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 Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: Mike 
Date:   2002-02-23 19:26

What is the difference

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: Fred 
Date:   2002-02-23 23:00

I wish someone truly knowledgable would hurry up and answer this. There are, of course, some obvious differences. The leather pad is just that, and they tend to last a long time. A couple of years ago I would have said that you would rarely see them on any clarinet except perhaps a metal clarinet. Then Dave S. started doing his overhauls with them and lo and behold . . . I just saw a Peter Eaton clarinet advertised with all leather pads. It was on ebay, so I can't be positive it was original.

Some would say that leather pads dampen the sound too much for serious playing. Some say they are too porous. I dunno . . . never had them on my horn.

Fishskin (is it REALLY fishskin?) are usually a double (sometimes single) layer of skin covering a felt pad. They don't have to turn fuzzy on the sides to fail . . . just a loose area on the pad is enough to set up a buzz that will drive you nuts (which is just a short trip for many of us.)

I'm tempted to try leather pads . . . boy am I tempted. I HATE pads that fail at inconvenient times. (When is it EVER convenient?)

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: ron b 
Date:   2002-02-24 02:47

As far as I know, Fred, you are quite correct.
Leather pads are made of kid skin, either white or tan. Your choice.
Fish skin pads are made of fish bladder (also called gold beater's skin, used in the making of gold leaf).

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: Joe O'Kelly 
Date:   2002-02-24 02:52

I re-did my Master Model with a hodgepoge of pads, (cork, leather and fishskin.) The leather is my favorite. The will last longer and seals well.Cosmeticly they look better as they don't turn brown like fishskin as they are already brown. I do believe, however, that they do produce white leather pads.
Fish skin is called that because it looks scaly. I recenly learned that it is also used for leaky oboe reeds.

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: Jon Usher 
Date:   2002-02-24 03:26

The Eaton clarinets do come with leather pads. After playing on
fishskin pads as well as cork (on the top joint)all these years I think the leather pads sound great.

-Jon Usher

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2002-02-24 09:19

Leather pads are usually unsuitable to overflow the EDGES of the key cup, so if the cups are not large enough, or not positioned concentrically enough, reliable seating can be a problem. Good quality bladder pads are usually 'stepped' - the felt is larger than the cardboard (which fits the key cup) - and the edge of the face is more defined (i.e. smaller radius)

Leather beds in deeply and is likely to have a large seating surface, possibly making more slap noise as they close when they harden with age.

Leather is porous. Leather is more inclined to leak slightly.

Leather is much more accommodating of really poor pad installation and seating, and also chipped tone hole areas.

The story goes that a local Peter Eaton owner enquired of Peter Eaton why they used leather pads. The answer was that they always had done. Aint that British!

RonB: Decades ago I asked a local goldbeaters skin producer what it was made from and they said the buoyancy bladder from some fish.

When I reported this on the repairers' forum the notion was soundly rubbished. I could produce no evidence, nor find any. I researched the web extensively but could find only references to the source being part of the gut lining of some farm animals. So I would be most interested if you know more about the fish source. It seems that the current source is rather likely to be the same as (natural) sausage skin.

It doesn't appear scaly to me, and I find it hard to believe it received the names 'fish skin' and 'bladder' wihout having a source different from animal digestive tract, at least in the past.

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: Wes 
Date:   2002-02-24 19:15

As usual, Gordon has hit the nail right on the head with his comments. I know that some goldbeater's skin is too stiff for pads and, after making some pads from sausage skin from a deli, some sausage skin is also too stiff. Bassoon pads seem to be a thin, pliant kid leather that might be ok for clarinets, but only if the surface is sealed. Fox seals their bassoon pads with two applications of carnuba wax which is much better than the white wax people used to use. Without sealing, the clarinet with leather pads will have tiny distributed leaks which will make it sound like a lesser instrument.

The clarinet has only 5 open pads which makes it fairly easy to overhaul, compared to the flute, sax, or oboe. My preference is for traditional double skin pads. Cork pad are harder to seat and fail in different ways with tiny cracks or holes that are hard to find. Since the clarinet upper joint is mostly closed pads, cork works pretty good for it, however.

