The Pad Saver Haver

Firstly, for those of you unfamiliar with the urban Scot's 'to haver', is to talk foolishly and at great length. Something I'm more than a little guilty of so I've been told. Now I might be a fool to even want to talk about, or haver on about something as frivolous as a woodwind instrument pad saver, but a lot of people don't know what it is, don't know what it does or how to use it, or won't even go anywhere near it due to a bad experience or have read dark and disturbing story's of fear and dread. 

Well, it's a fluffy stick. How dreadful can it be? ... Very dreadful, if your not careful. The problems arise with these furry friends right off the hop with the cheaper models. I can't really recommend going anywhere near these things other than to suggest that trouble is round the corner and down the bore of your saxophone. Poorly made any-things are no good at the best of times and usually fail to do what they're meant to. And these weapons of mass destruction will clog up your horn, leave frayed pieces of matter in octave tubes, tone-holes, key posts and anywhere else you'd care to mention including the case. So, in your efforts to maintain your instrument with a device meant to do just that, you're making a quicker trip to the repair shop to figure out why your horn is gummed up and only playing in the one octave with a case that looks like a parrot has slept in it. The better quality ones won't be anywhere near as troublesome, but can still lead to problems and instrument failure.

Let's think about the name for a minute. It's a pad saver. Not an instrument bore cleaner. That's called something else. A pull through swab. The pad saver is only expected to absorb the remaining moisture left in the horn 'after' you've carefully cleaned the instrument bore with your handy pull through swab. Several times if need be. You only really need to take care that the swab doesn't hang up on the octave pip tube that can protrude a fair bit on certain horns. Generally speaking, it won't get snagged. In the unlikely event that it does, I guess you'll be visiting your friendly neighbourhood repair technician with a stuck cleaning swab. Not a big deal....unless you drop the horn in your attempts to yank it out. You can visit your repair tech with that problem, too. That's a bigger deal.  The reason you want to use the swab is that it does a much better job of removing all that moisture than the pad saver. They don't last forever, but they are relatively inexpensive and there's some nifty new products that really do a great job - BG Micro products for instance. Then, and only then, do you gently, and this is the key, gently push the pad saver into the horn. And that's all you'll be doing with that puppy. Put the horn away and go to bed or listen to the latest Johnny Mathis album. No need to stab the pad saver down the throat of the sax and rummage around in there as if you're fencing with the mask of Zorro. Allow your quality pad saver to absorb the remaining moisture from the bore and pad surface. The pull through swab can't reach the pad surface or help with the problematic sticky G sharp. (That's a subject for another day) No guarantee that the pad saver will eliminate that issue, but you will have gone a long way towards prolonging the life of your pads and removing most of the saliva from the saxophone. Amazing. A pad saver that saves pads. And it can, in conjunction with the other cleaning device. 

To sum things up: Good pad saver with proper use - Good. Bad pad saver - Bad. We can't recommend inferior quality pad savers even if you do follow these guidelines. Their fibres are just too loose and cause more problems than they solve.  Get yourself well versed in the routine of removing moisture with pull through swab and then installing a decent pad saver avoiding excessive twisting and all should be good with less visits to the repair shop.   For the most part, the same rules apply when we talk about pad savers for the clarinet and flute. Drop us a line and let us know how you feel about this subject.       Good luck.

April 08, 2013 by Garry Lamb
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