John Packer Blog

Welcome to the John Packer blog. Here we’ll keep you updated on all the latest happenings at John Packer Ltd, all the latest music news, musical instruments and competitions.

Month List

Road Closures: Mon 24 June - Fri 12 July

by Administrator 21. June 2013 13:20

Please remember that there will be road closures close to the John Packer shop for the next couple of weeks. This is part of Wessex Water's £16 million scheme to improve the quality of drinking water in Taunton and the surrounding areas. The shop will still be open as normal with our usual opening times (Mon - Fri 9.30 - 17:00 & Sat 9.00 - 17:00). If you have any queries please don't hesitate to contact us on 01823 282386. Further information about Wessex Water's scheme is available on


Shop news

Garrath Beckwith reviews the JP233 Rath "a real winner of an instrument"

by Administrator 17. June 2013 11:25

"I was absolutely delighted to be asked to write a review for the latest instrument produced by Taunton based music-meisters John Packer Ltd. I have in my educational capacity bought a vast array of the JP instrument range for my students at beginner and more advanced level.

There are many different Bass Trombones on the market today with many different combinations and options available to suit every individual need. In this day and age where there is a tendency to veer towards large equipment and gadgetry it is reassuring to see that a companies like Michael Rath and John Packer create a single Bb/F Bass Trombone set-up that works so effectively – in the JP233RATH Bass Trombone they have created a real winner of an instrument."

Quality of Build:
Craftsmanship is something that we come to expect of the JP instrument range and the JP233RATH does not disappoint! I have bought a variety of instruments from the highly successful collaborations between top British instrument manufacturers and John Packers. My first job was to check all the joints that hold the bell section together as this is sometimes an area for improvement. I was massively impressed as they were all neatly finished with excellent high quality (80:20) lacquer work. The quality of the slide is what we come to expect from a Michael Rath designed product – a smooth action with a quality response. The slide width is perfect for both amateur and professional players – great ergonomics that give a comfortable feel when holding the instrument. The weight of the trombone is well balanced, this is aided by a removable counterweight. The instrument is entirely made of dark yellow brass and the finish is immaculate. Overall: Many student / mid-level Bass Trombones feel light and flimsy the JP233RATH goes against this stigma with a real feel of quality. I consider the build quality of the JP233RATH to be fantastic.

Valve and Wrap:
The JP233RATH has a standard traditional style Bb/F rotor married with the more modern open wrap which allows a free blowing valve section with just the right amount of resistance required in a single valve Bb/F bass trombone. The valve has an adjustable trigger lever which caters perfectly for younger players and the valve itself has a lightening quick reliable mechanism, very similar to the popular Rotax valve offered on Michael Rath professional model Bass Trombones. I spent quite a lot of time working on the lower valve register and the ease of blowing really is quite superb. The traditional style valve gives a focused, even core of sound throughout the entire low register.

The instrument adopts a Michael Rath designed fixed leadpipe that displays terrific flexibility throughout the whole register of the instrument. Flexibilities work smoothly and effectively in each slide position and each and every note slots into place with ease: the high register is effortless as is the low valve and extreme pedal register work very well providing a true sounding instrument with just the right amount of resistance required in the middle and high range.

Quality of Sound:
Personally I think the sound this instrument produces is fantastic: focused and warm with a little bite when required - just as it should be. I played a variety of exercises, solos, studies and excerpts at various dynamic ranges and the sound holds well throughout: the instrument does not burst in the louder extremes and it holds a nice focused sound at the more delicate dynamic levels. The fixed leadpipe allows for clear projection and intonation at different dynamics using a variety of different styles of articulation.

Intonation is a very individual matter with trombones – many different instruments have their individual little ‘quirks’ and playing characteristics. I tested the JP233RATH against two other brands of professional level Bass Trombones I use regularly and the JP233RATH compared favourably in comparison to both of the other market leaders. The balance within a trombone section was also easy to manage and the adjustments of certain partials I would make naturally all worked and the overtones speak clearly with the JP233RATH.

