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Technology, Innovations & Flutemaking

The Color of Pads

Pad manufacturers make a great effort to match the color of skins used on their pads. Regardless, some variation is inevitable, especially within a set on a single flute. To understand the color variation of pads, one must be familiar with the basic properties of pad skins.

Straubinger pads, as well as premium felt pads, are covered with a thin membrane known as "gold beaters skin" or "fish skin". This skin, composed mostly of protein, is derived from a thin protective layer that cases the internal organs of cows. Depending on the organ it protects, each thin membrane layer has a unique composition, leading to the different textures of the pad skins. Skins from only a few organs are suitable for making the pads used for musical instruments.

Changes in climatic conditions also affect the skin, causing it to expand and shrink. In pad production, skins are treated with an organic yellow dye and other chemicals that make the skin airtight and more stable. The skin texture determines how much dye is absorbed.

As mentioned above, manufacturers of pads try to match the color variations as the pads are put into sets, but the color may still vary slightly. Such variation does not affect the longevity or performance of the pad.

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