Procedure in detail:
(#'s above refer to #'s below)
- Remove the key(s) from the instrument
using the proper size screwdriver. Use the smooth jaw pliers to pull out the
long hinge rod (if applicable) after unscrewing. Heat the back of the pad cup
with the flame from the alcohol burner until the old adhesive softens then
remove the old pad and clean the pad cup by scraping out any remaining
- Choose a new pad that fits the cup
properly. To ensure proper fit, find a pad that fits snugly then use the next
size down. For example, if a 10mm pad fits snugly then use a 9.5mm pad. A pad
for a sopranino or soprano clarinet will set in the cup with the stepped
portion of the pad protruding (the exception is indicated in step #9.
- Pierce the side of the pad using a pin
or needle spring. Pierce only the edge of the pad; it is not necessary to poke
into the felt. The skin is pierced so that the moisture in the pad will not
cause the pad to swell when it is heated into the pad cup.
- If the quality of pad you are using is
poor, you will have to iron the pad. A poor quality pad is one that the surface
of which is puffy. A good quality pad will have a smooth flat surface to cover
the tonehole squarely. If you are using a good quality pad with a flat surface
then proceed to step #5. If you feel you should iron the pad, proceed as
follows: dampen the surface of the pad with water. Heat the pad slick over the
alcohol burner for approximately 5 seconds. Lay the pad slick down and press
the pad onto the pad slick (approximately 5 seconds). The water on the pad
should sizzle when the pad is placed onto the hot pad slick. If the water does
not sizzle, repeat the procedure, heating the pad slick a little longer. If you
heat the pad slick too much, you will scorch the pad surface and have to start
over again with a new pad.
- Determine the depth of the pad and
judge the amount of French cement or glue from the glue gun. Using too much
French cement or glue will be unsightly, as the cement/glue oozes out between
the pad and the pad cup. Too little cement will be evident in about a week or
less when the same student is at your side again, telling you the pad you put
in has just fallen out (no doubt this will happen right before a concert!). If
you are using the French cement, hold the end of the cement stick over the
alcohol burner until it softens slightly. Be careful not to set the cement on
fire and/or allow it to drip. Your only objective at this point is to soften
the cement so you can work the end of it to a point. Heat the cement again -
this time a bit more - enough so you can dab it on the back of the pad.
Remember to judge the proper amount for the pad cup. If you are using a glue
gun and haven't plugged it in yet, now is a good time to do it. The method
using the glue gun is simpler. All that you have to do is apply the proper
amount of glue to the back of the pad.
- Heat the back of the pad cup over the
burner for about 5 seconds.
- Place the pad in the cup, making sure
it settles evenly. Do not press the pad into the cup. Let the assembly cool.
- Return the key to the instrument.
- Heat the back of the pad cup (be aware
of where the flame is in relation to the instrument body), closing the key with
normal (light) playing pressure or allow the spring to close the key. Once the
pad cup has cooled, insert the feeler gauge between the pad and the tone hole
at the front of the pad (the 6:00 position), close the key with normal playing
pressure (or allow the spring to close the key) and pull the feeler out, noting
the tension of the drag. Repeat this process at the 12:00, 3:00, and 9:00
positions, each time noting the drag. If the drag is equal all the way around,
continue to step #10. If the drag is not equal (which is most likely to be the
case unless you are really lucky), you will need to adjust the pad in the cup
in order to get a proper seal on the instrument. With the use of the feeler
gauge you have ascertained where the pad is not sealing. Heat the cup for
approximately 5 seconds to loosen the cement/glue slightly. Using the pad
slick, gently shift the pad toward the area where you felt the least drag.
Usually a slight shift will do the job. You might have to try this more than
once before you are satisfied with the result. If leveling seems impossible in
that the 12:00 position always has more drag, then a thinner pad is the
solution. If a thinner pad is not available, the next size down in diameter is
the solution. The entire pad, including the stepped part, will settle down into
- To seat the pad, allow a drop of water
to bead up on the pad slick. Insert the pad slick between the pad and the tone
hole and dampen the surface of the pad. Be sure you clear the tone hole with
the pad slick so it is not damaged. Use the pad seating clamp (unless the key
is a normally closed key) or push a wedge of cork under the foot of the key.
Allow to set for about 20 minutes or more if possible. Drying time can be
shortened to seconds, using a hair drier. Return any other keys to the clarinet
- As a last check, stop one end of the
instrument joint with one hand and closing the tone holes with the other, use
both suction and air pressure to determine if you have sealed the instrument
and there are no more leaks. Play the instrument.