Maintaining your clarinet regularly helps ensure the reliability and durability of your musical instrument, but knowing how to assemble your clarinet and clarinet mouthpiece determines other factors such as playability and tone production. So, how do you go about it?
A clarinet, just like a recorder, is one of the most compact woodwind instruments that you may come across. When it comes to assembly and disassembly, however, the clarinet is much more complicated and delicate than a recorder. For this reason, most clarinetists tend to wait for an instructor or teacher to teach them how to assemble their clarinet in person before they do it on their own. Other people choose to take their clarinet to a professional for assembly and disassembly because they are trying to avoid damaging it. However, you can assemble a clarinet and clarinet mouthpiece on your own, with a few instructions that we will outline in this write-up. The whole idea is to do it right without damaging your musical instrument. Let’s get right into it!
Part One: How to assemble your clarinet
To assemble your clarinet, you should follow the steps below;
Step One: Identify the main parts of the clarinet and ensure that they are intact
Place the case on a flat surface, then open it to ensure that the parts of your clarinet are present before officially starting off the assembly process. Also, ensure that the parts of your clarinet are
Step Two: Start from the bottom part of your clarinet
In order to successfully assemble your clarinet without causing any damage, start from the bottom then carefully work your way towards the top part.
To do this, begin by attaching the bell and the lower joint together. When doing this, do not grip any keys too hard to avoid bending and breaking them before the assembly process is complete.
Step Three: Go ahead and line up the joints on your clarinet
Here, all you need to do is to attach the upper joint of the clarinet to the lower joint. Unfortunately, this may be the most difficult part of the assembly process. In fact, it gets even more complicated if you are a beginner. When you line up the keys from the start, the two joints may not fit together correctly. So, you need to be extra cautious when going over this step.
To prevent any accidental damages, you need to put the joints together off-center. Once the joints are well aligned, you should gently push down the keys on the upper joint as you slowly turn the lower joint until they are lined up as they should be. Do not use excess pressure when lining up the upper and lower joints to avoid damaging your clarinet keys.
Step Four: Attach the Barrel to the Upper Joint
At this point, attach the wider side of the barrel to the upper joint of your clarinet. If you want an aesthetically pleasing presentation, consider lining up the logos in a parallel manner. To do this successfully, begin by pushing the barrel all the way in, but position it later on when it is time to tune your clarinet.
Part Two: How to assemble a clarinet mouthpiece
The clarinet mouthpiece is found on the upper part of the clarinet. Generally, the clarinet mouthpiece determines the acoustic quality and the tone color. Along with the reed and the ligature, the clarinet mouthpiece plays a huge role in defining sound quality.
It fits into the bore, specifically in the baril. The lower part of the clarinet mouthpiece, which is also known as the shank, can be covered using a cork to allow the different clarinet pieces to seamlessly fit into each other. You may also come across some clarinet mouthpieces that feature a silicone band seal to ensure proper fitting of pieces into each other.
In addition to that, the clarinet mouthpiece has four important parts, which we have summarized in the table below;
|Part of the Mouthpiece||Commentary|
|Mouthpiece Chamber||This part varies in size and shape. Could be a square chamber, round chamber, or horseshoe chamber, depending on the type of clarinet|
|Mouthpiece Facing Curve||This is the length of the clarinet mouthpiece that curves away from the table|
|Tip Opening||This particular part of the mouthpiece actively corresponds to the distance between the mouthpiece tip and the reed|
|Mouthpiece Baffle||This part is often straight in most clarinet mouthpieces. However, in jazz and klezmer clarinet mouthpieces, it varies in shape.|
Attaching the Mouthpiece to the Clarinet then add the Reed
To assemble the mouthpiece of your clarinet, you should do the following;
Step One: Start by preparing the reed
To start the mouthpiece assembly process, you need to soak your mouthpiece in order to moisten the reed. The capillary action of the reed often pulls water from its base to the tip. Once the water reaches the middle part of the reed, take out the reed and wet the end through which you would blow.
Alternatively, you can moisten the reed by sucking on it like you would a slice of sugarcane. However, you should be as careful as possible to avoid damaging the reeds using your teeth. When doing this, ensure that the entire reed is well moistened, including the thin tip.
Step Two: Place the Reed against the mouthpiece hole
Go ahead and line the tip of the reed vertically with the tip opening of the mouthpiece. In this step, you can try to hold the reed in place using your thumb then blow it through to check the action right before attaching the ligature. Remember that different reeds have different alignment patters. For this reason, you may not always find the perfect alignment, so you should consider a functional alignment with the hole in the mouthpiece.
When doing this, avoid touching the front part because it can get dirty, clog up and lose its playability levels.
Step Three: Align the Reed and the Ligature
Once the reed is moistened, loosen the screws found on the ligature before slipping it over the mouthpiece, then slide the reed between the ligature and the mouthpiece. Do not touch the tip of the reed when lining it up to the mouthpiece. When the read is aligned, tighten the screws found on the ligature. Make sure they aren’t too tight or too loose for better tone production.
Step Four: Attach the Mouthpiece to the Barrel
The general rule of thumb is that the reed should always face the opposite direction as the clarinet keys. In this step, therefore, you should gently twist the clarinet mouthpiece onto the barrel of the clarinet as you ensure that the reed and clarinet keys aren’t on the same direction.
Remember, both the mouthpiece and the reeds are very fragile parts of the clarinet. Once you knock them in a hard surface, they easily crack and chip, so you won’t be able to use them anymore. That said, try and be a little bit more careful when handling them to avoid any damages on your musical instrument.
Should I dismantle my clarinet once I am done playing?
If you leave your clarinet constantly assembled, it becomes easy and convenient to play, but the cork might shrink, a great amount of dust may accumulate on the inside part, and some parts may clog up.
What happens if you do not moisten your reed?
When the reed is dry, it does not vibrate well.