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

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.


Mark Earley (Roomful Of Blues) chooses JP144 to celebrate 45th anniversary

by Administrator 15. March 2013 16:02

Nominated for no less than five Grammys, this year Roomful Of Blues are celebrating their 45th year of performing big band, swing, rock ‘n’ roll and soul in a class of their own. With the help of some JP instruments in their horn section they are right on track to create a night to remember. Since 1967 they’ve received numerous awards; among others five Grammys and seven Blues Music Awards (Best Band in 2005) to name just a few.  Now celebrating their 45th anniversary, the band are recording a live album “Roomful of Blues, 45 Live” featuring our very own JP144 Saxophone. If you haven’t heard them we strongly recommend you watch their recent performance at Rawa Blues 2012 which showcases their assured groove and passion for music.

Helping Roomful Of Blues deliver an unforgettable experience is Mark Earley on baritone and tenor saxophone. With a colourful career spanning over 30 years, Mark is a true master of his trade. After gigging around the Cleveland area with The Easy Street Band and others, he decided to move to Denton, Texas in 1985 to earn his Bachelors in Music at the University of North Texas. In the following years Mark performed with luminaries in the industry including the Dallas Brass and Electric, the great R&B pianist Karl Berkebile, and The Emerald City Band. Joining Roomful Of Blues in 2001 Mark and the band perform across the world from Russia to the Azores.

Confident and reliant on the high quality of John Packer instruments, Mark has chosen to play a JP144 Cadence Baritone Saxophone in their upcoming 45th birthday celebrations this weekend. With high technical standards in support of great versatility and resonance in performance, the rose brass bow and bell give great depth to the sound. For the price, the instrument is unsurpassed in quality and standard.

For more information on these saxes along with the rest of the JP range please contact or visit our website at

Come and see us at:
Frankfurt Musik Messe 2013: Sun 10 – Wed 13 Mar
2013 European Brass Band Championships, Oslo: Fri 3 – Sat 4 May
Music China 2013, Beijing: Fri 7 – Sun 9 Jun



Grade 8 Challenge - Blog No. 2 - A Visit to Denis Wick to Pick the Perfect Mouthpieces

by Administrator 28. February 2013 09:37

As mentioned in my 1st blog, the instruments that I will be using for this event have all been kindly supplied by John Packer Musical Instruments and I am using their top of the range “3 series” brand of John Packer Instruments. Now having experimented and played around with the instruments for a few weeks, I am beginning to realise the difficulties that I will encounter in attempting these Grade 8 exams. The foremost of which being choosing mouthpieces that I believe will provide me with the endurance, intonation and tone required to be successful in my grade 8 examinations.

On the 18th of February, I visited the Denis Wick factory in Poole after being kindly invited by Denis himself [pictured below]. I was welcomed by Brian Miller who gave me the full tour of the factory where it was fascinating to see how components such as the mouthpieces and mutes are actually made and the processes involved. I was also given the opportunity to try out mouthpieces and choose the best ones for the job.

After much testing, playing and annoying the staff that were trying to work at the time in the factory, these are the Denis Wick mouthpieces that I have paired with the John Packer instruments and reasons why I chose them:

Brian Miller

Denis Wick Factory

Trumpet: JP351LT(SW) Classic 1.5C /Ultra 1.5CH Cup depth and diameter felt very comfortable on both mouthpieces. They are different shapes and designs and I could not decide on which provided me with the best tone quality on the day so was kindly allowed to take both.

Tenor Horn: JP372 Sterling Classic 1A A deep and large diameter cup which allowed for a very sweet tone but somehow still felt more comfortable on my higher and lower range than the smaller and shallower mouthpieces I tried.

Trombone: JP332 Rath (Large Bore) Classic 4ABL This mouthpiece and instrument combination just worked so well. Even when compared to the similar 4AL mouthpiece, this one seemed a vast improvement in the power I could put through the instrument and tone that was sounding out.

Euphonium: JP374 Sterling Ultra SM3U A superb and warm tone was achieved in this pairing, perhaps a larger diameter mouthpiece than some might expect, but a personal strength in my playing is upper range and this mouthpiece allowed me to squeeze out even more warmth of sound without compromising range.

Bass Trombone: JP232 Heritage 0AL A powerful, yet controllable and open sound could be achieved through this set up. The mouthpiece is very large but somehow felt comfortable and not the ‘bucket’ feel of other bass trombone mouthpieces that I have played on.

Tuba: JP377 EEb Sterling Heritage 3XL In this combination, I thought I was looking for the impossible in a mouthpiece that would allow me comfortable low range pedals (an area I have found difficult in Tuba playing) whilst maintaining a good mid-range tone and keeping a reasonable upper tuba range. This mouthpiece ticked all of the boxes when used in conjunction with the instrument. I played lower than I have ever played and somehow maintained tone and upper range.

