Top Clarinet Reeds – Guide & Comparison
If you’re short on time and looking for the best clarinet reeds, this quick guide will help you find it. We had a look at the most sought-after reeds and we’ve seen the balance between price and quality. That is how we reached the conclusion that a set of good clarinet reeds are the Vandoren CR103. They are the kind that will help you improve your abilities if you’re a beginner, but they are adequate and strong enough for more experienced players too. They are very durable and will last you a long time. If you are unable to find them for sale, you should search for the Royal by D’Addario RCB1025 ones.
Our Top Choice
Designed to help you get used to the clarinet and become a better player, these traditional reeds are ideal not only for beginners but also for more advanced players as they are flexible enough to be played for a long time. They will help you enjoy a brighter sound and play faster if that’s what you have in mind. The way their tip is cut ensures durability.
Because of the materials used, it is best not to use the reeds in high-humidity and harsh weather conditions.
Get the best out of your clarinet by adding these reeds to your musical gear. They are made to last and perform.
Ideal for both beginners or intermediate players thanks to their soft nature, these reeds are worth considering whether you play jazz or classical music. Given their softness, the reeds tend to help your clarinet produce a brighter and clearer sound. The items are available for a variety of clarinets and saxophones. They should definitely be on your shortlist.
Due to their softness, the reeds might provide your clarinet with a brighter sound; therefore, consider this aspect and your sonic interest.
Explore the sonic capabilities of your clarinet by adding these reeds to your practice sessions and gigs.
In case you’re a more advanced player in need of durable reeds, this model should not go unchecked. The reeds promise to keep up with live performances and provide a robust sound. They have been appreciated for ensuring a dynamic range. Committed to delivering quality sounds, these reeds are worth considering.
If you’re a beginner and don’t know how to break reeds in and you want to try this model, you might need a professional to help you with that.
If you’re interested in getting a robust tone when playing the clarinet, you might want to try these reeds.
8 Best Clarinet Reeds (Reviews) in 2019
After reading all the possible clarinet reed reviews, looking at the features of some of the cheap clarinet reeds and considering some more expensive models, we’we assembled a list of the products which offer the most value for money.
- 1. Vandoren CR103 Traditional Bb Clarinet Reeds
- 2. Royal by D’Addario Rico 2.5 Strength Reeds for Bb Clarinet
- 3. Rico 2.5 Strength Reeds for Bb Clarinet
- 4. Rico Mitchell Lurie Premium 3.0 Strength Reeds for Bb Clarinet
- 5. Vandoren CR1935 Bb 3,5 Clarinet Reeds V12 Pack
- 6. Vandoren CR123 Bass Clarinet Traditional Reeds Strength 3
- 7. D’Addario DCT1035 Strength 3.5 Reserve Classic Bb Clarinet Reeds
- 8. Foraineam 10 Pieces Bb Clarinet Traditional Reeds
- Yearly Guide & Report
- Frequently asked questions about clarinet reeds
1. Vandoren CR103 Traditional Bb Clarinet Reeds
When you start to play the clarinet it’s important to familiarize yourself with the traditional sounds that it can produce, before going on to experimenting. This is where these traditional reeds excel. They will help you get used to the instrument and improve your capabilities.
But they’re not only for beginners. They have the flexibility needed to be played for a long time, even at the higher strengths. These reeds are useful to those that want to achieve a brighter sound and for the people that need to play faster.
Unfortunately, they are a bit prone to chipping and are not great at handling humidity or harsh weather. That’s why they are better suited for indoor play. However, a big advantage that they have is the fact that the tip is cut at a different angle than other reeds and that offers them more durability and flexibility.
Whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced clarinet player, this set of traditional reeds is worth adding to your list of options.
The reeds were designed to help you get used to the way the clarinet works and to improve your capabilities; therefore, they feature quality materials that will keep up with long practice sessions.
The items were built to be flexible as well and thus meet the needs of musicians interested in playing faster and at higher strengths and achieving bright sounds.
The tip of the reeds is cut at a different angle than other reeds, a feature that enhances their durability and flexibility.
The reeds are available in a variety of strength versions, so you can easily find the ones that cater to your needs.
