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

JP332O RATH Bb/F Trombone review - Nick Hudson

by Administrator 2. July 2015 16:07

Once again a JP Instrument is the recipient of a glowing review, and this time it's the turn of the JP332O Rath open wrap Bb/F Trombone!

Highly-esteemed brass band Trombonist Nick Hudson recently took the JP332O Rath for a thorough test drive and was obviously impressed with what he saw: 


"Over recent years John Packer Musical Instruments have become synonymous with the manufacture of quality, free blowing, cost effective brass instruments, mainly aimed at the beginner/young student market. Our academies here in Abu Dhabi have previously purchased trumpets, french horns, euphoniums, trombones and alto trombones all from the Packer range and have been extremely satisfied with the quality and durability of the full range of instruments.

Over the last three weeks I have been fortunate (due to the assistance of the extremely efficient and knowledgeable staff at John Packer) to get my hands on a new JP332O RATH and give it a good test drive.

I have categorized my thoughts into three sections; technical specs, build quality and the all important playability tests.

Technical Specs

The JP332O RATH is a .547 large bore trombone. It has an 8 1/2 inch bell, closed wrap plug design with a nifty adjustable thumb pull to change the 'throw distance' of the valve. It comes with a Michael Rath designed and manufactured lead pipe which, as I'll mention later, has some considerable effect on the overall response of the instrument. The slide is made of a high grade 80:20 brass which, put simply, works very well indeed. The open wrap F design, valve and adjustable thumb lever ensure a quick and free blowing valve section. The hand grip is reminiscent of the 8H and maybe the newer Yamaha models but in itself provides a comfortable contact point for a well balanced instrument.

These specs obviously mean that JP Instruments have upped their game and are moving into the advanced level student/pro player marketplace.

One of the areas where certain manufacturers try to keep costs low is in the manufacture of the case. Sometimes cases just feel like afterthoughts, thrown together poorly and to a poor standard. Not so with the JP332O RATH. The supplied JPro case is not a hard shell case but provides ample protection for the instrument. If I am perfectly honest the durability of cases provided with earlier student model Packer instruments wasn't the best and, whilst I fully realize the JP332O RATH is aimed at a different marketplace, it is good to see that lessons have been learned and a fine, sturdy, practical case is now provided. It provides room for your usual mouthpiece, cream, metronome, bottle opener and all the gear players carry around, as well as a useful A4 size music folder on the outside. It also comes with sturdy straps for ease of transportation.

One small but effective addition to the case is both the slide and bell section come with 'felt like' drawstring bags. These not only protect the instrument but ensure that any moisture is soaked away from the brass once put back in the case. In addition to this another drawstring bag is included, full of slide cream, tuning slide grease, mist applier and care tips. All this is a huge improvement on previous efforts and reflects the obvious attention to detail that has been put into this instrument.

Build Quality

This is where I have to sing some serious praises. Whilst this instrument is manufactured in China, the quality of finish is exceptional. Yes, we have all had reservations about anything imported from China over the years but it now seems, in this particular case, that any doubts are well and truly unfounded. The soldering, finish and lacquering are all an extremely high standard. After scouring the model forwarded to me I can honestly say that I cannot find fault with any aspect of the manufacturing process. As to the durability of lacquering and soldering? Who knows, but I do wish to reiterate my initial impressions and say this really is first class trombone manufacturing.

Playability

Way back when I used to assist on the Yamaha Exhibition stand I used to get incredibly frustrated at players who picked an instrument off the stand, played a few notes, screwed their noses up and left. For me you cannot give an accurate account of an instruments response and tonal qualities without spending some time with it. Over the last three weeks I have played this instrument every day, and for most of each day in my practice, teaching sessions and rehearsals. It is only now that I feel I can give honest, accurate opinions.

The open instrument is extremely free-blowing, the Michael Rath leadpipe assists in ensuring the response, at both ends of an extreme dynamic range, is clear and immediate. The JP332O RATH has secure partials throughout the range with no insecure 'bogey' notes. As with every new instrument you have to get used to certain intonation changes, some more excessive than others with the JP332O RATH.

Throughout the trial period I have used a Bach 5G I have used since I was 13 (!) and I can confidently say that the JP332O RATH sings with a rich, full sound at extreme fortissimos. This is a personal preference, but I like the 'feel' of the instrument ringing/vibrating when it's played, Elkhart Conn players will know what I'm talking about here, and I do get this feeling when the JP332O RATH is played, in tune, throughout the louder dynamic range. The sound is also pure and response immediate at the quieter dynamics.