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: ron b 
Date:   2002-02-24 22:55

Haven't time now to go into this further. From this short bit of info, (some?) pad skin may indeed be animal gut rather than fish. I do some more searching later. My belief remains, from former contacts with folks in the goldbeater's trade, in both printing and signwriting trades, that goldbeaters do use (or, at least prefer) fish membrane.
Anyway, in the meantime, FYI ;

http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/don/dt/dt1574.html

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: Mark Pinner 
Date:   2002-02-25 09:19

As an instrument repairer I prefer to use leather pads wherever possible except when cork padding is more suitable. They last far longer and give a better seat. They do not deaden or muffle the tone and are availabe in both white and brown from most major pad suppliers such as Prestini who makes both leather and skin. The material used in skin pads is a trade secret so you are unlikely to find out in a hurry. Fitting the two types of pad differs. The skin pads are stepped at the back with a disc, cardboard or sometimes plastic, has to fit the exact diameter of the pad cup and allows only limited adjustment side to side up and down. The skin pads do not seat or take the shape of the tone whole very readily so the levelling procedure can be a little tedious. Leather pads are generally not stepped at the back and are much softer allowing a little more flexibility as to size. They are a little quicker to level and will take the shape of the tone hole readily. The older method of seating involved wetting the pad and holding it closed against the tone hole with a pad seating clamp. The are best fitted with wax and will remain seated for years if handled correctly. Treatments are available to stop the pads absorbing too much water but regular swabbing also helps. There is very little difference between clarinet and bassoon pads other than the size. Different depths are also available. Most repairers buy assortments of 500 hundred or more at a time.

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: Stephane 
Date:   2002-02-25 13:24

For info, the new Selmer Paris Odyssée (replacement of Prologue and 10SII) and Artys (replacement of 10G) are fitted with leather pads.

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: jbuter 
Date:   2002-02-25 23:28

I will replace clarinet pads with leather when requested, but quite agree with Gordon. They do give the "impression" of giving a good seat but yet they are porous. I prefer the bladder pad to leather.

jbutler

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: David Spiegelthal 
Date:   2002-02-26 14:48

I'm not so sure the slight porosity of leather pads alluded to by Gordon and John Butler (both of whose opinions I respect tremendously) is necessarily a bad thing. I've found that clarinets repadded with leather/kid pads play just fine, yet these pads have the advantage of wicking moisture a bit which reduces the incidence of those embarrassing 'gurgles' caused by saliva collecting in some of the toneholes. And leather pads are (IMHO)more 'damage-tolerant' -- they can continue to work fine for quite a well after receiving a slight tear, whereas bladder/fishskin pads start buzzing and stop sealing almost as soon as they are damaged. But in all honesty, the reason I started using leather pads almost exclusively on soprano clarinets is that I come from the bass clarinet and saxophone worlds, where every decent instrument uses leather pads, so they are what I'm familiar and comfortable with.

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2002-02-28 11:11

Fair comment.

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: eddie ashton 
Date:   2002-03-01 17:24

Hello all.
This is my first posting so be gentle with me if what I write is not what you want to hear.
The leather used in clarinet pads is normally sheep. The difference between brown & white ones is accounted for by the amazing fact that the brown ones are dyed brown!
Some bassoon pads are made from cow because they can use a thicker skin.
So called fish or bladder skin pads, as far as I know, are in fact made using cow's intestine. This material was also used to make the gas bags for airships (although the relavence of this to the current discussion escapes me).
I am easily capable of boring at international level on the subject of pads, so I'm going to stop now othewise I'll carry on 'till your eyes are bleeding!

Nice to meet you all.

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: William Hughes 
Date:   2002-03-01 18:32

eddie -

Welcome to the BB and thanks for the information!

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: Bob 
Date:   2002-03-01 23:14

Very interesting comments. Do people use leather preservatives on the leather pads? I've used a product made by DAP called "Fun.Tak". It's a reusable adhesive. I'm wondering if one couldn't encase this stuff with goretex or something like that for pads. I'm also thinking that in an emergency this stuff could suffice for a temporary pad.

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 RE: Leather Pads or Fishskin?
Author: Bob 
Date:   2002-03-01 23:17

Sorry I didn't include this in my prior but, to us "old timers" fishskin has a long and colorful history.

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