A clarinet free of moisture and dirt increases the quality of sound produced. Are you looking for a clarinet swab, and you are stuck in a loop of back and forth, which is the best clarinet swab?
A clarinet swab is a cloth used to absorb moisture from the inside of an instrument. A swab can also be referred to as a cleaning swab or a pull-through swab. A swab comes with a string used when dropping the swab in the clarinet. The swab should be lightweight and made from absorbent materials for effective and easier use. Looking for the best swab can be a difficult journey as many companies aim to make a profit rather than come up with high-quality products. I started playing the clarinet five years ago. Therefore, I have some exclusive knowledge on which swab has worked best for me and which one is less effective and reliable. I created this article to help you decide on which swab will serve you best.
Best Clarinet Swab Comparison Table
|Clarinet Swab||Fabric||Best for; instrument key||Price|
|Yamaha YAC 2051P Microfiber Clarinet Swab||Microfiber||Bb||Check Price Here|
|Vandoren SW200 Microfiber Swab||Microfiber||Bb||Check Price Here|
|Hodge Silk Clarinet Swab||Silk||Bb||Check Price Here|
|Herco HE5OP Clarinet Swab||Synthetic chamois||Alto||Check Price Here|
|Protec 3-in-1 Clarinet Swab||Microfiber||Bb||Check Price Here|
|Herco HE52 Clarinet Swab||Synthetic swab chamois||Alto||Check Price Here|
Best Clarinet Swab Product Review
Yamaha YAC 2051P Microfiber clarinet swab – best for Bb clarinet
Yamaha is known for creating high-quality products. The Yamaha YAC 2051P microfiber clarinet swab is not an exception. The swab suits the Bb clarinet best.
- The swab is made from an ultra-absorbent and synthetic microfiber material
- Ends are weighted and encased in fabric
- The cloth has a stitch running across it that is reinforced with a strong woven nylon feeder cord.
The Yamaha YAC 2051P is highly absorbent because of the material it is made of and yet lightweight. The swab has a long core that surpasses the length of the instrument; hence there is no need to disassemble before and after swabbing. This makes this sab very convenient.
The most attractive feature of the clarinet swab is that you do not have to struggle pulling it through the clarinet like most swabs that are thick; the Yamaha YAC 2051P swab slides through the clarinet with ease. The clarinet is also stitched to the corner hence preventing scratching of the instrument.
- The cloth is lint-free and strong.
- The fabric traps grime and moisture effectively compared to traditional swabs.
- Cleaning the clarinet using this swab is damage free as the weighted ends of the swab are encased in a piece of fabric.
- Slides through the instrument with ease.
- It is pricy
- It might get stuck in the instrument if inserted wrongly, and the instrument is held wrongly.
I would recommend this product to any clarinet player. Though pricy, you are assured of value for your money as the cloth has high-end qualities needed for a swab. This swab is lightweight yet highly absorbent, is of high quality and is durable, and if inserted correctly, does get stuck in the instrument.
Vandoren SW200 Microfiber Swab– best for Bb clarinet
Vandoren is known for its uniquely designed and high-quality products. The Vandoren SW200 swab is designed from microfibers and meets the company’s standards.
- The swab can be cleaned easily with soap and water
- Grease absorption available
- The swab is strong and yet easy to pull through
- Durable and reliable
With careful insertion and removal, the Vandoren SW200 swab should work perfectly fine and pose no difficulties. The swab is absorbent and holds as a lot of moisture as possible. The clarinet has a weighted cord to allow it to work perfectly by dropping against the register pipes without clanking the thumb. To clear any doubt, the weight is covered to prevent it from scratching and damaging the inside of the instrument.
What I loved the most about this product is the highly absorbent nature it possesses. However, after using this swab, ensure you dry it before placing it into the case. This is because it holds onto moisture for a bit longer, unlike other swabs available on the market. Consequently, the Vandoren SW200 swab is a bit pricy compared to its substitutes.
- Highly absorbent
- Weighted enough to pass through the instrument without scratching it.
