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

6 Grade 8s In 1 Day: Blog No.4 - SUMMER HOLIDAYS

by Administrator 11. September 2013 16:31

This summer has been very busy, bringing both challenges and opportunities to perform and practice for the challenge. This 4th blog in the series will highlight some of the activities that I’ve been taking part in over the summer and will touch on some of the techniques that I have been using in order to improve my technique and to keep my lip in across all of the instruments and their ranges.

My summer began with playing at the CSSM (Charterhouse Summer School of Music) in Sherborne. This is an adult summer school for mainly orchestral instrumental players ranging from beginners to advance ability in a large variety of different ensemble settings. Over the period of the course, which runs for 1 week, I played Euphonium, Alto Trombone, Tenor Trombone and Trumpet in a variety of ensembles including symphony and chamber orchestras, a wind band and a brass septet. Playing is intense on this course and certainly builds stamina as the playing day runs from around 9:15am until up to 8:45pm (with some breaks for food, drink, air etc) and evening concerts can run after this all week.

As a regular attendee and steward for the course, the organisers Pip Huw Davies and John Huw Davies agreed to aid in the advertisement and fundraising of this event. I would like to thank them personally and on behalf of Cancer Research UK for helping me to raise over the £600 mark during the week of the course.

Following CSSM, I spent a week house sitting at a secluded school house. I took with me my Trombone, Tenor Horn and Trumpet and spent a lot of time practicing the grade 8 repertoire for the challenge whilst also trying to enhance my technical abilities and tone using the Arban and Vizzutti Method Books. As a result of the hours of practice on a variety of instruments and the regular changing of embouchure, my lips were feeling great by the end of this week.

However, immediately after the house sitting, I went on a camping holiday with my family. With no space in the car for even a trumpet, I took with me a pocketful of mouthpieces and my copy of the Arban Method. Though there are a mass of equipments for keeping the ‘lip in’ without your instrument (such as the berp, pete, buzzard, lip-dumbells etc) I have yet to find anything that really works any better than just buzzing through the mouthpiece (not that I have tested them all). And so after a week of instrumentless practice running through lip exercises, my lip and previous work had suffered a little. Nothing is as good as blowing through the instruments, however using the mouthpieces to keep my lips buzzing slowed down the lip muscle atrophy that occurs when it is not possible to practice in ideal conditions.

Over the rest of the Summer holiday period I shall be practicing intensely and contacting local bands to try to get in the band experience of playing all of these instruments.

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.

To view my previous blog and to catch up with the story so far click here.

Thank you,
Russell Lock

Follow me on Twitter
Like me on Facebook
Subscribe to my Youtube account

(Supported by John Packer LTD, Denis Wick Mouthpieces and Trinity College London)

Upcoming brass events in 2013:

by Administrator 4. September 2013 15:25

British Open 2013
Saturday 7 September
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
The finest brass bands in Britain vie for the coveted prize - the British Open Champion title, including famous names such as Black Dyke, Grimethorpe Colliery, Cory, Brighouse and Rastrick, Fodens, and Faireys, and will provide the audience with an enthralling day of music. Our own brass specialists Grenville Moore & Rob Hanson will be in attendance with a wide range of our own JP instruments as well as a selection of Besson, Yamaha and others.

Lower Section National Finals
Saturday 21 – Sunday 22 September
Cheltenham Racecourse
The ‘National’, as it is often referred to, is brass banding’s equivalent of the football league – a first-past-the-post Championship involving some 600 bands in eight ‘Regional’ qualifying heats staged up and down the UK, plus two ‘Finals’ events.
Our specialist brass team Steve Herbert, Tommy Allen & Grenville Moore are attending with a marvelous instrument display. We’ll have a wide range of mid-to-high end Brass including JP, Besson, Yamaha, Courtois, as well as some second hand kit and the popular pBone.

JP Symphonic Wind Band Workshop with Dr Chris Davis OBE (Ex PDM Royal Marines Band Service)
Saturday 28 September
Richard Huish College, Taunton
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 is entertaining and informative and 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.
To Book your place email

SWBBA 67th Annual Championships
Saturday 2 November
Riviera International Centre, Torquay
The Championships is open to all bands with seven (7) sections: Open (joint Championship/First); Second, Third, Fourth, Ungraded, Youth and Training Band with 2013 national grading being applied
Our specialist brass team Steve Herbert, Tommy Allen & Grenville Moore are attending with an impressive array of instruments and accessories. We’ll have a wide range of mid-high ends Brass including JP, Besson, Yamaha, Courtois and more.
If you’re attending any of the above events and want to trial a specific instrument, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. Please email in the first instance or call 01823 282386.
Specialist deals are available at all events that we attend. Ask on the stand for details.

