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

Dobcross Silver Band wins David Thornton!

by Administrator 26. January 2012 11:50

John Packer Ltd are delighted to announce that the winner of the Butlin's "Win David Thornton" competition in association with Sterling Musical Instruments is Paul Clough from the Dobcross Silver Band.

Paul has asked for David to perform with the band at one of its concerts at the world famous Dobcross Band Club and we will be publishing the dates as soon as they are arranged.

Dobcross were one of 65 bands that entered the competition to have the services of the Sterling Euphonium artist and Solo Euphonium of the Brighouse and Rastrick band and we are sure that it will be a fantastic event!


Four New Saxes Raise The JP Bar

by Administrator 23. January 2012 14:59

JP Rosestone alto saxophone

OVER our years of saxophone production we've seen just how many budding musicians have started on our JP041s who are now happily advancing onto more advanced saxes. We're always looking at ways we can improve our instruments and uncover new musical areas. We like to feel that we are part of a musican's life from the tentative B-A-G, to a much higher level of musicianship. Understanding our players has helped us understand our instruments; what players want from the instruments and - just as importantly - how much they want to spend.

As a woodwind musician, John Packer has taken a personal interest in bringing a new class of instruments into the market. The 2 series offer a level of performance that would normally only be found in 'step up' or middle range instruments, yet still priced to fit into the student market. Despite their modest price, the 2-series instruments have a performace capability which has impressed a number of well known professional players in the UK who now use them in their day to day work at the highest level.

2012 sees four new saxophones onto the scene, each a perfect specimen for the advancing player heading to the upper grades.

The JP243 Soprano saxophone and JP245 Alto saxophone are both all new designs. Specific features include the following:

•    High grade 80:20 brass   
•    Underslung 8ve mechanism           
•    Floating plate design for little finger (LH) cluster   
•    Full ribbed construction               
•    ‘Abalone’ pearls                   
•    Italian leather pads               
•    Blue steel springs               
•    Double spine on B & C               
•    Resonator pads                   
•    Adjustable thumb rest               
•    Adjustable back stops               
•    G#/Bb & F/F# independent adjustment       
•    Lyre box                   
•    Mechanism includes: High F#, Front F, High G (on soprano model only

The JP243 soprano saxophone also features a straight neck.

The glorious new Rosestone saxophones (alto pictured left) are an even higher example of JP manufacturing. The alto (£1495) and tenor saxophone models are designed to slot comfortably into the upper student/semi-professional performance area.

This instrument exhibits a very high standard of workmanship and a matching level of excitement for the player. It looks gorgeous in its gold lacquer finish and is capable of both great power and subtlety. It also has a superb tuning scale. This is a multi-faceted instrument and is ready to support players in whatever musical environment they find themselves

The comprehensive package includes Selmer C* mouthpiece, Rovner (Dark) ligature and essential cleaning materials all in a high quality lightweight case.


JP351SW Trumpet Receives Thumbs UP from NYJO and Royal College Prof.

by Administrator 17. January 2012 14:37

We're delighted to have received this review from Mark Armstrong about our JP351SW LT trumpet. Mark is Musical Director at NYJO and Jazz professor at the Royal College of Music. 

"I was recently asked by the chaps at John Packer's if I would review one of their recent introductions to the market - the JP351SWLT trumpet. Having both tried and been impressed by some of their earlier instruments I was keen to see what they had conjured up now. This interest was further enhanced by the fact that this instrument is a movement into new higher market areas for the Packer team and this means that you are battling with tougher opposition. Firstly the model number - 'SW' shows that, once again, Richard Smith (of Smith-Watkins) has been involved both in the overall design and, specifically, the all important lead pipe.  The 'LT' refers to the fact that the bell is very lightweight which, combined with the nickel silver reverse leadpipe, is an interesting combination on a large bore instrument.   

"On first sight I was impressed by the build quality - lovely construction and the slides and valves all moved sweetly and positively. Not only are Packers collaborating with the best designers in the West they are also using western grades of materials and, it seems, the best technology to ensure good construction quality. This instrument is over £1000 less than my own trumpet, but the build quality appeared to be equal.  It's impressive even when you open the case and look at it.  

"That's the cosmetics dealt with, but how does it all combine as a working tool for a musician? I tested this trumpet both at home and 'in the field'. My initial tests made me feel so confident in the instrument’s capability that it has now been heard by many people who have been to see Chicago in the West End. The sound is pleasingly warm and centred even at extreme dynamics and its overall characteristics make it ideal for jazz, big band or showmusic etc. Capable of power or subtlety with equal ease.   

"Frankly, at this price, this instrument is amazing value. Packer's intention in bringing higher quality & performance to the market place at accessible prices has certainly been achieved. I have been happy to use it professionally and will be using it again on Boxing day when I take NYJO to the Today [BBC Radio 4] programme.  This trumpet is without doubt capable of professional performance, but priced to be accessible to players doing the higher ABRSM grade exams. Great combination!"

See this wonderful trumpet by clicking here!

JP351SW LT trumpet

How You Can Buy Instruments VAT-free via Academy Schools

by Administrator 17. January 2012 09:44

THE John Packer Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme has been a vital component in support of music in state schools since we pioneered the scheme in the 1990s.

However, with the advent of the Academy status schools, considerable confusion has arisen over whether or not the AIP scheme still applied. Many Academy Schools are either uncertain about the situation or believe that the AIP scheme is no longer applicable to them. If you are in that group then finally we have clarity...

