Choosing a beginner clarinet can be confusing. There are so many options out there, and it’s hard to know where to start. From, what material, what bore size, size of the barrel to the many different brands, models in different keys and different shapes, it’s hard to know what features are important and if it’ll be any good.
To help guide you through all the jargon, we’ve put together a complete guide to choosing a beginner clarinet to make sense of everything for you and help you make the best choice. We’ve also included some reviews of our favorite beginner clarinets to give you some inspiration when picking one to buy. So without further a do, let’s take a look at what we think are the best clarinets for beginners in 2021.
Quick Answer: The Top Clarinets For Beginners
How To Choose A Beginner Clarinet: A First Time Buyer’s Guide
As a new clarinetist, it’s difficult to know exactly what to look for when picking out your instrument. Different features are more and less desirable. Plus, budget is a big thing to take into consideration especially if you aren’t entirely committed to the clarinet yet.
There are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing your first clarinet. There is no one-size-fits-all option so the right choice for you may differ from the best choice for your stand partner. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some features that are more ideal than others. Knowing the features to look for on a beginner clarinet will help you to pick the best instrument for you.
Types Of Clarinets
There are more than 10 different types of clarinets with the most common clarinet being the Bb clarinet. This is the clarinet mostly likely being referred to if not specified otherwise.
If you aren’t sure which clarinet to get, the Bb clarinet is the only safe option. The two other common varieties are the Eb clarinet and bass clarinet.
The Bass clarinet is a Bb clarinet as well but it’s a lot larger than the Bb clarinet and plays an octave lower. The Eb clarinet is significantly smaller and plays at a higher pitch.
Beginner-level bands will often only feature the Bb clarinet and the bass clarinet will typically be added a few years later. Eb clarinet usually won’t be seen in ensembles until high school or later.
Parts Of The Clarinet
There are a lot of different parts of the clarinet. The main pieces are a mouthpiece, ligature, mouthpiece cap, standard-sized barrel, upper joint, lower joint, and bell.
All of these pieces should be securely stored within a clarinet case. In addition to these pieces, you’ll need to purchase reeds. Stock mouthpieces are often of subpar quality as well so your instructor may ask that you purchase a better one.
Not all clarinets are created equal. The keys and body of the clarinet can each be made from a few different materials. Some materials are better than others but they’ll also come at a price. The material make-up of the instrument is one of the most important factors to consider. It’s not just something that can be upgraded at
Beginner clarinets can be made of a few different materials. The most common materials that you’ll come across are ABS plastic, ebonite, and grenadilla wood. Clarinets made from ABS plastic tend to be the most affordable instruments, but the sound quality produced by these is significantly lower. Some instructors won’t want an ABS plastic clarinet in an ensemble due to its inferior quality.
Grenadilla wood clarinets will typically be on the higher end of both price and sound quality. There aren’t as many beginner instruments made from grenadilla wood, but it’s the primary material used for intermediate and professional clarinets. A grenadilla wood beginner clarinet may be appropriate for use as an intermediate clarinet as well so the higher price may be justifiable.
Ebonite clarinets are the middle of the road option in every way. If you don’t want to make a large investment, but still want a good beginner clarinet, an ebonite instrument is a great choice. However, there are clarinets of varying quality made from each of these so don’t make your choice solely because of the body composition.
Clarinet keys are almost always either silver-plated or nickel-plated. Nickel-plated keys tarnish less easily and tend to be a little more durable. Silver-plated keys tend to shine a little brighter and be preferred by professional clarinetists. There are minimal differences between silver-plated and nickel-plated keys. Most beginner clarinets will have nickel-plated keys.
There’s a wide range of price points for a beginner clarinet. Often you get what you pay for so that’s important to keep in mind. There are beginner clarinets that can cost under $100 where as a top of the line one can cost closer to $3,000.
To give you a rough indication of what you should be aiming to spend, a decent beginner clarinet will likely cost $300-$600. We wouldn’t recommend spending much more than that on your first clarinet and would also encourage you not to go for something under $200 as the quality does go down quite a bit.
