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

,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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A Piccolo Headjoint that Hits New Heights!

by Administrator 18. February 2013 10:14

AS any keen instrumentalist knows the headjoint or mouthpiece of their chosen instrument is key for ease of playing and producing a good tone.

At the John Packer HQ in Taunton, we've been working on a specific piccolo headjoint - an area often sadly overlooked. The JP214 piccolo headjoint is a development of the Schwedler design and finds counterparts in Hammig, Reiner, Pearl and Yamaha etc.

The ‘high wave’ design aids easy articulation and gives great stability at the top of the range even in quieter passages. The ebonite material imbues the sound with a warmth and depth and negates the shrillness found in so many piccolo’s. This has been specifically designed to work well as a financially accessible upgrade for the YPC32 piccolo which it will lift to new performance levels. It can be purchased either with the instrument (at a discount) or as a separate item.


Selling price £199 inc vat

Selling price as an add on to the purchase of a YPC32 £160 inc vat


Click here to buy.

If you would like to try the headjoint on approval, please contact the shop on 01823 282386 (option 1), or email


JP214 Piccolo headjoint

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New Products

Six Grade 8's in One Day?

by Administrator 1. February 2013 10:24

Charity Event Blog – Getting Started

So I have decided to take 6 Grade 8 exams in one day in order to raise money for Cancer Research UK. The Instruments that I have decided to do this event on are; Trumpet, Tenor Horn, Euphonium, Trombone, Bass Trombone and Tuba. Now whilst I am a first study Trombone player, I have previously never taken a Grade 8 exam before (in fact the last exam I took was my Grade 7 on the Euphonium which I took 9 years ago before I had even begun playing the Trombone). Before this year, I had also never played Tuba, Trumpet or Tenor Horn before. So the challenges I will be facing include learning to adapt my embouchure to play new instruments, refreshing my valve technique and learning 18 pieces of music to a Grade 8 standard in a matter of months (I will play pieces that I have never played before, even on Trombone!!!).

In the Beginning:
In November last year (2012) on a long coach journey home from Cardiff, I’m sat thinking to myself “why have you never done your Trombone Grade 8?” after all I have completed a Music Performance Degree on the Trombone so I’ve needed to play above that standard anyway.
Then I’m thinking about a charity event I did during my degree, a concert where I raised over £500 for charity even though it was just a small, low key event. I wanted to do something bigger, raise more money for charity and advertise to a larger group of people. So in bringing the two thoughts together, I came up with this event.

Bringing it to Life:
Days went by as I thought about how I could actually make this event happen. Many problems came immediately to mind, the largest of which being the overall cost of the event:
·    In order to make this event happen I needed instruments: in fact I needed a Trumpet, Tenor Horn, Euphonium, Bass Trombone and a Tuba which I could not personally afford and that I was not willing to take money from the charity in order to buy as the accumulated cost would be thousands of pounds and I want 100% of money raised to go to the charity. On top of that I would also need to buy mouthpieces that I could use to get the job done.
·    There would also be the cost of all the music that I need. The original music is essential as you can not take an exam with photocopies (copyright) and the cost of 18 pieces of music will again be hundreds of pounds.
·    The actual price of taking Grade 8 exams, though reasonable in order to gain an internationally recognised qualification, adds up to hundreds of pounds when you are taking 6 of them at once.
·    A Pianist or Pianists will be required in order to accompany my pieces. These Pianists need to be very good and will have to give up their time in order to practice/rehearse. Traditionally Piano players like to eat and so they tend to charge a fee for their services.

I quickly realised that this event would be a no go if I had no support for this event from the large companies that are successful and running in these different areas of the industry. So I firstly researched the British based companies that were manufacturing the full range of Brass instruments and also the examining bodies that offer Grade 8 exams on the instruments that I specified. I expected that these would be the most expensive aspects for the event and the two things that could either bolt the event in to action or stop the event dead.

I contacted the examining body Trinity Guildhall first of all. I wanted to find out whether it was even possible to take 6 Grade 8 exams in one day and as to whether there was any possibility of support from the company. They assured me that I was mad but that the event was perfectly possible in theory. They also said that they would like to support the event and are currently working on finding out to what extent they are able to support the event.

