Untitled Document
Advertisement Click to advertise with us!

How long should pads last? And should I repad or buy a new clarinet?

Hello! First time post.

My daughter plays clarinet in her junior high band. She two Bb clarinets: a Vito (not sure which model) which we bought used for about $150, and a backup Monoprice ($100).

Both of them are about 18 months old and are losing pads like crazy. I bought the repair kit from MusicMedic and have been doing my best to replace pads as necessary, but I'm not great at it and would like to get out of the woodwind repair business.

So I have a few questions:

1. Our local band instrument shop quoted us $300 for a full repad on the Vito. Does that sounds reasonable? If so, should I ask them to use a particular brand/model of pads? And how long a warranty would it be reasonable to insist on? (Or put another way, how long does a repad last? Is it normal for pads to fail after 12-18 months of one hour daily use?)

2. If it doesn't make sense to repad the Vito, I'm wiling to buy her a new intermediate clarinet, which she's probably ready for. I assume if I buy, say, a new Yamaha intermediate, I can assume it will have good quality pads, installed properly? Does these things come with a warranty that covers pads?

Thanks very much!



Clarinet, Sax, Oboe, History
They shouldn't be falling out if it was repadded when you bought it, but you don't mention when it was last worked on so I can't be sure.
As for prices, that seems slightly high compared to my repairman, though not really by that much, though if they were new pads they probably shouldn't be failing yet, as I played my Noblet for a longer time period than that without any real problems.
And I'd think a new Yamaha would come with good pads, though getting a used one and getting it repadded is probably cheaper.
As for a warranty, that depends on who you get it from.


Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
For very near to the cost of the repad you could buy a new instrument that should last you a long time. For example, this is the Buffet I got for my granddaughter: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Buffet-S66-...Outfit-BRAND-NEW-QuinnTheEskimo-/361554434839

She started on this instrument and no pads have been changed in two years. I do teach the kids to be very careful with their instruments and make them memorize this mantra for when some other kid wants to try their instrument, "Grandpa bought this for me and said that I can't lend it to anyone but the teacher." :)
Last edited:


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
There are a couple things at play (pun intended) here in regards to price, longevity, etc

1 - the quality of the pad
An individual pad can range in price from 25 cents to 10 dollars. Synthetic materials, more organic materials, quality of individuals parts of the pad. It's like anything else you can think of. Since you looked at MusicMedic just a set of pads range from $24 to $35 which is also cheaper to better construction to a different material.

2 - the quality of the installation of the pad
The quality of the installation of the pad. Cheaper places will just sometimes slap a pad in with hot glue and not float them properly flat to the tonehole, and also may not sync the pad with any other key it may be linked to and then just clamp them to make it work.

3 - the quality of the adhesive during installation of the pad
The quantity and quality of the adhesive. Some may just use a quick dab of hot glue, others may use too much of shellac or any other variation.
I'm sure some pads are just pressed in (some pads have a adhesive backing, and some seem to kinda snap into place even though they still require adhesive).

4 - the environment the instrument is played in
If you are in marching band and get caught in the rain a lot this can cause a pad to deteriorate quicker than normal. Even storing it in the wrong places can cause issues as you can get worms to eat into wool backed pads.

5 - how often it is played
6 - the care given to the instrument.

So in general a good pad set could last up to 10 years. But age can cause pad deteriorate which can be air penetration which can minutely affect tone and response. Or synthetic pads can last longer. A slight key bend can cause a pad to not seal/align properly which causes problems, etc.

But if they start falling out they were probably installed without enough adhesive, or they didn't control the temp well enough with shellac .. or ....

So it all depends. I tell people 3-5 years with real pads, and 5 years + with synthetic .. all dependent of course.
I bought a 2nd hand Artley, and thought I would get new pads to give myself the best chance of success. I called a leading clarinet repairer in Adelaide (South Australia) and they quoted $400 to replace the pads.
It costs me $200 to get my car serviced!

My teacher played the clarinet and said it was fine.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
I bought a 2nd hand Artley, and thought I would get new pads to give myself the best chance of success. I called a leading clarinet repairer in Adelaide (South Australia) and they quoted $400 to replace the pads.
It costs me $200 to get my car serviced!

My teacher played the clarinet and said it was fine.
See post #4 about pads. It depends on the quality of pad, installation etc even on the area the repair place is located. If their rent is in a high cost area they may charge more.

$200 for your car? What kind of car ... Mercedes vs Audi vs Toyota vs Ford vs Hyuandi ?? ... dealer vs service station ?


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
A full repad of a clarinet costs me about two hours' work (provided the keys don't rattle and such) which translates to $140. But usually it's not just installing pads, it's taking care of everything that aged along with the pads - the keys may have play, some damper corks may be lost, a tonehole might have a nick etc etc etc. I usually end up at 3.5 to 4.5 hours for a refurb job.

Some clarinets (notably Buffets) come with extremely sharp tonehole rims so that they literally punch holes into pads, depending on the temperament of the player.

Your Vito isn't worse than a plastic Buffet, so new pads are not a reason to ditch the whole instrument.