Eddie Ashton
208 Liverpool Road,  Cadishead,   Manchester. M44 5DB.  U.K.  44 (0)161 775 1842

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Articles & e-mails about SUPERPADS             



Double click on articles to enlarge.


    Article by John Robert Brown reprinted from Classical Music - Sept.2005

(By kind permission of both The Editor & The Author)





                             Review by Leslie Craven (Principal Clarinet - Welsh National Opera) reprinted from CASS Magazine - Spring 2002

(By kind permission of both The Editor & The Author)






From Peter Eaton   (Maker of Fine Clarinets used by many Leading Players Worldwide)

(E-mail & Test Report received 23/3/03)


I've attached my little test report on the pads. I know it must seem rather formal in manner but it helps to clarify things in my mind if I do it this way.
I look forward to speaking to you soon.
Best wishes,

Seal. A comparison was made between three very similar new and unused International model clarinets when all had been padded up as well as possible, one with Ashton pads and two with leather. All three instruments had previously been compared very closely when all were padded with leather. A comparison using a playerís known instrument, when compared before an overhaul and afterwards, is not an adequate comparison for a number of reasons, e.g. the length of time between tests, a good overhaul would improve it anyway, the use of another possibly weaker clarinet in the meantime confusing the issue, etc. For true clarity and accuracy, the comparison must be made in the manner described above, especially if the difference is a subtle one, as they usually are.

The seal on the Ashton clarinet when tested by traditional methods and by vacuum test was markedly better, so it comes down to the impact this has on the playing qualities of the three clarinets.

Working on aspects of clarinet design, I often incorporate ideas because theoretically at least, they should benefit the quality of the clarinet. These things are often quite small in themselves and, when comparing two instruments, one with this added factor and one without, it is sometimes difficult to be certain of the benefit. The idea is therefore taken on trust. When a number of such ideas are incorporated, the benefits add up, and together contribute to an overall improvement.

In this case however, I found a clear improvement in the response of the clarinet padded with Ashton pads. When all three were padded with leather it was marginally the weakest of the three clarinets. It now feels like the best one. Joanna and Roy Jowitt later confirmed this in a blind test. Roy was not as certain as Jo and I, but we could hear the difference when he played. Even world-class players donít always find these comparisons easy because it is not part of their routine whereas Jo and I do it regularly.

Stability and reliability. It is expected that the Ashton pads will remain in a more stable condition for the longer term.

Quietness. The Ashton betters are quieter (sic), though this is not really a problem with leather.

Water trouble. Leather pads are notorious when wet. It is hope (sic) that the Ashton pads help, but we have not yet had an opportunity to test this aspect.

Stickiness. Leather pads are often sticky and this can be very annoying and difficult to eradicate. So far, the Ashton pads appear much better but, I am told by Eddie Ashton and by Nicholas Cox, that this can nevertheless sometimes be a problem but one which can be treated by silicon liquid or cream.

Sponginess. This was a problem on the ring keys only, particularly the RH ring key on the old clarinet that we padded up ourselves and needed to be addressed. A slight sponginess can benefit the adjustment of the correspondence on our clarinets, which would be helpful, but we must not have excessive sponginess. This has apparently not been seen as a problem up to this point but Peter, Joanna and Michael Collins found it so on that old clarinet and therefore it needed to be addressed and a suitable answer found. The harder plastic backing material on the latest test clarinet seems to have solved the problem. If a black plastic can be found then that would be so much the better. Interestingly, in the blind test, Joanna and Roy did not notice anything different about the feel of the three clarinets, thus confirming the point.

Consistency of manufacture in terms of diameter, thickness, neatness of outer edge, blackness of outer edge needs to be addressed. There are no problems in these respects with leather but we need the same consistency, or at least near it, with Ashton pads.

Cost. Ashton pads are much more expensive, necessitating an increase in the price of the clarinets.

Ease of fitting. This may counterbalance the additional cost to some degree, though only time will tell