Value for Money:
This Bass Trombone offers fantastic value for money and is an excellent addition to the market for a mid-level / single valve Bass Trombone. The JP233RATH is a serious alternative for the higher level performer who requires a lighter sounding or a single valve Bass Trombone for chamber music. If I had received one of these instruments as my first ever serious Bass Trombone I would have been over the moon!

"I heartily recommend JP233RATH and applaud John Packer and Michael Rath for providing trombonists with yet another excellent trombone in the JP / Rath range of instruments. Roll on the next one!"

- Garrath Beckwith, Bass Trombone, Grimethrope Colliery Band

For more information about Garrath, visit:

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New Products | Reviews

"A triumph of engineering!" the JP374 Sterling gets reviewed

by Administrator 7. June 2013 13:53

JP374 Sterling Euphonium reviewed
by Mike Howley, Solo Euphonium with the Desford Colliery Band, formerly Solo Euphonium with Brighouse & Rastrick and Yorkshire Building Society (YBS)

Staff at John Packer Ltd recently caught up with Mike Howley of the Desford Colliery Band who had been trying out their JP374 Sterling, a collaboration between brass design luminary Paul Riggett (formerly of Boosey & Hawkes) and themselves.

On discussing the instrument with Grenville Moore, Mike had the following to say about his experiences playing the JP374 Sterling.

“A triumph of engineering! How can such quality be so affordable? I have been using the euphonium as a soloist and in brass band and it is at home in both environments. The tone is true at the extremes of pitch and throughout the dynamic range.

The Euphonium is all about sound. With the JP Sterling Euphonium I can create the very personal sound which is in my heart, in my soul.

That's simply not possible on many of the much more expensive brands.”

The JP374 Sterling is available now from £1908 from

If you are interested in finding out more about our JP374 Sterling Euphonium, please visit our website or email Steve, our brass manager at

For further news and to keep up to date with John Packer why not like them on Facebook at or follow them on twitter at

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Russell Lock's Grade 8 Challenge: Repertoire confirmed

by Administrator 31. May 2013 09:34

Following my previous blog (if you missed it you can find it here), I am pleased to report that Sandwell Music and Arts Service will now be hosting my Grade 8 challenge in their winter series of examinations on  Monday 2nd December. I would like again to give thanks to John Packer Ltd, Denis Wick, Trinity College London and Sandwell Music and Arts Service for making this event possible and supporting it in all of the ways that they are.

After begging, borrowing and stealing from instrumentalists immeasurably more qualified than myself, I have finally developed the repertoire of music that I shall now attempt to master over the coming months before my Grade 8 examinations. Thanks again to all the wonderful musicians who have allowed me to browse and borrow from their catalogues of music. My repertoire list (excluding study works to be confirmed) is as follows:

Trumpet (JP351LT SW with DW Ultra 1.5CH mouthpiece)
Andante Et Scherzo (Busser) – Technical and generally high in ‘scherzo’ section. A stamina challenge.
Red, White And Blues (Bernstein) –Blues style piece, strong interpretation required.

Tenor Horn (JP372 Sterling with DW Classic 1A mouthpiece)
Conversation & Games (Farnon) – Technical and lyrical, an all round musicians piece.
Cornucopia (Wiggins) – 1st Movement only, technical and fast paced throughout.