It is best not to use the reeds in harsh weather or areas with high humidity levels as they are a bit prone to chipping.Buy from Amazon.com for ($24.99)
2. Royal by D’Addario Rico 2.5 Strength Reeds for Bb Clarinet
This set of 10 reeds is perfectly fit for beginners or intermediate players because of their soft nature. The reeds offer a field cut, a feature that is useful whether you’re playing jazz or classical music. If you’re new to the instrument, have a look at a clarinet for beginners.
If you just want to try these reeds out, you can purchase a smaller set of 3 of them. Because of how soft they are, they tend to provide a brighter sound to your clarinet. They offer some good quality sounds.
Educators recommend them because they offer a clear sound and an ease of response that is above the market’s average. The manufacturer’s state of the art machinery and techniques in producing the reeds result in making more consistent models.
These types of reeds are available for a large range of clarinets and saxophones, so they are very adaptable in that sense. If you would also like to play the sax, get yourself a saxophone for beginners.
If you are a beginner or an intermediate player interested in softer reeds, this pack of 10 should not be ignored as it was designed to meet such needs.
Given their cut, these reeds are ideal if you’re interested in playing classical music or jazz.
Thanks to their soft nature, they will help you achieve bright sounds with greater ease, even if you are a beginner.
Since the pack contains 10 items, you can rest assured that they will cover your needs for a long time; however, a smaller pack of 3 is also available.
Due to the traditional French filed cut, you will enjoy increased response and tone clarity.
The reeds are also available in various strength versions, which will make it easy for you to find the right ones for your clarinet goals.
At least one buyer says the reeds might be a bit too hard to play with if you are a beginner.Buy from Amazon.com for ($18.99)
3. Rico 2.5 Strength Reeds for Bb Clarinet
These reeds should be the favorite ones for Bb clarinet players. They are particularly useful for those clarinetists that have the experience of playing for at least one year. Each strength offered sounds great. The tone that they provide is robust and it brings out the instrument’s harmonics.
Being of great quality and endurance, they can be trusted to offer the greatest sounds during live performances. They are liked by a lot of clarinetists because they allow for a dynamic range even with stronger reeds. It might be surprising, but the strong reeds offered don’t sacrifice a bright sound for the sake of thickness.
To make it easier for the player to break in these reeds, they have been made unfilled. You can use that to your advantage to get the precise dimensions and shape that you want. They are not so great for beginners that don’t know how to break reeds in.
Ideal for more experienced players, these reeds were designed to help you achieve a robust tone and bring out the instrument’s harmonics.
Given the materials used, you won’t just enjoy durability but you can also employ the reeds for live performances.
The reeds come unfiled, which means that you will be able to get the precise dimensions and shape you need.
Due to the unfiled cut and the thinner vamp, you will enjoy ease of play as such features make them suitable for various playing situations.
The pack contains 10 reeds that will cover your needs for a long time and the reeds are available in a variety of strength versions.
If these reeds are to your liking, you can find even larger packs including 25 reeds.
If you are a beginner and you don’t know how to break reeds in, this option might not be ideal.Buy from Amazon.com for ($18.99)
4. Rico Mitchell Lurie Premium 3.0 Strength Reeds for Bb Clarinet
If you’re looking for some reeds that provide medium strength and flexibility, these are the ones to go for. Having a strength classified as 3.0, they are great for those looking to have a balanced clarinet performance, although they tend to be a bit harder than usual. They are traditional reeds, meaning that they are unfilled.
The manner in which they’re made helps the clarinetist to break them in easier. To ensure maximum precision, the manufacturers use laser technology to precisely cut the reeds. You can thus rest assured that the making is of the highest quality.
For a faster response and the possibility to quickly articulate sounds in a comfortable manner, the tip is slightly thinner. If you don’t like the strength of 3.0 you can try the same model in strengths ranging from 1.5 to 5.0. They all come in a box of five and respect the highest standards.
If you’re interested in having a balanced clarinet performance and you need flexible reeds, this set is worth taking into account.
Offering medium strength and enhanced flexibility, these reeds will help you boost your experience without sacrificing your comfort.
They come unfiled and the way they were made will help you break them in with greater ease; for maximum precision, laser technology has been used to cut the reeds.
Thanks to the slightly thinner tip, you will enjoy a faster response and the possibility to quickly and comfortably articulate sounds.
The pack includes 5 reeds of a strength classified as 3; therefore, rest assured a pack will cover your needs for a long time.
