Detailed info on Valentino Masters Series pads
Valentino pads are MADE in AMERICA in Charlotte, NC.
This morning [21Jul2011] I spoke with Jeff Smith of JLSmithCo. (jlsmithco.com) He says that Valentino pads are being adopted at a quick rate world-wide. They are used on all Yamaha plastic instruments in the factory, and by Conn-Selmer on the (Leblanc branded) Julian Bliss clarinets. They are also used on Antigua clarinets. Jeff also mentioned that many top performers are using them, including Ricardo Morales.
JLSmithCo sells both traditional and synthetic pads. Jeff said that they are seeing that their sales of skin/bladder pads are stagnant, while their sales of Valentino pads are growing exponentially. Valentino pads are the major part of their business. However Jeff says that world-wide, synthetic pads would still only have a minor market share.The Masters Series pads come in two colors, cork/tan and white. The two colors are also different in density and firmness. The white pads are three-layer and do not have the second "Gate" layer. The cork pads are firmer and have the 4th layer, the Gate layer. Jeff recommends that the white pads be used on the clarinet's four largest pads, as the softness helps these pads to seat more positively. He says its a toss up which color to use for the two medium diameter pads at the top of the right hand joint. (Actually he suggested that is you used a soft pad, use a harder material for the bridge key cork. If you use a hard pad, use a softer material for the bridge key cork.)It is advantage the Masters Series pads come in quarter size (.25mm) diameters. Jeff mentioned that these precise sizes are particularly useful for piccolos and even some brands of clarinets. The only thing I don't like about the new pads is that the size is not marked on the back like on the Green Back series. The Green Back series have straight sides. The final layer of the Masters Series pads is smaller, so that the bottom of the pad is bevelled. This gives greater flexibility in pad positioning while being floated into position with hot glue.
One thing I learned about the Green Back series pads: The tan pads do not have the slick contact surface that the white Green Back pads have. So that's the reason I have had a harder time getting the tan Green Back pads to seat.