Top Clarinets for Beginners – Guide & Comparison
If playing the clarinet is what tickles your fancy and you’re on the lookout for the best clarinet for beginners, you might find this paragraph to be of help. Based on customer feedback, product specs, and beginner clarinet reviews, our team has concluded that the Jean Paul USA CL-300 is the first option to consider. Boasting a stylish ebonite body material and featuring the Boehm 17 key system, this clarinet will help you explore and learn its sonic capabilities with ease. It is designed to deliver smooth playability and excellent response as well as durability. If this product is unavailable, you might want to check the Yamaha YCL-255.
Our Top Choice
It has an elegant ebonite body with nickel keys, which add an appealing contrast that is going to make playing it much more pleasant. The sound the model offers is robust, powerful and clear, and it is a suitable choice for all players. This beautiful instrument comes with a robust contoured carrying case that makes transporting it a breeze.
We should mention that the premium quality comes at a high price, which was a common complaint among past buyers.
You get an awesome instrument and accessories such as Rico reeds, gloves, and a cleaning cloth. The beautiful clarinet is in the key of Bb, and it is reliable and easy to play since it is highly responsive to your commands.
The Yamaha-made unit was created for those that want style and quality at a budget-friendly price. The item has a 65mm barrel for a focused tone and an adjustable thumb rest. You also get a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece in the box and a hard case that is going to double the already impressive lifespan of the product. Note that it is extra easy to maintain it.
As one buyer noticed, the product is hard to put together, especially if you lack experience with this type of instrument.
The unit will help you develop your own sense of style and a proper technique. Also, the matte ABS resin body and the nickel-plated silver keys are resistant to scratches and corrosion.
Also To Consider
If you want a lightweight clarinet, you can't go wrong with this option. It is an ABS plastic model in the key of C, which is suitable for children ages four and up and perfect for general music studies. For those concerned with bacteria, note that the piece is washable and available in plenty of young and cool colors. Moreover, its tone is sophisticated and distortion-free.
Because the product is made of plastic and not metal, it won't be as sturdy as other models on the market.
It comes in 3 parts, which makes it quick to set up. The bell has a bayonet fitting, and the mouthpiece has O-ring seals. The piece itself requires little maintenance, and the kit includes a cleaning cloth.
5 Best Clarinets for Beginners (Reviews) in 2020
The market does not fall short when it comes to clarinets and the great variety of models might make your shopping an intimidating process. To help you find a good clarinet for beginners, we have highlighted below some of the most appreciated clarinet models you will find online.
1. Jean Paul Student Clarinet with Case
Designed to deliver smooth playability and a superb response, this model stands for excellent sound quality and durability. Ideal for beginners and intermediate students, this instrument is the first option to pay attention to when looking for a beginner clarinet for sale.
Featuring a beautifully designed ebonite body and nickel keys, the CL-300 clarinet is a reliable and easy-to-play instrument band students and beginners will appreciate. Thanks to the Boehm 17 key system and the cylindrical bore, the player gets to enjoy a great response, a generous range of tones, and a strong projection. This will further help you reach your potential with greater ease.
The item comes with a compact carrying case that ensures easy transportation and storage. You will also get a mouthpiece, a cap, a ligature, and professional Ricco reeds that can easily be stored in the case. To make playing even more comfortable, the clarinet is paired with a neck strap.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($199.99)
2. Yamaha YCL-255 Standard Bb Clarinet Bb Clarinet
Another option to keep in mind is the YCL-255 from Yamaha if you’re a novice in need of a clarinet that will provide you with enhanced playability and quality sounds. This newly redesigned Bb Clarinet sports nickel-plated silver keys and a matte ABS resin body that will help you enjoy the warm tones wood clarinets produce.
The entry-level instrument features a 65mm barrel to produce a focused tone and a thumb-rest you can adjust. Thus, the unit will allow even players with small hands to handle it with ease and help them develop the right playing technique.
It also comes with a strap ring to enable the user to hold it without additional effort and a CL-4C mouthpiece. The resin body and matte finish make it look like a wood clarinet but keep it light and durable. The resonance chamber in the bell will enhance projection and intonation in lower tones.
Buy from Amazon.com
3. Nuvo N100CLBK Clarineo Kit with Case and Accessories
Ideal for 4 to 12-year-old players, this model should not go unchecked before hitting the button order. Designed for novice and young musicians, the Nuvo N100CLBK is a great option if you’re interested in general music programs. It will help you learn more about what this instrument can do effortlessly.
