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My new "DIY" pads...


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Café Supporter
Near Lutterworth, Leics.
This thread follows on from my earlier one here: Why have pads had the same design for 150 years?

You may have also noticed I've been asking about resonators, key bounce, sprung weight of key cups, thin pads, cheap pads, cutting brass, and thread lock fluid.

Well, I've come up with an idea for a new type of padding system which takes some cues from Codera, Toptone, Jim Schmidt, and others who have designed what they feel is a better system than the 150 year old one of glueing leather, woven felt, and card into key cups.

I'm not quite there yet but close. I have fully re-padded my cheapie Jupiter 767 using my system with modified Tru-Seal pads, as mentioned in the previous thread linked above, (many thanks to @stitch ) and all works well. I dealt with Brandon at Tru-Seal and he was super helpful in making the pads how I wanted them. You may not know, but they do instrument rentals too and had to find a better way of padding due to marching band leather pads becoming soaked in the rain and swelling/leaking, hence their new water resistant synthetic pad seal.

But my pads aren't just about the sealing material. It's a new method of padding saxophones (and other suitable wind instruments with pads).

All pads (that's 23 on the Jupiter, bar the two tiny octave pads) are self-levelling, height adjustable at and after installation, removable or replaceable in 5 seconds (each pad, at any time), can have resonators changed in 2 minutes (each) should you fancy a different shape or material, or none at all, can have interchangeable sealing material (for feel), will retro-fit to existing instruments, and are an easier DIY fit than the traditional method if you can dismantle (and re-assemble!) your sax.

No shellac, hot glue, leather, woven felt, or cardboard. No melting glue, re-melting to adjust pads with picks, shims, irons, nor time-consuming adjustment of interconnected keys. You can even cut away almost all of your key cups to save weight if you like. Not many will, but manufacturers might. The 'key' ingredient to my design is magnetism. I don't think magnetically secured pads have been utilised previously but do let me know if I'm wrong.

At present I'm still perfecting the synthetic seal choice(s). It's a balancing act between feel, seal, and percussive noise, also considering stickiness, moisture and bacteria resistance amongst other things. There's also some fine tuning of the mechanics, waiting for tiny parts from around the world, so it's likely to be a few months yet before I perfect the balance of all these things.

If I brought it to market in due course I don't suppose techs would worry about end users being able to replace their pads with a pair of tweezers and a spanner or two, as most folks won't take their horns apart AND I'd have to overcome 150 years of the "traditional" method, which would be difficult. However, my system may offer techs the opportunity to speed up re-padding, especially as each of the 23 keys is individually height adjustable with just the turn of a screw. This assists greatly with pad heights and adjustment of connected keys. Pop out a pad, turn the screw to adjust, pop it back in.

It does however allow a competent end user a degree of customisation whereby they could switch reso type, sealing material, customise the rear of the pad, replace pads, or indeed re-pad without the current level of skill required.

This invention came to me as I have done DIY repairs for years but always stopped short of pad replacement (and dents - no easy answer to them!). The thought of glueing, levelling, shimming, re-heating to adjust, seating, fiddling with picks and irons... well, it just befuddles me. It's wizardry, hence finding another way.

I hope to make a (no doubt rather amateur) video very shortly showing how the new pads work. Do come back and have a look as all will become clear at that point.

Just in case it all works out, I've also applied for a Patent so I'm Pad Pat Pending at present. This revolves mostly around the magnetic attachment as the novel innovation.

I'd like to thank all those who contributed to my earlier threads and all those who might continue to follow my further exploits with this idea, especially all our esteemed techs here who may well spot flaws I've not thought through fully.

Video, photos and more info as and when... bear in mind I'm also trying to keep up the day job. :thumb:
Self levelling saxophone pad
While you are at it, the whole linkage and adjustment system for saxophones could do with a new approach - all those bits of cork!
If the pads are adjustable and self-levelling then maybe some of the other stuff can be simplified.
Send it down to me and I'll give it the full review treatment.

If you dare, of course.
Steve, you are always at the forefront of my mind when working on this project. I'd welcome input into it but it's not yet a fully finished project so the "full review" treatment would find the flaws I know about and am putting right over the next few weeks/months. Once it seems to be to be fit for purpose I may take you up on the offer and I'm sure you could offer some enhancements even then.

Meanwhile, free free to comment on the video coming up very shortly.
I see that the pads are not securely mounted. When you play fast you try to have the least possible finger motion and you rely on the instant feeling that the pad has closed the tonehole. It's a very delicate feeling. If the pad is moving even a little bit, which is what I think is happening at the video ... it's going to be ok if you play slow or medium but it will be a problem at faster tempos.
I have to admit though that your idea seems really promising!
The pads only move in the video because I'm moving them or they are self-levelling when first closed. Otherwise the pads are very stiff in the magnets and don't budge.
Both the magnet and screw happen to have microscopically rough surfaces which give sufficient friction not to move. I don't think copious spit will act as a sufficient lubricant to change this.
I have an offer to test it from a highly esteemed pro player you'll all know.

Once it's where I'd like it to be I may well take up his offer.

Might go to Steve Howard first to iron out any design issues if he'd care to assist in its design rather than simply review. I have very little machining equipment here, he'll have it all!
Interesting stuff and good to hear your speaking voice.

Playing tests would be good to hear and also comments from other players who try out your prototypes.

I have a second, identical, 767 alto as a control horn with traditional pads.

This is useful for weight comparison as well as playing comparison.

I can't tell the difference but appreciate a pro player may well do.

Similar threads... or are they? Maybe not but they could be worth reading anyway 😀

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