John Packer Blog

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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.


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.


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

Licensed to trill: the new Rath ‘00’ series

by Administrator 29. April 2013 11:41

Michael Rath is world renowned for creating some of the best trombones in the world. The instrument of choice for many professional musicians including Mark Nightingale, David Gibson, Bert Boeren, and many more, Rath trombones are widely regarded as the benchmark for high quality craftsmanship and innovation.

Rath have developed the ‘00’ series which draws on the design of the Rath R10, R4F and R9. Three new non-modular models, the R100, R400 and R900 have been created having drawn on Michael’s 35 years of expertise in the field. For those looking to move to a professional level trombone these are excellent instruments to develop their style and technique. The Rath ‘00’ is suitable for those wanting a high quality instrument without the potential complications of a modular trombone.
Whatever your needs, the new Rath R00 series offer a unique combination of the highest level of insight in design and craftsmanship in trombones with the production qualities that make Rath famous around the trombone world.

Prices of the new range start from £1125 and are available now from To find our more contact our brass department at or call Steve on 01823 282386 (option 1)


Bore Size

Bell Flare


Price (inc 20% VAT) 

R100 Tenor Trombone


7 ½”



R400 Bb/F Tenor Trombone


8 ½”



R900 Bass Trombone


9 ½”

Independent Rotary


‘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


New Rath Trombones - in store NOW!

by Administrator 31. October 2012 15:45

For a long time Rath have wanted to make a trombone to bridge the gap between student instruments and their custom made modular hand crafted trombones. The result is the new non-modular instruments based on the most successful modular R10, R4F & R900 combinations.

For students looking to move from a beginners instrument to their first professional level trombone these are excellent instruments to develop their style and technique before progressing to a fully modular trombone. R100 Bb: Bore 0.500”, 7 ½” bell. £1125 inc vat R400 Bb/F: Bore 0.547” , 8 ½” yellow bell, rotary valve. £1495 inc vat. R900 Bass Trombone: 0.562” bore, 9 ½” bell, independent rotary valves. £2295 inc vat (Available from Jan 2013).

John Packer Ltd are proud to be of only two Rat trombone stockists in the UK with the new R00 series trombones and will have the R400 large bore Bb/F trombone on display at the SWBBA championships at Torquay on Saturday 3rd November.This new trombone is in addition to and compliments our stocks of Mick's own handmade Rath trombones.

To book a trial please contact Steve Herbert Brass Department Manager on 01823 282386. Steve Herbert with R400 Rath Trombone

PHOTO: Brass Manager, Steve Herbert, with the Rath R400 trombone beside the full range of handmade Rath trombones.

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JP261D Rath French Horn gets BSO Approval

by Administrator 23. July 2012 14:37

MODESTY is always a laudable virtue, but sometimes it is good to blow your own trumpet. Even better if someone else blows it for you!

Robert Harris

Robert Harris, French horn with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, recently road-tested the JP261D Rath French horn with detachable bell.

We developed the JP261Rath french horn with Michael Rath, and it is an ideal horn in terms of price and performance for anyone heading for the higher grades and a considerable way beyond. It features a fully adjustable F/Bb thumb lever making it suitable for even the smallest hands and it is easily reversible for those who prefer the horn to be in Bb rather than F. It is also available  without a detachable bell, the JP261Rath.

This is what Robert had to say:
"I have great pleasure in recommending the JP261D Rath double F/Bb French horn as a fantastic instrument for the intermediate level horn player (grade 4-7). It is a remarkably free blowing instrument and the example I played had an excellent top register. It has mechanical valves. so no strings to repair, and is robustly manufactured. The detachable bell model comes with a very user friendly backpack case all at an extremely competitive price. Perfect for taking to school or youth orchestra. Definitely worth thinking about if you are looking for a first double horn."

JP261 Rath French HornThis is a great French horn. And you can buy it by clicking here

The 300 Series - a New Generation of JP

by Administrator 10. January 2012 10:06

OVER the last few years John Packer Ltd has established a reputation for effective innovation in the student markets across a broad product range, from reduced system flutes, to double French horns. Many changes to design, materials and manufacturing techniques have led to a plethora of instruments that are well established and well respected across Europe and, increasingly, across the broader world music stage.

Those watching our progress will also have noticed that we've not been afraid to move into, and develop, minority instrument markets. Our reduced system oboe and development of a shortreach bassoon have been met positively by schools, teachers and parents alike. Despite this, however, we never regard an instrument as being truly 'finished'. We're always listening to feedback from beginners all the way to professional players and teachers so that we can continually evolve our instruments into the best they can be. We think of all the instruments in the JP range as being works in progress and this has led to increasingly high performance and manufacturing standards.

As a result of this, we've been hard at work developing a new level of product to bear the JP badge. The JP '3' series. It has always been our policy to provide performance levels that are higher than the price would suggest is possible. The JP '3' series incorporate sophisticated design elements, the highest standards of workmanship, the best materials and a performance level that would meet and excel the needs of a professional player.

This stunning line-up of instruments so far includes the JP351SWLR Bb trumpet, JP371SW Bb cornet, JP373 baritone horn, JP374 euphonium and the JP331Rath & JP332Rath Bb/F trombones. Many more will follow.

The Instruments

The new JP351SWLR trumpet incorporates a lightweight one-piece bell and a nickel silver reverse leadpipe which has been custom designed by Richard Smith of Smith-Watkins. These are professional features and are usually restricted to only the most expensive instruments.

