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.

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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.

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).

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.


JP245 Continues to Push Boundaries says New Review

by Administrator 1. October 2012 13:39

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

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

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

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

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

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

PHOTO: The JP245 alto saxophone.

Symphonic Wind Band Workshop a Hoot!

by Administrator 1. October 2012 12:41

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Thank you for a great day yesterday!"


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

John Packer Ltd Seek Representative

by Administrator 30. July 2012 12:20

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

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

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

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

Dobcross Silver Band in John Packer and Sterling Sponsored Concert

by Administrator 26. June 2012 15:51

Dobcross Silver Band - winner’s of John Packer Ltd & Sterling Musical Instruments Competition to win David Thornton – will be showcasing their prize at a special concert on Sunday July 8th.

Band member Paul Clough entered the competition to win David at the John Packer stand at Butlin’s Mineworker’s Brass Band Competition in Skegness last January.

Paul had the choice of having a private lesson with David, a band masterclass, or David featuring in a special concert.

David is a world renowned star on the euphonium, with various videos of him and his band Brighouse and Rastrick featured on YouTube.   

Anyone who has seen David perform will know that the concert promises to be a very exciting event.

John Packer’s and Sterling – proud competition sponsors – will also have a presence on the night. Rob Hanson (one of the Company's Directors and experienced musician) will be joining the band for the concert, guesting in the cornet section which he used to play in over 18 years ago.

The concert will take place at Dobcross Silver Band Club, on Platt Lane, Dobcross. Doors open at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £7.50 for adults, £5 for AOPs and under 16s. They are available from Dobcross Band Club, Dobcross Post Office and Uppermill Post Office. Tickets can also be reserved over the phone on 07715 680782.

Fancy Working at John Packer Ltd?

by Administrator 17. May 2012 14:52

ARE you a brass player? Do you need a job?

We're currently looking for someone to work on Saturdays in our busy shop in Taunton.

We need an experienced brass player capable of playing to a good standard and who is articulate and accurate, you may be just the person we are looking for.

We need someone to deal with customers in the shop and on the 'phone, check stock and perform basic administrative and tidying duties. This position commences on July 7th, 2012.

Please apply in writing giving relevant experience and reasons why you might be appropriate for the job.

Write to:

Steve Herbert, Brass Department Manager
John Packer Ltd
141 Staplegrove Road

Win a Set of Denis Wick Mutes!

by Administrator 8. May 2012 12:25

John Packer Ltd and Denis Wick have teamed up in a fantastic competition to give away £250 worth of mutes. This unique competition is really easy to enter - just click here!

To enter simply fill in your name, email and instrument. The winner willl eceive a set of Denis Wick mutes of thier choice up to a recommended retail value of £250. Any mutes can be choisen from the Denis Wick range for any instrument or instruments. Details of which can be found here.

The prize includes carriage to mainlad UK only. The prize has no nomincal value and cannot be exchanged for cash. The winner is picked at random and will be notified by email. So what are you waiting for? Enter NOW!!!

Brass Band Workshop Hailed Great Success!

by Administrator 16. April 2012 15:27

NINETY-FIVE brass players travelled to Queens College, Taunton in Somerset on Saturday 14th April to attend the John Packer Brass Band Workshop with top soloists David Thornton (Brighouse & Rastrick) and Richard Poole (Foden’s).

The day started with David giving warm up advice and tips to all the players before tackling the various pieces of music which were designed to stretch the capability of the assembled ensemble.

As well as coaching the players throughout the day both soloists were given the opportunity to have their share of the spotlight, Richard’s awesome soprano playing in his own arrangement of La Virgin De La Macarena was just stunning and not to be outdone David followed with his faultless performance of the famous Euphonium solo The Carnival Of Venice during the final session of the day.

Steve Herbert Brass Department Manager of John Packer’s had given everyone a lighthearted ‘Brass Band Quiz’ and later in the day presented prizes to Graham Davies, John Woods & Dave Coles who came joint first with Christine Sweetapple, Jessica Smith, Holly Whale & Tegan Hill receiving runner up prizes.

Everyone who attended the day thoroughly enjoyed the event. Steve and his team give a big thank you to all the participants who took part in the day and also to David and Richard who made the whole day that something extra special.   


David Thornton conducting the brass band workshop


What a great day. Us three Brummies had a marvelous time. A long drive but worth every mile. Please do it again – soon’.

‘Again, many thanks for organising today’s brass music fun day. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish and I am amazed at the amount of information I came away with that will hopefully make me a better player. Both David and Richard are masters of their chosen instruments and it was pleasure listening to there expert advice and to hearing them play. I have both of David’s solo CD’s and the latest Foden’s CD featuring Richard’s sop solo and so I knew what great soloists they are, but hearing them live was just fantastic. It would be good to this as an annual event and if this is to be the case, please put my name down for next year.’

 ‘I have attended several brass workshops in the hope of 'self improvement' (!)  This was by far the most effective and moreover it was highly enjoyable.  I have no criticisms whatever  --  just the opposite.’

 ‘Organisers seldom receive thanks, but I would like to add my thanks alongside, no doubt, that of many others and express the hope that the event will be repeated.’