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

Silver Content in Flutes - the myth!

by Administrator 3. July 2012 15:20

IT is widely believed that the best flutes have as many components made of silver as possible. In broad terms this is correct. However consider the following using Yamaha as an example:

Yamaha make a popular step up flute with a solid headjoint (YFL311) and the model above (with solid tube) is the YFL411. Inevitably it is more expensive than the YFL311. They also make a model YFL514 which has the same silver content as the YFL311, but is more expensive than the YFL411. How does that work then?

Clearly Yamaha think that the YFL514 will out perform the YFL411 or they wouldn’t be able to charge more for it. Equally clear is the fact that silver content isn’t the final arbiter of performance or the YFL514 would be hopelessly outclassed by the high volume of silver in the YFL411.

There are also some highly respected flutes (Miyazawa PB102 and Altus 807) comparable in price with the YFL514, but which only have a solid lip plate – hardly any silver at all and yet very high performance. How does this make any sense when, if you look at any manufacturers catalogue, it seems that pretty much the only thing that changes as you spend more money is silver content?

Answer: Design. Silver only offers a significant performance enhancement when added in conjunction with sophisticated design changes. If you have a flute that is badly designed and constructed, but made entirely out of silver it will still be awful. If you take professional flute designs and put them into a flute made out of silverplated nickel (like most student flutes), then you would still have a responsive, lively and capable instrument. 

So, in theory the more expensive flutes have more precious metal content and more hand crafting and sophisticated design elements.


Very Rare Flute Comes into John Packer Ltd for Evaluation

by Administrator 21. May 2012 11:43

ON Wednesday 16th May a local lady came into the shop asking if we would value an old instrument for her. This happens very regularly and always generates a slight air of excitement because you never know what is going to come out of a battered old case or scruffy shopping bag. Usually, it's some tarnished and tangled web of brass tubing that would be lucky if it justified going on a pub wall.

Sometimes however... The lady took out two lengths of pale material and said that this flute (for that was what it was) had belonged to her mother and grandmother and could it be made to work again. Hmmmm. Interesting... looks like ivory... looks very old... very old.

It had four keys, well at least it should have had four keys, but one was missing with only the saddle remaining. The two keys on the body joint were of a slightly different design than the footjoint key, so we surmised that they were a later addition. Also, bizarrely, it had two embouchure holes. We searched for a makers name. Even under the best magnification it looked like it was made up of indistinct elements of a mixture of letters that could have been S's or E's or B's or R's or F's or H's. We just couldn't fathom it out, but we did have a sneaking feeling that this was something interesting...

On Thursday 17th May, we emailed some images and had a long conversation with an old friend in London who is an expert in these things. He was also quietly intrigued about it. He explained that the additional embouchure hole would have been added when standard pitch rose after the Baroque period, but from what he could see this was a 17th century ivory flute.We agreed to ship the flute to him immediately by courier for a full examination and so that our friend could call in other experts for their verdict.

Friday 18th May. Early in the morning, and within minutes of the courier delivering the flute, we get a call from London. 'It's a Scherer'. We'd heard of lots of makers from this period, but not Scherer. 'Is that good?' we asked. 'It's very rare' came the reply. So rare that the word was already out and notables were offering their opinions and queuing up to come and see it. In it's day it would have been the crème de la crème. Our London expert wasn't prepared to quote a value, as he wasn't certain exactly what effect the modifications would have on the price if it were offered for sale. However, as he put it 'it's worth a lot of money and it's staying in my safe'.

Now we wait. Hopefully, we will bring you up to date soon when we get more news. Watch this space...!

Scherer flute

Flute Day Hosted by Internationally Renowned Flautist

by Administrator 5. September 2011 16:03

JOHN Packer Ltd and 4Flutes annual flute event will feature world renown flautist Paul Edmund Davies this Autumn.

