Pad savers: beautiful but dangerous

I admit it:I love pad savers,because they are pretty,colorful and –supposedly –useful. Only recently I discovered that they can be a bit dangerous,thanks to my friend Domenico Bartolomeo,who repairs saxophones for living and for passion.

The fact is,pad savers should never,ever be left inside the horn,for several reasons. First,they keep humidity and therefore the prevent your pads from getting dry,which in turn make their life shorter. Second,they tend to leave dust inside the saxophone. Third,over time they tend to lose naps (hairs),which might prevent the pads from closing perfectly. I learned this lesson the hard way.

You can use a pad saver to clean the interior of your saxophone,of course. Just don’t leave them inside it. Used in this manner,I find pad savers especially useful with straight sopranos,whereas I prefer cleaning my alto by passing a cleaning cloth through the horn.

BTW,for the same reason I avoid –if possible,of course –to close the case of your sax immediately after practicing. I typically leave the case open for a few hours to let the humidity to go away,if necessary with a cloth over (not inside!) the saxophone to protect it from dust.

5 comments to Pad savers: beautiful but dangerous

  • eridano

    Oh please. Dust inside the saxophone? Never seen that in ANY of the pad saver things I use. Humidity? Really? And the proof is where? I never have seen this at all. Maybe if you live in the tropics or the amazon rainforest.

    The last “point”…maybe. But if you are getting loose fibers (hairs),then it is really time to go get a new padsaver. They don’t last forever. And if they are sticking to your horn,then you probably have other issues going on…..

  • Francesco

    As I said,I love(d) pad savers and my friend Domenico had to work hard to convince me NOT to leave them inside,because the humidity tends to reduce the life of pads. He has repaired hundreds and hundreds of saxophones,he is a guru in his field and I completely trust him.

    The dust of course depends on where you leave the pad saver when it isn’t inside the horn. Considering the variety of places where we might go playing,it might or might not be an excess of caution.

    I fully agree about the last point:when it looses fibers it’s time to buy a new one!

  • Francesco

    Oh,I forgot:the humidity I was hinting at is the one we produce with breath and saliva after playing for hours. It has nothing to do with living at the tropics or in an Amazon rainforest.

    If it weren’t for this breath-induced humidity,pads would last for decades.

  • Debbie

    Pad savers should never be used to clean the instrument. Use a cleaning swab for that. the pad saver should be inserted AFTER the instrument has been swabbed dry. The purpose of the DRY pad saver is to wick the moisture AWAY from the pads,thus extending their life remarkably. I have used pad savers in my woodwinds since I first heard of them after I started teaching in 1974 and have replaced less than a dozen pads on my 80 year old alto sax,and my clarinet and flute which I bought used when I started to teach. Never put a pad saver in a wet instrument! If you do,you’re right,it will trap the moisture inside and cause premature pad deterioration.

  • Dewayne Magee

    I choose to leave the pad saver in my alto sax ONLY after I’ve used my swab to get all of the moisture out from playing. I’m always looking around for better ways of doing things to keep my sax in top-shape,but usually I find most of the time there are always differing schools of thought.

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