Test Some Clarinets
It’s easy to compare features online but it’s hard to say exactly how any specific clarinet will play for you. One of the best ways to pick your clarinet is by going to your local music store and doing a play test. Bring along your mouthpiece and a couple of reeds so you’re ready to try out as many instruments as it takes to find the perfect beginner clarinet.
Really take your time to find which instrument feels comfortable and sounds great. Even if you plan on purchasing your beginner clarinet online, this is still something that can help tremendously although a little more difficult in the wake of Covid-19.
Ask For Recommendations
Your band director or clarinet instructor should be able to help point you in the right direction. They have seen plenty of instruments throughout their years in the business.
They’ll be able to tell you specific clarinets that have been great for other students. You’ll also be able to gain knowledge on other clarinets that may not be as desirable as they seem in theory. They’ll be able to tell you what they like and dislike about the clarinet that they chose as well as some of the other options that they considered.
Student vs. Intermediate vs. Professional Clarinets
Typically student instruments aren’t designed to last as long, but the price point is much more affordable. Student clarinets are great for beginners as they’re usually designed with ease of playing kept in mind.These are great for getting started, but depending on the model that you choose, there’s a good chance that a student instrument will need to be upgraded before graduation.
Not all brands offer intermediate clarinets with some brands even claiming that their student model is made to last through the student and intermediate years. (This usually isn’t true. If it’s labeled as a student instrument, it likely is one).
Intermediate clarinets are popular because they are of pretty high quality without the price tag of a professional instrument. However, there’s probably the widest range of quality in intermediate clarinets. They have similar features to a professional clarinet and are made to last quite a bit of time. Intermediate clarinets are appropriate for higher-level students through college. These will last until you’re ready to step onto a professional stage.
Professional clarinets can be the most finicky, but, they can also provide the best rewards in terms of sound quality. A beginner would have a much harder time trying to learn to play on a professional instrument. These are almost always made from grenadilla wood and the silver-plated keys are more common as well. Professional clarinets are made for the big stage both in terms of their sound quality and appearance and carry a very large price tag to top it all off.
Making Your Decision
Choosing a beginner clarinet can be a rather daunting process. It’s going to take some time and research to get it right. As you look at different clarinets, try to decide which features are most important to you.
Especially when working with a budget, it’s nearly impossible to pick an instrument that has everything that you could want. Put your all into the decision process and you’re sure to end up with the perfect beginner clarinet.
Below, we’ve included our reviews of some of the more popular models of beginner clarinets to help you narrow down which ones to go for.
The Best Beginner Clarinet Reviews
Below, we’ve evaluated each clarinet and explained its features, benefits, and other essential components. Let’s get started.
#1. Jean Paul USA CL-300 Beginner Clarinet
- Key of BB with a Boehm 17 key system
- Beautiful ebonite Body material
- Nickel-plated keys for a clear and focused tone
Our number one choice for beginner clarinet has to be the Jean Paul USA CK-300 Bb clarinet. It’s an ideal choice for a first clarinet as it combines beautiful design and sound, all while being very affordable. The first thing that appeal to us was the slick looking Ebonite body that looks like a lot more expensive clarinet. Ebonite is a heavier and more durable material making it a good option for kids as it can take a bit more of a beating that a professional model which tend to be a lot more fragile.
Featuring the Boehm 17 key structure, the Jean Paul clarinet offers excellent response and smooth playing which is key for beginners learning the ropes. Its nickel-plated keys guarantee you achieve the precise tone to hone your skills and get a good sound.
The cylindrical bore produces a wide range of strong tone projection, making this a perfect clarinet for beginners. We also love that it comes with everything else you need to get started, like a strong and durable case, 2.5 reed along with a cleaning cloth and grease for the cork. Not only that but Jean Paul offers a one-year warranty to put your mind at ease. All in all, one of the best priced beginner clarinets on the market and one we don’t hesitate to recommend.