Featuring the use of a lightweight polymer, this unit is not only easy to handle but also durable and 100% washable. It is assembled from 3 parts, which means it won’t be difficult to set it up for your practice and put it away when your session is over. The item comes with synthetic beginner reeds and traditional cane reeds.
Suitable for a variety of musical genres such as jazz and even classical music, this clarinet will help you enjoy a smooth yet sophisticated tone and add extra depth and color to your performance. The package also includes spare reeds, a fingering chart, O-ring grease, and cleaning cloth.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($129.99)
4. Buffet B12 Student Clarinet
Because the first notes and the way an instrument feels are of great importance when you’re a novice, the clarinet you use must be designed in such a way to make your transition to this land of sonic experiences a smooth and gentle one. That’s what Buffet had in mind when designing the B12 model.
Specifically built for beginners, this unit is committed to helping players develop acoustic capabilities and explore their sonic creativity. The product is made from ABS resin which not only looks like real granadilla wood and produces a sound similar to the one such a model creates but it is also durable.
The player’s comfort is further enhanced by the lightweight materials used. This clarinet is thus easy to handle, use, and clean, which makes it ideal for young musicians. The unit features silver/nickel-plated rings and comes with a mouthpiece.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($239)
5. Gemeinhardt 2CS1 Student Clarinet with Silver-Plated Keys and Plastic Case
Professionally designed by talented musicians and skilled designers, the 2CS1 clarinet from Gemeinhardt is an option you might want to check before making your decision. The unit combines durability, a stylish design, and a sonic output beginners will surely appreciate.
Made from ABS plastic, the product promises to last and provide the player with ease of use. The material featured and the bore design will keep the focus of the sound quality no matter the register or dynamic range you’re engaged in. It is committed to producing a clear, resonant tone and delivering professional acoustics.
The clarinet boasts a stylish wood-like finish, undercut tone holes, and blue steel springs. You also get a thumb rest with strap ring, a mouthpiece, a cap, and ligature. Plus, the unit and its accessories are paired with a durable case that will help you store all of them with ease.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($497)
Yearly Guide & Report
Buying your first clarinet, be it for your own use or for some friend or family member, might be daunting and time-consuming, especially if you have little knowledge and experience. The market’s offer might be overwhelming just like when you’re looking for a new mandolin for beginners, a decent beginner drum set, or a professionally designed banjo for beginners.
However, there are some features that will help all young and less-experienced musicians find the right product for their needs. From the materials the instrument features to how much it costs, we have it all covered below.
Even if you’re a beginner and your knowledge is limited, you should start your search by considering the music style you’d like to play. It’s true that many players discover their path by playing and that might take time and various clarinets. Things might be a bit complicated when you get the search results as you will see many different types of clarinets.
The clarinet family includes various instrument types that are distinguished by their size, tunings, and style. Now, each of them serves a certain genre. You will find the soprano clarinets which are further divided into other types, bass clarinets, and harmony clarinets.
The most popular types are the Bb clarinets since they are used for all kinds of music and are highly preferred by beginners. You can use it to play anything from jazz to classical music. It also makes a great option if you want to try the saxophone or flute later as it is a good crossover instrument. You will also find A clarinets that are suitable for classical music as well as the Eb clarinets that orchestras and concert bands use.
Once you’ve made up your mind regarding the clarinet type, you will need to think of the type of material used for its construction. This is influenced by the budget you have at your disposal but also by the convenience level and sound quality you’re interested in because different materials deliver different results and comfort levels.
You will find clarinets made of either wood or plastic. The plastic used for such instruments is specifically engineered for musical activities. Most cheap beginners’ clarinets are made from plastic because this material has the musical qualities to make them sound like a clarinet yet it is lightweight and durable.
What about wood clarinets?
More expensive clarinets are constructed from wood, more precisely, granadilla or mpingo wood. It is the clarinet material preferred by advanced players since it helps the musician enjoy a resonance and sound no other materials manage to achieve. The downside is that this type of wood requires proper care to last and certain humidity levels, which might not always be possible.
Thanks to the latest innovations in this field, though, you can also find the so-called Greenline clarinets that are made with 5% carbon fiber and epoxy resin and 95% granadilla wood fiber. Their major upside is that humidity and temperature changes won’t affect them and thus they don’t crack. They don’t require too much maintenance, either.
Another aspect you need to pay attention to when looking for a beginner clarinet is the keys plating. They are usually plated with silver or nickel. Some expensive or custom-made models even feature gold-plated keys.
The difference is in how long they last without tarnishing. Nickel-plated keys are durable, have a shiny appearance, and don’t tarnish too easily. Silver plate, although attractive and with a nice feel to the touch, will tarnish sooner thank nickel plate. You can prolong its brilliant appearance with the proper care, though.
