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 pro 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 appeals 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 than a more advanced model which tends 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
- Modeled after professional Yamaha models
- 65mm barrel for a focused tone
- Adjustable thumb rest with strap ring
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 H