All You Need Know About the Best Type of Clarinet for Beginners

by Madonna

The clarinet, a versatile woodwind instrument with a rich history, comes in various types, each offering unique characteristics suited to different players and musical styles. Among these, the Bb clarinet stands out as the most common and recommended choice for beginners. Its popularity stems from its relatively straightforward fingering system and its prevalence in school bands and orchestras.

Other types of clarinets include the smaller soprano clarinets like the Eb and C clarinets, which are often used in specific orchestral pieces or ensemble settings. The bass clarinet, with its deeper, richer tone, is also an option, though less common for beginners due to its larger size and more complex fingering.


Material and Durability

Clarinet construction materials primarily include plastic and wood, each with its own set of characteristics. Plastic clarinets, typically made from ABS resin, are durable, resistant to changes in temperature and humidity, and more affordable than their wooden counterparts. They offer a consistent sound quality and require less maintenance, making them ideal for beginners.


Wooden clarinets, crafted from grenadilla or other types of hardwood, produce a warmer, more resonant tone favored by many professional musicians. However, they require more careful maintenance to prevent cracks and warping, and they are generally more expensive. While wooden clarinets can be suitable for beginners who are committed to proper care routines, plastic clarinets are often recommended as a more practical choice for those starting out.


SEE ALSO: Choosing the Best Clarinet Reed for Beginners

Key System and Size

The Boehm 17 key system, named after its inventor Theobald Boehm, is the standard key configuration for modern clarinets, including beginner models. This system provides a full range of notes and facilitates smooth transitions between them, making it easier for beginners to learn and play. Additionally, the Boehm system clarinets typically feature adjustable thumb rests and ergonomic key placements to accommodate players of various hand sizes.

Bore size, referring to the diameter of the clarinet’s cylindrical body, and barrel size, which affects the instrument’s tuning and projection, are important considerations for beginners. A medium bore size strikes a balance between ease of play and tonal quality, while a standard barrel size ensures proper intonation across different registers. Beginner clarinets usually come with bore and barrel dimensions optimized for stability and consistency in sound production.

Recommended Models

When choosing a clarinet for beginners, several models stand out for their quality, playability, and value. The Jean Paul USA CL-300 is a popular option known for its durable construction, smooth key action, and responsive tone. The Yamaha YCL-255, part of Yamaha’s renowned student line, offers excellent intonation and a comfortable playing experience. Other recommended models include the Buffet Crampon Prodige and the Mendini by Cecilio MCT clarinet, both of which provide solid performance at budget-friendly prices.


In addition to the clarinet itself, beginners will need several essential accessories to start playing and maintain their instrument. Reeds, available in various strengths, are inserted into the mouthpiece to produce sound and require regular replacement as they wear out. Mouthpieces, ligatures, and barrels can also affect the clarinet’s tone and playability, so it’s worth experimenting with different options to find the right fit. Swabs are used to clean the interior of the clarinet after each practice session, while cork grease helps lubricate the joints for smooth assembly and disassembly.

Assembly and Care

Proper assembly and care are crucial for prolonging the life of a clarinet and ensuring optimal performance. To assemble the instrument, begin by attaching the barrel to the upper joint, then connect the lower joint and bell. Make sure the keys and pads are aligned correctly, and use gentle pressure to secure the joints without forcing them. After playing, disassemble the clarinet and use a swab to remove moisture from the interior, paying particular attention to the tone holes and keys. Store the clarinet in a protective case when not in use, avoiding extreme temperatures and humidity levels.

Regular maintenance tasks include oiling the keys, inspecting for any signs of damage or wear, and replacing worn-out pads or corks as needed. Wooden clarinets may require additional care, such as oiling the bore and periodically checking for cracks. By establishing a consistent cleaning and maintenance routine, beginners can keep their clarinets in top condition for years to come.

Price Range

The price range for beginner clarinets varies depending on factors such as brand, materials, and included accessories. Entry-level plastic clarinets typically range from $100 to $500, offering reliable performance and durability at an affordable price point. Intermediate models made of wood or higher-quality plastic can cost between $500 and $1500, providing improved tone and craftsmanship for advancing students. Professional-grade clarinets, crafted from select woods and featuring premium components, may exceed $2000 or more, catering to experienced players seeking superior sound and playability.

Where to Buy

Beginner clarinets are widely available from music stores, online retailers, and authorized dealers of reputable brands. Local music shops offer the advantage of personalized assistance from knowledgeable staff, who can help select the right instrument and accessories based on individual needs and preferences. Online platforms like Amazon, Musician’s Friend, and Woodwind & Brasswind provide a convenient shopping experience with a wide range of options and customer reviews to guide purchasing decisions. When buying online, be sure to verify the seller’s reputation and return policy to ensure a satisfactory transaction.

Learning Resources

For beginners embarking on their clarinet journey, a variety of learning resources are available to help develop skills and musical proficiency. Tutorial videos on platforms like YouTube offer visual demonstrations of basic techniques such as embouchure, fingerings, and breathing exercises. Method books such as the “Essential Elements for Band” series and the “Rubank Elementary Method” provide structured lessons and repertoire suitable for beginner players. Fingering charts, available in print or digital formats, offer a visual reference for clarinet fingerings across different registers, aiding in memorization and technique mastery. Additionally, enrolling in private lessons with a qualified instructor can provide personalized guidance and feedback to accelerate learning and address specific challenges.

Sound and Playability

While beginner clarinets may not offer the same level of refinement and tonal complexity as professional instruments, they are designed to be forgiving and easy to play for novice musicians. These clarinets typically feature a balanced tone with good projection and intonation, allowing beginners to produce clear, consistent sounds as they develop their skills. Key mechanisms are engineered for smooth action and reliable response, minimizing the effort required to produce notes and enabling fluid transitions between pitches. As beginners progress and refine their technique, they may choose to upgrade to higher-end clarinets with enhanced sound quality and performance capabilities.


In conclusion, choosing the best clarinet for beginners involves considering factors such as clarinet type, material, key system, recommended models, accessories, assembly and care, price range, where to buy, learning resources, and sound and playability. By making an informed decision and investing in a quality instrument, beginners can embark on their musical journey with confidence and enjoyment.


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