Professional-level clarinets for jazz bands, orchestras, and many other musical performances are beautiful masterpieces that ooze the highest level of versatility thanks to their reliable B-flat key, a well-thought-out key system, not to mention a robust, durable, and lightweight barrel and keys. In other words, no detail is overlooked with such clarinets, and in turn, this level of ingenuity leaves you with the most expensive clarinets.
But before we look at the 10 grandest clarinets, did you know that the very first clarinet, or rather, the instrument we now know as the clarinet, first appeared early in the 1700s? Or was this musical instrument created in Germany by a guy called German Johann Denner, out of need and not design? Well, we thought you should know this. To appreciate the best of clarinets, especially at the high price tags the clarinets below go for, a look back history is worth the while. Back then, classical composers made very serious pieces inspired by the trumpet players’ rather high and technical demands. Over time, the complexity of the pieces grew, and the resultant clarinets were not only more melodic and complex but also had great pitch and tone.
Unlike the modern clarinets, however, the classic pieces didn’t have any pistons or valves, making it very hard to hit the notes in the instrument’s clarion range. This need necessitated invention, and the new clarinet registers required improvements and answers. In some cases, the clarinets were referred to as the mock-trumpet, which stuck with the clarinets for a long time.
But over time, and with the addition of the valves or pistons for the clarion range to be easy to hit. The instrument soon became the most popular instrument, with great musicians taking it up. But of all genres, jazz took it up to the next level, and it became the iconic musical instrument for players like Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman. We haven’t forgotten about Mozart, a classical music icon who wrote his Clarinet Concerto, or Acker Bilk, who took on Stranger on the Shore up the board to the Number 1 position in the UK. These are just some important, honorable mentions related to the clarinet. And this short historical account points to the versatility of the clarinet and how it transcends most other musical instruments, taking you from jolly and happy in one moment to sad and remorse in the next.
Quite naturally, such a history and the magnificence of music with clarinets is what makes this piece of the instrument both desirable and expensive. The evolution of this instrument is also why there are many types of clarinets, such as the bass, alto & bass clarinets, and the sopranino clarinets.
So, what are the 10 most expensive clarinets in the world today? And what makes each piece special?
|10 Most Expensive Clarinets In The World||Best Clarinet For||Keys||Price|
|Selmer Paris Model 41 Contrabass Clarinet||Most Expensive Clarinet in the World||Boehm||Check Prices|
|Benny Goodman’s Clarinet||Best Classic Clarinet||Boehm||Check Prices|
|Yamaha YCL-622II Low C Professional Bass Clarinet||Best Low-C Bass Clarinet||Boehm||Check Prices|
|Yamaha YCL-CSVR Series Professional Bb Clarinet||Best Budget-Friendly Professional Clarinet||Boehm||Check Prices|
|Backun MoBa A Clarinet Cocobolo Gold Keys||Best Clarinet with gold keys||Boehm||Check Prices|
|Buffet Crampon R13 Professional Bb Clarinet with Silver Plated Keys||Best Professional Clarinet||Boehm||Check Prices|
|Yamaha YCL-255 Standard Bb Clarinet Bb Clarinet||Affordable Clarinet||Boehm||Check Prices|
|LeBlanc Model 60 Bass Clarinet||Best Value for Money||Boehm||Check Prices|
|L. Rossi Cenit Clarinet||Most Sophisticated Clarinet||Boehm||Check Prices|
|Fratelli Patricola CL.4 Clarinet||Best Bb Clarinet||Boehm||Check Prices|
The 10 Most Expensive Clarinets In The World
Selmer Paris Model 41 Contrabass Clarinet – Most Expensive Clarinet in the World
Priced at over $35,000, the Selmer Paris Contrabass Model 41 clarinet is one of the most expensive clarinets in the world today. It sports a BB bore, a 442 range extending to Low C, a 33.9mm pitch, and 29 Boehm keys. It also sports silver-plated adjustable keys, in addition to a bell neck. The body is made of rosewood. And all these features leave you with a clarinet that offers very rich tones.
With these features in mind, most music colleges consider this clarinet a favorite for their music programs. These features also boast a rich and full sound. It is also the perfect clarinet for when you need to project a perfect tone in a military band or a wind ensemble.
- Plays remarkably well
- Ergonomically designed keys
- Great resonances
- Great sound; it whispers when you need it to and offers a great balance in the low-end.
- Crisp, clear, powerful, and in-tune
- Wonderfully rich, round, easy, powerful, warm, and easy middle register
- Well, it takes a bit of work to figure out the last two octaves and the very low notes.
- Very expensive
Benny Goodman’s Clarinet – Best Classic Clarinet
While this is not the kind of clarinet that you find in the ordinary marketplace, it is a masterpiece; after all, it is a spectacular piece that is quite expensive. This is the kind of clarinet that you will find highly spoken of and listed in art museums and the Smithsonian, and it is a dream piece for many classical and jazz music enthusiasts.
