Recycling isn’t a new idea and one of the very odd ways in which instrument makers could benefit was in how they acquired their leather for making the pads for their woodwind instruments.
In this image of a horse-drawn funeral hearse, look at the hands of the driver – he’s wearing black leather gloves. On the hands of a funeral director or hearse driver, these gloves had to be pristine and they didn’t last long. They had to do service in all weathers and then, of course, there was all that heavy lifting involved. What do you do with all of these gloves that you’re paying for and constantly wearing out?
Solution: sell them to people who need very small pieces of leather: sell them to musical instrument makers, who used them to line the pads of their woodwinds. Now, of course, white pads are the standard, but if you see an instrument from the 19th or early 20th century in original condition, you’ll know where those black key pads came from.
In the modern day, with instruments such as the saxophone being built in black plastic, there’s a new desire for black pads and they’ve come back
One instrument maker will even supply you with blue pads for your instrument
There’s no difference in sound with the change in colour, but there is a greater cool factor, as there is with anything in complete black!
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