Bore design and ligature
The bore refers to the inside dimensions of the clarinet. Based on the style and size of the bore, clarinets are divided into several other types. The smaller bore clarinets are usually preferred by and recommended for students as they will help them play in tune. Larger bore clarinets instead are often used by advanced musicians and jazz players because they are more flexible in pitch.
Another small yet important part of the clarinet you need to take into account is the ligature. This part has a great impact on playability and tone and controls the reed vibration. Look for a well-designed ligature if you want to let the reed vibrate with greater freedom while holding it in place. Moreover, a good ligature will protect the reed from wear and tear.
Barrel and reed
The reed you use counts a lot when it comes to the sound you get. Since not all of them are created equally, changing the reed you use can trigger a significant difference in the sound you get. What you need to consider when it comes to the reed is its strength and cut. Thus, reeds can be soft or hard.
While a hard reed will help you enjoy a thicker and fuller sound, a soft one is recommended for beginners as it is easier to play. Then, you need to think of the reed cut. You will find regular and French-file cuts. Advanced players opt for the latter because of its quicker response. This option might prove expensive for beginners, though.
Pay attention to the barrel type the clarinet you want to buy sports. This part of the instrument will affect intonation, tone, and responsiveness. No matter the type of barrel you want, remember that a clarinet should produce a centered and smooth tone.
Just like when you’re looking for some other instrument, be it a beginner electric guitar, a quality cello, or a new banjo, your budget will eventually decide what gets added to your cart. When it comes to clarinets for beginners, a good-quality one can be purchased for about $400. Intermediate clarinets may reach $700 whereas professional instruments are usually $1,000+.
Keep in mind that, even if it is your first instrument and you’ll use it to get accustomed to it, it still needs to have some decent features in order for you to enjoy a nice sound.
When purchasing a beginner clarinet, you’ll need to take into account its size since for younger players, in particular, a student clarinet needs to be comfortable to hold and play. Learning any instrument at a young age brings plenty of benefits, and a novice clarinet is a very good instrument for students of all ages to start on.
When looking at the size of the beginner clarinet, you ought to consider the physical length of the instrument since a starter clarinet that’s too big can make it difficult for younger players to hold it comfortably while also maintaining a good posture.
Of course, the size of the beginner clarinet is important for older students as well. Finding the right size for each player may take a bit of trial and error but investing in a clarinet for beginners that feels comfortable in the hands is well worth the effort. What makes finding the right size for younger players more of a challenge is the fact that their bodies are still growing.
Having a beginner clarinet that’s sized specifically for the body of the player is key to pursuing music as a hobby in the long term. If a student is not comfortable holding his or her starter clarinet, then the chances of losing interest quickly are increased.
If a standard Bb beginner clarinet is too big for a young student, you can switch your attention to an Eb or C clarinet for novices. These models are shorters than the standard Bb instruments and this makes them very popular with young musicians.
Compared to a Bb model, the C beginner clarinet is shorter, while the Eb is shorter still. The choice is always player-dependent. Furthermore, if possible, it is also recommended to listen to the advice of a music teacher. Most teachers recommend the C clarinet for young beginners.
Another essential part of any beginner clarinet is the mouthpiece and this vital component is available in a wide range of dimensions, sizes, and materials. Most student clarinets come already supplied with a functional mouthpiece with cap and ligature. These basic mouthpieces are more than enough for a beginner.
You might be tempted to go the extra mile and pay for a better one, but the truth is that until you’ve mastered the basics, there’s no point in getting another mouthpiece. A new mouthpiece is something that you need to consider only once you’ve been playing your beginner clarinet for a while.
The mouthpiece can refine the sound that your instrument makes, improve the tuning, and help with projection and volume.
The mouthpiece that comes with most beginner clarinets is usually made of plastic and cast from a mold. Conversely, the more expensive and better-performing mouthpieces are milled from ebonite, which is a hard rubber-based material.
Hard rubber or ebonite mouthpieces deliver a balanced sound, which is why they’re found on most beginner clarinets. Plastic mouthpieces are the cheapest, and they’re usually found on affordable student clarinets. Crystal mouthpieces are only used by jazz clarinetists and they deliver the brightest sound.
Lastly, wood mouthpieces are fairly uncommon, especially on a beginner clarinet. They are known for their soft and mild sound.
The body of a beginner clarinet is made of two constituent parts: the lower joint, and the upper joint. For most student clarinets, the body is made from ebonite, which is a hard vulcanized rubber that delivers excellent tonal characteristics.