The Benny Goodman clarinet is named after the legendary jazz musician and the master clarinetist, Benny Goodman, who passed away in 1986 at 77. In his life, Benny Goodman played a dozen instruments since listed on many auction sites. Benny’s most expensive clarinet was sold after being exhibited in the same auction as the one that exhibited Dizzy Gillespie’s trumpet and Charlie Parker’s Saxophone. And in 2011, another one of Benny Goodman’s clarinet was sold for $16,250 in New York.
- Historical masterpiece
- Excellent sound
- Very expensive
- It can only be purchased in art exhibitions
Yamaha YCL-622II Low C Professional Bass Clarinet – Best Low-C Bass Clarinet
When it comes to the best clarinet for the advancing students or the professional clarinet players, this Yamaha Low-C bass clarinet is the best option you could invest in. Granted, it is very pricey, going for at least $9,000.
This Yamaha clarinet comes keyed in too low Eb. It also features a two-piece wooden grenadilla body with a metallic inner telon for the sleeves. These improve the instrument’s seal. Its bell is made with an adjustable floor peg that enhances its function and allows for custom adjustments to the clarinet’s height, with only a simple turn of the screw. Other features include the silver-plated keys, bell, neck pipe, range-to-low C, and Boehm fingering.
It is interesting to note that while Yamaha is a renowned brand for musical instruments like drums and others, clarinetists and musicians are often very surprised by the quality of the instruments by Yamaha. This is especially true for the woodwind players. You should also know that because of the high status of the Yamaha brand, you will enjoy superior-quality artisanal craftsmanship. The technological prowess and elements featured in the clarinet also ensure the right or desired level of intonation and projection from the clarinet, with no compromise in the tone of the sound emitted.
- It is a lovely instrument
- Excellent low C bass clarinet
- Superior, solidly rich, and dark tones with great projection
- A powerful, rich range
- A logical layout of the basset keys
- The joint hardware affecting the octave keys are shifty
- The instrument generally takes some getting used to.
Yamaha YCL-CSVR Series Professional Bb Clarinet – Best Budget-Friendly Professional Clarinet
This clarinet is considered one of the best professional Bb clarinets offered by Yamaha, and it is a great option for professionals who don’t want to blow through their savings. The clarinet comes with either nickel or silver-plated keys. The body is made of grenadilla wood, ensuring crisp, clear, and warm tones.
This clarinet is made with professionals in mind – it delivers high-quality sound rather affordably. The other features of this clarinet include the poly-cylindrical bore, hand-tapered along with undercut tone holes, as well as 6 rings and 17 keys.
- High consistency in sound and design features
- Durable leather pads incorporated for precision
- Ergonomic hand-placement
- Allows for progressive playing
- Resonant and dark sound quality
- Durable clarinet
- 5-year warranty
- It comes with the original clarinet case
- The keys require a bit of getting used to
- Silver-plated keys will tarnish
Backun MoBa A Clarinet Cocobolo Gold Keys – Best Clarinet with gold keys
This MoBa clarinet was designed with all the features necessary for the improvement of all the features of the clarinet, and the best part is that no elements are sacrificed. And since its creation, this clarinet’s design has set a new and unique path for the artists searching for clarinets offering a new, very exciting sound function. Today, it is referred to as the “Stradivarius of the clarinet world,” thanks to its innovative features that have made it a modern classic. The features that stand out from this clarinet include CNC technologies blended with hands-on older craftsmanship features. These instruments are all made in Canada.
It sports a dark color, and the body offers a high level of resistance, making it the best option for orchestra players and soloists – or just anyone who wishes to give their all during the performance.
- Great-quality instrument
- Great built and craftsmanship
- The black and gold elements blend perfectly
- Ease of playing
- Great sound overall, with the upper and lower registers
- Warm, smooth, and resonant sound
- Smooth keys
- Expensive instrument
Buffet Crampon R13 Professional Bb Clarinet with Silver Plated Keys – Best Professional Clarinet
This is the other expensive clarinet you may want to get if you are looking for the best quality professional clarinet. It is made of metal and wood. It is also a great quality B-Flat clarinet, making it a great option for professionals.
The keys on this instrument are silver-plated, and the body is made of high-quality and stained grenadilla wood, which ensures great performance and sound. It also comes with the undercut tone holes and copper-finished power-forged keyworks, all with a silver finish. There are also 6 rings and 17 keys on the poly cylindrical and hand-burnished bore and adjustable double-fish skin pads and thumb rest. These features point to the elegance and great sound that you can expect from this clarinet.