Trombone (JP332 Rath DW Classic 4ABL mouthpiece)
Cavatine (Saint-Saens) – A mix of fast tempo and difficult key changes make this a great piece to play.
Concerto (Grondahl) – 1st Movement only, musically difficult, clef changes throughout (bass to tenor)

Euphonium (JP374 Sterling with DW Ultra SM3U mouthpiece)
Fantasy (Sparke) – Technical but should remain musical throughout, triple tonguing and fast fingers required.
Euphonium Concerto (Horovitz) – 2nd Movement only, flowing music with many musicianship decisions to be made

Bass Trombone (JP232 with DW Heritage 0AL mouthpiece)
Concerto in One Movement (Lebedev) – A good blow for bass trombone, piece originally written for Tuba.
Concertino Basso (Lieb) – Some low technical passages combined with expressive andante interludes

Tuba (JP377 EEb Sterling with DW Heritage 3XL mouthpiece)
Capriccio (Newton) – Generally high and technical for a tuba part, many rhythmic difficulties.
Concerto For Bass Tuba (Vaughan Williams) – 1st Movement only, a standard in the tuba soloist repertoire.

The challenge of learning these pieces is an exciting prospect and I hope that it helps to raise a lot of money for Cancer Research UK. Please help by donating what you can.

A huge thank you to Anne Tinsley, who has taken on the challenge of learning all of the piano parts for this challenge. Some 12 pieces of difficult piano parts make this a challenge worthy of note in itself. Though I am not a pianist myself (the beginning of chopsticks being the extent of my talent for the instrument) there are an awful lot of dots on those pieces, good luck!

You can now donate to the charity directly by visiting my webpage at or by texting GRAD88 and the amount you wish to donate (e.g £5) to 70070. 100% of the money raised will go to Cancer Research UK.

Your support is very much appreciated.

Thank you,

Russell Lock


Grade 8 Challenge

Keeping your lip in over the summer

by Administrator 20. May 2013 10:49

The Summer is fast approaching and the holiday season is just around the corner, your thoughts drift off to those lazy days sat in the sun on the beach, but then a horrible realisation hits cornet is too big to take on holiday how will I keep my lip in??

Do not despair, the clever chaps at John Packer Ltd have the answer with this specially designed pocket trumpet called a JP159. Essentially it is a Bb trumpet which is wrapped up extremely small measuring only 230mm in length which can be stowed away in your luggage without taking up valuable clothes space.

The JP159 comes in a range of wonderful colours to match your Summer outfit, Red / Blue / Green / Black /Silver plate or lacquer for only £146 inc vat which includes a mouthpiece and a easy to carry case.

For more information call Steve on 01823 282386 or email

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Brass Explosion on Sat 25 May: JP gets louder and prouder

by Administrator 3. May 2013 13:47

John Packer Ltd have had a reputation as specialists in the world of Brass instruments for several decades, but are now proud to announce that they are getting even bigger and better. Not only is there a great overall increase in stock, but there is also an entirely new showroom focussing on low brass. Students and professional players alike can now come and test a vast array of instruments from prestigious makers like Bach, Besson, Conn, Courtois, Holton, JP, King, Mauriat, Rath, Schagerl, Schilke, Smith-Watkins, Sterling, Stomvi and Yamaha and many more.

To mark the occasion, we are hosting a special launch event on Saturday 25 May from 9am. With plenty going on and many fantastic discounts available, it’s a great chance for you to come and see how we’ve changed. Andy Crowley, professional Yamaha artist and internationally renowned trumpeter joins us for the day and will be on hand to give free 30 minute 1-2-1 tuition. Whether it’s a query about performing or advice on your technique, Andy’s experience will be invaluable in improving your approach to playing. 

Described by the Independent as “A trumpeter of virtuosic brilliance” Andy Crowley is one of the most recorded trumpeters for film soundtracks in the world including the last 3 James Bond movies and has played with Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, Sting and Robbie Williams. Andy is also a professor at the Royal College of Music and manager of the London Brass. Also on hand for the day are is Grenville Moore. Grenville is a multi-talented multi-instrumentalist and his credits include a 20 year stint with the Ulster Orchestra on French horn, while more recently he has being performing on different instruments with a number of high level brass bands.

To book your tuition slot with Andy or Grenville, contact Steve or Tommy, on 01823 282386 (option 1) or email Steve at Spaces are sure to book up quickly so let us know soon if you are interested.

