Seating pads has never lost the mystery it had when I first started struggling with it 13 years ago. My results are far more consistent now, especially when I recall years ago it rarely seemed to go right. When it did, I wasn't certain why, because when it didn't, I thought I had done all the things to avoid failure.
We find what works for us. The entire process becomes highly individualized based on the questions we ask in the beginning and the long trial and error process that follows.
I know what works for me now and I get the results I want with a consistency that makes this work less ego crushing than it once was.
Like all crafts, this part of saxophone repair requires intuition, a highly developed level of sensitivity, an understanding of the mechanics specific to the instrument you're working on, an aesthetic sensibility, the ability to be honest and accept failure, and long years of trial and error - which means far more error than success and will ultimately fail unless you are honest about the journey. And perhaps most importantly, it is about balance.
Many people opt to make light seat impressions. For some of those techs it works, for others it does not. Like I said, we find what works for us based on our journey, which is inevitably highly personalized.
I put it in those words deliberately, because I know techs for whom I have a lot of respect that have developed a pad seating processes and styles that work for them. Styles that simply do not work for me. One is not inherently better than the other - provided all the mechanical prep is done correctly
However, balance is at the root of it. Too deep is not good for a long list of reasons, and too shallow is no good for an equally long but very different list of reasons.