- Great design with a nice blend of wood and metal
- It is durable
- Great tone and overall sound from the clarinet
- A go-to option for professionals
- Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a mouthpiece
Yamaha YCL-255 Standard Bb Clarinet Bb Clarinet –Affordable Clarinet
If you are on a tight budget but looking for the best clarinet that delivers professional-quality performance, this Yamaha YCL-255 could be the right fit for you. It is a black B-Flat clarinet made of nickel-plated keys, and the body is made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). It features a 65mm barrel that ensures more focus on the tone of the sound. There is also a 4C Yamaha mouthpiece incorporated and an adjustable thumb rest that comes with a strap ring.
- Least sensitive to changes in temperature
- Great sound quality
- High-quality resonance chamber for improved intonation and projection, especially lower notes.
- High-end design for focused tone
- The padding doesn’t close well
LeBlanc Model 60 Bass Clarinet – Best Value for Money
The other high-prized bass clarinet offers an amazing tone and overall sound. It’s noted that the sound made by this clarinet is superior to what you’d expect from other clarinets in the same price range, which means that this clarinet offers great value for your money. Its sound is robust, and it also has an even response recorded through all its registers. The intonation is also quite consistent, which is another great win. So, as per the manufacturer’s design ideas in mind, the clarinets offer great playability and dependability.
It is made of high-quality, unstained, and well-aged grenadilla wood, and it is also hand-hammered with professional-grade metallic bells. The keys are heavily plated with either nickel or silver. The other features that improve the functions of the clarinet include a mouthpiece made of Steelite ebonite, and the neck has a correctly sealing and corked tenon. There is also a single register mechanism for the key. Combined, all these features deliver a centered and very powerful sound. The built of the clarinet also features handcrafted undercut tone holes and a complex bore, which make this clarinet ideal for orchestras, bands, and ensembles.
- Expertly built
- Great value for money
- The undercut tone holes are all expertly designed
- High-quality and well-built features
- The mouthpiece delivers great sound
- Excellent dependability and playability
- Excellent tones
- It’s a 5-section instrument
- Solid keywork
- Lacks the low C
L. Rossi Cenit Clarinet – Most Sophisticated Clarinet
The Luis Rossi clarinet is a masterpiece that has withstood the test of time in its magnificent design and mindblowing sound quality. And though the brand offers two custom options, the Cenit and the Vecchio, the Cenit takes the win as an elegant option you may want to invest in. This Cenit clarinet is a unique piece whose design features make up excellent solutions to many problems in music.
For starters, it boasts a Boehm key system that is an improvement of the older versions in that it comes with the unique Rossi automatic F System. This system elegantly puts to an end the problem of being out of tune in the Low-F, albeit chronically. The best part is that this is possible without any extra touch-pieces.
The other great features of the Cenit include:
The tone-hole side keys, Side trill R.H keys for the B and the Bb posts that are mounted independently, as well as the optional rollers for your RH pinky, raised LH finger tone holes, and Eb/Ab lever for the pinkie.
So, if you are looking for a Bb or an A model clarinet, this would be the best option for you.
- Improved acoustics
- Improved Boehm system
- Additional automatic F system added for great sound
- Excellent tone and overall great sound quality
- It is a custom clarinet
Fratelli Patricola CL.4 Clarinet – Best Bb Clarinet
This Patricola clarinet is the preferred musical instrument for most of the top clarinets worldwide. It is also the go-to instrument for anyone looking for a clarinet that delivers a more dynamic/ focused sound. Its top performance comes from the fact that this clarinet features the full Boehm system of keys, and it plays like any other typical Bb clarinet.
It comes with a body made of either rosewood (Bubinga) or Mozambique Grenadilla, aged between 15 and 20 years. This is the case with all Patricola clarinets and woods used.
Its other features include the silver-plated keys, and Patricola patented key system. The key system gives the clarinet a look and feel recognizable instantly. Its main keys include the Ab/Eb lever, the articulated G#, and the two barrels.
- Elegantly designed Bb clarinet
- Rich and warm tones from the use of aged Grenadilla wood
- Keywork is quiet, comfortable, and easy to play
- It is an artistic piece that makes a great statement
- German-style cork pads
- Great, focused sound
- It boasts great range and low Eb
- You have to order it in advance
Buying Guide for the most expensive clarinets in the world
Now that we’ve got the list of expensive clarinets broken down, let’s look at the factors and features that make some of the best clarinets. Even if you don’t find your best fit from the listed clarinets above, this guide will simplify your search for your ideal clarinet.
Here are the important features and considerations that you need to consider:
Reed, Mouthpiece, or Ligature
The reed or mouthpiece is the heart and soul of your clarinet. The price of the clarinet notwithstanding, the only thing that completes your clarinet is the reed or the mouthpiece. But it doesn’t stop there; additional factors determine the sound quality of the mouthpiece.
