The importance of clarinet pads
The clarinet is made up of many parts, some of them quite small. If you have been playing clarinet for some time you will probably realize that these small parts can have a big impact on your playing. Clarinet pads are such parts – often overlooked, until there is a problem.
Pads are added to keys on the clarinet so that an air-tight seal is formed when the key is depressed over a hole on the clarinet. Pads on clarinets were originally made of leather, though now pads are made from felt and cork.
Problems with the pads on a clarinet are often due to bent keys, which mean the pads no longer cover the holes with an air-tight seal. This will result in a poor clarinet sound or no sound at all. Pads can also cause problems when they start to disintegrate. This is caused by excess moisture, and it is always a good idea to allow your clarinet to dry out completely as soon as possible after playing it.
Pads can become sticky due to moisture and other build-up. One of the best tools to combat this is to use cigarette papers – press the pad down firmly onto the paper to pick up any build-up (though you shouldn’t push so hard that the paper goes into the hole). Often older clarinets will need to be totally ‘repadded’. This is a job for a professional repairer, as all the keywork will need to be removed.
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