REPAIR CAM – Clarinet RePad (Ana)

31st May 2018

We wanted to take you behind the scenes in our Workshop. Here, Ana shows various stages of a Clarinet RePad in action. Normally this is a relatively straight forward job with modern instruments. However it still requires a good amount of skill in both the technical precision and in time management. We want to do a great job and keep the cost affordable for the customer.

What is a RePad?

Commonly a RePad is required when the old pads start to wear down, as shown in the video. At this point they don’t keep the instrument air-tight and it becomes less efficient as a covered tube. From a players point of view you’ll notice that certain notes are harder to play and the instrument will feel like it’s lost some of its ease and finesse. This is a fairly gradual process and doesn’t just happen overnight. If you’re getting your instrument checked regularly (every 12-18 months) our technicians can let you know when you might be due a RePad.

Q: How often should you get your clarinet RePadded?

A: This is a bit of a “how long is a piece of string” question. Only in that it totally depends a number of factors:

  1. How much you are playing it? Every other day for 20 mins vs every day for 3hrs will make a big difference
  2. How well are you looking after it? If you’re very careful with swabbing the clarinet through during and after playing and removing any moisture then it will lengthen the life of your pads. If you don’t…you’ll need the RePad quicker 🙂
  3. What type of pads are in the instrument? Clarinet pads can be made of different materials including leather, skin, Gore-Tex and cork. At a rough estimate 80% of clarinets will have mostly skin pads which have a single or double ‘bladder’ over a pressed felt and card interior. Skin pads do take on moisture more than leather or Gore-Tex and as such tend to need replacing sooner.

We tend to find under ‘average’ usage you would only need a RePad every 5-7 years at the most. Instruments that are played more often and for longer maybe more like 3-4 years.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: Again, this can vary. If we’re RePadding a modern instrument where everything will tend to be straight forward and it’s in good general order then the price will be around £245 (*as of May 2018). If we’re RePadding a vintage clarinet where there are going to be other issues (key alignments, stuck screws & rods etc) then the price will be higher based on timescale.

Q: What does a RePad involve?

A: A full RePad is not just changing of all the pads on the clarinet but all the corks as well. It also includes a full strip and clean of the body and keyword and each key is fitted back to the instrument and regulated with any other keys where relevant. This essentially means we regulate the whole instrument again. As you add new corks on corresponding keys you need to re-set the working balance between them so they operate in sync. When all the technical work is done we play test the instrument and make some minor adjustments to just clean up any stuffy notes or balance the springing and regulation.

Q: How long does it take?

A: Usually we would book a RePad in for the course of a day. You can book in advance, bring it in the day before and often collect the day after. This can vary on other booked in work and your particular job but we’d advise that at the point of booking.

Q: What will I notice afterwards?

A: Hopefully you’ll find the clarinet much easier to play and more even from top to bottom. Any clicks and clanks will be removed. Also, because the tube will be functioning more efficiently (because of the correct pad seating and regulation) it will be far more responsive. This can lead to some extra projection and clarity of tone.

Please do GET IN TOUCH with our workshop team if you have any queries.

Meet The Repairer

Ana moved from Lisbon, Portugal to the UK to complete the Woodwind Instrument Making & Repair course at Newark College in Nottingham. This internationally recognised course offers students the chance to learn how instruments are made. It also helps develop skills to maintain, service and indeed even make new instruments. Ana played Clarinet in the Portuguese Army Symphonic Band for 7 years and her playing skills prove to be a great assistance in her technical work for Dawkes.