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:: Guide Index » Woodwinds » Clarinets

Clarinet Buyer's Guide

Clarinet Buyer's Guide & Comparison Chart

Clarinet parts and their names

section #1
Clarinet Parts Guide

Clarinet Categories

section #2

Buffet Crampon R13 Professional Bb Clarinet with Nickel Silver Keys

Student Clarinets:
Student clarinets are designed for beginners and are meant to provide an excellent start for the first two to three years of playing. A student clarinet typically has a larger bore—the area inside a clarinet—which allows air to pass easily through the instrument to make a sound. The clarinet's small size and light weight make them easy for smaller children to transport.

If this is a first clarinet, an instrument made of plastic is a great choice. Plastic clarinets are less expensive and more durable than wooden clarinets. Even after graduating to a wooden instrument, the plastic clarinet is often used in high school and college marching or pep bands.

Student Clarinet Accessory Checklist:
Box of reeds strength #2, reed holder, cork grease, upgraded plastic mouthpiece, silk clarinet swab, luggage tag, wire music stand, chromatic tuner, metronome and silk mouthpiece swab

Intermediate Clarinets(Step-Up):
Intermediate clarinets are an ideal step-up for high school clarinetists who have outgrown their student model clarinet; for non-music-major college students; or for hobbyists playing in a local concert band or a church. Whatever the situation, stepping up to an intermediate clarinet may have positive benefits both physically and psychologically.

Intermediate clarinets are made of better quality materials which result in several benefits. Grenadilla wood provides a full and rich tone, a smaller bore-area inside the clarinet-produces a focused and centered sound and undercut tone holes improve pitch. Better keywork allows clarinetists to further develop technique. Psychologically, stepping up to an intermediate clarinet can reinvigorate interest that may have stalled due to a student clarinet's limits. Simply put, it is not much fun as a student to put forth more time and effort and receive lower than desired results.

For students who show a high level of interest or personal enthusiasm for playing the clarinet, and who have given serious consideration to majoring in music at the college level, foregoing an intermediate clarinet and stepping up to a professional level clarinet might be best. This allows serious students to become familiar with their clarinet before college auditions.

Intermediate Clarinet Accessory Checklist:
Premium reeds strength #2.5 or 3, cork grease, hard-rubber mouthpiece, upgraded ligature, mouthpiece cushions or pads, silk clarinet swab, silk mouthpiece swab

Professional Clarinets:
Professional clarinets are designed and crafted for professional musicians, and they're also popular among serious high school and college music students. Professional clarinets are built using the finest quality grenadilla or rosewood available. A professional clarinet's bore is optimized for intonation and sound. The key work is done with premium materials. However, these components alone do not make a quality professional clarinet. The entire process requires the hands and close attention to detail of a skilled musical instrument craftsman.


Hand-crafted and true artist quality. Recommended Artisan Clarinets


Body Materials

Materials used for the clarinet's body have a huge impact on the instrument's tone and projection.

section #2

Plastic (Resin):
Plastic is used exclusively for student-level clarinets. Plastic proves durable and does not change with humidity or temperature.

Ebonite (HardRubber):
Ebonite clarinets are rare but offer a material that is the best of both worlds. Hard rubber is stable and durable like plastic, but the dense rubber offers a dark sound and projection favored by professional musicians.

Grenadilla (African Blackwood):
Grenadilla is the choice of more advanced and professional clarinet players. The sound is focused and possesses a "ring" that cannot be found in synthetic instruments. To insure long life, it's essential to properly break-in and care for a wood clarinet.

To answer the problem of dwindling grenadilla stock, as well as the problem of instability of true wood clarinets, Buffet-Crampon developed a blend of grenadilla dust and epoxy. Greenline clarinets offer the density and tone of a grenadilla clarinet but add the stability of good synthetic materials.

Rosewood clarinets offer darker, more mellow sound than grenadilla. Rosewood clarinets are quickly finding favor among chamber players and soloists.

Key Materials

section #2

Nickel Plated:
Nickel plate is shiny, extremely durable and does not easily tarnish. It is found on most student and intermediate level clarinets, and is preferred by many professionals.

Silver Plated:
Silver plating is warmer in appearance and softer to the touch. It also adds a minute amount of weight to the clarinet and thus slightly darkens the tone.

Hamilton Plated:
Yamaha offers this blend of silver and gold on their CSG series Bb and A clarinets. This blend presents a warm, slightly golden look to the clarinet, and the added weight provides a darker and more liquid sound.


Bore Design

section #2

Bore Size:
The size of the clarinet's bore affects the general playing feel of the clarinet. Larger-bore clarinets are preferred by jazz players and are more free-blowing with greater flexibility and projection. Medium-bore clarinets are the most common and offer a balance between flexibility and focus. Smaller-bore clarinets are the most resistant clarinets, provide a compact and focused sound and. are usually preferred by chamber musicians.

  • Larger-bore clarinets are preferred by jazz players and are more free-blowing with greater flexibility and projection.

  • Medium-bore clarinets are the most common and offer a balance between flexibility and focus.

  • Smaller-bore clarinets are the most resistant clarinets and provide a very compact and focused sound. These clarinets are usually preferred by chamber musicians.


Bore Shape:
In addition to bore size, the bore shape also has a great impact on overall clarinet playability. Cylindrical-bore clarinets are more free-blowing and flexible. Cylindrical-bore clarinets offer a large sound with great volume. Polycylindrical-bore clarinets are slightly more resistant. Their sound has more ring and, though less flexible, polycylindrical clarinets offer superior intonation.

Cylindrical-bore clarinets are more free-blowing and flexible. These clarinets offer a large sound with great volume.  Polycylindrical-bore clarinets are slightly more resistant than cylindrical clarinets. The sound has more ring and, though less flexible, these clarinets offer superior intonation.


Breaking in a wood clarinet:

In order to help prevent wooden clarinets from developing cracks, it is necessary to break-in a new or used clarinet that has not been played for a while. Breaking-in a clarinet helps ease the wood into the amount of heat and moisture introduced while playing for extended periods of time.

Week 1:
Play the clarinet no longer than 15 minutes per day, and swab the bore carefully afterwards to remove moisture.

Week 2:
Extend playing time to 30 minutes and follow up by swabbing the bore.

Week 3:
Playing time can be expanded to 45 minutes. As always, swab the bore afterward.

Week 4:
Push playing time up to one hour, making sure to swab the bore afterwards. After this regimen, if you have followed it closely, your clarinet should be broken-in. If you live in a dry climate, your clarinet will require more care since moisture is pulled from the wood quickly, causing problems. In this case, using a humidifier in your case will help prevent the wood from drying too rapidly and cracking.

Buy Your Clarinet with Confidence from The Woodwind & Brasswind

In choosing a clarinet, you need to consider your musician's age and skill level, and the kind of use (school band, marching band, orchestra, etc.) to which they will put their instrument. If for school, consulting with the band teacher is a good idea.

Whatever clarinet you select, The Woodwind & Brasswind's 100% Satisfaction Guarantee means you have 45 days to be sure it's right for you. If it's not, just return it for a full refund.* And neither do you need to worry about paying too much. Our 45-Day Lowest Price Guarantee means that if you find the same clarinet advertised for less elsewhere, we'll make up the difference. When you buy a clarinet from The Woodwind & Brasswind, you can buy with complete confidence.

Product Comparison Charts

section #5
Download the Product Comparison Charts:
:: Guide Index » Woodwinds » Clarinets

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