Friday, January 4, 2013

Sticky Pad Remedy

We've spent some time talking about the causes of sticky pads, but what about the remedies?  Well, we caught up with Rachel Baker to discuss this topic and unraveled some interesting information...

Rachel told us that if your pads are sticking, they are already at the point where they should be replaced.  Often times, it is a combination of the pad needing to be replaced and the tone hole needing to be cleaned.  However, we know that it's not always possible to send your flute off for repair right away.  In some extreme circumstances, you may be warming up for a concert or recital and find yourself with a really sticky pad.  So, what do you do?  Well, you may have heard that you can use cigarette paper to clean the surface of the pad and remove the stickiness.  This is true!  Yes, you can certainly use cigarette paper in this instance.  Try to use un-gummed cigarette paper -- if you cannot find this, make sure to cut off the gummed edge before using the paper on your flute pads.  You should be able to find cigarette paper anywhere where cigarettes are sold (pharmacy, grocery, gas station mini-mart, etc.).  Un-gummed papers are often available through music dealers and/or woodwind specialty shops.

Now that you have the cigarette paper in hand and are ready to clean the pad, what should you do?  Well, technique is just as important as the material.  You may have heard "Close the pad and then pull the paper through so you can wipe the whole pad."  Well, that is actually not correct!  In fact, if you pull the paper over the pad, you risk ripping the pad!  So, Rachel tells us that the proper technique is to simply "press and release." Press the key down so the pad touches the paper, and then release.  It's that simple!  This can help alleviate stickiness without damaging the pad.  Then, when you have more time and can send your flute in for repair, make sure to let your technician know which pads are sticking.  And, as always, make sure to brush your teeth before you play so as to prevent this issue as much as possible!

Two types of cigarette paper.  The one on the left is gummed, right is un-gummed.
Better view of the un-gummed paper.
Close-up of un-gummed paper.
Snapshot of Rachel sorting replacement pads for an overhaul.

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