Ed Svoboda gives his impressions of the Roo Pads and Saxgourmet pads available from Music Medic.
I have now had two tenors overhauled recently that have roo pads installed on them. I thought I would share my impressions of the horns. All of the work was done by my local tech.
My primary horn is a 1948 Buescher 400 TH&C tenor. This horn has standard pads (they may be metal backed but I’m not sure) and most of the original snaps. This is my point of reference. I find the 400 to be a dark horn with a big sound. I have been using the horn for a classical wind enseble with excellent results. I use a Morgan 3C and fibracells. The fibracells work really well with this horn and don’t have an offensive amount of buzz.
The first horn I had overhauled was a Buescher Aristocrat tenor model 156. My idea was to build a horn specifically for classical playing. This horn received the white roo pads and kept all of the original snaps. Prior to sending it in to the shop I played the neck on the 400 and really couldn’t tell a difference in how it sounded. I felt the intonation was a little better with the Aristocrat’s neck but otherwise both necks had a big sound out of the 400.
After getting back the Aristocrat I found the roo pads were quieter than any pads I have ever had on a horn. I also found that while I could play fibracells on the 400 with my Morgan 3C I could not play the same setup on the Aristocrat. The fibracells passed along a lot of buzz on the Aristocrat. Changing to Hemke’s or Alexander’s Classiques gave me the dark classical tone I prefer. I haven’t had any sticking problems with the pads. My only concern is that the white pads are going to show dirt and grime quickly.
The second horn I had overhauled with roo pads is my Grandfather’s Selmer Mark VI tenor (170k). For this horn I went with the saxgourmet pads because I felt that they would look better on the horn (my section mate has some white roo pads on his VI and they just look wrong). This horn was purchased by my Grandfather in 1969 after playing quite a few horns. It is a factory relaquer that was done in the 1970’s. The horn had a collection of Mark VI resonators and various nylon resonators so I had my tech replace the non-standard resonators with original Mark VI resonators.
The saxgourmet pads are similar to the white roo pads in that they are very quiet. As with the roo pads on the Aristocrat the saxgourmet pads sound much more buzzy when playing fibracells on my Morgan 3C. Having played this horn prior to the overhaul I didn’t experience the same level of edge. The same solution of moving to a truly classical reed took the tone back to a more traditional dark classical sound. I moved to fibracells out of convience and the fact that they last so long. I can easily kill a reed if I don’t change them during our three hour rehersals.
All in all I think that the roo pads and saxgourmet pads are pretty nice. I’m convinced that they have more buzz or edge than traditional leather pads which needs to be taken into consideration. They do not stick and are very well made. Both the roo pads and the saxgourmet pads are really soft to the touch. They cost a bit more than standard leather pads. I need to spend more time playing them before making a final judgement on if I think they excel at classical.