John Packer Saxophones Models 042A & 045S

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JOHN-PACKER-SAXOPHONES-MODELS-042A--045SThere are a myriad models of saxophones available at the budget end of today’s market and launching a new instrument, or in this case, series of instruments is a risky road to run unless you’ve gone overtime on the R&D. John Packer’s have clearly “done their stuff” and produced a series of saxophones from which we chose to test the 042A Antique finish tenor and the 045S Silver plated alto. Both instruments were fitted with our own hard rubber Otto Link 6 mouthpieces coupled with Rico Jazz Select 3 reeds. The 045S Alto comes with a derivative of the Conn underslung crook with the octave bar being wider than normal and therefore less restrictive to the player. Touch pieces are set with abalone and the etched detailing to the body is thankfully under, rather than overstated. We found the action light and very responsive with intonation that was spot on and an octave mechanism that worked a treat. However, the ‘D’ palm key felt slightly high and the top table Bb was a bit of a stretch, but I’m sure that this is something that the individual player would in time get used to. The 045S produced a consistent sound with good dynamics, but although there is a full and mellow tone, we felt that it lacked that essential sonic ‘edge’. However, had we had a Yamaha mouthpiece with a 2 reed, we reckon that we might have been able to coax out a little more bite.

The 042A tenor is a particularly easy blower, with a rich, warm, mellow tone, plenty of “edge” and a truly extraordinary dynamic range for an instrument in this price bracket. Although the action is nice and light and the palm keys are well positioned, we found that the ‘D’ key was set slightly lower than on our Selmer model and as such presented an odd fingering position.

Overall there is much to recommend these horns and it is not surprising that they are popular with pit musicians in the West End theatres. After all, they produce a very rounded, generic sax sound and crucially for jobbing musicians come shipped with a semi-hard, preformed, shaped denier covered sax case with a 3/4 zip, zippered front pocket, grab handle, detachable shoulder strap and the inevitable, retractable back harness. For more go to www.johnpacker.co.uk