#2. Yamaha YCL-255 Standard Bb Clarinet
Up next we have the Yamaha YCL-255 which is is the recently updated Bb Clarinet, complete with an ABS resin matte body, an adjustable thumb-rest, nickel-plated silver keys and it also includes a CL-4C mouthpiece.
With state-of-the-art production expertise and top-notch quality features, the Yamaha YCL-255 imitates the more professional-level instruments of the world renowned company. And yet, this clarinet is excellent for beginners.
Similar to a wood clarinet, this entry-level wind instrument projects a warm, resonant tone. It features a matte ABS resin body and an adjustable thumb-rest featuring a neck strap ring — making it an excellent option for those with small hands to help take the weight off as you get used to playing.
The resonance chamber also improves intonation in lower notes and aids in projection. This clarinet offers a focused tone 65mm barrel based on high-end Yamaha clarinet design to produce a focused tone. Beginners will also appreciate the Valentino pads, which are durable, easy to repair, and less sensitive to temperature changes than a lot of other types.
If you know you’re going to be taking the clarinet more seriously and want something that you’ll grow into, then check out this great beginner clarinet. It will set you back a bit more than all the other options on our list, but you definitely get your money’s worth and won’t need to upgrade as quickly as the other clarinets.
#3. Hisonic Signature Series 2610 Bb Orchestra Clarinet with Case
- Prestini pads that are Made in the USA
- Nickel-silver keys, Bright Tone, Clarinet is made of Ebonite
- Includes: Cork grease and clarinet swab
Now we have the Hisonic Signature Series 2610 clarinet which is a beautifully designed instrument with a high-quality tone for a very affordable price. Not only is it easy to play, but this is a solid instrument for entry-level clarinet players looking to get started on a budget.
It produces a clear centered tone suitable for most types of performances, and the nickel-silver keys and ebonite body lend durability and function. Hisonic gave this clarinet a bright tone, and it’s a suitable workhorse for marching band, orchestra, or jazz band (or anywhere a beginner clarinet player wants to practice).
Once you develop your skills, a more advanced and fine-tuned instrument may be in order, of course. But most student band players will appreciate the clarinet’s looks, weight, and performance. In the meantime, this great beginner clarinet comes with everything you need to get started with an included case, Yamaha 4C mouthpiece, cleaning swab and cork grease but you will need to get some reeds.
#4. Herche Superior Bb Clarinet
- NEW UPGRADED MOUTHPIECE & DOUBLE BARREL - The Herche Superior Clarinet produces an unparalleled professional fluid tone in its class with its new...
- 1-YEAR REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE PLAN FOR FREE! - Why would you pay more for a repair, maintenance plan, and extended warranty? With Herche Superior...
- HIGH QUALITY ABS RESIN BODY DESIGNED TO LAST A LIFETIME- our clarinet produces a superior sound like you would expect from a high-priced professional...
Next we included the Herche Superior Bb Clarinet which produces a consistently professional tone that even experienced players can appreciate. The instrument has a warm sound that perfectly coincides with the fluid key work and precise placement, giving you a relaxed feel while playing.
All Herche’s clarinet has been tested and adjusted by master technicians in the USA — so you know you’re getting the real deal. Whether it’s a band, orchestra, or wind ensemble, this clarinet is excellent for all beginner players and even intermediate-level musicians, too. Students in band, especially those with a few years of experience, may be best suited to this model.
The Superior Bb Clarinet provides professional construction, blue steel springs, quality nickel/silver keys, and durable double bladder pads, resulting in the most satisfying user experience.
Like most of the other clarinets in our list, the Herche Superior comes with a plush-lined carrying case to protect your clarinet, though the one-year repair plan offers extra peace of mind as well as reeds, cleaning swab, mouthpiece and cork grease. All that at a very inexpensive price for a quality entry level clarinet.
#5. EASTROCK Clarinet Bb Flat 17 Nickel Keys Beginner Student Clarinet
- -* Clarinet offers sturdy construction with classic looks and sound.Key of Bb.17-key, 6-ring nickel-plated keys.
