Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Alto Repadding

We stopped by Rachel's repair office here at Powell and were pretty excited to see something different -- an alto flute!  It's not every day that this instrument crosses her bench, but we lucked out, because she was in the midst of repadding the instrument.  Straubinger pads are not an option on the alto, so the Powell Sonaré alto uses felt pads.  Brand new felt pads have never been in the key cup, so once they are screwed into place, the skin can wrinkle a bit from the new amount of tension.  How does one solve this problem?  Well, oddly enough, it is quite similar to a wrinkled piece of clothing -- it gets ironed!  Rachel has a special "pad iron" to iron the pads.  She takes it, dips it in water, and then uses it to wet the pad skin.  She then heats the pad iron with an alcohol lamp and irons the wet pad with the heated iron.  This is repeated on every pad.  Since the pads are already wet, Rachel then clamps them to get an impression of the tone hole crown on the pad.  She lets it dry overnight with the clamps in place, and then in the morning, the impressions will be set.  The impressions help Rachel seat the pads, because she can see where they may be a little closing too lightly or too heavily on the tone hole -- and then she can shim the pads accordingly.

As usual, if your flute needs repadding, it is best to take it to a professional.  Obviously, there are many steps in the process from taking a brand new pad out of the bag to making it fit and function perfectly in the cup!

Getting ready -- pad iron is the metal device to the left of the flute.

Dipping the iron in water.

Going to wet the pad.
Heating the iron after wetting the pad.
Ironing out wrinkled pad skin with heated iron.
Clamping pads to get impressions.

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