Wild Thing Bb S/n 5513 GOLD PLATE by Flip Oakes Flip has retired from making Wild Things, now’s your chance to own and play a piece of history!
With over 45 years of playing experience, Flip Oakes has designed a trumpet that surpasses all others. All Flip Oakes Wild Thing Bb trumpets are made to enhance the sound and style you, the player choose to express. Each Wild Thing Trumpet, Cornet, and Flugelhorn is intricately set up by Flip Oakes personally, to ensure accuracy and the best in consistency and quality. Among many other qualities, each Wild Thing instrument provides: Extraordinarily open and free blowing The fastest response found in any horn Strong slotting Unsurpassed carrying power Incredible ease of flexibility and movement Superb intonation When you play any Flip Oakes Wild Thing instrument, you will immediately hear and feel the difference. As you play higher and higher, these unique trumpets actually open up! With ease, you can produce a sound that is open and dark with a huge core while playing with a symphonic mouthpiece. Yet, it can also produce and extremely bright and vibrant ‘lead sound’ when played with a lead player’s set up, and the sound continues to retain its shape.Comes with two tuning slides (Total) the #1, #2, . Large Bore .470
The gold plating does not come cheap – but there are pretty! Walt Johnson single case, No Mpc
Flip Oakes Wild Thing Trumpets.
A performing musician from the age of 12, Flip spent many years working with instruments as both a player and repair technician, and eventually set out to realize his vision of the ultimate trumpet.
Flip’s comprehensive understanding of trumpet mechanics coupled with his innate talent gave him conﬁdence to experiment with trumpets. Flip played thousands of horns as a repair technician and owned over a hundred different trumpets in a variety of brands and bore sizes, all in search of an open trumpet with fast response that articulated with ease, and allowed for a wide range of play. He changed bells, switched leadpipes, altered slides, and manipulated braces. However, after several years of disappointing results, Flip realized that he was looking for a trumpet that didn’t exist. Inspired by his vision, Flip set out to design what he considered to be the ideal trumpet.
Conﬁdent in his precise design, Flip commissioned Zig Kanstul to build a horn exactly to his speciﬁcations. The result was a masterpiece. Since this unique trumpet didn’t yet have a name, Zig took it upon himself to engrave the bell with “Killer.” But as Flip introduced his trumpet to fellow players, they all said the same thing, “This thing is really WILD and I want one!”
The Flip Oakes “Wild Thing Trumpet” was born.
The Last of the Wild Thing Horn Line
An era has passed.
It began with an accident. Flip Oakes was living in Oceanside and working as a development player for Zig Kanstul, while holding down a job at Music Craft Industries in San Diego and playing gigs as much as seven days a week. He was offered an electric motor that Kanstul no longer needed, so Flip went up to the factory to pick it up. The motor was old, large and heavy. Flip loaded it into the bed of his pickup and headed home. In the bed was a soft case with his trumpet and flugelhorn. At some point in the traffic, Flip had to make a hard braking stop. The motor tumbled forward in the bed and crushed the trumpet. Fortunately, the flugelhorn survived, unscathed. This was the prototype for what became the Kanstul 1525 known at the factory as Flip’s Flugel, but to Flip it’s the Art Farmer flugelhorn.
At that time, Flip played a Claude Gordon Benge that he had modified with a reversed lead pipe and a Holton 302-MF bell. Flip had also modified that bell, opening up the tail to .468” to give him the open blow and broader sound he wanted. Being an accomplished brass repair technician, Flip set about putting the trumpet back in a playable condition. But, the horn never played as well after that. Flip began thinking about its replacement.
Nothing on the market in 1993 gave him what he was looking for, but because he was associated with Kanstul Musical Instruments, he thought he could work out a design that would suit. He and Zig walked the floor of the factory together and Flip spotted a certain bell mandrel. It was not a Bb trumpet bell. “Why don’t we use that?” he asked. Zig replied, “That will never work!”
Flip held his ground and Zig agreed to use the mandrel to make the new trumpet for him. That first horn was built with a .460” bore. It started out as a prototype for a defunct project for Doc Severinsen and Conn. Then, the Wild Thing bell was attached. The result was a unique horn with an odd proportion having an open wrap with a longer initial tubing assembly leading into the valve block and a correspondingly shorter bell tail, which brought the rim about 1-1/2” closer to the player. It was the most conical trumpet yet made and sort of a trumpet/cornet hybrid. When it came time to do the final finishing, Zig asked Flip what he wanted to call it. With his ever lurking sense of humor, Flip chose a name to reflect its boisterous demeanor and “Killer” was engraved on the bell.
Killer played surprisingly well. It had no lack of the carrying power, but Flip needed more sound and “room to work” for the large outdoor venues on tour, so he had Kanstul make three with a .470” bore for his own use. These Large bore valve blocks used ultra-thin inner slide tubes to get the larger inner diameter, keeping the same outer tubes as the standard weight ML valves. It gave these huge horns an agility and responsiveness that other trumpets just didn’t have. It also made for the most difficult-to-build trumpet design in Kanstul’s repertoire. But, it all worked! This was finally the horn Flip had been trying to find throughout his career as a player and repairman.
He began to take it out on tour. Flip played in a number of Dixieland Jazz bands that would travel to Classical Jazz festivals at different venues around the country. During the events, some players would ask him what he was playing and Flip would offer his trumpet for them to try. The response was always, “This thing is wild!” and often that would be followed by, “Can I buy it from you?” Pretty soon, Flip had sold the initial three horns and needed more made.
Demand from other players soon forced Flip to go into business and offer the horn for sale. When the time came to name it, Flip drew from his customers’ responses and named it the “Wild Thing.” Eventually, Flip added a flugelhorn, two cornet designs and a C trumpet to his product line. These all used the Wild Thing bell and are still highly treasured by their players as some of the finest playing and sounding instruments of their kind ever produced.
Later came the Celebration Bb trumpet, which used the basic “Wild Thing wrap” and valve section, but with a different, more traditional bell and somewhat tighter lead pipe. In the final year of Kanstul’s manufacturing, Flip developed and introduced the Inspiration and Legend Bb trumpets. These gave the prospective customer the choice of either a heavier, more focused Inspiration (based on a so-called “frankenhorn” that close friend Arturo Sandoval had developed using the Wild Thing bell, a Selmer valve block and Twin Tube lead pipe), or the Legend which is a traditional ML bore horn patterned after the Besson trumpets of the early 20th century. Just a handful each of these two models were made before Kanstul closed its doors.
All in all, more than 2000 Wild Thing trumpets, cornets and flugelhorn were built and sold between 1994 and 2019. At its peak, Flip Oakes Band Instruments sold 10-12 horns each month. That was up until the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, 2001. Small businesses of all types were hurt that day, but Flip’s business nearly disappeared. When we met in the Spring of 2009, Flip was soldiering on with a few sales each month. For me, these past ten years of friendship have been a Godsend and I have been happy to do my part to promote his instruments.
Over the last three years of so, Flip has been through some very tough physical challenges, but he has survived! His business has changed to where his offerings are made off-shore in Asia now and can be bought by those who are willing to purchase one of the early pilot production run of horns or who will wait for full production inventory to arrive. But, the Wild Thing line has come to an end. At least for now.
Enthusiasts know that B.A.C. Instruments purchased the tooling and leftover parts from Kanstul. It seems possible that they could eventually build Wild Thing trumpets and Flugelhorn. Flip has held onto the last examples of some of his instruments to have them as models if the opportunity arrives to build more.