Recently a school with which we have dealings made an enquiry to HM Revenue & Customs about this matter. This is an extract from the reply that they received from the government department:

"This matter has been looked into and I can advise you that academies are allowed to use the Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme. It was originally thought that academies wouldn't be involved in this scheme and therefore it would not be applicable to them. However, we have now received information to the contrary and VAT Supply Policy have confirmed that academies can use the scheme in the same way that local authorities can.

Therefore I can confirm that academies can use the AIPS subject to the usual conditions of the scheme."*

* full text available if required.

This is great news for the parents of musical pupils and for music in schools. Please share this with your finance team, music staff and parents.

For your interest you can also view our current AIPS handout, complete with prices and details of our instrument hire scheme, by clicking here.

How to win David Thornton...

by Administrator 13. January 2012 09:17


WE'RE delighted to offer the fantastic David Thornton as a prize at this year's Butlin's Mineworkers Brass Band Competition in Skegness, January 27-29.

David plays solo euphonium with the world famous Brighouse and Rastrick Band, and is highly regarded.

Anyone at the event can enter, all they need to do is fill in a form and at the end of the weekend one lucky winner will be plucked from a hat.

The prize is a day's use of David. David can:

  • Give you a private lesson of 2 hours duration
  • Be a guest soloist at a concert for your band (includes a rehearsal on the same day as the concert)
  • Conduct a rehearsal of your band or work with a section of your band (possibly culminating in a concert on the same day)
  • Give a small group masterclass
  • Give a workshop at your school or for your local Music Service

The terms of the prize are:

  • That David's services will only be applicable within mainland UK
  • The prize equates to a maximum duration of the time required to a daytime rehearsal/workshop (starting no earlier than 10am) and an evening concert on the same day. Your requirements may be of a shorter duration.
  • David is a great euphonium player, but he is only human; he cannot be used for any housework or gardening! We reserve the right to adjudicate the requirements of the prize winner.
  • There is no cash equivalent (David's time is priceless!)
  • It is a condition of this competition that the winning band must use the JP Musical Instruments and Sterling Musical Instruments logos in any publicity material connected to this event and be willing to have publicity material/banners/literature etc. on public view at the event itself. John Packer Ltd also reserve the right to have use of any images taken at the event.

The 300 Series - a New Generation of JP

by Administrator 10. January 2012 10:06

OVER the last few years John Packer Ltd has established a reputation for effective innovation in the student markets across a broad product range, from reduced system flutes, to double French horns. Many changes to design, materials and manufacturing techniques have led to a plethora of instruments that are well established and well respected across Europe and, increasingly, across the broader world music stage.

Those watching our progress will also have noticed that we've not been afraid to move into, and develop, minority instrument markets. Our reduced system oboe and development of a shortreach bassoon have been met positively by schools, teachers and parents alike. Despite this, however, we never regard an instrument as being truly 'finished'. We're always listening to feedback from beginners all the way to professional players and teachers so that we can continually evolve our instruments into the best they can be. We think of all the instruments in the JP range as being works in progress and this has led to increasingly high performance and manufacturing standards.

As a result of this, we've been hard at work developing a new level of product to bear the JP badge. The JP '3' series. It has always been our policy to provide performance levels that are higher than the price would suggest is possible. The JP '3' series incorporate sophisticated design elements, the highest standards of workmanship, the best materials and a performance level that would meet and excel the needs of a professional player.

This stunning line-up of instruments so far includes the JP351SWLR Bb trumpet, JP371SW Bb cornet, JP373 baritone horn, JP374 euphonium and the JP331Rath & JP332Rath Bb/F trombones. Many more will follow.

The Instruments

The new JP351SWLR trumpet incorporates a lightweight one-piece bell and a nickel silver reverse leadpipe which has been custom designed by Richard Smith of Smith-Watkins. These are professional features and are usually restricted to only the most expensive instruments.

Likewise, the JP371SW Bb cornet comes with a custom designed leadpipe by Smith-Watkins and a one-piece bell. It also has 1st and 3rd valve triggers and is large bore, accommodating professional needs.

The JP373 compensating baritone has once again raised the bar in this market. Made in the same factory alongside the new JPRATH trombone project this new Baritone features not only high grade brass but a Monel valve block with nylon valve guides. It is an excellent horn; offering players an extremely high level of performance.

Our JP374 Euphonium (pictured left) has already an abundance of credits under its belt. Professional Andy Woods has used his euphonium in the recording of the Coronation Street theme, not to mention many films, including Wallace & Grommit, computer games, session work with Dido and on Radio 2 with the BBC Big Band! The quality of manufacture and materials makes the JP374 Euphonium ideal for Andy's needs.

The latest additions to the series are the JP331Rath/JP332Rath Bb/F trombones. Launched at the 2010 International Trombone Festival in Austin, Texas, these trombones were much anticipated by fans of the JP/RATH collaboration. These Bb/F trombones represent exceptional quality, high specification and remarkable value. Michael Rath is someone for whom high standards are paramount and his involvement from concept to end product is the key to the success of this collaboration. Mick has been working at our factory with the technicians who make the instruments to ensure that they make them exactly as he does. The JP331Rath is a medium large bore (0.525") instrument and the JP332Rath a large bore  (0.547"). Both carry the benefits of Michael Rath's enormous experience.

We're excited about the future of JP instruments; you can rest assured many more instruments in the 3 series will follow.


The JP '3' series - a materialisation of the concept of providing professional quality at an intermediate price.

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