Russell Lock at the Denis Wick factory

If all that was not enough, I also left the factory with a practice mute for the Trumpet and some of Denis Wicks new valve oil, all of which kindly given with no charge in order to aid the fundraising for Cancer Research UK.

You can now donate to the charity directly by visiting my webpage at
You can also donate from your mobile phone 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
(Supported by John Packer LTD, Denis Wick Mouthpieces and Trinity College London)

All of the above Mouthpieces are available from John Packer Ltd. Call 01823 282 386 Option 1 to speak to Steve in our Brass Department.

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Grade 8 Challenge

‘The new JP/Rath trombones: ‘unsurpassed value for money’ says RAF reviewer

by Administrator 18. February 2013 12:52

It’s not often you get more than you bargained for.

Jonathan Pippen (solo trombonist – RAF Central Band) reviews the JP231Rath Bb trombone and the JP332Rath Bb/F trombone and discovers that you can get quality performance without the quality price tag. These instruments are ideal for aspiring players from student to semi pro and beyond. Their price means that they are accessible whether the player is a student in education or a player in a training band. Each one carries the indelible fingerprint of the effort that Michael Rath has put into this collaboration.

The article below is reproduced by kind courtesy of Brass Band World monthly magazine.

‘The new JP/Rath trombones: ‘unsurpassed value for money’

Brass Band World magazine gave trombonist, Jonathan Pippen, the JP332 and 231 Rath trombones to road-test and he was bowled over by the unrivalled quality to price ratio.
"These new offerings from John Packer, designed by British trombone guru, Michael Rath, promise much in the way of quality to price ratio. It's been my task over the last week or so to put the trombones through their paces, to provide you with an impartial review of their performance.

For your perspective, these are student trombones, but with a build and playing quality intended to take you further into your playing career than an instrument from another manufacturer perhaps would.
Both instruments are presented in a hard case with cloth cover incorporating handle and shoulder straps. The bustle of the school bus won’t be a worry here and the case is sturdy enough to place in any aircraft hold. The only down side is that, for the instruments to fit in these cases, you have to push the main tuning slide in. An oversight on an instrument marketed towards young players, but one that is easily remedied.

The JP231 Rath is a .525" medium large bore trombone, which is exactly the sort of instrument most players will start on and most teachers will recommend. The first impression when taking it out of the case is that the slide feels substantial. Heavy even. This trombone is a straight Bb model with 8-inch bell. It has a warm sound, more akin to a large bore instrument, but production feels easy. It’s well balanced and comfortable to hold and, like the slide, the bell section also feels weighty and the metal of the bell is pretty thick. The intonation is sound and the positions fall where ‘A Tune a Day’ says they should. No problems to report here.

It's worth stating here that the slide action is one of the finest I've ever felt on an instrument straight out of the packet and, with a little lubrication, is at least as good as I'm used to on my professional instrument. The slide action on the .547" bore JP332 Rath is exactly the same, so no fluke there. The slides are simply superb.

The 300 series instruments offer the option of an F attachment on either the medium or large bore instruments in the JP Rath range. The trombone I tested is the large bore JP 332, which has a closed wrap F section and standard rotary valve with specialist Rath cap. It’s also supplied with a counterweight on the tuning slide that helps to balance the trombone when the slide is extended past the 8.5-inch bell. As a large bore Bb/F instrument, this trombone finds itself up against stiff competition from all quarters of the industry. It's slap bang in the middle of Conn 88h and Bach 42 territory, and I have to say that even in this company it’s no slouch at all. The playing characteristic is full and mellow, and the heavy bell centres the sound. Production feels easy through the registers; the trigger functions well and has a fast action that helps with production of the low Ds, and Cs. The valve cap, which is a little heavier than a standard one, also helps to centre the notes on the F side.

The smaller of the two instruments (JP231 Rath) would be perfect for a beginner and it would not be out of place in the hands of a professional as a spare or emergency trombone while working in the big band or pop industry. The build quality is far in excess of its £432 price tag, which is one of the most competitive in the business.

The larger instrument raises more questions regarding its place in the world of beginner / intermediate instruments. In honesty, I think the weight and added expense of the F attachment will impede its use as an instrument for a seven-ten-year-old beginner, but its quality of build and playing characteristics are those of an instrument that would cost far over the £826 rrp. For the money, this is without doubt one of the finest instruments on the market.

These trombones succeed in offering a money-quality ratio that, to my knowledge, no other manufacturer has achieved. As a ‘starter instrument’, I would have no hesitation in recommending these trombones and encouraging the use of the straight variety. I would suggest that young or smaller beginners should avoid the Bb/F model simply because of weight, but once secondary school age is reached this ceases to be an issue. The Bb/F trombone will be a useful addition to any music service or school music cupboard because, to all intents and purposes, it will do the job of a professional instrument and, of course, functions as a bass trombone for a youth band or orchestra. These are solid functional trombones and, in my opinion, offer unsurpassed value for money."

JP332Rath trombone


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