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Thread: John Packer 274 - Thoughts?

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by TD517 View Post
    So, the music store I work at is looking into John Packer instruments for cheaper options for advancing students and possibly schools (namely low brass) and I got a chance to try it out. I just wanted to post my thoughts, and possibly see if others had the same or different experiences. Particularly the debate between the major horns ($7-9k) and the Chinese 'stencils' ($1-3k?).

    --------------------
    The Instrument -
    Everything looks amazing. They got the lacquer version, partially due to the lower cost, but it's flawless. I can tell it's a Besson copy from the bar behind the right hand, but doesn't have the "U" bracing on the tuning slides. It's laid out similarly to the Sovereign I played briefly in High School, at least best to my memory. The 4th valve latch is a different design, which I'm on the fence about. The Besson I played had the flap that rested against the bow of the instrument, but this one just floats past it. The latch isn't loose at all so I didn't worry about it swinging back and causing problems, but as the horn ages it may make me cautious. Weight-wise, it's pretty heavy. It's heavier than my Willson 2950, but I only noticed it after going back and forth between the two for about 10 minutes. The valves were quiet, but a bit sluggish. I assume this will go away with frequent oiling and being "broken in", but enough to notice and slow down the player. The overall quality surprised me, the metal wasn't super thin or blemished.

    The Case -
    The case is also very nice, I prefer the hard latch cases to the molded plastic zipper cases that I've seen offered by similar instruments. It's got two sets of feet and handles to carry/set it length-wise or width-wise. It had a spot for 1 mouthpiece, and a cut-out for accessories. I would have no qualms loading it into a trunk or 'band van', but probably not flight-ready.

    The Extras -
    It came with a no-name mouthpiece, which I wasn't a big fan of, and the usual accessories. Ultra is the brand of valve oil and slide grease? It has a valve gutter for the main 3 valves that was still in the bag (nothing to absorb the water though), and also comes with a thin fabric bag to keep the horn in to prevent from scratches in case. It had replacement valve guides for all 4 valves, though I've heard parts are available through at least 1 major repair part distributor.

    Playing -
    Here's were the real debate begins. I had 2 other Euphs to compare it to, my 12-year-old Willson 2950 and a used Weril which is a YEP321 clone but with a large shank. Another co-worker had a Yamaha 641 (non-comp) he tested it against. It's worth repeating that I wasn't a fan of the mouthpiece. It reminded me of the Mead 'Ultra' series I had, but ended up disliking and going back to my Schilke 51D and 52E2, so use normal skepticism for mouthpiece reviews.

    The Weril didn't hold up well against the Packer. The sound was much fuller from the Packer, and was just all around better. I didn't compare intonation, but neither had anything that was way out or noticeable. It was not my Weril, so I had no player bias. If new it was a comparable 'stencil horn' 15+ years ago, it would be easy to see why people rave about the new stuff.

    How did it compare to the Willson? Would I sell it and replace it with the Packer? No. If I was in the market for a horn today, is the Willson worth 5 times the price of the Packer? ...probably not. Does that mean no one should buy a Willson (or Besson, Yamaha, Adams, etc.) over a Packer (or Wessex, Mack Brass, etc.)? NO. The differences were more subtle than they were with the Weril, but there were definite improvements.

    For my taste, the Packer didn't have the same resonance the Willson did. In the same room, the Packer seemed to have a quicker 'response' to attack and release, but at the expense of feeling more 'directional'. The sound didn't seem to blossom the way I've come to expect and desire. It was also easier to feel like I was reaching the edge of over-blowing, but that may be because it's a smaller bell than I'm use to playing on. I couldn't compare valves due to the sluggish Packer valves, but they felt like they may be comparable in the future.

    Overall -
    The John Packer 274 is a great Euphonium - For the money. Is it better than the big name, big buck brands? Not in my opinion, but it's got a lot of good going for it. I wouldn't be disappointed at all if a student came in for lessons with this horn. It's a great horn for high school students, education-track college students, and your 'everyday, average' player. If you're looking to go into performance, or serious playing, it would make a good horn to start with, but moving to a Besson/Willson/Adams/Yamaha will most likely be in your future.

    The biggest question in my mind is how the instrument holds up to use and abuse. I saw a YEP321 I played in High School 15+ years ago in for repair of a broken lead pipe. It was pretty beat then too. Minus the lead pipe and normal flattened bows, it would still be a working horn. Would the Packer stand up to the same abuse?
    ---------------------------------------

    I hope this helps someone, some day. I don't have much experience with the 'stencil' horns, but it was an enlightening experience. Does anyone else have similar or different experiences?
    How is the horn working out for you? Are you still happy with the purchase? I've heard nothing but positive things about the 274.
    John 3:16

    Mack Brass Euphonium
    Conn Victor 5H Trombone
    Yamaha 354 Trombone
    Mack Brass 200S BBb Tuba

  2. I bought a JP274 a few months ago. Traded up from a Schiller Elite Comp horn. The JP is a nicer horn and I love the projection and tone of it. I do have to admit that I am still struggling with intonation on the partials mentioned on this thread. The closest I can get to playing in tune is on a Schilke 51D but find too many other restrictions with that mouthpiece to consider it my mouthpiece of choice. I am currently using a SM4U and I absolutely love it ( except for the intonation quirks I'm having). Overall, I think the Schiller was far less effort to play in tune. I'm still glad I made the swap because I am confident that when I work out the intonation issues, the net positives of the JP274 will be worth it.