- The swab is expensive
- Holds on to moisture a bit longer
If your main factor of consideration is quality and performance but not price, the Vandoren SW200 is your go-to swab. This is because it assures you of excellent performance due to its high quality. However, if the price is a major factor to go by, then there are equally good performing swabs in the market going for an affordable price than the Vandoren SW200 swab.
Hodge Silk Clarinet Swab – best for Bb traditional reeds of strength 2.5
Silk swabs are among the best in the market due to the high absorbent nature of the fabric.
- The swab is made from 100% pure silk fabric
- No lint
- Highly compressible
- Highly absorbent
The Hodge silk clarinet swab quality is assured as it does the work the manufacturer claims it does. The swab absorbs as much moisture as possible and dries pretty fast to be stored. The weight and the size of the swab are perfectly calculated to easily fit in your instrument without damaging it or posing any difficulties.
I tried out this swab at some point in my clarinet playing journey, and all I can say is that it met my expectations. The clarinet is durable and affordable if you are on a budget. It is also easy to use and lightweight enough not to damage the instrument. Another attractive feature about this clarinet is that it dries so fast, and yet it is highly absorbent.
However, when purchasing this clarinet swab, I realized its weight was not covered. I used electric tape to cover it, and that was no longer an issue again. It is important to note that this swab comes with weights covered; mine could have just been a mistake.
- Easy to use
- Dries fast
- The string is of excellent length
- Weights not covered thus could damage the instrument
If you want a budget-friendly instrument that does its job well, I recommend purchasing the Hodge silk clarinet swab. The swab performs outstandingly well for its price hence a worthy purchase. Its highly absorbent nature and the ease of using this swab are core reasons why you should try it out this swab.
Herco HE5OP Clarinet Swab – best for a small size alto clarinet
- The swab is made of synthetic chamois cloth
The product is inexpensive in relation to the quality of the product. This is because the material and quality of the swab are average. A great feature about this swab is that it is easy to use and comes with a plastic case that fits into the clarinet case perfectly.
However, the Herco HE5OP clarinet swab is probably designed for small clarinets as its size does not allow it to work perfectly in a standard-size clarinet. Its small size limits this swab from perfectly cleaning the inside of your standard size instrument mainly because of its size as it would not come in contact with the instrument’s surface.
When purchasing a swab, the size of the swab in comparison to your clarinet size should be a factor to consider as a clarinet needs to fill the tubing of the instrument and get good conduct with the instrument’s surface when inserted, to clean and absorb maximum moisture. Another major shortcoming of this swab is that its weight is brass and thus should be used carefully as it can scratch the surface of your instrument.
- Very affordable
- Easy to use
- Comes with a plastic case that fits in the clarinet case perfectly
- The swab’s size is not suitable for standard size clarinet
- Small in size
If you are looking for quality and durability, then I’d advise you not to purchase this product. This is because despite it being cheap, the quality and performance are average. Furthermore, if you have a larger or standard size clarinet, this swab is not for you as its size is small and thus will not clean your instrument perfectly. However, this swab can sufficiently clean your clarinet for those with small-sized clarinets, as it will be in contact with the instrument’s surfaces when inserted.
Protect 3-in-1 Clarinet Swab – best for Vandoren CR103 Bb Clarinet Traditional Reeds Strength 3
- This swab is machine washable
- Dust and lint-free
- Made from highly absorbent microfiber
Weighted front-end with non-abrasive cords to pass through the instrument and clean without damaging it
The Protec swab is bulkier and fits in the instrument perfectly to enable it to clean the instrument efficiently. Furthermore, this swab has cords on both ends hence making it easy to pull it back and forth in the clarinet to absorb all the moisture in just one pass.
What I love most about this swab is its exceptional quality and ability to trap all moisture in just a few swabs. It is easy to use and easy to wash as well. The swab does not get destroyed when washed via the machine as it is manufactured to withstand machine wash.
