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

JP Symphonic Wind Band Day 2014 Review

by Administrator 4. February 2014 10:32

On Saturday the 1st of February, the foundations of the main hall at Richard Huish College were shaken to their core by the massed talents of around 90 of the best musicians in the southwest. The latest in a sequence of workshop/play days, this one was under the baton of the inimitable Pete Long whose own talents have taken him into the top session player league via Itchy Fingers, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Jools Holland, Paul McCartney, The Stereophonics (among many more) and innumerable recording sessions for top artists. The standard of musicianship was top drawer from all those in the ensemble and the repertoire was enhanced by arrangements by the renowned Michael ‘Mac’ McDermott (check spelling) who was present during the event. The event was honoured to play some his arrangements for the first time outside a military band context.

With Pete’s encouragement the band generated an incredible sound as it went through a playlist dedicated to Movies and TV – Jurassic Park, Eve of the War (from Jeff Wayne’s War of the World’s); ending with a rousing medley of ‘cop’ themes like Hawaii 5-0, Cagney and Lacey and Hill St Blues.

Perhaps the most significant endorsement of the event is from many of these talented players who immediately signed up for the next event as soon as the final concert was over.

You can see photos from the day on our Facebook page by clicking here

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CASS Members Receive Special Discount

by Administrator 15. January 2014 11:34

John Packer Ltd has been a long term supporter of CASS, and for many years has offered a special 20% discount* to its members.
To receive your unique discount code simply contact

*Terms & Conditions apply: Offer valid for 20% off clarinet and saxophone accessories, not including reeds which are already heavily discounted. Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers or promotional discounts. Offer not exchangeable for cash. Offer subject to change without notice.

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Shop news

John Packer Goes Mobile!

by Administrator 10. January 2014 10:22

The John Packer mobile webiste will go live on Tuesday, January 14th, making it even easier to browse our website and make orders while you're on the go!

The website is fully optimised and compatible with all major devices. So, if you find you're suddenly without a decent reed, or in need of more valve oil, a couple of clicks and we'll have your order processed and ready to go!

If you have any questions, comments or feedback about the new site please feel free to post on our facebook page or tweet us.


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Shop news

New Job Vacancy at John Packer Ltd

by Administrator 9. January 2014 09:38

John Packer Ltd are looking for a capable individual to join their sales team to support continuing growth in their export markets.

This is a demanding and full time role with considerable responsibility. The successful candidate will need to be an experienced musician with good organisational skills and a high level of accuracy. Some sales experience would be beneficial, but full training will be given. Competence in foreign language(s) and familiarity with standard proprietary design software would also be an advantage, but are not essential. Familiarity with standard office software/processes is a pre-requisite.

We are a team company and this is a team role.

The job is based in our Taunton administration centre and involves all aspects of sales with additional elements of marketing/PR & relevant administration.

A generous remuneration is on offer to the right person and we are looking to fill the post immediately.

The closing date for applications is February 14th, 2014.

Apply in the first instance by emailing a CV and a short covering letter to Company Director Annie Gardner -

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Shop news

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

Join Packers this Spring for a Brass Band Workshop!

by Administrator 25. January 2013 14:33

AFTER 2012's highly successful Brass Band Workshop, John Packer Ltd is delighted to announce another event for Brass Band Musicians this Spring.

Musicians are invited to our Brass Band Day at The Castle School, in Taunton on Saturday, March 23rd.

We're delighted to welcome back retired Lieutenant Colonel Dr Chris Davis (OBE) who led our Symphonic Wind Day in 2012.

Dr Chris Davis

Chris joined the Royal Marines Band Service in September 1975 and on completion of three years training at the Royal Marines School of Music embarked onboard Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia.
On commissioning in 1993, he went to Salford University, gaining a First Class Honours Degree in Band Musicianship, studying conducting with Professor David King and composition under Ray Steadman-Allen and Professor Peter Graham.
After a period of research and mentoring by Professor David King in composer/conductor collaboration, he gained a Doctorate in Musical Arts from the University of Salford in 2006. The research programme involved the commissioning and performance of contemporary works by British composers, including Nigel Clarke, Peter Graham and Robin Dewhurst.
In July 2002 Chris assumed the position of Principal Director of Music, Royal Marines and Commandant of the Royal Marines School of Music, the seventh in a line of celebrated musicians who have held this appointment.
After 34 years of service Chris retired from the Royal Marines in May 2009 and now pursues a busy career as a freelance conductor and adjudicator. He has adjudicated at the National Brass Band Championships at the Royal Albert Hall, as well as the Lower Section National Finals in Harrogate. Other judging positions have included ‘Brass’ in Concert and the Yeovil entertainment contest.
In December 2011 Chris accepted an invitation from the world famous Brighouse and Rastrick band to become their Associate conductor and now enjoys a busy schedule of concerts and recordings throughout the UK and Europe. In short, Chris is something of a legend and this is a fantastic 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. This day features challenging music (listed below), so musicians must be Grade 6-8 standard (or above) to cope with some of the technical demands.

'Earth Rites' Robin Dewhurst
'On the Edge of Time' Ray Steadman Allen
'Quintessense' Robert Redhead
'All Night Long' arr. Baker
'O Magnum Mysterium' Lauridson
'The Saga of Haarkon the Good' Philip Sparke

Please bring a packed lunch, your instrument, mutes and a music stand. Registration from 9am for a 10am start. The day will end at 5pm.

Please call Steve for tickets. Limited numbers available.

