Replacing Clarinet Pads

Tools needed to remove clarinet keys for new clarinet pad installation:
Flat nose pliers
Nylon pad pliers (optional)
Spring Hook Tool (optional)


The first step to installing new pads on a Bb clarinet is to remove all keys from the clarinet.  While it is possible to replace pads with the keys attached to the clarinet, installing new clarinet pads in this manner can be risky, so it is best to remove the clarinet keys. 

From left to right, here is the order in which to remove

the clarinet keys on the upper Joint

Upper joint clarinet keys

From left to right, here is the order in which to remove the clarinet keys for new pad installation on the lower joint of the clarinet.

Lower joint clarinet keys

Tools needed for clarinet key polishing during new pad installation:
    1. Metal Polish
    2. Cotton Swab
    3. Shop Towel
    4. Buffing Wheel (optional)
    5. Ultrasonic Clarinet Key Cleaner (optional)
    While it is not necessary to polish the keys, new clarinet pad installation offers a perfect opportunity to thoroughly clean and polish the clarinet keys.  Leave the old clarinet pads on the keys while you are polishing the clarinet keys.  This will prevent the polishing compound from getting in the pad cup.  If the clarinet keys are heavily tarnished, it may be necessary to buff the keys with a buffing machine.  If available, an ultrasonic cleaner can offer an incredible shine to the clarinet keys (use before new clarinet pads are installed). Polishing clarinet keysCutting cork on clarinet keys
    Tools needed for removing / installing clarinet key silencing cork:
    Sharp razor blade
    Rubbing Alcohol
    Pre-Glued Instrument Clinic Cork Strips
    Fire extinguishing equipment

    New clarinet pad installation also offers a perfect opportunity to check all key silencing cork.  If the clarinet key cork is brittle or worn, it is best to replace the clarinet key cork.  If the clarinet key cork needs to be replaced, scrape the old clarinet key cork off  the key with a sharp razor blade.  Then clean the area with rubbing alcohol.  Do not allow rubbing alcohol to come into contact with any part of the clarinet body.  Heat the key with an alcohol lamp, or other heat source.  Never heat the cork, as it is very, as it will be damaged and create a fire hazard.  Press pre-glued Instrument Clinic sheet cork in place on the clarinet key.  Allow the key to cool and then trim the excess cork with a sharp razor blade.  Key heights can be adjusted by sanding the natrural key silencing cork.  If the new clarinet key silencing cork fails to adhere to the clarinet key, the clarinet key is either dirty or was not heated enough.

    Using alcohol lamp to glue cork on clarinet keys

    Gluing cork onto clarinet keys


    Tools needed for removing old clarinet pads from clarinet keys:
    Alcohol lamp or other heat source
    Pad prick
    Cotton balls (for large pad cups)
    Cotton swabs (for small pad cups)
    Rubbing Alcohol
    Fire safety equipment


    Slowly heat the pad cup on the clarinet key.  Stab the pad with the pad prick and gently remove the clarinet pad, while continuing to apply heat.  Once the pad is removed, clean the old adhesive out of the clarinet pad cup with a cotton swab or cotton ball.  It may be necessary to apply additional heat to the cup to liquify the adhesive.  Thoroughly clean the pad cup with the cotton while it is warm.  After the clarinet key has cooled, clean the pad cup with rubbing alcohol and allow the pad cup to dry.

    Removing clarinet pad with alcohol lamp

    Tools needed for dry fitting new clarinet pads:

    Clarinet pad prick


    It's always best to test fit each new clarinet pad prior to installation of the new clarinet pads.  Set each new clarinet pad next to the corresponding key and make sure the keys are in the proper order for reinstallation.  This will make re-installing the clarinet keys much easier after you have installed the new clarinet pads.  Puncture each new clarinet pad with a pad prick to allow any air to escape as heat from the new clarinet pad adhesive is absorbed by the pad.  Always puncture the side of the pad, not the surface of the new clarinet pad.  Try to avoid touching the surface of the new clarinet pad. 
    Dry fitting a new clarinet pad into clarinet keyMatching correct clarinet pads with each clarinet key

    Tools / supplies needed:

    Alcohol lamp
    Clarinet pad adhesive
    Fire safety equipment
    The next step in re-padding a clarinet is to apply clarinet pad adhesive to the pad cup.  If you are using Instrument Clinic Adhesive pellets, most clarinet pad cups require 1-4 clarinet pad adhesive pellets.  Shellac and hot glue are also common adhesives for installation of new clarinet pads.  Once you have the pellets placed in the pad cup, apply heat to the clarinet pad cup.  Many technicians make the mistake of not applying enough heat to new clarinet pad adhesive.  Enough heat must be applied to thoroughly heat and liquify the adhesive, but the pad adhesive should not be heated to the boiling point.  This can damage the pad and also results in a very non-professional looking job, as the clarinet pad adhesive will seep on to the side of the new clarinet pad.  Once the clarinet pad cup is sufficiently heated, gently insert the new clarinet pad into the clarinet pad cup.  Let the weight of the pad allow the pad to settle in the clarinet pad cup.  Do not push the pad into the cup.  Let the key cool and continue apply adhesive to the rest of the keys.
    Heating clarinet key with alcohol lampPlacing new pad in clarinet key after heating the key with alcohol lamp
    Tools needed:
    Micro torch
    Pad slick or aluminum foil
    Pad leveling tool
    Fire safety equipment
    Re-install each key and using a feeler gauge, check each pad to make sure the pad is perfectly level on the tone hole.  Most of the time, adjustments will be necessary to each new clarinet pad.  If an adjustment is necessary, apply heat to the pad cup using a micro torch (a lighter can be used, but this is very risky).  Always protect the body of the clarinet from heat by using a pad slick, or thick piece of aluminum foil to cover the body around the area you are applying heat.  Soften the new clarinet pad adhesive with the torch.  You just want to soften the adhesive, not liquify it again.  As soon as new clarinet pad adhesive is softened, make the necessary adjustments to the pad.  Allow the cup to cool again and check the pad with the feeler gauge again.  Repeat this process for each new clarinet pad.