Update; second impressions of a Packer 173 Baritone

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Jack E, Mar 3, 2019.

  1. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,145
    I've had it now for just over a week, and feel I'm starting to get the feel of it - and it is definitely different to the Boosey & Hawkes Regent (circa 1974) I've been playing up till now.

    I started off the first few days by using the old Besson 7 mouthpiece that I'd used with the Regent - then tried a couple of other mouthpieces just to see how they felt in comparison. Unsurprisingly, the Besson seemed a more comfortable fit on my face - I've been using it for about a year - but in comparison with my Wick 6BS, it felt a bit restrictive, so I switched to the 6BS. Now I know what people are talking about when they say that a certain instrument is 'stuffy', or that another is 'free-blowing'!

    One point where I've noticed the difference is when I'm going for a smooth and rich sound appropriate for one of the hymns in the Red Book; the combination of the 173 and the 6BS seem to go well together to give a really pleasant sound for that sort of piece (as was commented on by our MD on Friday night), but it does seem easier to achieve than it was with the Regent / Besson 7. I had previously tried using the 6BS on the Regent, but the two of them felt like they weren't well-suited to each other.

    I don't know how the bores of the two instruments compare, but I did notice, the first time I oiled the valves, a distinct difference in the ports in the valves themselves. On the Regent, where the ports crossed over, there were quite pronounced humps - which I'd have thought must have some effect on airflow through the valve; on the 173, where there are humps they are barely noticeable. Mind, I can well believe that the different feel of blowing through a brass instrument must be affected by a mass of different factors, so I doubt the difference I've noticed in playing would be just down to that (if at all).

    The other thing I've noticed is that, as I get more accustomed to the feel of the Packer, playing the higher dynamics is definitely easier. When I tried playing forte (let alone ff) on the Regent, I had some difficulty in avoiding split notes, but I don't have that problem with the 173 - and it seems like it takes a lot less effort on my part!

    Another point in the Packer's favour is that it has a water key on the 1st valve, which the Regent lacked, even though water tended to collect in that tuning slide to quite an extent. It was always a bit of a fiddly nuisance to pull it out, up end it, and get it back in when playing in public. Now it's just a quick flick of the finger, and it's 'job done ' :cool:

    It's still early days, yet, but I'm already certain that my 173 was a good buy for me at my present level of playing, and one that will stand me in good stead for quite some time to come as I improve. And it does make a lovely baritone sound! :)

    Jack
     
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