Bass Vs. Alto Clarinet – Which Is Better?

In your search for a clarinet, you will come across different variations. You should compare the different types. Check out this comparison of Bass Vs. Alto Clarinet before picking one.

I was looking for a beginner-friendly clarinet. After doing comprehensive research, I settled for a bass clarinet. Since I bought it, I have enjoyed how easy it is to create sound.

Finding a good clarinet does not have to be a pain in the neck. We wrote this article to help you comprehend how a bass clarinet differs from an alto for you to make a smart decision before purchasing.

What are the differences between Bass Vs. Alto Clarinet?

Name Bass clarinet Alto Clarinet
Type Bb instrument Eb Instrument
Materials Stainless steel ABS plastic
Weight 20 pounds 10.25 pounds
Keys Nickel Plated Nickel plated
Case Available Not available
Availability Check price here Check price here

Bass Vs. Alto Clarinet – How do they compare?


The body of a bass clarinet resembles that of an alto clarinet since they are both straight. Both types also have curved metal necks. They, however, differ in terms of their sizes. Alto clarinet is smaller and lighter than a bass clarinet. This makes it more travel-friendly than a bass clarinet.

When it comes to the material, the bass clarinet is made from stainless steel. On the other hand, an alto clarinet is made from ABS plastic material.

Though an alto clarinet is lighter, a bass clarinet wins in this category since its body enables it to produce a unique sound.


These two types of clarinets do not have significant differences in the keys since they both use the Boehm system of fingering and keys. They also feature nickel-plated keys.

Despite this, the bass clarinet stands out since its unique key design makes it agile, fast, and comfortable for small hands.


Both alto and bass clarinets use a single reed on the mouthpiece. The size of a bass clarinet reed is almost equal to that of a tenor sax reed. This clarinet uses a high-quality reed. On the other hand, an alto clarinet uses a blue box vandoren. This is a basic reed that may not give you the best performance.

In this category, the bass clarinet wins since it uses a quality reed that leads to better sound.

Bass Vs. Alto Clarinet – A comparison Overview

Bass clarinet overview

Are you still learning how to play the clarinet and would like to experiment with various music styles? If yes, you should consider a bass clarinet. This can help you play jazz or contemporary music in a band.

This is one of the musical instruments that form part of the clarinet family. Since a written C sounds as Bb in this transposing instrument, a bass clarinet is an example of a Bb instrument. This is one of the most popular types of clarinets that many musicians choose since they are impressed with its sound.

Though you may take some time to develop a great tone on this clarinet, it delivers amazing tuning. It has a straight body and a curved metal neck, just like an alto clarinet. The manufacturers of this bass clarinet use stainless steel in its making. It contains a cylindrical bore and uses the Beohm system of keys. You will also come across an extension key on a bass clarinet that lets you play to the written Eb.


  • It is solidly made
  • Includes a case
  • This clarinet produces excellent sound
  • It is also more comfortable to play
  • Great intonation


  • It is expensive
  • This clarinet lacks a neck strap


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Alto clarinet overview

If you need a clarinet that you can use in a band, you can consider an alto clarinet. This is an example of an EB instrument that is also used in small chamber ensembles. This type of clarinet is in the key of EB. Every time you play an Eb on this clarinet, it will sound like a concert C.

Though this clarinet has the same appearance as the basset horn, they are not the same. An alto clarinet features a curved bell located between its body and mouthpiece and a bent. It differs from a basset horn in that it is pitched lower. An alto clarinet also resembles a bass clarinet since it comes with a straight body. It is, however, smaller and lighter. The size makes it more comfortable to use, even for a long duration.

The alto clarinet is made from ABS plastic material. It also comes with a bent metal neck. In terms of the pitch, this clarinet plays between a bass clarinet and a Bb clarinet. This clarinet has a broad range of Gb2 to Bb5.

When it comes to the keys, an alto clarinet uses the Boehm system and features nickel-plated keys. This comes with an additional key that allows you to play a low Eb. To play the uppermost register of this clarinet, you have to control the half-hole key and uncover the vent. You have to be careful with an alto clarinet since it is often fragile.


  • It is small and lightweight
  • The clarinet responds evenly through the range
  • Has a focused and clear tone
  • You will not struggle to reach the keys
  • The mouthpiece is included


  • It is hard to play in tune
  • The clarinet is fragile


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Verdict: So, which one is better- Bass or Alto Clarinet?

The bass clarinet is better than an Alto clarinet since it produces high-quality sound and has fewer tuning problems. Apart from that, a bass clarinet is more versatile since it can be used in both concert bands and orchestras.


Are bass clarinets harder to play?

Compared to an alto clarinet, the bass clarinet is easier to play. However, it is harder to play than a bb clarinet since its big mouthpiece forces you to use more air to produce sound.

How much is an Alto Clarinet?

The cost of the Alto clarinet is about $2289.00.

Charlotte Moore is a Clarinetist by profession and has over time offered lessons on how to play the clarinet among other musical instruments. And while a majority of clarinet players are well versed with the process of settling with a good clarinet among other accompanying features. There is little information about clarinets. The reason why Charlotte prepared comprehensive experts touching on the various facets of the clarinet. The consolidated information will offer more insight on everything clarinets including the best stand to use, and the best plastic clarinet that you can invest in, among other information. Charlotte Moore is a devoted mother of two and a professional clarinet player.

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