  3. #23
    Hello all,

    I bought the JP 274 gold lacquer horn from DF music, in Chicago, and it just arrived at my house yesterday. I've done my research on the horn through this page and Algirdas Matonis' Youtube comparisons. I felt comfortable based off of these reviews and bought the horn last Monday. I've been playing on the school horn, a Yamaha YEP-321, for the past year, so I know it's too soon to comment about the horn, but this inconsistency is something that I need to bring to attention. The JP 274 I purchased, has huge intonation problem with the 2nd valve tuning slide. With the tuning slide already pushed all the way in, A3 (on top of the staff) is consistently running around 20-30 cents flat. A4, E3, and A2 are also running flat for me as well. I understand that air is one important factor since I'm making the switch from a small bore to a large bore, but I'm having to drastically change my embouchure to get it close to in tune.Now, everything else with the horn is spectacular for the price I paid for. The valves are nice and silent, flexibility is waaaaay easier than the 321, and it really does give the pseudo-Besson impression, but that 2nd valve tuning slide is the deal breaker.

    I kinda expected for this to occur, but not to this extent. I plan on toughing it through during the weekend, but when Monday comes, I plan on reaching out to DF music to address this issue. Given that I'm still within the 10-day trial period, I can ask for a refund or an exchange, but what's preventing them from sending in another horn with defects. This is the first horn I've purchased, so I'm not too familiar with any repair shops around Atlanta that can work on shortening the 2nd valve slide, if I do decide to keep it. I've hit a wall here, so I wanted to reach out to you all and ask about any advice or tips going forward. Hope this info helps!
    Music Education Major | Georgia State University '21
    Alumnus | GSU Panther Band
    Euphonist | GSU School of Music

  4. Malcolmore_7,

    Are you using the mouthpiece that was supplied with the horn? It's a pretty deep cup unless you are used to playing on a deep cup piece already. Coming from a small bore instrument to this large bore instrument does take way more air support as well. I too struggled with many flat notes when I swapped from a Yamaha 321 to a fully compensating large bore euphonium until I trained my lungs. I also tried a Schilke 51D on my JP274 and almost all of the intonation issues were solved.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Spartanburg, SC
    Posts
    26
    Mine is dead on using a Schilke 58.

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by DanoBrass View Post
    Malcolmore_7,

    Are you using the mouthpiece that was supplied with the horn? It's a pretty deep cup unless you are used to playing on a deep cup piece already. Coming from a small bore instrument to this large bore instrument does take way more air support as well. I too struggled with many flat notes when I swapped from a Yamaha 321 to a fully compensating large bore euphonium until I trained my lungs. I also tried a Schilke 51D on my JP274 and almost all of the intonation issues were solved.
    Whoops, my bad. I forgot to mention the mouthpiece. Yes, I use a large shank Schilke 51D. I also used the small shank version of that mouthpiece when I was on the Yamaha 321 as well. Iím not using the mouthpiece that was supplied with the horn.
    Music Education Major | Georgia State University '21
    Alumnus | GSU Panther Band
    Euphonist | GSU School of Music

  7. #27
    Did you keep the horn or end up returning it? I hope you were able to work things out.

    Quote Originally Posted by malcolmore_7 View Post
    Whoops, my bad. I forgot to mention the mouthpiece. Yes, I use a large shank Schilke 51D. I also used the small shank version of that mouthpiece when I was on the Yamaha 321 as well. I’m not using the mouthpiece that was supplied with the horn.
    John 3:16

    Mack Brass Euphonium
    Conn Victor 5H Trombone
    Yamaha 354 Trombone
    Mack Brass 200S BBb Tuba

  8. #28
    I purchased a 274S yesterday. Should have it soon. I appreciate all the comments about this horn. There were several videos on YouTube that allowed me to hear the horn. Given the current COVID situation I knew I wouldn't be able to play test horns. I was interested in the Wessex Sinfonico as well but there isn't as much information on the horn out there. A couple of playing examples but those were on prototype horns, not the production horns from what I know. The 274 was far less in price so I decided to go with it for now. I've played Packer tubas but not Euphs in the past. The build was solid on the tubas that I played so I'm confident that I'll like the horn. I'll post some thoughts once I've had it for a bit. Thanks again for the great information in this thread. It was very helpful.
    John 3:16

    Mack Brass Euphonium
    Conn Victor 5H Trombone
    Yamaha 354 Trombone
    Mack Brass 200S BBb Tuba

  9. #29
    My 274S arrived tonight. I will say that I purchased from Joe Sellmansberger at Midsouth Music. I ordered it on Saturday and was told that they were out but expecting a new order this week and I have the horn 5 days later! Wasn't expecting it that quickly and am very happy. The horn was packaged exceedingly well. Its been a busy week but I will have time over the next day or two with the horn and will post some thoughts. I realize others have already posted by I will share my perspective on it as well.
    John 3:16

    Mack Brass Euphonium
    Conn Victor 5H Trombone
    Yamaha 354 Trombone
    Mack Brass 200S BBb Tuba

  10. #30
    congrats! can't wait to hear your thoughts!

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