- -* Eastrock Clarinet surface made of matte finish which are good elasticity , air tightness and long life .
- -* Memory needle spring made of high-carbon steel, quick reaction, good elasticity, not easy to deform.
Whether you’re buying for your kid or taking up the clarinet as an adult, the EastRock’s Bb Flat 17 Clarinet is a reasonable choice for beginners and intermediate players that could make a good option. The sturdy construction, paired with classic looks and sound, offers great longevity. The matte finish and high-carbon steel memory needle spring mean this clarinet can withstand the rigor that a new player will put it through.
With an elegant ebonite body and nickel keys, this clarinet boasts beautiful design and sound. Technicians inspect every clarinet to ensure that their high-quality standards are met, making EastRock instruments an excellent option for any musician.
EastRock’s clarinet features advanced hole-opening technology, which reduces errors and accurately determines the stability of the clarinet’s pitch. Combining flexible buttons and quick response, the clarinet offers an overall high-quality tone without error.
As far as beginner clarinets go it’s pretty good and comparable to a lot more expensive models, although we’d probably recommend replacing the mouthpiece eventually. But, it’s definitely good enough to get started with. With all that in mind, we love that it’s another complete kit clarinet and comes with a quality case, gloves, screwdriver, cleaning cloth, shoulder strap, cork joint lubricant, leather wooden case, and even a clarinet stand making it super convenient and a good option.
#6. Mendini MCT-E+SD+PB Black B Flat Clarinet
- ELEGANT DESIGN:The student clarinet is comprised of a high-grade black plastic cast topped with durable nickel-plated keys. This is a sleek and smooth...
- GREAT QUALITY: The musical instruments for kids are not only beautiful to look at, but made with quality materials. Paired with a committed player or...
- FULL STARTER KIT: The music instruments for kids set also comes with a hard-shell case for the clarinet instrument, mouthpiece, box of 10 clarinet...
In at number 6 we have the Mendini MCT-E+SD+PB Black B Flat Clarinet This student clarinet features a high-quality black plastic cast topped with durable nickel-plated keys. It features a smooth, sleek look with inline trill keys that have an adjustable thumb rest.
The Mendini MCT B Flat clarinet kit is an ideal musical instrument for beginner students hoping to pursue their musical interests. The set includes all the standard necessities (and some bonus items) to start learning how to play.
In addition to all the provided accessories, this clarinet features a bonus pocketbook. A beginner player can use this handy pocketbook as a study reference manual or daily practice guide.
The brass instrument also comes in various colors: black, blue, green, purple, red, pink, rosewood, sky blue, and white. For younger musicians, the color options could prove to be a highlight.
Though the color schemes are a fun touch, don’t let the decoration fool you. All Mendini’s clarinets are carefully and precisely tested at their factory, then inspected by skilled technicians before shipping. But, I wouldn’t recommend going for some of the other colors, get a black one.
#7. Eastar B Flat Clarinet Black Ebonite Clarinet Student Beginner
- Moving Voice -- Eastar ECL-300 student clarinets have a steady and pleasant voice and a reliable tune. Designed for beginners or intermediate...
- Beautiful Appearance -- Elegant Bakelite body with nickel-plated keys, beautiful ring-wrapped bell mouth, good-looking and durable.
- Practical Design-- Featuring the Boehm 17 key system: good key response and smooth playability. The cylindrical bore：also produces strong projection...
Eastar is an excellent musical instrument design and manufacturing brand, so their B Flat Ebonite Clarinet is guaranteed to appeal to beginner musicians.
The Eastar clarinet boasts both beautiful sound and design while remaining affordable, making it one of the best choices for young students to start out their clarinet journey.
The sound is bright and powerful but not dry. Its key and link structure is durable, so you don’t have to worry about frequent repairs. A high-level ABS Bakelite body plus nickel-plated keys enhances stability and offers stable vibration.
The Eastar B Flat clarinet offers student musicians a reliable, easy-to-use option that doesn’t feel like it’s catering to young children. It provides excellent facilities and features and accurate response, and smooth playability for band students of all levels. The Boehm 17 key system is a selling point, and the accessory kit offers everything from a stand to practice reeds to white gloves, so it’s ready to play out of the box.