Taking place on October 23rd at Plymouth University, Devon, from 10am-4.30pm the flute day is open to players of all ages and abilities.
Guest star, Paul is an astonishing player of great virtuosity and his reputation is at the highest level around the world, established as a flautist and soloist in the twenty years that he was principal flute of the London Symphony Orchestra, performing under the baton of many leading conductors including Leonard Bernstein, Rostropovich, Pierre Boulez, Kent Nagano and Andre Previn. He has performed on more than 50 film soundtracks, including classics such as Star Wars & Harry Potter. He is also Professor of Flute at the Royal College of Music.The flute day promises to be an exciting opportunity to listen and learn from one of the greats. Paul will even perform on the day in a final informal concert at 4pm.

4Flutes aims to bring opportunities to the southwest that are both affordable and accessible to pupils, parents and in general lovers of live music.

All places need to be booked in advance. Tickets cost £25 per person. For an application form or more details please see or contact: Ruth Ballantyne or Mike Nottage on: 01752 844017/ 07779 063948.

For more information about Paul Edmund Davies you can visit his website by clicking here.

Who is the real John Packer Ltd?

by Administrator 3. May 2011 11:33

FOR almost 10 years John Packer Ltd has been busily developing and expanding a JP range of woodwind and brass products. This has been very successful and the range now extends to over 100 different models with more in the pipeline.

Inevitably, all this activity and our pride in what we have been doing has meant that our promotional efforts have become dominated by the JP product brand. It has occurred to us that maybe we have created the impression that things have changed here at John Packer's.

Let us reassure you that (with the exception of our own range) nothing has changed. We still carry a huge breadth of stock from student to professional including all the latest models from a broad range of manufacturers. Even where we have our own products, we still carry all the usual alternatives from other makers because we know that all players are different and you need a real choice!

The latest additions to our stock include: the exciting intermediate range of Schagerl trumpets, the new Neo euphonium and YPC62R piccolo from Yamaha, Fossati oboes, Azumi flutes, Trevor James Signature saxophones, Michael Rath handmade trombones, not to mention an abundance of new accessories; Stock mouthpieces, Aizen saxophone mouthpieces, Voros bassoon reeds and Kernow oboe reeds.

Bottom line? We are everything that we used to be and a little more besides!

That includes: Adler, Altus, Azumi, Besson, Buffet, Bach, Conn Holton, Howarth, James, Jupiter, King, Leblanc, Mateki, Miyazawa, Muramatsu, Patricola, Paxman, Pearl, Powell, Rath, Sankyo, Schagerl, Schreiber, Schilke, Selmer, Smith-Watkins, Stomvi, Yanagisawa, Yamaha and more! All in stock, all ready to try in the shop (or on approval), all can be checked/set up by our workshop, all with the personal specialised service that helped to give us our reputation.

John Packer Ltd launch the JP010CH Kinder Flute

by Administrator 13. April 2010 09:27

John Packer Ltd are proud to announce the arrival of a brand new flute on the student music scene. The JP010CH Kinder flute has been specifically designed with the young novice in mind.

We have looked closely at the requirements of the smaller player to design the perfect beginner flute. The JP010 flute is designed to help the very young flautist to make a start by making the instrument much more manageable. The keywork has been reduced so that all of the keywork that is unnecessary for the early stages has been removed. This also makes it very light and easy to balance. The remaining keys are aligned so that little hands can hold it comfortably. The curved headjoint brings everything closer to the player so that there is less need to stretch. The instrument needs no assembling, since it fits in the case in one piece.

Voila, the JP010CH is born! The JP010CH is ideal for young players, players on Suzuki method, or for those moving from the fife who aren't yet big enough for a standard size model.

The trill keys, E mechanism and Bb spatula key have been removed and the range has been reduced to low D instead of low C (Middle C). The body and mechanisms of the flute are silver-plated.

The flute comes with an internal gauze cloth, external polishing cloth and cleaning rod. Its case is strong and has a shoulder strap for convenience. There is an external pocket for cleaning materials and a reflective stripe for safety.

Buy NOW!

If you would like to know any more about the JP010CH or give it a trial, please contact the shop on or call 01823 282386.