In 1981, Zigmant Kanstul founded Kanstul Musical Instruments, building fine brasswinds both under his own name and for venerable marques like F. Besson. But the story didn’t start there. Zig’s career as a brassmaker began in 1952, at F.E. Olds & Son in Los Angeles. There, he apprenticed and honed his skills under the direction of Foster A. Reynolds, a giant in the history of brasswind design and manufacturing. In 1970, after 18 years at Olds, eventually leading R&D and production, Zig left to assume the position of Vice President at King Musical Instruments, in charge of the Benge Trumpet factory. He subsequently became Vice President of Manufacturing for C.G. Conn.
Brass historian R. Dale Olson, describing Zig’s beginnings at Olds in his book, Zig Kanstul: Last of the Great Masters,* highlights his place in the line of American brasswind makers, as can be traced from Samuel Graves in 1824, through such figures as Elbridge G. Wright, Thomas Dudley Paine, J. Lathrop Allen, Isaac Fiske, James W. York and Foster Reynolds:
“It was, in 1952, an opportunity for a young craftsman from Minneapolis, Minnesota to eventually move into a very remarkable cluster of historically important individuals within the ﬁeld of brass instrument making. This assemblage had formed a continuous sequence dating to the early 19th Century and destined to terminate in the 21st Century. Over sixty-four years after he ﬁrst moved to California, Zig Kanstul would eventually become recognized as the last of the great masters of brass musical instrument design and construction, with a professional genealogy traced back over 175 years.”
Today, Kanstul Musical Instruments, under the direction of Zig’s sons Mark and Jack, continues to innovate and build the finest and fullest line of brasswind instruments—from raw brass stock to finish— in the original factory located in Anaheim, California. Just one mile from Disneyland and within driving distance of the Hollywood studios, the factory is a hub of activity, not just for building horns, but for artists, design colleagues, tours and events.
*Zig Kanstul: Last of the Great Masters by R. Dale Olson, Edited by Robb Stewart (268 pp, hardcover and paperback), is an account of the lineage of the great masters of American brass musical instrument making, culminating in the story of Zig Kanstul, In it, Olson walks the reader through the history of significant brass design innovation and manufacturing in the United States, from 1824 to 2016.
Being a complex, often mystifying, melding of art and science, the creation of fine brass instruments has involved the passing down of knowledge, hand-to-hand, from one master craftsman to the next, in the ongoing quest for higher quality and more artistically idealized instruments. This book traces that development with both a technical and very personal focus.
The book is available through Kanstul Musical Instruments. Contact us for more information.
Zigmant J. Kanstul
(1929–2016) – Founder
Mark Kanstul, President
In more ways than one, Mark was born into the world of brassmaking. First, as the son of Zig Kanstul, but also having been given the middle name of Foster, in honor of his father’s mentor and master brass builder, Foster Reynolds.
He started his musical manufacturing career at the age of seven, assembling music lyre holders for F. E. Olds & Son in his father’s garage for a penny apiece. At age sixteen, while still in high school, Mark became the night janitor for Benge Trumpet Company. His father, general manager at the time, told Mark that this was the best way to learn the business—from the ground up. And Mark has done exactly that.
Having spent most of his life in one or another brassmaking capacity, this challenging work is in his blood. He has learned both the science and the art of building horns from the best—his father—and through him, from Foster Reynolds and Elden Benge. We can’t predict, but it would be no surprise if this remarkable chain passing along skills and knowledge continues into the future. In the year 2000, Mark’s son Alex was born, and Alex has had music and instrument-making around him his whole life.
Jack Kanstul, VP, Sales & Marketing
Jack started his musical career marching with the Anaheim Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps, and at age thirteen performed with the Disneyland Herald Trumpets under the direction of Ron Logan. He was also a charter member of the Velvet Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, which his family helped start in 1963.
Growing up in Southern California, Jack had the privilege of studying trumpet under Harold “Pappy” Mitchell, James Stamp and Claude Gordon. At the same time, he began his education in the art of brass-building doing assembly work and testing instruments that Zig was developing for F.E. Olds & Son. This led to years of working under his father, at Olds, and later at the Benge Trumpet Company. In 1994, Jack became Kanstul Musical Instruments’ first sales manager.
In addition to handling sales, Jack works together with Mark in accommodating special customer requests, including material, design, color and feature variations.
Troy Emmons, Production Control
Since 1992, Troy has been an indispensable craftsman for Kanstul, having learned the fundamentals and details of brassmaking directly from Zig. His duties include instrument R&D, production and inventory control, and of course building Kanstul horns.
Carrie Roybal, Office Manager
Carrie has worked at the factory since January 1997. In addition to her accounting duties, she handles all of Kanstul’s front-end communications with customers and dealers.
Laura Bernardino, Shipping and Export Manager
Since 1991, Laura has been a key member of the Kanstul team. Her current duties include order entry, instrument engraving, polishing and shipping.
Duwayne Yee, Trombone Production
A life-long brass player, Duwayne worked at F.E. Olds & Son beginning in 1964—later at the Benge Trumpet Company—and has been with Kanstul from the start. With over 40 years of hornmaking experience, Duwayne is a superb craftsman and highly-valued member of our team.