A few people a year write and ask how they can repad their own horn, and, after a decade in this business, I am still struggling to come up with a reply that is wise, kindly, succinct, helpful...
After all, you just take it apart, get some pads from somewhere, glue them in with something, and reverse the procedure, right? Job over. The frightening truth is that, with companies like Ferree and Music Medic, its easier than ever to order pad sets, cork and all the specialized tools you'd need to do the job...well, I wouldn't say right, but perhaps passably: If you're a handy, organized person and have a recent plastic Yamaha clarinet in front of you, you might do OK.
Take all the keys off (don't get all those little rods mixed up!), replace a few pieces of cork (make sure to get the thickness right!), wash the body, take out the old pads, pop in the new ones with a hot glue gun (don't forget to level them so they seal!), put it all back together (don't forget to synchronize the keys that open or close together!). Are you done? On that horn, you might be. But what if you decide to tackle an older, pro instrument - something that you really will want to play, like the 7 ring wooden Leblanc pictured above? Its gorgeous and it was so cheap on eBay...
Congratulations, you've just entered Hell!
The Licorice Shtick Blog is the creation of the Vintage Clarinet Doctor, a Winston Salem, NC based woodwind instrument repair shop specializing in vintage and antique clarinets, saxophones, and the occasional flute.