The same model of reeds is available in strengths ranging from 1.5 to 5.0.
The reeds tend to be a bit harder than usual at first yet they deliver great results as advertised.Buy from Amazon.com for ($10.79)
5. Vandoren CR1935 Bb 3,5 Clarinet Reeds V12 Pack
When discussing beginner or intermediate reeds, Vandoren is a brand that often comes into play. They have been making reeds and other accessories for clarinets since 1905 and that can be seen in their work. These reeds have the quality that you would expect from such a brand.
These ones are a 3.5 model, with a thicker heel and a longer palette meant to offer more vibration. They’re great for intermediate players because they have a deeper and richer sound, due to the thicker tip. They are built to last, and if you think the 3.5 strength doesn’t suit your style, they can come in different strengths too.
These reeds come packed and sealed to assure that they stay fresh until you start using them. And if you really like them and would love to use them more, you can purchase packs of 50 of them.
Ideal for intermediate players, these reeds shouldn’t go unnoticed before you make your final decision.
Thanks to the thicker heel and being cut on a longer palette, more vibration is delivered.
To help you get a deeper and richer sound, the reeds have a thicker tip as well.
Rest assured that these reeds will cover your needs for a long time even if you engage in extended practice sessions as the materials used promise to last.
The pack includes 10 reeds that come sealed in order to keep their freshness until you start using them.
The longevity of these reeds is also ensured by the thicker tip that also adds body to the attack.
The reeds are available in various strengths to suit different styles and needs and in larger packs of 50 pieces.
Consider your skill level before buying as these reeds might be a better option for beginner and intermediate players.Buy from Amazon.com for ($28.97)
6. Vandoren CR123 Bass Clarinet Traditional Reeds Strength 3
Traditional reeds, such as these ones, are the most played in the world and that’s because they provide superior playing options for all the possible styles of music. They are known for their magnificent response in all registers and they allow the use of techniques like pianissimo attacks.
These reeds are very flexible, letting the clarinetist execute legato or staccato techniques over large intervals. The quality craftsmanship used to produce them makes them have a rich tone and a clear and contoured sound.
They are available for clarinets and saxophones in all strengths, but this particular model is made for bass clarinet and has the strength of 3. These ones come in a box of 5. Clarinetists say that they last for a long while, compared to others, and that is particularly useful for beginners that may deteriorate them faster.
If flexibility and versatility are the benefits you want your new set of reeds to provide you with, this model is worth paying attention to.
These traditional reeds were designed to ensure superior playing options for many styles of music and deliver a remarkable response in any register.
Thanks to their flexibility, the reeds will enable you to execute legato or staccato techniques and do so over large intervals.
Due to the way they were manufactured, the reeds produce a rich tone and a clear and contoured sound.
The box contains 5 reeds that have a strength of 3 and are made for bass clarinet; however, the reeds are also available in different strengths for clarinets and saxophones alike.
The quality of the materials used and the way they were crafted ensure durability as well.
This particular model is made for bass clarinet; therefore, you might want to check the other versions if you play the saxophone.Buy from Amazon.com for ($19.04)
7. D’Addario DCT1035 Strength 3.5 Reserve Classic Bb Clarinet Reeds
Particularly for classical pieces, these reeds are commonly used around the world. The biggest difference between these reeds and others is their heel, which is thicker. This leads to a more intense and deep sound.
To add some quick response to clarinetists and help them achieve complex techniques, these reeds have squared tip corners. Also, for a clear staccato, they come with a thick tip. This is why they offer a warm sound and a powerful spine that gives flexibility, quality of sound and dynamics to the clarinet in every range.
A consistent response is given by an outlined vamp. Due to all the patience and dedication that has been given to each detail of these reeds, it is clear that D’Addario has ensured they are of great quality. Advanced students or intermediate ones looking for quality reeds will benefit from using these. Use these reeds for a fast-paced song and couple the clarinet with an upright piano for some jazz.
Made to last and take your clarinet performance one level higher, this pack of 10 reeds is worth taking into account.
Thanks to their thicker heel, you will get a more intense and deep sound when using these reeds.
The thick tip ensures a clear staccato whereas the squared tip corners will provide you with a quick response and help you achieve complex techniques.
These features will enable you to create warm sounds and the powerful spine will offer enhanced flexibility, dynamics, and sound quality.
Due to the outlined vamp, you will also get to enjoy a consistent response.