Conclusions

I have to be honest again here and say that I was somewhat skeptical about the JP332O RATH when it arrived. I knew nothing about the instrument, the cost, the target market and knowing it was manufactured in China I had the usual misconceptions as described above. However, having lived with it for three weeks I can say (and before you say it, I'm not getting a years supply of tuning slide grease for this review!) that I have been completely bowled over by this instrument. And I am saving the most surprising news until last. The current VAT inclusive price is 925 UK. Let me repeat that, 925 UK. We have here an instrument which compares very favorably to todays Conn's and Bach's for a mere fraction of the price. I would have no hesitation using this instrument in any solo engagement, ensemble recital or recording. The collaboration between Mick Rath and John Packer has raised professional trombone manufacture to a new level... at an extremely affordable price. What's not to like?

Nick Hudson"

 

Find out more about the JP332 O Rath Bb/F Trombone

Keep healthy - keep playing: Silverstein introduce revolutionary cleaning device

by Administrator 28. April 2015 13:01

Everyone's familiar with pull-throughs, cleaning sprays and polishing cloths, but now there is a new revolutionary way to keep your instrument clean and yourself healthy! Silverstein - who are notorious inventors of musical gadgets - have just brought The Light to market. With the use of ultraviolet and ozone technology, the Silverstein Light has been lab tested against various strains of bacterial and infection-causing microbes that when left unattended can lead to a variety of health concerns. The light is 99.9% effective against several notable infections, including E.coli, Staphylococcus aureus (cause of skin infections, respiratory disease, and food poisoning), Klebsiella pneumoniae (causing pneumonia, bronchitis, and respiratory disease) and MRSA. 

You can use the light to sanitize mouthpieces, reeds and other small accessories.

Available online for £75.38. For more information, click here, or contact Andy Still on 01823 282386 (menu option 1).

The all new JP221 Clarinet Receives Glowing Review from Music Teacher Magazine

by Administrator 16. April 2015 14:19

 

It’s official – The JP221 Bb clarinet is a great student instrument and is quite capable of competing with much more expensive student instruments!

"For readers who are wondering why I can’t offer any negatives, the reason is that there aren’t really any." Music Teacher Review – April 2015.

Christopher Walkers, Head of Qualifications (Music) at Trinity College London, who reviewed the clarinet, goes on to mention:

  • Good tone
  • Good tuning
  • Good build quality
  • Good package
  • Good looks

Here's the full review: 

"Buying a student clarinet has changed a lot over the last couple of decades. Once it was a familiar choice between Buffet, Yamaha, Jupiter and a handful others, but recent years have seen an influx of mass-produced instruments from China. The first of these were no match for the established models, relying solely on the fact that they were shockingly cheap. However, as the years passed, manufacturers slowly started producing instruments that could give the leading brands a run for their money. 

I have no idea whether the JP221 is manufactured in China, but it fits this general storyline nevertheless. A few years ago I reviewed an early version of the JP221 for MT; it was cheap and promising but also somewhat flawed. Now, Taunton-based wind and brass specialist John Packer Ltd have worked carefully with their manufacturer (who I would guess is based in China) to develop a new version of the JP221 – not really recognisable as related to the earlier model, and much improved for it. 

Anyone who has been handling student clarinets for more than a few years will tell you that production values in this category have generally gone up, and the JP221 is no exception. This instrument gives an impression of quality, from the smart black case with detachable rucksack straps to the smooth wood-effect body and shiny silver-plated keys. Additionally, the design of the JP221 gives a pleasing feeling of individuality – not bad at this price point. 

To play, the JP221 lives up to its exterior. The instrument I was sent had been superbly set up and was convincingly airtight – not always a given with student clarinets. The intonation was secure and the tone was full and even, giving little suggestion that this is plastic clarinet. The mouthpiece supplied was ample for the job, and the instrument also responded well with my own mouthpiece. 

For readers who are wondering why I can’t offer any negatives, the reason is that there aren’t really any. For nearly £100 less than the market-leading Buffet B12, this instrument should definitely be among those you try before you buy."

Find out more about the JP221 Clarinet

Buy the JP221 with a Vandoren M30 mouthpiece for only £388.99

Forthcoming road closures affecting John Packer Ltd

by Administrator 9. April 2015 12:40

As part of on-going construction on the Taunton Northern Inner Distributor Road, part of Staplegrove Road will be closed for five weeks from 27 April, 2015, affecting vehicle access to John Packer Ltd.

Staplegrove Road will be closed in the vicinity of Chip Lane (where the Royal Mail Sorting Office is located). This means anyone travelling to the shop from Bridge Street (through the centre of town) or Station Road (passing Taunton Pool) won't be able to get through.

A traffic diversion will be signposted via Tangier Way, Castle Street, A38 Welling Road, A3065 Silk Mills Road and the A358 roundabout. 

