Home clarinet Everything You Want to Know About Choosing the Right Clarinet

Everything You Want to Know About Choosing the Right Clarinet

by Madonna

Selecting a new clarinet can be a daunting task, especially for those new to the instrument. With a wide array of options available on the market, understanding the key factors to consider is essential to ensure you find the perfect match for your needs. In this guide, we’ll explore the essential aspects of choosing a new clarinet, offering valuable advice and tips to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Clarinet Types

Before diving into the selection process, it’s crucial to grasp the different types of clarinets available. The most common types include the Bb clarinet, the most widely used in classical and jazz music, the A clarinet, often used in orchestral settings, and the bass clarinet, known for its rich lower register. Each type offers distinct tonal qualities and is suited to specific musical genres and performance contexts.

Key Factors to Consider to Choose the Right Clarinet

When choosing a new clarinet, several key factors should guide your decision-making process. These include the instrument’s material, construction, keywork, and overall playability.

1. Material

Clarinet bodies are typically made from wood, plastic (resin), or occasionally, metal. Wooden clarinets are favored for their warm, resonant tone and are preferred by many professional players. Plastic clarinets, however, are more durable and resistant to temperature and humidity changes, making them ideal for beginners or outdoor performances. Metal clarinets, while less common, offer a unique sound and are often used in specific musical genres.

2. Construction

The construction quality of a clarinet significantly impacts its performance and longevity. Look for instruments with precise bore and tone hole placement, as well as solid keywork mechanisms. Handcrafted clarinets often exhibit superior craftsmanship and attention to detail, resulting in better overall playability and tonal consistency.

3. Keywork

The design and responsiveness of a clarinet’s keywork greatly influence its ease of play and intonation. Ensure that the keys feel comfortable under your fingers and respond smoothly to your touch. Adjustable thumb rests and key height mechanisms can enhance comfort and ergonomics, especially during extended playing sessions.

4. Playability

Ultimately, the most important factor in choosing a clarinet is how it feels and sounds in your hands. Take the time to play-test different instruments to assess their tonal characteristics, responsiveness, and overall playability. Pay attention to factors such as tone quality across the instrument’s range, ease of articulation, and intonation stability.

5. Choosing the Right Brand

While there are numerous clarinet brands available, opting for a reputable manufacturer with a history of producing high-quality instruments is advisable. Brands such as Buffet Crampon, Yamaha, Selmer, and Leblanc are renowned for their craftsmanship and consistency. However, don’t overlook smaller boutique brands, as they may offer unique features or customization options tailored to your preferences.

6. Budget Considerations

Clarinet prices can vary significantly depending on factors such as brand, material, and craftsmanship. Set a realistic budget based on your level of commitment to the instrument and long-term goals. Keep in mind that while higher-priced clarinets often offer superior performance and durability, there are also excellent options available for those on a tighter budget.

7. Seeking Expert Advice

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from experienced clarinet players, teachers, or instrument technicians. They can offer valuable insights and recommendations based on their expertise and firsthand experience. Additionally, consider consulting online forums or communities dedicated to clarinet players for additional advice and perspectives.

Maintenance and Care

Proper maintenance and care are essential for preserving the longevity and performance of your clarinet. Invest in a quality swab, cork grease, and bore oil to keep your instrument clean and lubricated. Store your clarinet in a protective case when not in use, and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures or humidity levels.


Choosing a new clarinet is a significant investment that requires careful consideration of various factors. By understanding the key aspects of clarinet selection, seeking expert advice, and taking the time to play-test different instruments, you can find the perfect clarinet to suit your musical preferences and aspirations. Remember to prioritize playability, craftsmanship, and overall quality to ensure a rewarding musical experience for years to come.

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