The limitation of this product is just the hook that comes with it. It can pose difficulties when inserting the swab in the clarinet as the register key often catches it. However, some people cut it as it does not have a significant function. The product is also a bit pricy compared to other products in the market.
- Removes harmful moisture from the inside of the instrument hence preventing corrosion and damage
- The storage pause of this swab has a breathable mesh and a secure string closure
- It is bulkier and has cords on both ends hence making it easy to absorb moisture faster.
- The hook can make the process of inserting the swab in the clarinet difficult as the register key catches it.
- This swab is pricy compared to its substitutes
Still wondering if you should purchase this product. You have my go-ahead. This swab works perfectly well and can capture all the moisture in a standard clarinet by just swabbing it through the instrument once. This saves time and is convenient. And though a little bit pricy compared to its substitutes, the features this swab comes with are worthy, all the coins spent. Furthermore, the swab is highly durable and can last you for years.
Herco HE52 Clarinet Swab – best for standard size alto clarinets
- Standard size
- Metal weight with 40” nylon cord
- Removes grime and grease from the clarinet
The Herco HE52 clarinet swab’s performance and quality are average. However, this product is easy to use and drops easily down the clarinet. It works just fine in relation to its price.
Its limitation is that the swab is a bit smaller in size and can only work perfectly for a standard-size and small-size clarinet. Furthermore, the stitching of the instrument appears to not be firm, and the notch that weighs the swab down is not firmly attached to the swab and looks like it can come off at any given moment.
Consequently, this swab can be inconvenient as you would have to pull it through the clarinet severally to capture all the moisture. This is because this swab is a bit smaller in size and will not come into contact with the entire surface of the instrument after one swab.
- Works great for small and standard size clarinets
- Very affordable
- Drops easily down the clarinet
- Average performance and quality
- Stitching and attachment of the swab features are not firm
- Pulled through the clarinet several times before getting the clarinet dry due to its small size.
Unless your budget is very tight, I would not recommend this product. However, for its price, this swab just works fine. It can clean a small clarinet really well and those can be an option if your clarinet size is small or of standard size. There are, however, better substitutes for this product that offer you value for your money.
Buying a clarinet swab – what to look out for
There are several features to look for when purchasing a clarinet swab. Below are the most important features that you should not ignore when making your purchase
Your clarinet swab needs to be made from an absorbent but lightweight cloth. The best cloth fabrics to look out for while making your purchase are; microfiber, cotton, synthetic chamois, and silk. And though pull-through swabs can be made with felt, they can fall apart and be too bulky at times. The cloth should not be heavy but big enough to soak up the moisture sufficiently. Comparing the fabric materials mentioned above, the silk cleaning swab is extremely lightweight, highly absorbent and very compressible.
Though a lightweight swab is preferable to ensure it does not stick in the instrument, the swab should have some weight that allows it to easily drop through the instrument. Furthermore, while buying a clarinet swab, you should ensure that your swab does not have hard edges to avoid scratching the bore of the clarinet.
A clarinet swab comes with a string called a ribbon or a cord attached to it. The string should be lightweight and durable. It should also be of the right length to allow the swab to go all the way to the bell of your clarinet via the bore of your clarinet from the barrel. The length of the string also depends on the clarinet type. For example, a bass clarinet requires a longer string than the others.
Before purchasing a clarinet swab, you have to check the swab to affirm its quality. Some important aspects to scrutinize include; is the string firmly attached to the swab? Does it seem durable and of the right material? Has everything been stitched together well and firmly?
Swabs are important for the cleanliness of your clarinet. With that said, it is important to choose a swab that works perfectly and absorbs all the moisture and dirt from your clarinet. Weight, the fabric of the swab, the length of the string and the overall quality of the swab are important features to look out for when purchasing a swab.
How often should I swab my clarinet?
It is advisable to swab out your clarinet after every playing session as this helps with removing excess moisture before you store it in its case.
How often is it advisable to wash my clarinet swab?
Weekly as the mouthpiece should be full clean. It is important to maintain a high level of cleanliness when it comes to a clarinet for quality sound to be produced.