We'd advise anyone travelling from the South to exit the M5 motorway at Junction 26, and follow the A38 towards Taunton. When you reach Taunton Crematorium on your right, take the first left at the Roundabout onto Silk Mills Road. Follow this road over the bridge, taking the first Right after the bridge onto Bindon Road. The shop is located at the top of Bindon Road, where it meets Staplegrove Road. You can park on Bindon Road, or outisde the shop on Staplegrove Road (by turning left at the T-junction).

Those travelling from the North could consider following the motoroway to Junction 26, or alternatively, exiting the M5 at Junction 25 follow the A38 until you reach the large roundabout where Wickes is located. Take the second exit of this and the next smaller roundabout onto Priory Bridge Road. Turn Right at the T-junction at the end of this road, this takes you past the Train Station. Follow Station Road up an incline and turning Left at the lights onto Greenway Road. When you reach the Rounadbout at the Staplegrove Inn, take the first exit onto Staplegrove Road. The shop is located on the right where Staplegrove Road meets Bindon Road, before Taunton School on the left.

If you get lost, do not hesitate to call the shop on 01823 282386 (menu option 1). 

Your path to playing perfection - without the practice! Introducing Split B Gone

by Administrator 1. April 2015 08:45

All wind players can enjoy the benefits of SplitBgone. This cutting edge, scientifically developed, lip balm not only prevents split lips, but, due to the addition of a special chemical formula (Ba2Ng4On2 or Nowtrongtrioxilate), also prevents split notes – guaranteed!

If you’re a brass player (or flautist), simply apply generously to your mouthpiece (or the lip plate of your headjoint), rub it vigorously on the lips in an anti-clockwise motion (that is crucial for best results as it correctly realigns the joints in the lip muscles) and blow.

If you’re a saxophone or clarinet player, immerse the reed in the solution for 5 minutes. While it absorbs the special formula, dip a teaspoon in SplitBgone and, using the back of the spoon, repeat the energetic anti clockwise rubbing exercise described above and then go for it. Problems solved.

It’s that easy!*

You’ll be amazed to hear your most feared notes popping out, at any dynamic, like there’s no tomorrow.

The effects don’t end there, if you were concerned about that whistling section in Young Person’s guide to the Orchestra, a Roger Whittaker Tribute concert or the bird calls in the Lark Ascending, your worries are over.  Apply SplitBgone and just let your lips do the playing.

Available plain wrapped by mail order in a special vintage bottle at a lip smacking £4.99 for 1 bottle (suitable for 100 uses) or a bulk pack of 3 bottles for just £19.99.

*SplitBgone is less effective on double reeds. For absolute anti-splitting security with Oboes, Cors Anglais & Bassoons etc, the only guaranteed method involves the total immersion of player and instrument in SplitBgone while in the actual act of playing. N.B. Failure to use a snorkel would involve a slight increase in health risk.

Tags:

New Products

Promotion/Marketing/Retail vacancy - some musical experience required

by Administrator 25. March 2015 15:48

John Packer Ltd currently has a vacancy in our Promotion and Marketing department to cover maternity leave (possibly until March 2016), but with good potential for long term employment beyond that.

John Packer Ltd is a long established and successful business at the forefront of musical instrument supply both in the UK and with a growing export division. We are looking for a resourceful and musical person capable of assisting in our busy Marketing/Promotion team and also performing a retail role.

The varied and stimulating job includes maintaining a schedule of activities including design of artwork, mailshots, website maintenance/update, running promotions as well as helping our specialists in the shop etc. The ideal candidate will play a woodwind or brass instrument to a good standard and have some artistic flair. Some retail and/or design experience is preferred, but is not essential as full training will be given if required.

We are a hard working team in a friendly and informal environment and the successful candidate will have a musical background (woodwind or brass), an artistic appreciation and be intelligent, diligent, articulate and versatile. This is a full time, 5 days a week, position and will require some Saturday working within a rota.

Rates of pay are subject to experience, but competitive within the industry. Holiday allowances are above average.

Apply by email in the first instance with accompanying CV to jon@johnpacker.co.uk.

Closing date for applications: April 10th, 2015

Dust off your instrument and you could take to the stage!

by Administrator 25. March 2015 14:07

Are you a lapsed musician? Regret giving up your beloved instrument? Well now's your chance to put things right and go centre-stage at one of the UK's most popular music festivals starring alongside headline acts including Van Morrison, Chaka Khan and Hugh Masekela.

Jazz FM and Yamaha UK have teamed up to offer lapsed musicians a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the Replay Big Band. Be professionally coached by James Pearson, Pianist and Musical Director of the world famous Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, and Pete Long, Musical Director of The Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra, and then perform a set with guests at Jazz FM's Love Supreme Festival in July.

