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John Packer JP254SW Piccolo Trumpet

O'Malley Musical Instruments
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Product Description

The JP254SW is a professional model piccolo trumpet created through the partnership JP has with Smith and Watkins. This instrument is best suited for orchestral repertoire but can also be found within brass ensembles. Developed in collaboration with Dr Richard Smith of highly acclaimed trumpet designers and manufacturers Smith-Watkins, the JP254SW Piccolo Trumpet features 4 monel piston valves, 1st valve slide trigger, 3rd valve slide finger ring and a 4th valve slide water key. With a main leadpipe designed by Smith-Watkins enabling a larger sound, the JP254SW is also supplied with 4 interchangeable shanks – Bb and A trumpet shanks and Bb and A cornet shanks.

Supplied with a JP Pro Double trumpet case and 7C trumpet and 4B cornet mouthpieces, the JP254SW is the perfect instrument for the advancing player looking to venture into piccolo trumpet repertoire. With its easy playability, bright sound and excellent intonation, the JP254SW is at home in any small ensemble or symphony orchestra. All JP Musical Instruments are covered by our comprehensive 2 year warranty.


Key: Bb/A

Body: High Grade 80:20 Brass

Bore: .450" M

Bell: 3.9" High Grade 80:20 Brass

Valves: 4 monel piston valves

Waterkeys: 1

Finishes: Lacquer

Additional features: 1st valve slide trigger, 3rd valve slide finger ring, Smith-Watkins designed leadpipe, 4 shanks (2 cornet & 2 trumpet)

Supplied with: JP851 Pro Double trumpet case, 7C trumpet mouthpiece, 4B cornet mouthpiece


Paul Max Edlin review JP254 SW Piccolo Trumpet in Bb/A

This is a very fine piccolo trumpet indeed. Based on the designs of well-established makes such as Stomvi, Getzen, Bach and Kanstul, this is a four piston valve instrument. The instrument I have tested is lacquered, but it is also available in silver plate. It comes with four lead pipes: 2 each in Bb and A for conventional trumpet mouthpiece and 2 more for cornet mouthpiece. These options give a range of opportunities, while making subtle differences in particular repertoire. It has a very useful tuning ring on the 3rd valve slide as well as a trigger mechanism on the 1st valve slide to assist tuning on certain notes.

Over a three-month period, I have been able to fully test this instrument, and it has never let me down. Nor has it let down any of my students, all of whom thoroughly enjoyed working with it. It even had a Royal outing, playing the solo parts in Purcell in the presence of The Princess Royal. It did a great job! I have been able to compare it with some other particularly beautiful instruments, namely my own much loved rotary valve Scherzer and one of those very special Yamaha Custom piccolos – the one with the long straight bell, while other makes such as Schilke have been tried too. A full range of repertoire was covered, from J.S. Bach, Handel and Purcell, to many solo transcriptions of the Baroque era and on to more recent repertoire by Tomasi, Jolivet and Birtwistle.

It has a powerful yet refined tone. It has the strength to cut through an orchestra, and this will be particularly interesting for many, especially in repertoire such as Stravinsky's Rite of Spring or Symphony of Psalms. At no point, even when I pushed the instrument to its limits, did its tone fracture. And in terms of tone, it remains very even across the range. Bottom Fs (so critical in Baroque repertoire) pose no problem, indeed the positively ring out, with a very clear centre, so 2nd trumpet parts will be very easy to deliver on this instrument. Compared to the Schertzer, the JP model carried far more weight. Compared to the Yamaha (which has a brilliant lower register) it still carried the day.

In the middle and upper registers, this instrument has considerable refinement. Take for instance Bach's famous Orchestral Suite No 2 for Flute and Strings, BWV 1067. The solo flute part is a great test piece for any piccolo trumpet. The JP piccolo gives the lines a real sense of ease and natural flow. This is where one might choose the cornet shank over the trumpet equivalent. It just enables the instrument to achieve a greater softness. This work also demonstrates the instrument's excellent intonation, where all the low C#'s and D's can be very problematic. In this regard, the Yamaha yielded poorer results, and its brightness of tone seemed out of place. However, the Schertzer ultimately proved the most able to achieve flexibility of light and shade within phrases.

In contemporary repertoire, the JP piccolo was hugely reliable, and it can be argued that its piston valves make it a far more suitable instrument than its rotary equivalent when juggling with mutes, half valving effects, etc. It is also relatively easy to get a top A on this instrument (the uppermost note in Brandenburg 2). Many piccolos seem to stop at the top G, and you have to work really hard to find ways of entering the stratosphere. By comparison, just pressing down the 3rd valve and going for it usually works on the JP – and that's a real positive! It certainly produces a stronger and better centered top A than my Schertzer.

So, this piccolo really works. It has its own personality, albeit a less extreme one. If I say that is between the 'charm and beguiling nature' of the Schertzer and the 'brilliance, brightness and sheer cheekiness' of the Yamaha, that is not to criticise it. The JP piccolo produces a bright, bold and well-rounded tone, capable of much lyricism, and it is so well in tune that one rarely needs to use the 3rd valve tuning slide ring, even if it's usefully there. It can take the lead or support with style. It commands our attention and respect.

So who will want to buy this instrument? Its affordability makes it a perfect piccolo trumpet to start with, yet it will serve professionals very well. At this price, there is surely nothing to touch it! If a trumpeter wants to go for gold, then the Schertzer is always there to purchase (I adore mine), or whatever other legendary make takes their fancy. There are, after all, some deeply beautiful piccolo trumpets in this world. But if that person parts with this JP instrument, they will miss it. It will have become a good and loyal friend.