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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000232.txt from 2001/04

Subj: Re: [kl] Pads: Single versus Double Bladder (It does not matter)
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2001 05:09:54 -0400

The quality of the fishskin is far more important than the thickness of
it. One can find thick porous fishskin as well as thin porous skin. An old
twist top lipstick holder works quieter well for testing 17mm pad seals. You
can also buy brass tubing form a hobby shop and cut it into 3 inch sections.
for clarinet you will need 10mm, 12mm, 16mm, and 17mm diameters.
Place the brass tubing against the pad face and draw a vacuum with
your lips as if you are sucking on a drinking straw. the pad should hold for
30 seconds. If not, throw it away as it will only cause you problems with
sealing. I watched Hans Moennig test pads this way. Out of 100 commercially
produced bladder pads he only used 10 of them. Although he used commercial
double skinned treated pads for student Buffets, For Professional players, He
made his own double skinned pads with extra thick fishskin (3 times the
normal thickness). He once showed me a pad that had been used for 35 years
and it was still sealing tightly.
Regarding the felt, when one of the hand made pads tore, Mr. Moennig.
Would always keep the old felt and cardboard and recover them with new fish
skin. He said that the older felt (Pressed Felt) was already compress and
was much more stable that the newer softer felt (woven felt).
The ultimate pad test is the number of seconds that the instrument will
hold a vacuum. Using cork pads the upper joint, the clarinet of Robert
Marcellus held a three Minute Vacuum. With the handmade bladder pads the
lower joint held a 75 second vacuum. I have never seen a new clarinet that
would hold such a tight seal.
How many seconds do you get with the single skinned pads?
Just Curious,
Alvin Swiney
Affordable Music Co.

In a message dated 4/11/01 6:29:16 PM Central Daylight Time,

<< I import my clarinet pads from Music Supplies in Italy, "the worlds largest
pad maker". One of their lines is "Mypads", which I think US imports. In
fact many of the pads in US probably come from this supplier. Their range
includes "single thick bladder" along with the more common "double bladder."

Many years ago I did some measuring and found the single bladder to be about
1.5 times thicker than the membrane doubled on the double bladder pads. I
wondered which was preferable.

Let's assume that the pads are not going to be wrecked by zealous wiping of
them or abrasion at the edges. Through normal use the first sign of of pad
'death' is a cut or small hole along the 'seal circle'. When this first
starts on a clarinet the pad still seals on the tone hole because a
significant area is in contact with the timber. The first problem that is
likely to emerge is that the pad absorbs water through the cut or hole,
swells, and stops sealing on account of this swelling. However this water
absorption is the first problem with a dying pad only for SINGLE bladder

When the first layer of a DOUBLE membrane pad cuts through the loose
membrane tends to wave about in the vibrating air, vibrating against the
tone hole as the key is opened, and maybe still vibrating against the second
layer when the key is open. This can happen even though the second membrane
is making a good seal when the pad is closed. My point here is that there is
effectively only one thin layer to damage before the pad needs replacing.

So the original question becomes: Which is preferable:

a). A double bladder pad that effectively is dead when the first THIN skin
cuts through.
b) . A single THICK bladder pad that dies when the THICK skin is first
punctured and absorbs water.

Because the thick bladder presumably takes considerably longer to puncture
than a thin bladder, the single bladder pad could be expected to last longer
than the double bladder pad.

I therefore made my decision to use single thick bladders and have not
regretted it. The pads I use last for many years.

I would be interested if there is something I have missed in making this
decision. There must surely be some valid reason why double bladder pads
have caught on as the standard. Or is it just that the name makes them SOUND
as if they would be better.

I might add that it seems even some top makers are lowering themselves to
sometimes using very thin, brittle, single bladder pads which die in a year
or two.



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