Vandoren V.12 vs V21- Which Is the Better Option?

Are you shopping for Vandoren clarinet reeds? Vandoren V.12 and V21 models are great options, but which one is better? Read to find out what each reed has to offer.

When I learned how to play the clarinet, I quickly realized that the choice of my reeds influences the sound of my pieces significantly. My excellent performances in my orchestra group are proof that you must choose a reed that suits your instrument and music style. Luckily, Vandoren arguably produces some of the best reeds in the market.

Seasoned clarinettists agree that Vandoren reeds are exceptional because of their ability to produce quality sound. The best part is Vandoren packs individual reeds in wraps that maintain their freshness. If you’re looking for a Vandoren reed, you’ve probably heard about the V.12 and V21 models; you’re wondering what to get. Is the Vandoren V.12 better than the V21? Let’s find out.

What Are the Differences Between Vandoren V.12 Clarinet Reeds and V21 Clarinet Reeds?

Model Features Vandoren V.12 Clarinet Reed Vandoren V21 Clarinet Reed
Tip thickness 0.1mm 0.1mm
Heel thickness 3.14mm 3.25mm
Reed strength 2.5 to 5.5+ 2.5 to 5.5
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Vandoren V.12 Clarinet Reeds vs V21 Clarinet Reeds- How Do They Compare?

Build and Design

Vandoren V.12 clarinet reeds have a thicker heel and a palette that’s longer than others. These reeds have a diameter similar to the cane Vandoren uses to make alto saxophones. This cane contributes to the thickness of a V.12 reed. The thick design of the V.12 increases the longevity of this model. The lengthy palettes on Vandoren V.12 reeds are ideal for long-facing clarinet mouthpieces like the M30 model.

In contrast, Vandoren V21 clarinet reeds are a unique blend of two Vandoren models; the profile of the V.12 and the build of the 56 Rue Lepic. This unique design makes V21 reeds versatile in terms of sound and their compatibility with numerous mouthpieces.

If you prefer versatility, Vandoren V21 reeds are the better option. You don’t have to buy a reed for each mouthpiece you own.


Vandoren V.12 clarinet reeds have the following strengths; 2.5, 3, 3.5, 3.5+, 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, 5.5+. Vandoren makes several small gradations in the V.12’s strength; the latest 3.5+ strength makes its sound consistent.

On the other hand, Vandoren V21 clarinet reeds have the following strengths; 2.5, 3, 3.5, 3.5+, 4, 4.5, 5, 5 that produce warm tones.

Vandoren V.12 reeds are better because their strengths offer more vibrations on a clarinet with accuracy.


The thick build of Vandoren V.12 clarinet reeds adds structure to a musical attack. Their long palettes make V.12 reeds vibrate faster to produce deep, rich, and dark sounds. These sounds are even in all registers and are ideal for classical performances.

On the contrary, the hybrid design of Vandoren V21 produces warm and deep registers on the clarinet. These reeds are excellent for clarinet pieces that require large interval leaps of rich and even sound. V21 reeds have impressive versatile sounds. Their full-body response allows you to hit a wide range of sounds like the altissimo and high F notes.

Vandoren V21 clarinet reeds have better sound capabilities since music ensembles feature versatile sounds.

Vandoren V.12 Clarinet Reeds Vs Vandoren V21 Clarinet Reeds – Are They Redundant?

Vandoren V.12 Clarinet Reeds

Vandoren V.12 clarinet reeds are the best for classical concert music players because of their dark sounds and even registers. Similarly, clarinettists who want durable reeds can benefit from the thick and long design of Vandoren V.12s. This model of clarinet reeds works on Eb and bass clarinets. Alto saxophonists can also use V.12 reeds to learn the clarinet.


  • Easy to play
  • Wide variety of reeds
  • Rich sound


  • Limited reed strengths


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Vandoren V21 Clarinet Reeds

Vandoren V21 reeds are ideal for clarinettists with versatile needs who want quick responses and warm tones. V21 clarinet reeds are the best option when you want large intervals in your performance to sound rich and even. If you are a jazz player, a concert artist, or a marching band member, V21 reeds are the best. Clarinettists who want to access high and low registers can benefit from the minimal resistance of this model. Also, if the prospects of a V.12 and 56 Rue Lepic have you in a dilemma, this V21 is the perfect compromise. V21 reeds work great on numerous mouthpieces like the Eb, Bb, and bass clarinets.


  • Versatile sound
  • Compatible with many mouthpieces
  • Centred sound
  • Remarkable sound projection


  • Hard play
  • Short lifespan


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Verdict: Which Vandoren Clarinet Reed Is Better? The V.12 or V21?

The V.12 and V21 models of Vandoren clarinet reeds serve different clarinet needs. You can choose the clarinet reed that matches your experience on the clarinet, your music style, and reed strength. Nonetheless, the better model is the Vandoren V21 since it has a wide range of sound and a design that works with many mouthpieces. V21 clarinet reeds can handle more musical pieces and save you the trouble of buying reeds for all your instruments.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many clarinet reeds should I have?

Seasoned clarinet players recommend a minimum of three to five clarinet reeds in preparation for emergencies during a performance or music exam. Vandoren clarinet packs sufficiently meet the demand to replace faulty reeds. Breaking in your favorite reeds beforehand ensures you are always ready to belt out good tunes.

Are Vandoren clarinet reeds filed?

Yes, Vandoren reeds are filed, but there are a few exceptions. Filed reeds, also known as French cuts, have a horizontal line cut above the bark of a reed. Vandoren Traditional and V.12 clarinet reeds are filed. V21 and 56 Rue Lepic clarinet reeds are unfiled since they have a distinct U-shape without a line on their barks.

According to Vandoren, these cuts don’t influence the overall sound quality of a clarinet reed. Other critical factors like reed strength have a more significant impact. Yet some players with clarinets that produce dark sounds prefer filed reeds. Artists who also play clarinets that belt out warm sounds opt for unfiled cuts.

Where are clarinet reeds so important?

A reed is one of the essential parts of a clarinet. When a clarinettist blows a constant stream of air into a clarinet, the elasticity of its reed vibrates to create acoustic waves of sound. Therefore, a clarinet can’t produce a sound without a reed.

What is the best clarinet reed for beginners?

Vandoren’s Juno clarinet reeds are the best for newbie clarinettists. The soft nature of Juno reeds makes it easier for a learner to play this instrument despite his inexperience. Juno reeds are also extra-responsive; this allows beginners to hit high and low notes with ease.

Can I recycle clarinet reeds?

Reeds are made from a biodegradable cane plant called Arundo Donax. Vandoren even recycles its surplus manufacturing materials into fertilizer for cane fields and fuel for its factories. Similarly, you can add your old faulty reeds to your compost for recycling purposes.

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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