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

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).

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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

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Shop news

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

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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

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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:

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New Products | Reviews

"A triumph of engineering!" the JP374 Sterling gets reviewed

by Administrator 7. June 2013 13:53

JP374 Sterling Euphonium reviewed
by Mike Howley, Solo Euphonium with the Desford Colliery Band, formerly Solo Euphonium with Brighouse & Rastrick and Yorkshire Building Society (YBS)

Staff at John Packer Ltd recently caught up with Mike Howley of the Desford Colliery Band who had been trying out their JP374 Sterling, a collaboration between brass design luminary Paul Riggett (formerly of Boosey & Hawkes) and themselves.

On discussing the instrument with Grenville Moore, Mike had the following to say about his experiences playing the JP374 Sterling.

“A triumph of engineering! How can such quality be so affordable? I have been using the euphonium as a soloist and in brass band and it is at home in both environments. The tone is true at the extremes of pitch and throughout the dynamic range.

The Euphonium is all about sound. With the JP Sterling Euphonium I can create the very personal sound which is in my heart, in my soul.

That's simply not possible on many of the much more expensive brands.”

The JP374 Sterling is available now from £1908 from

If you are interested in finding out more about our JP374 Sterling Euphonium, please visit our website or email Steve, our brass manager at

For further news and to keep up to date with John Packer why not like them on Facebook at or follow them on twitter at

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Russell Lock's Grade 8 Challenge: Repertoire confirmed

by Administrator 31. May 2013 09:34

Following my previous blog (if you missed it you can find it here), I am pleased to report that Sandwell Music and Arts Service will now be hosting my Grade 8 challenge in their winter series of examinations on  Monday 2nd December. I would like again to give thanks to John Packer Ltd, Denis Wick, Trinity College London and Sandwell Music and Arts Service for making this event possible and supporting it in all of the ways that they are.

After begging, borrowing and stealing from instrumentalists immeasurably more qualified than myself, I have finally developed the repertoire of music that I shall now attempt to master over the coming months before my Grade 8 examinations. Thanks again to all the wonderful musicians who have allowed me to browse and borrow from their catalogues of music. My repertoire list (excluding study works to be confirmed) is as follows:

Trumpet (JP351LT SW with DW Ultra 1.5CH mouthpiece)
Andante Et Scherzo (Busser) – Technical and generally high in ‘scherzo’ section. A stamina challenge.
Red, White And Blues (Bernstein) –Blues style piece, strong interpretation required.

Tenor Horn (JP372 Sterling with DW Classic 1A mouthpiece)
Conversation & Games (Farnon) – Technical and lyrical, an all round musicians piece.
Cornucopia (Wiggins) – 1st Movement only, technical and fast paced throughout.

Trombone (JP332 Rath DW Classic 4ABL mouthpiece)
Cavatine (Saint-Saens) – A mix of fast tempo and difficult key changes make this a great piece to play.
Concerto (Grondahl) – 1st Movement only, musically difficult, clef changes throughout (bass to tenor)

Euphonium (JP374 Sterling with DW Ultra SM3U mouthpiece)
Fantasy (Sparke) – Technical but should remain musical throughout, triple tonguing and fast fingers required.
Euphonium Concerto (Horovitz) – 2nd Movement only, flowing music with many musicianship decisions to be made

Bass Trombone (JP232 with DW Heritage 0AL mouthpiece)
Concerto in One Movement (Lebedev) – A good blow for bass trombone, piece originally written for Tuba.
Concertino Basso (Lieb) – Some low technical passages combined with expressive andante interludes

Tuba (JP377 EEb Sterling with DW Heritage 3XL mouthpiece)
Capriccio (Newton) – Generally high and technical for a tuba part, many rhythmic difficulties.
Concerto For Bass Tuba (Vaughan Williams) – 1st Movement only, a standard in the tuba soloist repertoire.

The challenge of learning these pieces is an exciting prospect and I hope that it helps to raise a lot of money for Cancer Research UK. Please help by donating what you can.

A huge thank you to Anne Tinsley, who has taken on the challenge of learning all of the piano parts for this challenge. Some 12 pieces of difficult piano parts make this a challenge worthy of note in itself. Though I am not a pianist myself (the beginning of chopsticks being the extent of my talent for the instrument) there are an awful lot of dots on those pieces, good luck!

You can now donate to the charity directly by visiting my webpage at or 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


Grade 8 Challenge