Likewise, the JP371SW Bb cornet comes with a custom designed leadpipe by Smith-Watkins and a one-piece bell. It also has 1st and 3rd valve triggers and is large bore, accommodating professional needs.

The JP373 compensating baritone has once again raised the bar in this market. Made in the same factory alongside the new JPRATH trombone project this new Baritone features not only high grade brass but a Monel valve block with nylon valve guides. It is an excellent horn; offering players an extremely high level of performance.

Our JP374 Euphonium (pictured left) has already an abundance of credits under its belt. Professional Andy Woods has used his euphonium in the recording of the Coronation Street theme, not to mention many films, including Wallace & Grommit, computer games, session work with Dido and on Radio 2 with the BBC Big Band! The quality of manufacture and materials makes the JP374 Euphonium ideal for Andy's needs.

The latest additions to the series are the JP331Rath/JP332Rath Bb/F trombones. Launched at the 2010 International Trombone Festival in Austin, Texas, these trombones were much anticipated by fans of the JP/RATH collaboration. These Bb/F trombones represent exceptional quality, high specification and remarkable value. Michael Rath is someone for whom high standards are paramount and his involvement from concept to end product is the key to the success of this collaboration. Mick has been working at our factory with the technicians who make the instruments to ensure that they make them exactly as he does. The JP331Rath is a medium large bore (0.525") instrument and the JP332Rath a large bore  (0.547"). Both carry the benefits of Michael Rath's enormous experience.

We're excited about the future of JP instruments; you can rest assured many more instruments in the 3 series will follow.


The JP '3' series - a materialisation of the concept of providing professional quality at an intermediate price.

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One of a kind euphonium on display at Cheltenham this weekend

by Administrator 20. September 2011 15:04

John Packer Ltd will be attending the Brass Band Championships in Cheltenham this weekend with some fantastic new products on display, including a unique ‘White Rose’ euphonium handmade by Paul Riggett of Sterling Musical Instruments.

John Packer Ltd has established a reputation  for innovation, following collaborations with Dr Richard Smith of Smith-Watkins, Michael Rath Trombones and Sterling Musical Instruments  These three highly successful partnerships have been significant to the brass market, with many professional players and teachers turning to the JP range for their high performance at a moderate price.

Instruments from the new line of JPSterling lower brass instruments will be available to try out at the John Packer exhibition stand, along with instruments designed by JPRath and the famous modular Rath trombones, JPSmith-Watkins and the professional range of Smith-Watkins instruments. A large selection of accessories will also be available. 

Feel free to come along and see our friendly staff, who can help with any musical enquiry – beginner, professional, or school queries welcome.

If you would like us to take anything in particular from our shop we will do our best to accommodate. Please contact or call 01823 282386 to arrange beforehand.

Look forward to seeing lots of customers there!

New York based freelance trombonist Roland Barber reviews JP Rath trombones on The Trombone Forum

by Administrator 6. July 2011 15:24

"...Wildest surpise: John Packer Rath (student horn????) (available at Dillon)

The multiple question marks are because this horn [JP230 Rath], other than the $700 pricetag, did not say "student" at all.  This horn has the most heat, bite, and sizzle of ANY "student/intermed" horn I've ever tried.  Absolutely perfect for pop/soul/funk/section playing, in my opinion. And an incredible high range playability.  Just remarkable. Horns like this have the potential to change the game at many levels.  Remember the loud playing small bore thread? This horn goes on it, darn near the top of the list. A very dominant, passionate high register, and slots great between High F and altissimo A flat - I'm not used to horns that you can lean on THAT hard (fff) and get your effort's worth up in that register. I had to settle in and focus in order to stop cracking the F from above...

Instead of sending my students who are looking for a solid jazz horn on a semi-tight budget to find an old 2B or 3B, for the same or less money - this horn is a winner

And I tried the .5

25 [JP231 Rath] as well -  This horn handled somewhat like a .508 but played very big and still soulful...More of a solid blow than a 3B, and with a broader yet quite intense sound. Think of Jimmy Bosch type tone without the effort that you'd normally have to give to get that much sound out. I had NO idea on first try that it was .525.  This is kind of what I imagine a KING 4B really WANTS to do...Both excellent horns, and exciting additions to the marketplace in terms of quality and pricepoint. Congrats to Rath and Co..."

For the full review click here

For more information about the American Jazz trombonist Roland Barber click here

Who is the real John Packer Ltd?

by Administrator 3. May 2011 11:33

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

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

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

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

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

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

4BarsRest Review JP Rath Trombones

by Administrator 3. February 2011 11:07

WE'RE exceptionally proud of our JPRath collaboration trombones. Below you will find a link to a review that has been posted on the famous and authoritative 4BarsRest website.


The review has been written by Stephen Sykes who is very much a rising star in the trombone firmament and who is rapidly following in the impressive footsteps of his father Steve Sykes, the world renowned tuba player. Stephen won the BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Soloist competition in 2009 and took the awards for Best Soloist at the British Open and Brass in Concert.

In an extract of Steve's review he says: "John Packer's decision to team up with Michael Rath has been fully vindicated. These instruments are much more than just getting a well known manufacturer to 'lend' their name to be stamped on a cheap and cheerful product. Built in china, real care and attention to build quality and design has produced four excellent instruments - all the more remarkable given the price that are being sold at. What you get for your money are four very good instruments designed with the performer and their limitations, but especially their aspirations in mind."

For the full glowing review click here 

We believe this review reaffirms the confidence that we have in these fabulous trombones.

Anyone wanting to know more about this exciting range of instruments, can contact the John Packer Ltd brass department by emailing, or calling 01823 282836.