Locating Pad Leaks with a Flexible Leak Light

By Curt Altarac

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Leak light is a very useful tool for finding leaks, especially with Saxophones. 

This test should always be made in a dark or very dimly lit room. The benefits of the flexible leak light are it's flexibility, quality, durability and price. The sacrifice is in the amount of light it gives off. The flexible light is simply not as bright as the florescent type of lights available. The dimmer light can be compensated for by checking for leaks in a very dark room. 

Put your flexible leak light through the instrument and position it so the light is under the pad being tested. Close the pad against the tone hole. Press lightly, or the value of the test is lost. Heavy pressure will seal almost any pad against its tone hole and create the impression that the pad covers. 

If there is light escaping between the tone hole and the pad when the key is closed, the pad leaks. If any part of the pad hits the tone hole before another part, there is a leak. The pad should hit the tone hole simultaneously around the circumference. All leaks are leaks. People sometimes ask, 'is that a leak?', they mean to say 'can I get away with this?'. The answer is simple; if light shows, it's a leak. If one part of the pad hits before another, it is a leak. Tiny leaks will affect response. 

Once you find a leak, you will need to determine what type of leak it is and repair as necessary.


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