All about pads, part 2

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Last week we discussed some of the rough points of installing a pad in a woodwind instrument. This week we want to share some information about different types of pads for your horns.

There are very few large-scale pad manufacturers in today’s world – Prestini/Hermes in Nogales, Arizona, Pisoni in Italy, and Valentino in Charlotte, North Carolina. While there are a handful of others out there, Pisoni is by far the largest of the group. Pisoni makes pads for many manufacturers and under many, many brand names (Lucien, Mypads, GORE-TEX and many others. They also make pads to specifications for many of the repair industry suppliers.

All of that to say that NOT ALL PADS ARE CREATED EQUALLY! The quality of pads installed by your technician can make a dramatic difference in the tone quality, playability and durability of your instruments. Every effort should always be made by a technician to match the pads currently in an instrument when a play-condition repair is performed on the basis of how far the pad protrudes from the cup, the style of pad, the material used in its construction and even the color!

FLUTES: For student flutes we typically install a woven felt pad that is somewhat softer and will compensate for minor imperfections of the tone holes. On intermediate and upper-line instruments we use a premium pressed felt pad that will feel more “solid” under the player’s fingers however great care must be taken to correct any issues with the tone holes and pad cups prior to installation.

OBOES: Cork pads are a MUST for any level of oboe on all except the lower keys which will typically use a woven felt pad.

CLARINETS: We use a very high quality pressed felt pad on student and intermediate clarinets. We install cork pads on upper-line instruments to the player’s specification (i.e. side keys only, upper joint, side keys and throat keys, etc.).

SAXOPHONES: Most saxophone pads are built using woven felt and standard cow leather. There are different “grades” of these pads that we use in professional instruments however they typically only vary on firmness of felt and grade of leather. A great new product that we have used a great deal is “RooPads”. They are made from kangaroo leather in place of the cow leather and in our experience last substantially longer and are much more resistant to sticking. They come in white and black instead of the regular brown.

Another popular product out there are synthetic pads. These pads are showing up on more and more new instruments (Yamaha clarinets for one) and have a dramatic resistance to wear and especially water! These pads are bright white and give the appearance of foam rubber. In reality there is a LOT more going on with them than just a round piece of foam! The two major brand-names are Valentino and Omni-Pads. They are both excellent products and we stock both of them for clarinets and piccolos. These pads are also available for flutes.

Is that enough choices for you? We hope you haven’t gotten overwhelmed but we wanted to let you know about the vast array of choices out there in the pad world. Next time you send in your instrument be sure to ask about the different options available for you.

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