There are so many things to say in tribute to Flip’s horns and service that a short, cohesive summary is hardly possible. So, I’ll just start talking…
A year ago I started playing trumpet after a 15 year ‘sabbatical’. The first horn I bought started with ‘S’ and was really a fine horn. As it happened, though, that horn sounds like that horn no matter what I do–every attempt at a different timbre brought me back to the same sound–good, but not amazing and certainly not flexible. The dynamics were ok, but seemed compressed. The overall make-quality was excellent, but the valve alignment was sub par.
I started looking at very heavy horns that started with “M”, but was discouraged by the price and overly-artsy and secretive attitude. Then I saw Flip’s advertisement for the “perfect” horn. Well, now, it’s not often that claim comes around (not!), but the ‘try-it-first’ offer was too good to pass up. So, I tried the horns, and ended up buying his trumpet, cornet and (Kanstul) flugel, and it’s been brass bliss ever since.
The flugel is great (really beautiful), but the trumpet is even better, and the cornet is absolutely spectacular. Both the trumpet and cornet provide warm, thick and fat timbre with large-bore mouthpieces, and “terrible-swift-sword” edge with lead mouthpieces–a flexibility I never really felt with my other horn. And with Flip’s mouthpieces, I am able to pick a size that’s comfortable, and then make the sound what I want as I play.
For example, I just used the cornet for a 20’s jazz-folk fusion CD I’m practicing for, then for Nat Adderley arrangements blending with a smoky alto/tenor sax pair, and finally in a parade, where I out-blew four other trumpet players combined. OK, loud isn’t everything, but it proved to me that at all levels (until my mouth gave out), the attack was still there, the notes were still in tune and the sound always blended well. Moreover, at medium and especially high volume, an amazing timbre comes through, one I liken to certain expensive midrange loudspeaker horns that have an I-can-hear-it-a-mile-away, but-I-want-to-get-closer sound–raw, rich and ‘dark-chocolaty^’.
I can go on, but it won’t do you as much good as trying his horns (and mouthpieces!) for yourself. So, here’s my prescription for happiness (I like the cornet the most, but you might prefer the trumpet–so try both).
 Try the cornet (and/or trumpet and/or flugel). Figure out any modifications you want–I got Amado water keys, which make it easier to keep the horn spiffy-looking.
 You will have fallen in love by this point, so go ahead and order the cornet (er… and/or trumpet and/or flugel).
[a] Get the heavy valve caps and your favorite size mouthpiece from Flip. Some people don’t like really secure slotting of notes as provided by the caps, but I do, and the caps look cool, too.
[b] Get the horn and caps and mouthpiece gold plated. The result is unbelievably gorgeous and long-lasting. Really–everyone stops and ogles the horn when I am practicing in the park.
[c] If you get the trumpet/flugel, and don’t need lots of space for doodads in the case, go for the Walt Johnson cases. The others are really good, too, but the Johnson’s can be used in self-defense. 😉
 Have tons of fun with the horns and write Flip a nice testimonial–he deserves it.
Oh, one last thing, which is actually the reason behind why the horns are so great. Flip Oakes has proven himself to be one of the few people who does what he says he’ll do, when he says, how he says, and why he says. He’s friendly, helpful and honest, and it shows to good effect in his products and service. Short of a winning lottery ticket being included with every horn, I could not be any happier!