This is why the Oehler and Boehm clarinets have specific types of mouthpieces. The cuts represent the two types of clarinet key systems, but that is not all; these systems have to match your respective mouthpiece. The difference between the cuts is as follows:
Boehm Cut – this is also called The French Cut. It features a small socket and an H-Frame shape for the throat.
Oehler Cut – this cut is also known as the German Cut. Its mouthpieces are wider, with A-Frame throats and a very high baffle.
Material – the mouthpieces are made of plastic, hard rubber, wood, or crystal, and these materials all determine the quality of sound produced.
It is impossible to fit an Oehler mouthpiece in the Boehm clarinet, thanks to these structural differences.
Materials used for the mouthpiece
Crystal mouthpieces are often incorporated in the most expensive clarinets, and jazz clarinetists mostly use them because crystal offers the brightest sounds and the highest projection. However, the most common material used is hard rubber or ebonite that yields the most balanced sounds, something clarinetists love.
Others will have wood, which though not a common option, produces the softest and the mildest sound. These wooden mouthpieces are made of ebony or granadilla wood. But because wood is weather sensitive and warps over time, many clarinets are now made of hard rubber – these are resistant, very tough, the sound is great and relatively affordable.
This includes the baffle, sidewalls, and throat.
The baffle needs to be not-so-deep for a quick response and resonant sound or deep with the scooped shapes for slower responses but mellower sound. Therefore, the sound produced depends on how fast air enters & exits your mouthpiece, as well as the obstacles present. You get mellower sound and slow initial response when air travels a long distance through more obstacles.
Sidewalls are also important as they determine the level of air resistance experienced. There is too much resistance with wide walls. And to counter this resistance, you need the walls to be closer together using soft reeds or harder reeds when walls are too far apart.
The throat is equally important – it is the section where the chamber joints with the bore. If the throat is parallel-shaped (H-Frame), then the sound produced is more of “ahh,” hence the use of hard reeds. But for the “ehh” sound, you have the A-frame where the throat starts narrow then widens towards the bore. Soft reeds are used with the a-frame.
Materials used for the body of the clarinet
Most professionals invested in their instruments have clarinets made of aged granadilla wood because it inhibits vibrations, produces an immediate response, and, more importantly, clean sound. But other professionals opt for clarinets made of ebonite or ABS plastic.
The keys are either silver or nickel-plated, and the others are Hamilton-plated. Nickel-plating is durable and a common option for most clarinetists because of its shiny appearance and lightweightedness. Silver-plating also looks good, but it’s heavier and adds to the weight of the clarinet, creating a darker sound. Silver also tarnishes. Then you have the Hamilton-plated keys, which blend silver and gold. Yamaha clarinets have the Hamilton-plated keys that give off the most liquid sound.
The bore can be big or small, but this size determines the feel of your instrument. Larger bores are harder to play, and experts recommend the small bores. However, for expert and professional players, the medium-sized bores are ideal because they provide the perfect balance of flexibility and focus. Professionals also use the large bore clarinets because of the flexible pitch offered.
The shape of the bore is also important – you need the cylindrical-bore clarinets for larger sound and great volume. Still, you could also opt for the poly cylindrical bore clarinets for their superior intonation and the fact that they have more rings.
You need a clarinet that will not strain your forearm and wrist.
Keys/ Fingering System
Although the clarinet used by composers like Mozart, Brahms, and Weber were the Ohler clarinets, these clarinets have more keys than the Boehm and Boehm clarinets devised mid in the 19th century by Theobald Boehm. So, fingering is easier with Boehm than Ohler clarinets, and most clarinets on the market today use Boehm keys.
- Why is nickel silver often used for the clarinet’s keys?
The main reason for using a specific silver and nickel blend is that the metal alloys offer a high level of metallic stability, meaning it doesn’t break apart during processing.
- How many parts form the clarinets’ keys?
Since the keys are very important for the sound produced by the clarinet and its overall playability, a clarinet has about 100 parts. And in the construction of the clarinet, there is no room for error, and the keys have to be aligned perfectly. There cannot be any gaps, and a 0.1mm gap between the joints of the keys and the body would result in a wobbly key. So, perfection is necessary.
- What is ebonite?
Ebonite or hard rubber (part-vulcanized hard rubber) is the material used to make the clarinet’s mouthpiece. Saxophone mouthpieces are also made of ebonite. It’s the preferred material because it’s not affected by the elements like moisture; it’s durable and ensures great sound.
And there you have it – the list of the most expensive clarinets in the world. These clarinets range from $800 to $35,000. And they suit different needs. Some are classics, one-of-a-kind, and sophisticated options, and others are affordable. Ultimately, there is something for everyone!