#8. Glory Black/Gold keys Clarinet B Flat
- High-grade black ebonite/ABS body with durable nickel plated or laquer keys
- Key of Bb (B Flat) clarinet with inline trill keys with adjustable thumb rest
- CLARINET Inlcudes: hard-shell case, Second Barrel,Mouthpiece,Cap and Reeds
This standard clarinet from brand Glory, is another one to consider for beginner students. The ABS body features robust nickel-plated or lacquer keys (depending on which one you select) and is made with high-grade ebonite. In terms of durability, the Glory clarinet ranks highly on the list.
Plus, each note offers accuracy and precision. The incline trill keys also include adjustable thumb rests, which accommodates varying hand sizes, so players can adequately develop technique.
Also, this clarinet looks as beautiful as it sounds. The beautiful black matte composition perfectly complements the gold accents. Many reviewers were surprised by the durable and sturdy design, especially considering the clarinet’s good looks and affordable price. You’ll also receive an accessory kit with reeds, a plush case, cleaning cloths, and more.
#9. Glory B Flat Black Ebonite Clarinet
- High-grade black ebonite/ABS body with durable nickel plated or laquer keys
- Key of Bb (B Flat) clarinet with inline trill keys with adjustable thumb rest
- CLARINET Inlcudes: hard-shell case, Second Barrel,Mouthpiece,Cap and Reeds
Similar to the previous listing, this Glory Clarinet is a perfectly suitable choice for student musicians. It also has an ABS and premium-grade ebonite body, plus heavy-duty nickel-plated (or lacquer, depending on your preference) keys.
This clarinet sounds beautiful and comes with every necessary accessory. It features a flawless finish, accurate sound, and easy to play by students of all levels. Part of its appeal over the other Glory Bb clarinet is its looks; musicians looking for a uniquely colored instrument will likely appreciate the Glory Bb.
Before shipping, the manufacturer ensures the instrument is finely tuned and does not require extra tuning upon receiving.
Despite the affordability of this clarinet, customers were surprisingly pleased with the instrument’s feel and construction, with many saying it played just as well as more expensive competitors.
#10. ROFFEE 26N B Flat Clarinet
- High quality bakelite,ABS nickel plated keys.
- Bb tone clarinet has German style 17 keys system.
- High quality portable backpack,fast and easy to carry.
And last, but not least, we have this very affordable beginner clarinet from Roffee Musical Instrument Manufacture Company. Roffee’s clarinet features a high-grade ABS Bakelite body with nickel-plated keys offering bright sound and stable vibration. It also features double barrels for more flexible performance. The key system is the German-style 17-key design, and high-grade bakelite nickel plating helps them perform and look great, too.
The keys are wear and oxidation resistant, which is ideal for new players. The accessory kit is handy, too, featuring multiple reeds, mouthpiece cushions, and cleaning equipment. The one-year warranty is a useful addition for anyone who’s hard on their instrument, too.
The clarinet also includes a portable backpack, so you can easily transport your clarinet with you wherever you go. It also comes in nine different colors: black, blue, green, purple, red, pink, rosewood, sky blue, and white.
Conclusion: Which one Should you Buy?
Anyway, I hope that helps make a bit more sense of some of the features you need to be looking out for when looking to buy a beginner clarinet. It’s a tedious but crucial process and can feel a bit overwhelming when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
I also, hope our shortlist of clarinets helps to give you some ideas for options. If you’re still struggling to know which one to go for I’d suggest either the Jean Paul USA CL-300 or the Yamaha YCL-255 Standard Bb Clarinet.
The Yamaha YCL 255 is well known for being a professional, high-quality brand. The company prides itself on producing instruments for all levels. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced, Yamaha guarantees reliable, well made, and long-lasting instruments.
But, it is a considerably larger investment so we’d also recommend Jean Paul USA CL-300 which is similar in quality but at a lower price point.