Other clarinets for students may be made from ABS resin which shares many similarities with ebonite, in both tonal characteristics, durability, and price. For more expensive student clarinets, some brands use Grenadilla Wood which is known for having better tonal quality with the downside of requiring more maintenance.
The lower and upper joints are connected via a cork tenon and here’s where you can find the instrument’s keywork, drilled and mounted onto the body. New players need not only learn how to play the instrument but also how to properly care for it so that it can last and perform exceptionally for a longer period.
As such, one ought to take care when assembling and disassembling novice clarinets so that the keywork doesn’t get bent or pushed out of alignment. To make this process easier, it is best to assemble and disassemble the instrument with guidance from your teacher.
Furthermore, you should apply a small amount of cork grease regularly to your clarinet to make the process a bit easier, especially for newbies who need all the help they can get.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How difficult is it to learn to play the clarinet?
When compared to other woodwind instruments, the clarinet is a bit more difficult to learn since due to its straight bore and the fact that the instrument is based on twelfths, every octave has different fingerings. This can make it more time-consuming for beginners to get used to the instrument.
However, these are all extra challenges that can be overcome with a good teacher and we found that most tutors don’t consider the clarinet to be any harder or easier than most other orchestral instruments. The most difficult thing to master on a novice clarinet is to get the sound out.
Once you’ve figured out where your mouth needs to go on the mouthpiece and how hard or low you need to blow, you’ll find that getting the sound you want will only become easier. As is the case with all instruments, practice makes perfect and there’s no excuse not to try the clarinet.
Q: Can you teach yourself to play the clarinet?
Yes, you can teach yourself to play the clarinet but you need to keep in mind that it will be harder on your own. However, if you’re determined, it is certainly achievable, especially in this day and age. First, you need to get a method book and listen a lot to clarinetists so that you can try and emulate them.
You can also take online tutoring and classes or look at how-to videos. Even when studying on your own, it is still recommended to get at least monthly lessons with a teacher or a mentor to make the learning process more manageable.
When you’re teaching yourself, no matter how good the tutorials or books are, it is easy to start using wrong fingering techniques. When there’s no one to correct the student, these mistakes can really slow down the learning progress. A teacher may also provide tricks and personalized advice that you can’t pick up in a book or online course.
Q: Based on what criteria should you choose a beginner clarinet?
One of the key criteria when purchasing a clarinet for beginners is to make sure that the player can feel comfortable holding the instrument. Younger players may benefit from a smaller Eb or C clarinet while for most novices, the standard Bb starter clarinet should do the trick.
You also ought to take a look at the bore design of the instrument since student-friendly clarinets tend to have a smaller bore to make it easier for newbies to play them in tune. The material to look for is ABS resin since this is what most novice clarinets are made of. This material is designed to be strong and it has a similar resonance to wood.
You should also pay attention to the barrel of the instrument since this crucial part can influence the tone, responsiveness, and intonation of the clarinet. If you have friends or family members who play the clarinet, it may be a good idea to ask them for assistance as well.
Q: How do you clean your clarinet?
A clarinet is made up of five parts — mouthpiece, barrel, upper joint, lower joint, and bell. All of these parts are held firmly by tenon corks. It is recommended to apply cork grease to the joints to make the process easier. If you use a gentle twisting motion, it is easy to put all these pieces back together.
Now that you have the clarinet disassembled, you can start the cleaning process. You ought to clean the mouthpiece often since not only does it get full of germs quickly, but a dirty mouthpiece will have an inferior tone. To clean the mouthpiece, simply use regular dish detergent, water, and a small brush. Clean it at least once a week.
For the barrel, bell, and upper and lower joints, you shouldn’t use water. This is because water can damage the pads that cover the tone holes. Instead, you should use a dry cleaning swab to clean the interior of the instrument.
Q: What are the differences between clarinets?
When talking about clarinets, be them beginner clarinets or more advanced models, most people refer to the Bb clarinet since this type is the most widely used nowadays. However, even when looking at models from the same family, there are still plenty of factors that can be used to differentiate them such as size, style, and tunings.
Even when referring to Bb clarinets, no two instruments are equal and that is because the material that they are made of may differ, as could their size, and manufacturing process. The most expensive clarinets are made of wood while for starter clarinets, manufacturers tend to opt for plastic as the primary material.
Another aspect that can differentiate clarinets is the keywork. While for most affordable beginner clarinets, the keywork is plated with nickel or silver, more expensive or custom-made models can feature gold-plated keys. Other smaller components such as springs and pads can separate cheaper models from the more expensive ones.