Diamonds in the rough: A stash of second hand brass beauties

by Administrator 4. September 2013 10:49

We have recently acquired a range of professional level brass instruments including some rare and highly sought after models. All in great condition, the collection makes up an interesting assortment. Some models are so
rare that, despite the 50+ years combined experience of some of our staff, they have never been seen before in the store. Of particular note is the still sought after Olds Recording Bb Trumpet with its offset middle valve and 3rd valve trigger. Considered by many to be the top pro model through the 1960s – 80s, it is rare to see a silver plated version in the flesh. Also available is the prestigious Paxman 25L French Horn, the horn of choice for many professional London orchestral players. The instrument which retails new for over £8,000 is fantastic value at £4850. A full list of all the instruments is available in the list below.

Bb Cornets
·         Yamaha Maestro YCR6335 SP LB (CS655281) - £750

Eb Soprano Cornets
·         Besson 926GS Sovereign SP (CS655284) - £600

Bb Trumpets
·         Stomvi Elite 330ML SP (CS655334) - £950
·         Yamaha YTR8310Z lac (CS655329) - £999
·         Bach Strad 180ML37S (CS655271) - £1550
·         Olds Recording SP (1952) (CS655276) - £1650

‘D/Eb’ Trumpets
·         Yamaha TR961 Twin bell (CS655298) - £1750

‘C’ Trumpets
·         Schilke C1L SP Tuning Bell (CS655278) - £1700

Bb/A Piccolo Trumpets
·         Benge Bb/A SP (CS655279) - £800
·         Kanstul 1520 Bb/A/G SP (CS655282) - £1800
·         Schilke P5-4 Butler Geyer Bb/A SP (CS655277) - £2300

·         Courtois 155RV (CS655283) - £1800

French Horn
·         Paxman 25L (CS655261) - £4850

·         King 3B MB (CS655235) - £1250

For further information about any of these or to arrange a time to come and trial these instruments please contact Steve Herbert or Tommy Allen on 01823 282386 (menu option 1).

For further news and to keep up to date with our latest products, news and events why not like us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at 

JP instruments mix with the A-listers

by Administrator 14. August 2013 16:30

Already the brand of choice for many great names in the music industry, several JP instruments were recently selected by members of none other than Van Morrison’s Band at a recent gig. The JP144 Cadence Baritone Saxophone has already been in the spotlight having been played by session musician Ben Somers during Seal’s 2012 Tour. Alongside the JP144 Cadence, the band also selected the JP374 Sterling Euphonium to reinforce the fact that JP instruments are capable of playing at the highest level and are trusted by pro’s to deliver the goods in the most demanding situations.

Why not come and try the JP144 or the JP374 at the John Packer store?

Pictured: Ben Somers, session musician, with the JP144 on tour with Seal 2012

Lovely weather, fancy a cornet?

by Administrator 6. August 2013 15:38

The John Packer Ltd Brass Department were busy this weekend receiving  various used instruments to add to their growing range of secondhand stock. Amongst them are 5 professional level Bb cornets which are now ready for sale at fantastic prices.

Smith - Watkins K2 Bb cornet in silver plate for £1450 including a flight case. This professional level large bore cornet with 1st and 3rd triggers was handbuilt by the famous Smith - Watkins company near York in the UK. The cornet is in good condition and plays very freely over the entire range, there are a few small dents around the bell area near the valve block which are too small to show up on photographs. The serial number is #709. For further details on this wonderful cornet please quote CS655245

Yamaha Maestro YCR6335S Bb cornet in silver plate for £750 including the original hard case, 3 mutes and a mouthpiece. This is a fine example of the popular large bore Maestro cornet from Yamaha, this instrument is in a very good condition and would suit a player going up through the grades and beyond grade VIII. For more information please quote CS655246

B&S Challenger II Bb pro level cornet with gold brass bell and leapipe, 1st and 3rd triggers in a very good condition. This cornet would suit any good player looking for a professional instrument with a lovely mellow tone. Hard case and mouthpiece included in the sale, asking price £775. Ref CS655250

Besson 927 Sovereign Bb cornet in silver plate for £850 including a hard case. This is the medium large bore professional level Sovereign cornet with 1st and 3rd triggers which is highly sought after. This instrument would suit a player looking for a professional instrument with the famous 'Besson' brand name. There a few small dinks in the bell section and some scratches on the valve block, although these are purely cosmetic and will not affect the playing of such a fine instrument. For further details on this instrument please quote CS655247

Bach Strad 184 Bb silver plated cornet for £750 including a hard case and mouthpiece. This is a professional medium large bore cornet made by Vincent Bach and would suit a player looking for an instrument to take them up through the grades and beyond. There are some areas of pitting and wear to the silver plating where the instrument has been held by previous player. These cornets do not appear very often on the secondhand market so be quick to take advantage of this rare opportunity. Please quote CS655248 for further information.

If you are interested in finding out more about any of the cornets above or any other instrument, please contact us on 01823 282386 (option 1) or email Steve Herbert, Brass manager at

To keep up to date with exciting John Packer news, events and competitions why not like us on Facebook at, follow us on Twitter at or read our blog at  

Ewan Easton put the JP tuba range through its paces.

by Administrator 1. August 2013 12:33

Grenville Moore from John Packer Ltd recently met up with Ewan Easton from the Halle to review the John Packer range of tubas.

