The right clarinet for you will largely depend on what level you are playing in. Many players will start with the plastic clarinets, which are easier to play and hold. As players grow in their skill level, they can upgrade to intermediate and professional clarinets. The latter are mainly made from wood, which gives them a distinctive sound. However, they do come with the downside of requiring constant maintenance. This is because wood warps easily if not well moisturized.
Finding the right wooden clarinet is not that straightforward. You will need to seek reviews from experts who are familiar with the instruments. However, we have done the research for you to present this guide for best wooden clarinet
Best wooden clarinet – A Comparison Overview
|Yamaha YCL 650
|Yamaha YCL CSVR
|Buffet Crampon R13 Green line Professional
|Vento VE9304E 9304E
|Yamaha YCL 450
Reviews for Best wooden clarinet
Yamaha is renowned for producing some excellent pieces of instruments. The company has a long history of releasing top quality clarinets. The YCL 650 is no exception. It is designed to generate a consistent tone and precise intonation.
The Yamaha YCL 650 is made from a solid granadilla wood construction and this gives it a classy and distinctive look. The body is backed up by silver plated keys which do not tarnish easily while still retaining that glossy look.
The clarinet is designed for professionals not for students who may find the instrument a bit hard to maintain and play. The instrument features tapered tone holes that have being expertly crafted to ensure you get the precise tonal balance and intonation.
The YCL 650 bell is specially designed so that it offers solid resonance chamber that is crucial for sound projection. It also features a cylindrical bore. During purchase you will find included carrying case, Yamaha 4C mouthpiece, and other accessories.
What we liked:
- Cylindrical bore design makes it easy for free blowing
- Classy granadilla design with silver plated keys
- Produces a consistent tone with precise intonation
- Perfect instrument for professional players
What we did not like:
- Not easy to maintain
The YCL CSVR is one of the most popular professional clarinets in the market. Yamaha took its time to craft this piece as evidenced by the amazing sounds it produces. The CSVR is made from granadilla wood with a barrel design and bell shape. It is backed up by thick key plating with durable leather pads which helps the instrument produce clear and rich tones.
The clarinet comes with an adjustable thumb rest which helps you find your most comfortable playing position. It also has a strap ring that you can use on your neck for extra support. The clarinet also features a poly –cylindrical bore. The key system is the Boehm 18 keys with 6 rings. Yamaha offers the clarinet with a 5 year warranty.
What we liked:
- Classical granadilla wood construction
- Silver plated keys and rings
- Hand tapered undercut tone holes
- 17 key system with 6 rings
- Consistent and affordable
- Adjustable thumb rest
What we did not like:
- May not be ideal for students due to the regular maintenance
The Buffet Crampon uses a hybrid body construction consisting of 95% granadilla wood and 5% polycarbonate fiber and epoxy resin. This makes the instrument stand out unlike the ones made from purely wood, the Buffet Crampon is capable of withstanding varying temperatures. It is also easier to maintain. It also stands the test of time in that it does not crack. While it is made from a unique material it still offers you the same level of polishing like the purely wooden ones.
The clarinet comes in a hand burnished bore that helps center the tone and improve intonation. The instrument is made from one of the most reputable instrument companies in the world and this assures users that it is built to last. The R13 is highly rated and one of the most used clarinets by professionals.
What we liked:
- Hybrid body construction capable of withstanding harsh temperatures
- Does not crack
- Retains shiny polish symbolic of wooden clarinets
- Hand burnished bore centers tone and improves intonation
What we did not like:
- One color
The Vento is an ideal professional clarinet for players looking for mechanical reliability, great intonation, and comfortable playability. The instrument comes in a classy body with undercut tone holes. It also features a ring less design with silver-plated keys.
During purchase one is provided with 60mm and 62mm barrels and an attaché style brown leather case. The Vento is built from granadilla wood and this gives it is distinctive rich tone. The wooden body gives it a classy look but comes with the downside of being hard to maintain. You have to keep wood from harsh climates otherwise it will warp or crack.
The undercut tone holes provide great response with rounded body rings giving the instrument the needed additional strength. It also makes the instrument easier to play. The Vento also comes with an adjustable thumb rest that gives the player an improved hand position, and balance. The Vento produces a dark full tone due to its intonation capacity. The instrument comes with cap, mouthpiece and ligature.
What we liked:
- Classy granadilla construction
- Comes with two barrel sizes -60mm and 62mm
- Offers a distinctive rich tone
- Outstanding intonation
What we did not like:
- The wood will require lots of care
The Yamaha YCL 450 makes it to our list as it is an affordable wooden clarinet. The clarinet is made from unstained granadilla wood with silver/nickel plating. It uses the popular Boehm 17 key system.
YCL 450 is the perfect instrument for a student moving from beginner to intermediate. It offers one a perfect sound mainly due to the granadilla construction. The sound is also focused with impressive intonation. To even make the instrument perform better it comes with straight tone holes with tapered undercuts for enhanced response.
The Yamaha features double skin pads with nickel plated keys. It is a fun instrument to play and students will enjoy the shift from beginner clarinets. The instrument comes with blue steel springs with have some sort of light bouncy feel. During purchase the instrument will come with mouthpiece, swab for cleaning, ligature, and hard shell case. The Yamaha is backed up by a 5-year warranty.
What we liked:
- Straight hole with tampered undercuts
- Affordable intermediate clarinet
- Granadilla construction
- 45-days return
- Nickel-plated keys
What we did not like:
- Complaints on the quality of case
Buying Guide for Best wooden clarinet
Most of the wooden clarinets are mainly designed for professional level playing. The sound quality is definitely higher than that of the plastic or ebonite clarinet hence there preference. However, they do come with the downside of being pricier than the plastic clarinets. The wooden clarinets also require lots of care to prevent them from cracking or warping. This means you have to keep your clarinet well moisturized or avoid playing it in hard climatic conditions. If you are looking for a good high quality wooden clarinet you can try out brands like Buffet Crampon and Yamaha. Here are some key factors you need to consider when purchasing a wooden clarinet.
