What note Should Clarinets Be Tuned To? (All you need to know about tuning clarinets)

You tune the common soprano clarinet to B-flat. When your clarinet is correctly tuned to concert pitch playing in C, the reading on the chromatic tuner will be B-flat.

Clarinets, like most wind instruments, are transposing instruments, which means the pitch in the notes is different from the concert pitch. The open note-that is when no valves are down is B-flat. If other notes need to be tuned, then making adjustments using the valve slides and setting the barrel length will tune the clarinet.

Clarinet Tuning Basics

You need to keep the following in mind when tuning and playing the clarinet:

  • When you play a C pitch on your soprano clarinet, it will register as a B-flat on the tuner.
  • Pitch varies with instrument temperature. The higher the temperature, the sharper the pitch.
  • If the clarinet is too sharp, extend the barrel. If it is too flat, shorten the barrel.

How To Tune A Clarinet Using A Tuner

1. Get your tuner right

It is advisable to tune your clarinet at home so that you can listen to the tune without interference from other instruments. The chromatic tuner is most recommended. You can buy one in a music store or download an app online. Make sure it is set to 44o Hz so that you get accurate readings.

2. Warm-up

To warm up your clarinet, simply start by blowing into it. Most teachers will tell you to take between 4- 5 minutes to warm up. Spend this time playing a few familiar tunes on long tones or chromatic scales, which will help get your fingers going as well.

3. Check the tone

Choosing a note in the middle of the instrument works out best for checking the tone. Playing a C is one of the most popular choices. Alternatively, you can tune by G or B notes. Your clarinet will normally be a half-step below the piano when in tune. If you play a C, the tuner will display a B-flat.

Place the tuner or phone with the app next to your clarinet’s sound hole and play the note.

Hold the note for a few seconds before looking at the tuner. This helps you stabilize and capture notes correctly without the spike.

The tuner will indicate how close your note is to the note you intend to play. In the case of a needle indicator, if the needle is to the right of the note, then you are too high (sharp). The needle to the left of the intended note means you are too low (flat).

4. Adjust clarinet barrel

If your clarinet is not in tune, the first step to solve this is by adjusting the barrel.

The barrel is the part that connects the mouthpiece to the clarinet body.

If the tuner shows that your instrument is too sharp, pull the barrel to make it longer. Shorten the barrel to rectify a flat clarinet. Minute adjustments can make significant changes, so be gentle and avoid sharp pulls or pushes.

Make a small change, stop, play note into the tuner, and see the impact before making another adjustment. This will help you assess if you are moving closer to the perfect pitch.

5. Check individual notes

Play a variety of different notes and at different octaves to see if your clarinet is in tune. With time, you will be able to know if your clarinet is in tune by simply listening to it.

You can also learn how to use your embouchure to control your clarinet pitch especially when the tuner shows you are okay, but some note somehow stands out.

6. Adjusting your embouchure

Sometimes if a note sounds off it is because of your embouchure- your mouth and muscle shaping.

To correct this, if the note is sharp, tighten your mouth a little bit. If the sound is flat, relax your mouth.

7. Adjusting your Oral Cavity

The oral cavity- or how your tongue moves- can greatly affect the sound quality.

Playing with your tongue shaped like making an “oh” sounds dull, and out of tune. Playing with an “ee” tongue position sound more focused, and in tune. Using the correct tongue position impacts the quality of sound that your clarinet produces.

Summary Table For How To Tune A Clarinet

Step

What to do

1. Get your tuner right

The chromatic tuner is most recommended. Make sure it is set to 44o Hz so that you get accurate readings.

2. Warm-up

Most teachers will tell you to take between 4- 5 minutes to warm up. Spend this time playing a few familiar tunes on long tones or chromatic scales, which will help get your fingers going as well.

3. Check the tone

Place the tuner or phone with the app next to your clarinet’s sound hole and play the note.

Hold the note for a few seconds before looking at the tuner. The tuner will indicate how close your note is to the note you intend to play.

4. Adjust clarinet barrel

If the tuner shows that your instrument is too sharp, pull the barrel to make it longer. Shorten the barrel to rectify a flat clarinet. Minute adjustments can make significant changes, so be gentle and avoid sharp pulls or pushes.

5. Check individual notes

Play a variety of different notes and at different octaves to see if your clarinet is in tune. You can also learn how to use your embouchure to control your clarinet pitch especially when the tuner shows you are okay, but some note somehow stands out.

6. Adjusting your embouchure

If the note is sharp, tighten your mouth a little bit. If the sound is flat, relax your mouth.

7. Adjusting your Oral Cavity

Playing with an “ee” tongue position sound more focused, and in tune. Using the correct tongue position impacts the quality of sound that your clarinet produces.

Alternatives To Tuner For Tuning A Clarinet

You also can tune your clarinet using:

  • A keyboard player
  • A piano
  • Another Clarinet

These alternative tuning methods rely on the clarinetist’s ability to match the pitch between the instruments. Usually, you just need to know which notes correspond. Seasoned players can do this by ear.

Types of Clarinets

The B- flat, also referred to as the soprano clarinet is the most common. It is the most suitable clarinet for younger players and beginners. There are eleven types of clarinets grouped into three categories namely: Soprano, Alto, and Bass clarinets.

Conclusion

Clarinets tend to play sharp and can easily get on the nerves of other instrumentalists. It is the duty of you the clarinetist to make sure that your playing is a pleasure and does not cause pressure on your listeners and fellow music makers. This you can do by you knowing your instrument tendencies, keeping it in tune, and playing it correctly.

FAQs

Is it possible to tune a clarinet without a tuner?

Yes, you can use an app, another clarinet, a keyboard, or a piano to tune your clarinet. Note that your clarinet should be a half-step below the piano to be properly in tune. Experience clarinetists can tune by the ear.

How do I know my clarinet is out of tune?

By testing against a tuner or other instruments. When your clarinet is flat, it will have a low pitch. When it is high, it will sound sharp.

What can I do if my clarinet is consistently sharp?

If all other methods to correct a sharp clarinet fail, you may want to consider getting barrel rings. These are added at the bottom of the barrel to make the instrument longer.

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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