Also on display and available to try on the day will be the very exciting new Yamaha Neo brass range, which is due to be released in August, including the Bb & Eb Cornets and EEb tuba. A professional member of the Yamaha team will be on hand to answer your questions and to discuss with new range. David King, Principal Conductor of Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band (Britain), Guest Conductor of Eikanger Bjorsvik (Norway) and Artistic Director of National Australia Brass (Australia) described the new range as “a model of excellence designed and developed for discerning band musicians and soloists seeking to combine intrinsic warmth with a projected resilience of sound that has both personality and persuasive presence.” Come and try them and see if you agree!

To celebrate our expansion we are giving away a generous JP goodie bag (worth at least £20) to the first 50 customers who visit on the day. Amongst other things it’ll include an TGI98W Metronome and Tuner electronic combined tuner/metronome worth £12.80 and plenty of music related goodies. Also included is a special website discount voucher giving 20% off all accessories. This is valid for 12 months and an unlimited number of purchases through our website  

Everyone at John Packer warmly invites you to visit us on Saturday 25 May. We look forward to seeing you there!

Saturday 25 May at John Packer Ltd, Taunton, TA2 6AF
- Free JP goodie bag worth at least £20
- Free 30 minute 1-2-1 tuition with Andy Cowley  or Grenville Moore
- Try out the new Yamaha Neo range
- Free £50 prize draw

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Licensed to trill: the new Rath ‘00’ series

by Administrator 29. April 2013 11:41

Michael Rath is world renowned for creating some of the best trombones in the world. The instrument of choice for many professional musicians including Mark Nightingale, David Gibson, Bert Boeren, and many more, Rath trombones are widely regarded as the benchmark for high quality craftsmanship and innovation.

Rath have developed the ‘00’ series which draws on the design of the Rath R10, R4F and R9. Three new non-modular models, the R100, R400 and R900 have been created having drawn on Michael’s 35 years of expertise in the field. For those looking to move to a professional level trombone these are excellent instruments to develop their style and technique. The Rath ‘00’ is suitable for those wanting a high quality instrument without the potential complications of a modular trombone.
Whatever your needs, the new Rath R00 series offer a unique combination of the highest level of insight in design and craftsmanship in trombones with the production qualities that make Rath famous around the trombone world.

Prices of the new range start from £1125 and are available now from To find our more contact our brass department at or call Steve on 01823 282386 (option 1)


Bore Size

Bell Flare


Price (inc 20% VAT) 

R100 Tenor Trombone


7 ½”



R400 Bb/F Tenor Trombone


8 ½”



R900 Bass Trombone


9 ½”

Independent Rotary


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Symphonic Wind Band Workshop 2013

by Administrator 4. April 2013 10:40

AFTER the highly successful Brass Band Workshop at the end of March, John Packer Ltd is delighted to announce news of another event taking place in September.

Musicians are invited to our Symphonic Wind Band Workshop at Richard Huish College, in Taunton on Saturday 28 September.

We’re very happy to confirm that we will be welcoming back Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Chris Davis OBE BA(Hons) MMus DMA LRAM who has run a number of well attended workshops over the past few years.

Chris joined the Royal Marines Band Service in 1975 and rapidly rose through the ranks to the illustrious position of Principal Director of Music in 2002. He has also had a successful academic career and gained a Doctorate in Musical Arts in 2006. Chris’s research programme resulted in five commercially available CDs of contemporary works for wind band. Since retiring from The Royal Marines Chris has been busy as a freelance conductor (including on one memorable occasion, the London Symphony Orchestra), clinician and adjudicator. In short, Chris is something of a legend and this is a rare opportunity to benefit from his wealth of expertise.

While this is an informal event, the aim is to provide a high standard of performance and to enable those attending to have fun, gain experience and hopefully go home a better musician than when they arrived.

Tickets for the event are £8.50 each and must be pre-booked. The day features challenging music, so musicians must be of an advanced standard. Please bring a packed lunch, your instrument and a music stand. Registration starts from 9am for a 10am start with the day finishing at 5pm. Musical pieces for the day will be confirmed closer to the time of the event. 