Most of the clarinets in the market will use the Boehm key system. The system is fashioned after the works of Therobald Boehm who had initially designed the system for the flute. What turned out to be the system for clarinets was purely coincidental. Compared to the flute system, he changed the ring and axle system and added some keys that made it easier to play with little fingers. The end result is that you now experienced better overall intonation and with enhanced abilities to articulate notes. The Key system is commonly referred to as the French system and has being highly successful in clarinet making since 1870s. With time the Boehm system was replaced with the Albert system. The latter uses a more basic design while using fewer rings and keys than the Boehm system. You will find clarinets using the Albert system in Russia and Ukraine. The other commonly used key system is the Oehler system, which uses up to 27 keys. It is quite common in countries like Germany and Austria.
The key plating varies from one instrument to another with the key materials being used being nickel, silver and occasional gold. Nickel plating is the most used as it does not tarnish easily and is relatively easy to maintain. Silver plated keys require some extra care to keep them well polished and it is the reason you will find these kind of keys on professional clarinets. It is interesting to note that some professional clarinets do not come with mouthpieces as players will often carry along a piece they like from another brand.
The clarinets will come with all that you need to keep them looking nice like hard plastic cases, gloves, polishing cloth, and cork grease.
When you purchase a wooden clarinet you should also know that it will require a lot of care to prevent the wood from warping or cracking. Immediately after playing your wooden clarinet you should clean it due to saliva accumulation. This will require you to dismantle the clarinet. You can start the cleaning process by wiping off fingerprints from the keys and surface. Do this with a dry cloth. Next, use a brush to clean the mouthpiece with particular care on the edges. This is to remove any grime that may have accumulated there. If you have a cleaning cloth drop it into the clarinet with the weighted end at the leading. Pull through and it will remove any moisture inside the clarinet. Once done ensure you store your clarinet in its case. Avoid placing your clarinet by its bell unless you are using a proper stand. Regularly apply some cork grease and shine the keys so that your clarinet is always in good condition.
Types of Clarinets
It is important you consider the type of clarinet you are getting as they are not all the same. Clarinets are tuned differently and come in all manner of sizes and shapes. Most of the clarinets belong to the soprano family as characterized by their long and thin body. The most common clarinet you will encounter is the Bb clarinet. This is easy to use and makes a variety of musical tones like marching tunes, Mozart, swing, jazz and Dixieland. It also a great crossover instrument between the flute and saxophone. The Bb clarinet is used for a large repertoire of music.
The A clarinet is very close to the Bb clarinet in terms of popularity. It is one of the most important pieces for classical players as they can often switch in between the two. In fact you will find most classical players carrying the two pieces for plays.
The Eb clarinet is a fairly complex instrument to play for beginners as it does require some expert hands. It is largely used in concert bands and orchestras. The Eb clarinet is typically used for producing higher melodies that would be almost impossible to make with the A and Bb clarinet. The piece does produce some high notes and is a perfect piece for an experienced player who wants to expand their skill levels.
Bass clarinets tend to produce a sizeable repertoire that can be used for pop music, jazz orchestras, and classical music. The bass clarinet is bigger than other clarinets and requires one to place it on the floor. Some players will use with a strap to balance out the weight. The shape for the bass clarinet is also different as it has a bell that is tuned upwards. This gives the instrument the appearance of a saxophone. The bass clarinet is used for a wide range of notes like the low Eb and low C. When played the clarinet produces a deep and sweet tone that works well for an ensemble or solo performance. Harmony clarinets are clarinet types that require different tunings. If you need one you will have to order one from a musical store.
While you are purchasing your wooden clarinet it is important to consider the bore style. This will influence the kind of instrument you choose for a beginner or professional. The smaller bore style clarinets are mainly recommended for student players as they enable them play in tune. The larger bore styles offer players more flexibility in regards to the pitch hence making them ideal for professional players. You will find larger bore clarinets being used for jazz plays as they are able to bend the notes while producing larger sounds.
Unlike the plastic clarinets the wooden ones do come with warranties of up to 5 years. This is quite nice since these pieces cost anywhere from $1,300 to $3,900.
Professionals prefer wooden clarinets for their distinctive high quality sounds. Most of the clarinets are made from granadilla or African wood. While the instruments tend to be good looking they come with the downside of being pricier than their plastic counterparts. Wooden clarinets also require more care than the plastic ones as wood is susceptible to warping and cracking. It is for this reason that the wooden clarinets are mainly used by professionals while beginners and students will opt for the plastic or ebonite ones.
Are wooden clarinets the best clarinets in the market?
It will depend on the type of instrument. You have some decent plastic clarinets that produce sound quality that is almost similar to the wooden ones. However, most of the professional players attest to the fact the wooden clarinets do produce a distinctive high quality sound. You will find players claiming that it is the real clarinet.
Is it harder to maintain a wooden clarinet than a plastic one?
Wood does require lots of care otherwise it warps or cracks for lack of moisture. Too much or too little moisture will cause damage to your wooden instrument. It is for these reasons that the instruments are mainly recommended for professional players. However, Buffet Crampon has introduced pieces that combine granadilla wood and plastic material. This has resulted into an instrument that can be played in all types of climates.
Should I go for nickel or silver plated keys?
Silver will hold better as it gives a great shiny polish. Nickel plating is commonly used because it does not tarnish easily but it wears off quickly especially if there is acidity in your hands. Silver will tarnish over time but if you take care of it, it will retain its shiny appearance.