The pack includes 10 reeds with a strength of 3.5, which means that you will cover your needs for a long time.
The reeds are also available in other strengths to cater to specific needs.
Given their features, the reeds might be a better choice for intermediate and advanced students and not for beginners.Buy from Amazon.com for ($21.99)
8. Foraineam 10 Pieces Bb Clarinet Traditional Reeds
Although Foraineam is a relatively unknown brand, they do produce musical instruments parts, and these reeds from them have received almost five out of five stars from reviewers, so they must be good enough.
This package of 10 reeds comes with the specified strength of 2.0, meaning that they’re some of the lightest to bend and easier to use. All of them come with uniform heads and they’re all protected and individually packaged in a plastic casing.
They’re made of cane and some users say that they can be compared to Vandoren reeds in both sound and longevity. Players that are starting to play on a student clarinet can use them for B flat instruments, but they should know that they might change the sound of the clarinet a bit. A big advantage that they provide is their consistency, which is particularly important for a beginner.
Built to last and help you get one step closer to the high sound quality you’re interested in, these reeds have gathered positive reviews from the musicians who tried them and, therefore, should not go unchecked.
The pack includes 10 reeds that will keep up with many practice sessions and performances and have a strength of 2.0, which makes them easy to use and bend.
To make sure they will cover your needs for a long time, the reeds are made of cane and are available in various strengths to suit different needs.
The consistency they provide makes them ideal for beginners since this is an important feature for those starting to play on student clarinets.
The reeds have uniform heads and each of them is individually packaged in a plastic casing.
When used for B flat clarinets, the reeds might change the sound of the instrument a bit.Buy from Amazon.com for ($12.99)
Yearly Guide & Report
If you’re just starting to play the clarinet and you are searching for clarinet reeds for beginners, or if you’re an experienced player looking for some extra information on the topic, here are some quick tips on how to choose the reeds so you can get the greatest sounds out of your best clarinet.
When discussing clarinet reeds, you will notice that a lot of focus is put on their strength. This is measured and expressed by a number, varying from 1 to 5. The higher the number, the stronger or harder the reed. With each increment, the clarity and quality of the sound coming out of the clarinet is improved.
However, a player should make sure that he or she is able to handle the reduced flexibility of a stronger reed before using it. While it’s ideal to move to the highest strengths, a clarinetist should never jump ahead of his ability to play and attempt to use a reed that is too hard. If you’re a beginner you should start with strength 1.5 or 2 reeds and gradually work your way up.
Some manufacturers use a soft-medium-hard scale to label their reeds. Experts say that it might be better to go from beginner reeds to Vandoren clarinet reeds for advanced players.
That is because they offer reeds in the lower strength region and they sound great. And if you like the sound of your clarinet you will be more inclined to play it and thus you’ll practice more.
If you also want to play a simpler instrument, or if you wish to experiment with other genres, try a blues harmonica.
For a beginner, the type of cut that the reed has might not matter. But this aspect can have a great impact on the performances of more advanced players. There are two kinds of cuts: a regular one and a French file cut. The second type generally offers a faster response.
To decide more easily which one fits your clarinet best, you should try to match it with the type of clarinet mouthpiece you have. If your instrument has a mouthpiece that offers a darker sound, then the French cut is more appropriate. Regular cut reeds are better for brighter sounding clarinets. Check out reviews and description of reeds to see how they make your instrument sound.
What reeds are made of
Typically, cane is the most used material when it comes to reeds. It’s reliable and manufacturers have decades of experience with processing it so the resulting reeds are of the highest quality. However, alternatives to cane have been found and certain brands use them.
Synthetic reeds are an option that can be particularly useful for the beginners. That’s because they’re made to be more flexible and easier to play. They also don’t need breaking in and you don’t have to worry about snapping them too much. Synthetic reeds are fairly resistant and will be more durable than their counterparts.
Another great advantage that they offer is that they’re highly resistant to adverse weather. Nonetheless, natural cane reeds tend to sound better if they are properly made and they can also offer more flexibility. On the downside, cane reeds are more prone to snapping so you will need to break them in first.
To avoid snapping in humid or cold conditions, you can try using harder cane reeds, but they are more difficult to play. In order to provide a balanced model between the two, some manufacturers are producing reeds that are semi-synthetic and contain cane as well.