Russell Lock with his JP Musical Instruments

I then contacted an instrument manufacturer whose instruments I had encountered whilst teaching, but had researched and found out that they not only produced student level instruments, but they also produced professional quality instruments in collaboration with some of the UK’s top Brass instrument designers. The company was John Packer Musical Instruments and they got back to me inviting me to their store in Somerset on the 5th January 2013 in order to discuss the event and the possibility of endorsing their highest level “3 series” brass instruments.
On the 5th January I travelled to the John Packer store and was stunned at the amount of Brass and wind instruments on display there. The staff were professional and welcoming and we sat talking not only about the instruments, but also about possible marketing strategies for the event for almost an hour and a half. I found the discussion very useful and not only were the company willing to provide me with all of the instruments that I required, they also expressed a keen interest in helping me with the advertising and raising as much money as possible for the Cancer Research UK.
It was at this point that I knew the event would go ahead and I can not thank the entire John Packer Company enough for the time and resources that they have provided for me in order for this event to take place.

Alongside contacting John Packer Musical Instruments, I also contacted a large brass accessory manufacturing company called Denis Wick named after and created by the legendary trombonist of the same name. I contacted them in regards to obtaining the mouthpieces and other accessories that I may require in order for this event to go ahead. I was then contacted by Denis Wick himself who said that the company would be willing to support the event for the charity and invited me to visit their factory in Dorset in order to test mouthpieces to the instruments and decide which mouthpieces would suit me the best and then take those away to use for the event. I will therefore be travelling to the factory on the 18th February 2013 in order to do this. My thanks go out to Denis Wick and those working with him for their time and support.

I am currently in the process of contacting sheet music distributors in order to see if they are able to support the event and will contact the local music college when I have music in order to try to find some Pianists willing to support Cancer Research UK and accompany me in this charity event.

My thanks go out to all of the people and companies that have given both their time and resources in order to support me and this event. Without you this event could not take place. Thank you.

Russell Lock

Supporting the event:
Cancer Research UK have aided me in the advertising for this event and by providing me with a variety of ways in order to fundraise for this event:
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.

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Grade 8 Challenge

Yamaha Produce Limited Edition Custom Trumpet

by Administrator 29. January 2013 11:44

AS part of their 125th anniversary celebrations Yamaha has produced a special edition Bb trumpet - the YTR850 Custom.

Developed with top class professional artists and made by their most skilled technicians in Japan, this special edition model is sure to be hugely popular amongst professional musicians, semi-pro players and advanced students.

The 850 Custom benefits from nickel silver slides and a gold brass leadpipe. It's based on a lightweight trumpet to give the instrument a versatile sound. Easy blowing with excellent intonation, it's flexible enough to tackle any genre of music by the most demanding player.

Musicians can choose between a yellow or gold brass bell and in a silver plated or lacquered finish. Each trumpet is supplied in a high quality hard double trumpet case.

The special edition model is fantastic value for money, being the most affordable Yamaha Custom trumpet to date  - in fact it's lower in price than Yamaha's renowned Xeno trumpet range!

Click here to buy. Or if you'd like to try it on approval, please contact or call 01823 282386 (option 1).

Yamaha Custom 850 Trumpet

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Product Info

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

Christmas Winners 2012 Now Revealed

by Administrator 8. January 2013 12:14

FOLLOWING an abundance of worthy entries we're delighted to announce the winner and runner's up of our 2012 Christmas Giveaway. In December we asked schools and teachers to nominate young music students that were deserving of a new instrument for Christmas. After much debate the list was whittled down to four candidates with the top prize - a JP277 tuba - being awarded to Bradley Robertson in Surrey. Bradley was nominated by his teacher Lewis Gibbs from Sutton Music Service for his commitment to music and local orchestras; occasionally arriving on a scooter with his tuba!

Kieran Davies, a promising young clarinetist from South Wales was awarded a JP221. He has made remarkable progress since beginning in September. His teacher Mrs Rowberry - who has been teaching for more than 20 years - said he had obvious natural talent and would go far.

Runner's up prizes of £75 in music gift vouchers were awarded to Joszef Kereszteny-Lewis from Cheshire who plays clarinet, and flautist Tharneshan Nandakumar from South Croydon.

PHOTO: Bradley Robertson with his JP277 Tuba.

PHOTO: Kieran Davies with his JP221 clarinet alongside his teacher Mrs Rowberry.

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