A sax is a complex instrument with saxophone pads under each of the many keys. These pads, made of cork, leather, or a similar synthetic material, tend to wear out with playing, and have to be replaced periodically. If you are shopping for a used saxophone, the pads are likely to be one of the parts that will need repair and restoration.
Having a sax restored can cost hundreds of dollars, but every one of the pads will be replaced. In addition, the keys will be tightened up so that they seal the holes more completely. Any wobble or play will be removed, and the keys will be made level where necessary. A good sax repair person will guarantee that the horn will play as good as new or better when they get done with it.
The process of replacing pads on a saxophone is referred to as a repad job. Having the sax further restored, including replacing the neck cork and polishing the metal is a mechanical overhaul and costs about $40 more than a repad. To also have the metal relacquered adds more to the cost of the repair. Straightening dents and having holes filed to improve the intonation are other jobs not included in the cost of a repad or overhaul of a saxophone.
What are they made of?
Saxophone pads can be made out of a variety of different leather materials as well as synthetic cork. They are even made from kangaroo skin is some cases! Some of the best pads are made from sheepskin. The pads have a little metal or plastic piece in the center of each one which is known as the resonator.
Word of advice
Some people think they would be able to replace pads as a do it yourself project. Professional repairmen suggest learning the skill first on an old junk horn before trying it on a valuable sax because you can do a lot of damage if you do it wrong.
The Parts of the Saxophone
Top of Saxophone Pads page.
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