Author Topic: When did pads transition from leather to bladder?  (Read 127 times)

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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When did pads transition from leather to bladder?
« on: August 14, 2019, 12:21:15 PM »
The very early square-keyed clarinets seem to have had pads made out of a square of felt or some kind of cloth.

Later, with circular keyed clarinets starting in probably 1860 leather pads were pretty much universal.

At some point, clarinets transitioned almost entirely from leather to bladder. Does anybody know when and why this happened?

Leather is objectively more durable and is immune to the pad mite.

Why then did clarinet makers depart from nearly 100 years of leather pads to use skin-covered felt?
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline Dibbs

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Re: When did pads transition from leather to bladder?
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2019, 02:31:06 AM »
Around 1810 Iwan Müller invented the hemispherical salt spoon pad cups and used leather pads stuffed with wool.  Those pads were spherical rather than flat like modern ones but are clearly the ancestor of the modern pad.

Some information here: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Purse-pads_or_Elastic-Balls.htm


Offline 350 Rocket

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Re: When did pads transition from leather to bladder?
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2019, 03:36:22 PM »
I'd have to surmise that the "why" is a simple matter of cost - bladder pads are (or became) less expensive.

In an August 1921 Selmer Paris price list, both bladder and kid pads are offered - the former at 15¢/dozen, $1.20/hundred, and $11.00/thousand; the latter at 20¢, $1.50 and $14.00 for the same quantities.

However, a 1913 Carl Fischer pamphlet offers both and shows the opposite: 17¢ for kid pads and 20¢ for bladder. Quite probable that a declining cost of bladder pads would be a major factor.

As far as anecdotal evidence: I have two clarinets with leather pads - A 1927-28 Silva-Bet and a mid-1930s Pedler. It'd be hard to believe that either would still have the originals in them (both were formerly school-owned) but the Silva-Bet has the pads on the lowest four keys retained by screws and washers. I don't feel like flute pads would work properly there, but a saxophone pad likely would, so I'm guessing Bettoney was still using leather pads at that time.
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Offline LarryS

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Re: When did pads transition from leather to bladder?
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2019, 03:14:52 AM »
I often wonder why they went from square pads to round. Applies to recorders too.
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Offline Dibbs

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Re: When did pads transition from leather to bladder?
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2019, 09:21:53 AM »
The pad seats are different for the different types of pads.  All they did for the square pads was to file a flat on the body of the instrument.  Saltspoon keys with their spherical pads had a spherical impression in the hole presumably made with something akin to a ball end mill.  Modern pads have a sort of inverted countersink made with a special tool so the pad rests on a thin rim.