The venue is The Castle School, School Hall, Castle Sports Centre, Wellington Road, Taunton, TA1 5AU, which is located behind Somerset College of Art and Technology (SCAT).

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

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Instrument Sales Specialist Required

by Administrator 11. January 2013 14:23

Due to continuing growth, John Packer Ltd are looking for a sales person to assist in their busy retail premises in Taunton. This varied role involves supporting the departmental managers in all areas of retail sales.

The successful applicant will play woodwind or brass instruments to a high standard and will ideally have been qualified at a specialist music college.  We are looking for someone who is intelligent, articulate, diligent and with good communication skills. This is a busy role and would suit a physically active person. Some sales experience would be an advantage, but is not essential as full training will be given

We are a successful and friendly company and the role offers good prospects to the right person.

The job entails a 5 day week (with a Saturday rota) and the remuneration package is generous and related to potential/experience.

Please send CV in the first instance to Jon Parkinson (Sales Director) – The closing date for applications is January 31st 2013.


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Shop news

JP245 Continues to Push Boundaries says New Review

by Administrator 1. October 2012 13:39

Our JP245 alto saxophone has just received its second rave review, this time from CASS magazine!

The following review went to press in the Autumn edition of CASS 2012. Review by William Upton

"Saxophones such as John Packer’s middle of the range JP245 alto are pushing the likes of Selmer, Yamaha and Yanigasawa to justify the extra expense at the top end of the market.

From the moment one picks up the JP245 it is clear that it is a quality instrument, banishing the expectation previously endemic among lower budget saxophones of lazily designed key work. The bottom left hand cluster is fluid and light and the palm keys and top F spatula are in the right places for navigating this awkward area of the instrument. The transition from the standard range to the altissimo is smooth and the extended register is a pleasure to play. Indeed, the entire range of the horn is well balanced and, saxophone snobbery aside, should not make you feel out of place in any style of music. The use of blue steel springs, Italian leather pads and metal resonators indicate a high attention to detail. The mother of pearl inlays and tastefully minimal engraving on the bell and upper body add a touch of sophistication. Most importantly, the tuning on these instruments is good, excepting the usual saxophonic minefield at the bottom of the range where they have clearly made an effort to correct the ubiquitous sharp low Bb. The zippered case is compact and light with a large front pocket, a well thought out backpack facility and a shoulder strap.

The availability of reliable information on saxophone construction means that customers are more knowledgeable, demanding more from manufacturers, and the only major element separating this horn from those at the top of the range is malleability of timbre; the sound is thick and rich but lacking in pliancy – not a bad starting point for anyone looking to upgrade their instrument. Perhaps its highest endorsement is that professional players have been happy to take these instruments on tour in preference to submitting their precious Mark VIs to the rigours of the road. Packers have also lent me a Soprano which shows similar qualities and would be a good buy for the discerning player who is not bothered by brand snobbery. With their regular attendance at Trade Fairs and their lovely shop in Somerset this company are certainly committed to the British sax and clarinet scene."

To see a video of the JP245 in action, to read more about it, or purchase, click here!

PHOTO: The JP245 alto saxophone.

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Symphonic Wind Band Workshop a Hoot!

by Administrator 1. October 2012 12:41

EIGHT-FIVE advanced musicians from far and wide joined together for the first John Packer Symphonic Wind Band Workshop on Saturday, September 29th at Castle School Taunton.
Players were guided and coached by Chris Davis on some interesting and challenging pieces. A great performance of Windows Of The World tested the whole band especially the three percussionists! The day was run with military precision from start to finish and ended with a ‘concert performance’ of selected pieces.

Some of the comments from players who attended the day are below:

  "A great day, well organised Steve and your team. Looking forward to the next one."

"Brilliant day Steve, really enjoyed it. Thanks to all at JP".

 "It was a fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable day in all respects - thanks to Steve and co, and especially to Chris Davis for giving us all the benefit of your expertise & experience. Well done Packers - I'd love to do it again sometime!"

"Just wanted to tell you of what an incredible weekend I had in Taunton! I really really enjoyed getting to play British wind band repertoire that I have never played before. If you don't mind I would like details for other wind band workshops or workshops that John Packers might be involved in around the UK. Thank you so much for a wonderful experience."

"Thank you so much for such a great day today - please, please do another wind band day again!"

"Great day at the workshop yesterday, and a particular thanks to the 'brass chap' at Packer's for the great job he did on my Monnig horn. Thanks again."

"Thank you for a great day yesterday!"


PHOTO: The symphonic wind group that formed for one day only! To see more pics, click here

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Events | Shop news

John Packer Ltd Seek Representative

by Administrator 30. July 2012 12:20

JOHN Packer Ltd are one of the largest suppliers of Woodwind and Brass instruments in the UK. As part of our expansion in both our retail and education departments, we are seeking a capable professional who can maximise our sales potential to existing and potential customers primarily in the North of England.

We anticipate the ideal candidate to be intelligent, articulate, diligent and based in the North of England. They will have a high level of competence as a musician – ideally with a good knowledge of brass or woodwind instruments. Some experience either in music retail/wholesale or music education would be an advantage, but full training will be given.

The job will be home based, but involve travel around the North of England to a large and influential existing customer database and there is also high potential for further development. Occasional evening and weekend work will be required.

This is a busy and demanding full time, employed position and carries an attractive remuneration package including company car etc. Closing date 31st August, 2012. Send CV and application by email in the first instance to: Annie Gardner – Director

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