Maintenance of your clarinet is vital. With time, clarinet pads tend to deteriorate due to air penetration and can accumulate moisture.This can affect sound and tone quality produced by the clarinet. It is recommended to replace clarinet pads every 2 to 3 years.
A good clarinet pad set should ideally last you up to 10 years. However, a pad can deteriorate with age due to air penetration which can let in moisture. This can affect the tone of your clarinet and cause leaks. A complete clarinet pad replacement is recommended every 2 to 3 years while the pad bore and body require oil once every 8 to 10 years.
Musical instruments such as the clarinet can be a very expensive investment. Because of that, they should be well maintained. As a beginner, a well-maintained clarinet can encourage you to practice more and allows a professional to achieve their desired level of expertise.
To know whether your clarinet pads need to be replaced, you simply need to visually inspect your clarinet. If your clarinet pad looks discolored or old, you can probably assume that it is leaking. If you need to replace your clarinet pads, cork pads can be a great alternative because they are less affected by water.
What are clarinet pads made of?
Pads on a clarinet have 4 layers in their structure. A cardboard layer, a felt layer, and a leather layer. Some pads are made of materials like cork, synthetic material, or foam-type materials.
The differences noted are, how easy the clarinet pads fit, the top holes, and the quality of material across the hole. This will affect the tonal qualities of the clarinet, and response of the instrument.
How much does a clarinet pad replacement cost?
A professional re-padding usually involves complete removal of all pads on the clarinet. The price of a complete clarinet re-pad is inclusive of labor cost for both removal and installation, and oiling of the hinges only. Additional repairs such as key fitting will cost you extra.
On a student clarinet, pad replacement may include dis-assembly, washing the clarinet body, and replacing missing corks and pads which usually can take up to 2 hours and cost about $ 180. Below is a summary of professional pad replacement services.
|Clarinet servicing||Estimated cost|
|Full re-pad||$ 275- $ 295|
|Adjustment re-pad||$ 300|
|Adjustment and partial re-pad||$ 180|
|Pad replacement with adjustment||$ 8.00|
|Adjustment, no pads||$ 70|
|Pad replacement only||$ 13|
How hard is it to replace clarinet pads?
Replacing clarinet pads is an easy task and is usually common. To determine whether your clarinet pads need to be replaced, simply perform a visual inspection. Tattered, or old-looking pads are a good indicator that they need to be replaced. You can also perform a suction test for the clarinet to determine if the pad should be replaced.
If the clarinet does not seal well, that means that there is penetration of air. This can affect the resonance and tonal quality of the clarinet. Loose pads can be re-adjusted by heating the key cup with a micro torch and sliding the pad back under the key cup.
If you can not afford to replace your clarinet pad professionally, here is a DIY guide on how to replace your clarinet pads.
1. Remove clarinet keys
Ensure that you are working on a flat surface. You should have a towel to place the keys as you take them apart. You will also need a screwdriver, pliers, and a spring hook tool.
2. Separate old clarinet pads from keys
Tools needed include; a screwdriver, pliers, and a spring hook tool. Remove all keys from the clarinet to replace the pad. You will then need a heat source to reheat the glue, cotton swabs, and rubbing alcohol to polish the keys during the new pad re-installing process.
3. Fit new clarinet pads
Secure the clarinet pads onto the key cup using a pad prick . Ensure that each clarinet pad is placed adjacent to the key it belongs to. This will make it easier to reconstruct your clarinet. Puncture the side of your clarinet with a pad prick to allow air to escape.
4. Apply clarinet glue to the pad cup
Apply the glue to the pad cup and heat it to liquefy the glue. Take care not to heat the pad to boiling point as it can get damaged and look very unpleasant. When the pad cup is heated well, place the new pad into the pad cup and allow the pad to set in the clarinet and let it cool down. Apply glue to the rest of the clarinet keys to hold them in place.
5. Re-install and adjust clarinet keys appropriately
To reassemble the clarinet, you will need
- Micro torch
- Aluminum foil
- Pad leveling tool
When re-installing keys, make sure each pad is perfectly placed on the tone hole. This can be done by the use of a feeler gauge.Use a micro torch to adjust the pad to your liking. You need to protect the clarinet body by covering it with an aluminum foil. Soften the adhesive while also making the adjustments you need.
A musical instrument requires maintenance. Your clarinet pads should be replaced every 2 to 3 years. To determine whether the pad should be replaced, you can perform a visual test. An old-looking, discolored, and tattered pad is a sign that it needs replacing. Clarinet pad replacing can be done as a DIY project, or can be professionally replaced.
How do you clean clarinet pads
Place a cotton swab into the tone hole openings to wipe away all the moisture. Take great care not to pull the swab while the key is held down as the pad can be damaged. Place your swab between the tone key and the pad and lightly press severally until all moisture is wiped away.
How do you soften clarinet pads?
Clarinet pads can be softened by applying liquid products. Oils such as old English oil can be used to soften leather pads.