching out mouthpieces. I am going to tell you the opposite.
    If you have been consistently using that 68MD on your Bachs, you ought to be able to play it on the Kanstul. If not, send it back.

    With all of the playing time you put in on that horn already, you may simply have tired chops. Give them a break. That actually happens a lot. The thrill of a new horn just makes us want to play it non-stop in the beginning. I'm telling you, if you have tired chops and a new horn, then go switching around a bunch of mouthpieces you will end up totally confusing your chops and nothing is going to work for you.

    I really think the loss of range is temporary, and not the horn or the mouthpiece. There is no solid reason why that 1503 won't perform as well or better in the high end than your Bach. Come back to it fresh and stick to the mouthpiece you are used to.

    PC King
    PiCK Music
  9. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    Priscilla may be right, you may have practiced too much and you’re just worn out (not the horn). Get your lips well rested. Do some leadpipe buzzing as part of your warm up to make sure your fully "connected" with the Kanstul. After you're warmed up, do that range testing again, switching back and forth between your reference horn (your best Bach) and the Kanstul. A/B testing is the only way to draw fair conclusions.

    If you still have range problems (differences between the reference and the Kanstul), then try to analyze why (too much resistance, too little resistance, different slotting, etc.). The too much or too little resistance issues can and should be addressed with a mpc change if the horn has other superior qualities that make you want to keep it. I've seen too many people diss a horn because they didn't understand the mpc/horn/player system. In this case, I suspect that the 1503 should feel reasonably close to your two Bachs except it's got a 72 bell and a 25 leadpipe. What are on your Bachs?

    Hope you can work out your issues with seems to be a nice horn.

    BTW, why don't you sell one of the Bachs? Your parents have been extremely supportive of your trumpet "habit", so why don't you contribute to the family cash flow by paring down the inventory a little. Sounds like one Bach is clearly superior to the other. In my own experience, when one horn blows the other away, the less favored just sits in the closet.

  10. Heavens2kadonka

    Heavens2kadonka Forte User

    Jun 17, 2004
    Lebanon, TN
    DAY 3: CARTHAGE, TN. L.M.'S STUDIO (heh)

    Alright, picture two guys in an empty apartment room. I'm in a fold-out lawn chair, my friend's in a computer chair. We're using our trumpet cases as makeshift stands, and we're reading duets and changing horns and annoying neighbors.

    I'm in heaven..

    When we weren't sight-reading duets out of old folders and arban and an old Baroque trumpet book, we were playing whatever pieces the other had.

    I had Aria con Variozioni and Petite Piece Concertante, he had Clarke's Carnival of Venice and Haydn's Concerto. I sight-read Clarke and Haydn valiantly, but crashed and burned horrifically at the hands of Carnival's finale (I should have known by the name of the arranger it just HAD to go to third-F!! :D ).

    The B&S was actually slightly DARKER in tone than my better strad, but one could DEFINITELY hear a difference when the Challenger and the 1503 played together.

    Today my range had returned for the most part, with the range now maxing at C#. Maybe it was just the fact I had to play with someone as good (if not better) as myself! This had to have been true, because the two hours of intense playing didn't hit me until after we decided to end.
    ***Also, you guys were right about playing too much. I played 100% better after rest!***

    I had a slight complaint with the 1503 valves still being new, and much more resistant when compared to the others (I personally LIKE hearing my valves hit!). I also could tell I have been a bred Bach man for years, the tuning with the strad was easier. However, I was more consistant with the 1503, and I felt that places where I would have normally crashed and burned (the jumpy parts, you know what I mean) came out overall better (though I still crashed and burned, haha).

    SCORE (Out of 5 Stars): ****.

    Day 4 shall be another rest/warm down/fireworks day. Day 5, I wil start on Clarke and Bitsch etudes! Stay tuned, same bat time, same bat channel!

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