These are pretty resistant and they should hold up to intense play, while still being flexible enough to provide comfort while playing the clarinet.
Frequently asked questions about clarinet reeds
How to put a reed in a clarinet?
Putting a reed in a clarinet is not a difficult task. First, remove the reed from its protective packaging. After that, place its flat side against the mouthpiece flat side. To make it get in easily, apply minimum pressure to the reed’s tip.
To ensure the reed will be placed in the correct position, line its tip to the tip of the mouthpiece. If you prefer, you can leave a small gap; some clarinetists find that more helpful. Lastly, place the ligature over the top and pay attention to the screws – they should face towards you. Tighten everything evenly and secure the reed in the right position.
What type of reed does a clarinet use?
Clarinets use a single reed, unlike other instruments such as oboe. A beginner clarinetist should strive to find a reed no stronger than 1.5. If you have been playing in the bottom octave for quite some time and you are confident in your skills and you’re getting better at reaching notes on the upper octave, you can try a number 2 reed.
This is the case if you feel that you could reach higher but your clarinet tends to produce some squeaking noises when using 1.5 sized reeds. There are reeds particularly made to fit each kind of clarinet and more often than not you can choose the strength of a particular model when ordering it.
If you’re looking for an instrument that doesn’t require the use of a reed, find yourself a flute for beginners.
How often should you change your clarinet reed?
As you might expect, there is no set answer to this question. Depending on your experience, the way you play and the reeds you need, you can use them for as little as 3 days or for as long as several months.
Some clarinet players try to use a whole set in a certain period. What this means is that if they have a set of 10 identical reeds they will start to use each of them, one after another, in each day, practically extending the life of each of them because they are used once in every ten occasions.
How long should a clarinet reed last?
Reeds don’t have an expiry date, although depending on how often and how intense you use them they will last about six months. The only sure way to tell if they need to be replaced is by looking at them. You know it’s time to change your reed when it’s been damaged, mainly when the tip of it has been chipped or it’s cracked.
Mold is another obvious sign that the reed is not good anymore. The bacteria in people’s mouth will cause reeds to mold over time and using those reeds will be both unhealthy for the player and bad for the instrument. To make sure that your reeds last longer, consider getting a clarinet reed case.
How much do clarinet reeds cost?
Clarinet reeds vary in price based on the clarinet type they are used for, the brand that produces them and the strength they have. A box of 10 is usually between $20 and $30 and it should last you a good while. You can find bigger packages, and the more they are in a box, the better the price for each of them.
Brands that are not too well known sell them for around $10 a box, but that doesn’t mean they are not good. On the opposite side, reeds specially made for a certain type of clarinet and targeted to more advanced players can reach $40 per box.
How do you know what size reed for the clarinet to choose?
The beginner clarinet reeds are designed for the new clarinetists because they are thinner, more flexible and thus easier to play with. Learners will want to start with a size 1.5 reed. Once they have a general idea of how to play the instrument they can advance to the 2 strength.
But playing with such a weak reed might make it very difficult to achieve some notes. That is why to get a fuller range of notes, some thicker reeds are required. Clarinet reed sizes of 2, 3 or even 3.5 are recommended to those that have an idea on how to play the instrument.
How to break in clarinet reeds?
Of course, reeds won’t sound great from the first try. Breaking them in is a process that takes a bit of time. When you want to break a reed in, make sure to wet it well using water. After you have your reed in place play it for just one minute. Attempt to play long tones, arpeggios, and others at a moderate dynamic level.
Don’t attempt any extraordinary techniques. After that, allow it to dry out completely in a storage compartment; it usually takes a day. The next day play it again, this time for around two minutes. Leave it again to dry. Repeat the process, each time increasing the playing duration with one or two minutes until you feel it’s good enough to be used.
What reeds do professional clarinet players use?
Because Vandoren is such a prestigious brand, professional and serious players tend to stick with their classic reeds. Competing with them is the Rico brand, which has presented to the market premium reeds such as the Rico Reserve model.
Professional reeds are cut from dense cane and they’re specially treated to decrease warping. They are great because they provide rich and warm tones, a strong projection and they offer the player the possibility to quickly articulate the sounds. The size 3 is what professionals usually find the best sounding.
Some professional clarinetists prefer something else, like thinner reeds with the strength of 2, or synthetic reeds.