The organisers are looking for adult amateurs who have played saxophone, trumpet or trombone. Successful applicants will be invited to a series of rehearsals, including at Yamaha Music London, Yamaha's own flagship store in central London.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of starring as a member of the world's first Replay Big Band is to download the audition piece from jazzfm.com/replayers, record yourself playing a piece and apply by uploading your entry.

Jazz FM's Head of Live, Alex Lloyd said: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Yamaha for the Replay Project. This is the first ever professionally produced opportunity for lapsed players to hit the big time and hopefully inspire many others to return to playing. We know that, almost without exception, giving up an instrument is a huge source of regret for most people. This project aims to re-ignite the spark that got them started.”

Yamaha's Charles Bozon added: "It's central to the Yamaha philosophy to encourage people to take up playing but also to encourage former musicians to return to the instruments they once loved. The Replay project is a brilliant and very high profile example of our philosophy in action, I can see this developing into an inspiration for hundreds if not thousands of lapsed players around the UK.”

The closing date for submissions is Friday 3rd April. Winners will be announced early May 2015.

Music For All: making more musicians

by Administrator 28. January 2015 14:01

Tags:

John Packer Ltd hits the right note

by Administrator 22. January 2015 15:47

Musicians can now buy with confidence when seeking the perfect instrument. It’s being made as simple as do, re, mi thanks to the Trusted Music Store scheme which lists John Packer Ltd as one of the finest and most trusted music shops in the UK.

The Music Industries Association (MIA) is launching the scheme that not only safeguards the sale of an instrument, offering customers a unique and guaranteed 24 month warranty from purchase should the TMS shop cease to trade, but also aims to create a more harmonious shopping experience all-round.

The trademarked TMS logo will be displayed at all participating stores which meet the scheme’s requirements of having a great range of instruments, together with expert advice, support and guidance for musicians and, in many cases, instrument teaching services and instrument finance/rental schemes.

Jon Parkinson, Retail Director at John Packer Ltd in Taunton said: “Being recognised as a Trusted Music Store is a great endorsement of the values that we have adhered to for more than 40 years. The world is becoming increasingly internet oriented and we obviously recognise that change, but it is also our belief that the customer should get the best service irrespective of the manner of purchase. We are always there for our customers when they need us for technical expertise or even just simple advice.”

Loraine Butler, Marketing Manager at MIA, said: “Great value, great service and peace of mind is what TMS aims to offer UK customers. It’s a guide to the best music shops out there as well as providing consumer protection, often lacking in today’s market. We want to highlight the benefits of shopping in store where customers can view and handle a wide range of instruments, receive individual guidance and information, ensuring they choose the right one for them.”

All music stores within the scheme feature on the TMS website: www.trustedmusicstore.org.uk, together with all the brands that are supporting the special warranty protection service.

PHOTO: Jon Parkinson, Andy Still, Steve herbert, Carla Henderson, Helen Cordes, Gary Dickinson and Daniel Pogorzelski.

For further information, visit www.trustedmusicstore.org.uk

The TMS scheme is brought to you by the Music Industries Association (MIA), the trade body for the UK musical instrument industry. Our members are the shops, distributors, manufacturers, publishers and insurers of musical instruments and associated products. All activities are devoted towards supporting music-makers throughout the country by promoting, protecting and supporting the UK music-making industry.
www.mia.org.uk

Tags:

Shop news

Advanced WInd Band Day

by Administrator 20. December 2014 14:09

Following great feedback from Pete Long’s Advanced Workshop in February 2014, we are excited to welcome him back to host our February 2015 Advanced Symphonic Wind Band Day. 

Pete previously played and arranged for Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra for 5 years and now acts as bandleader for Ronnie Scott’s Big Band. He has played with and supported a massive range of musicians including Sir Paul McCartney, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Stereophonics, Clare Teal, Jamie Cullum and many others. Pete is also a highly skilled educator and frequently leads workshops in schools and colleges across the UK. 

Repertoire to be played on the day will be selected from: 
Sunrise At Angels Gate by Philip Sparke (video)
Cartoon by Paul Hart (video)
Toccata & Fugue by J S Bach arr Kevin Lamb (video)
Global Variations by Nigel Hess (video)
Fanfare Prelude on the Italian Hymn by James Curnow (video)
Oregon by Jacob De Hann (video) 

This unique workshop gives musicians a rare opportunity to work with a highly regarded music professional and also the chance to learn and play with other like minded people. Pete will also be answering players’ questions and giving advice on how to arrange and compose music. 

Tea and coffee is available throughout the day. There will also be the chance for attendees to try a wide range of instruments and accessories on our fully equipped trade stand. 

We very much hope to see you there! 

To book your tickets contact Steve Herbert, Brass Specialist, on 01823 282386 or email steve@johnpacker.co.uk 


Places for the day usually fill up quickly so be sure to reserve your seat as soon as you can.