Ewan’s review started with the JP077 mini Eb Tuba which is John Packer’s entry level  instrument and designed with the young player in mind. Ewan commented that “the instrument feels solid and should last, having said that it is not too heavy.” With a list price of £583 (ex VAT)  the JP077 represents a “Superb introduction to the Tuba family and fantastic value for money.” Ewan commented that the instrument was also pleasingly responsive at the extremes of dynamic range.

Having moved on to the JP078 mini Bb Tuba, within seconds Ewan commented on the excellent playing response. He described the intonation as “very effective for an entry level tuba.”  and singled out for particular praise the valves. He liked the curved design which makes such a difference to small hands and described the action as “light and responsive.” “Everything works well on this instrument. The valves are precise, the slides fit well, there is excellent protection for vulnerable areas of pipework and the instrument is robust without being heavy.” Ewan also described the case as being  “the sort that a young person would find cool.”  “I am really impressed with this instrument and the value for money is outstanding.” The JP078 is available for £784 (Ex Vat)

Next on the list was the JP277 EEb, the first level of full sized compensating instruments. “This is a staggering tuba for the money (£1961 Ex vat). The full orchestral range is easily available on this instrument and the timbre throughout all ranges matches very well.”  This was the updated JP277 and Ewan was full of praise for the new developments. The right hand position is now much better with a much smaller reach, the new valves are efficient and much quieter in operation. “I thought the finish was good on the older model but this is beautiful.” Ewan's final comment; “This tuba will see any player to grade VIII. I would have loved to have one as a student.”

The greatest praise of the day was reserved for the JP377 Sterling EEb. “99% of players could not out perform this instrument.” Ewan praised the build quality, high quality valves with a good hand position, the responsiveness, and the pedal range. “Everything works on this instrument. It has a full range with a singing quality. The notes are easy to centre, it’s easy to play. The effective compensating system aids excellent tuning.” Grenville added that “listening to Ewan take the instrument through many of his favourite orchestral passages was a rare pleasure.” “There was a double thrill of having a private recital coupled with the fact that he was playing on an instrument that your company had produced and of which you were very proud.” Ewan was flabbergasted to hear the price. “£3392 ex vat, is incredible value.”

That left us with only the JP378 Sterling BBb. “Rolls-Royce valves” was the immediate comment.  “This will take one hell of a player to find its limits.” Ewan’s house seemed to rattle as he took the instrument through its paces, finding extremes of range at the bottom. “What a sound!” “This instrument also looks wonderful. The finish is excellent and it appears very robust. The well-fitting slides suggest good engineering. The value for money is simply unbeatable.”

All of the tubas mentioned above are available from the John Packer website at For more specialist queries or to try one out today call the John Packer Ltd team on 01823 282386 or email them at

Silver plated stars: Sovereigns and Sterlings

by Administrator 9. July 2013 10:47

JP372 Sterling                    £695 (ex demo)
Sterling Pro                        £2035 (ex demo)
B&H Roundstamp           £1150 (client sale)

Frequently we see some interesting instruments turning up on our doorstep that raise an eyebrow or two. Recently we’ve seen a number of inviting tenor horns that have caught our attention and following a bit of tinkering are now available to purchase from

Amongst these is a lovely example of the highly sought after B&H Roundstamp. An instrument that many consider to be the connoisseur’s horn, this one is in a particularly good condition with only a small amount of wear, commensurate with its age. With great smooth valves and a rich tone, this instrument is a must for any serious horn player.

 We also have a fine example from Paul Riggett’s Sterling range. Previously of Boosey & Hawkes Ltd, Paul has gone on to create the Sterling range which has always been well regarded for its innovative design and high quality sound. The Sterling Pro was hand built by Paul himself and is in great condition.

Finally we have an ex-demo model of our JP372Sterling available. This collaboration with Paul Riggett led to the creation of a highly affordable pro level instrument with all the high end ‘bells and whistles’ usually reserved for instruments three times the price. Featuring the famous Sterling design lead pipe the JP372Sterling offers unparalleled value. A very worthy candidate for any band.

For further information on any of these or to discuss other second-hand instruments that are available, please contact Grenville Moore at

Keep up to date with John Packer Ltd news, events, offers and more by ‘liking’ us on Facebook (, ‘following’ us on twitter (

Pictured below: B&H Roundstamp £1150 (client sale)

UPDATED Traffic restrictions 7th July - 4th August

by Administrator 5. July 2013 12:07

Please remember that there are ongoing traffic restrictions around the John Packer shop for the next few weeks. Access to the shop is still possible but please be aware there may be higher levels of traffic when approaching from Staplegrove Road and Bindon Road due to temporary traffic lights and a reduction to one lane. Please remember that our website stocks all of our products and includes a 5% discount for purchasing online. We hope to see you soon.


Shop news

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: