How to pick the right barrel for my clarinet? (Factors to consider + complete buying guide)

A clarinet barrel has an effect on the quality of sound produced. When picking the right barrel for your clarinet you should look at the size, material, shape, cost and the taper of the barrel.

A barrel is one of the parts of a clarinet. However, it is significantly overlooked despite the impact it has on the quality of sound produced. It is located between the mouthpiece and the body of the clarinet. It is what connects the two parts. Clarinet barrels come in different sizes, materials, shapes, prices and color. Students mostly go for cheaper barrels which mostly are determined by the type of material.

A good clarinet barrel will produce clearer, pronounced and professional sound. Whether you are upgrading or getting one for the first time, you cannot afford to overlook the type of clarinet barrel you pick. How much you are willing to spend can be one of the guiding principles when selecting your clarinet barrel. Using this only might compromise on quality therefore it is recommended that you consider other to look at other factors to get the best fit.

What is a clarinet barrel?

As mentioned above, a clarinet barrel is that part of your clarinet that is between the mouthpiece and the rest of the clarinet’s body. It directs the sound from the mouthpiece and tunes it. The standard size of a clarinet barrel is 66 mm. The length of the barrel changes the pitch of the sound. A longer barrel makes the pitch flat while a shorter one tunes the sound to be sharp.

Factors to consider when picking a clarinet barrel

There are a number of factors to consider before picking the right barrel for your clarinet. The best way to know which the best is, is by playing the clarinet with barrels from different selections. How will you arrive at having a selection? Here are a number of factors that you can use to create a selection to pick from and ultimately getting the one.

  • Material

Clarinet barrels are available in various materials: plastic or wood. Barrels usually match the material of the rest of the clarinet. The type of material influences the quality of sound. Wooden barrels are created from hard woods which do not warp. Wooden barrels are mostly preferred when you going for a classy look at the same time aiming for quality sound. They are more expensive than the other types. The plastic type of barrel is the cheaper option. Most students go for this due to its favorable cost. Something good about it, is that they do not warp despite the varying levels of temperature and humidity that they are exposed to.

  • Size

The standard size of a clarinet barrel is 66mm. However, there are different sizes available. A shorter barrel will make the sound to be high pitched whereas a longer barrel makes the pitch flat. Also, the barrel should be the fit size of your clarinet. Therefore it is important to select a barrel according to size as it will affect the pitch in which you will play in.

  • Taper

This is the inner material of the barrel. The tapers can be standard, straight or double. The type of taper will determine the quality of sound. Some tapers may absorb sound produced giving it a darker tone.

  • Cost

This goes without saying as it is one of the factors that disqualifies some options. The type of material that the barrel is made from mainly affects the cost. Plastic barrels go for cheaper prices whereas wooden barrels cost a lot more. Customized pieces fetch higher prices as well. If you are on a budget you should consider the type of material you want the barrel to be made from.

  • Shape

The shape of the clarinet plays an important role. The barrels come in different shapes. The most common being cylindrical, conical and reverse tapered.

Generally, the type of sound you are trying to achieve will direct you to getting the type of barrel that is best suited for you.

Expensive Cheaper
Produce darker and quality sound Lower quality of sound compared to wooden
There is a possibility of warping They do not warp
Classy finishing Little attention is paid to the finishing

Qualities of a good barrel

There are certain things that can distinguish a good barrel from the rest.

  • The barrel should be a good fit to the mouthpiece and body.
  • The material should be free from warping.
  • The length of the barrel should match the pitch you are going for.
  • The barrel should help you achieve clearer, quality and professional sound.


A clarinet barrel is a small part of the clarinet but it plays a big role on the quality of sound produced. There are various factors you should not miss out when considering what type of barrel is the right fit for your clarinet. You should consider factors such as the size, material, cost and shape of the barrel. The cost of the barrel is mainly determined by the type of material used which influences the quality of sound produced. The size determines the pitch of the sound. Therefore we can conclude that the clarinet barrel is an important part of the clarinet just like the other parts. Carefully selecting the barrel of your choice will help you achieve the sound you are going for.


Does a clarinet barrel affect sound?

Yes. Despite it being a small part of the clarinet it affects the quality and pitch of the sound. Factors such as size and material of the barrel will influence the kind of sound produced.

Is there a difference in using between a wooden and plastic barrel?

Yes. The material plays a role on the type of sound and pitch produced. People go for plastic barrels since they are affordable. However, wooden barrels produce quality sound.

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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