Please call Andy for woodwind tickets and Steve for Brass and percussion tickets. Early booking is recommended as there are a limited number available.

The venue is Richard Huish College, South Road, Taunton, TA1 3DZ.


"Morning Noon and Night" - Suppe

"Theatre Music" - Sparke

"Melody Shop" - King

"Hymn to the Fallen" - Williams

"Evocationa" - Ellerby

"Masque" - Heskith

"Irish Tune & Shepherds Hey" - Grainger

"Light Of The World" - Goffin

"Sea Songs" - Knox

"Beatles Medley" - arr Wilkinson

"Stage Centre" - Richards

"Dance Movements" - Sparke

For more info and tickets please call 01823 282386 (option 1).



Brass Workshop conducted with success

by Administrator 27. March 2013 13:56

 Many brass band musicians from as far afield as Birmingham and Cornwall came together for the second John Packer Brass Band Workshop on Saturday 23 March at Castle School in Taunton. Led by Dr Chris Davis OBE, the former Principal Director of Music for the Royal Marines, players received expert tuition and guidance whilst performing an interesting range of challenging pieces.

From the flamboyant Danza Orgiastica by Respighi to the more serene The Ellis Island Lament by Robin Dewhurst players were treated to a wide selection of pieces. The Saga Of Haakon The Good by Philip Sparke in particular tested players throughout the whole band with its fast pace and complex melodies. Commissioned in 2008 by composer Philip Sparke to commemorate the joining in 2008 of two Norwegian municipalities it celebrates the life of a 10th century king and other historical figures.

Following an exhausting and exhilarating morning of playing, the afternoon saw Chris hosting a question and answer session to give the players a well earned rest. With over 30 years of experience, Chris has a massive breadth of musical knowledge and wisdom around performing and brass which attendees were keen to benefit from.  

Organised and run by John Packer Brass Manager Steve Herbert, the day was run with military precision from start to finish and ended with a concert performance of selected pieces with everyone very proud of what they had achieved.

For a range of photos from the day visit our online photo gallery
A video from the day can be viewed on our Youtube channel

If you missed this year’s workshop but are interested in attending future events, please email Steve Herbert at

Comments from players who attended the day included:

“Thanks for another slick and well organised brass day” 

“thanks for another great day at Taunton. Chris Davis is great.”

"A well organised day Steve.. When is the next one?"

"Thank you for a great day"



,John Packer stocks Harry Potter flute

by Administrator 21. March 2013 13:45

John Packer Musical Instruments in Taunton have a very special instrument in stock. Pearl Bass Flute C PFB-305 (serial number 0264) has featured in the sound track of several recent Hollywood blockbusters and was most recently heard on the soundtrack to Rise Of The Guardians starring the vocal talents of Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin and Jude Law. The sound track was recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) at Abbey Road recording studio’s. No stranger to the world famous studio, it was also played by the LSO for the soundtrack to Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2. More recently the instrument has been on tour with George Fenton’s Planet Earth and played at the Royal Opera House, Barbican Centre and Royal Albert Hall for the Jamie Cullum Prom. 

Pearl flutes now regularly feature at the top end of the profession and are played by such luminaries as Andy Findon, Rhonda Larson and Yuki Omura.

While little used, this flute has been well looked after and was professionally checked before each of these high profile performances. It is in excellent condition. If you are interested in finding out more, please visit our website or speak to Jon Parkinson by calling 01823 282386 (menu option 1) or via email at

Normally selling for around £3k, this piece of film memorabilia is available from the John Packer website for £2,300 (RRP £3525) inc vat.

Image: Gareth Davies (principal flute), Sharon Williams (principal Piccolo) and Adam Walker (principal flute) of the London Symphony Orchestra recording the soundtrack to Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 – with music by Alexandre Desplat.