What to look for when buying your first clarinet? ( Complete Beginners Buying Guide)

You should focus on the type of clarinet, the body, key plating, mouthpiece, bore size, and reed types.

The clarinet not only appeals to adults but also young ones. Purchasing your first clarinet is an adventure. You will come across numerous models from different sources. Rather than picking the first model you come across, you should take your time to compare them. Understanding the most crucial aspects to look for in a clarinet can help you pick a model that you can enjoy playing for a long time. We came up with this buying guide to help beginners get a suitable clarinet. Enjoy!

How this musical instrument works

This is a portable musical instrument that involves blowing air into the mouthpiece. The mouthpiece contains a reed and ligature. The clarinet also has a barrel that connects the mouthpiece to the body.

When you blow air into the mouthpiece, it vibrates the reed. This vibration moves down the clarinet’s tube up to the bell. The vibration is what causes the clarinet to produce sound. You can use your fingers to cover the holes in different combinations as you play the clarinet.

What to look for when purchasing the first clarinet

  • Type

Clarinets come in different types that you should beware of. Some include Bb, Eb, C, D, and Bass clarinet. These types of clarinets are suited for different players. When you are new to this musical instrument, you can choose from the following types.



Bb clarinet

Jazz, Solo, Orchestra, Ensemble

Eb clarinet

Windband, Clarinet choirs, Orchestras

C clarinet

Orchestral repertoire

Other types, such as the A and bass clarinets, are suitable for advanced and professional players.

  • Material

Apart from the type of clarinet, you should also pay attention to the materials used to make this musical instrument. Clarinets are categorized into different levels, including professional, intermediate, and student. When you buy this clarinet for the first time and don’t have experience playing it, you should focus on student clarinets.

Most student clarinets are made from plastic materials. While some come in cheap plastic, others are made from high-quality plastic. You should focus on student clarinets made from good materials such as ABS resin. It is durable and resistant to temperature changes. An ABS resin clarinet is also easy to play for beginners and produces a good sound.

Some student clarinets also come in hard rubber or synthetic material. This is also a good material that enables such a clarinet to produce a great tone. You can use a clarinet that is made from this material during performances.

Intermediate and professional clarinets are usually made from materials like grenadilla wood. This material also gives them an elegant look and makes them sound great. The problem with such clarinets is that they require high maintenance and may get damaged due to humidity changes. Wood clarinets are also more expensive than plastic ones.

  • Key

You should also pay more attention to the keys of a clarinet before making your first-time purchase. Clarinets come with either silver or nickel-plated keys. Some clarinets also come with Hamilton plated keys. Choose a clarinet that features nickel-plated keys if you want more durable keys. This key material is often used to make intermediate and student clarinets.

On the other hand, silver-plated keys lead to a darker tone in a clarinet than nickel-plated keys. This material is heavier and can easily get tarnished without proper maintenance. Hamilton plated keys give a clarinet a golden look. Regardless of the type of keys you prefer for a clarinet, you should confirm that they cover the holes completely. Each key should also have a thick pad that does not have signs of wearing down.

If you wish to buy a clarinet for a young player, you should focus on models that have reduced keyworK. Such a clarinet is excellent for a player as they gradually develop their skills in playing this musical instrument.

  • Mouthpiece

Though most beginner clarinets come with a basic mouthpiece, you can upgrade this after some time. Most student clarinets come with a plastic mouthpiece. If you don’t plan to replace this feature later, you can choose a more expensive clarinet containing an ebonite mouthpiece.

This is a better quality material for the mouthpiece, and it can improve the performance of a clarinet. You should also confirm that the clarinet you buy the first time has a functional mouthpiece and a protective cap and ligature.

  • Bore size

The sizes and styles of bores vary in clarinets. When you buy your first student clarinet, you can choose one with a smaller bore since it will be easy to play in tune. Advanced players go for clarinets with larger bores since they project well and lead to a big sound. A clarinet with a larger bore is more challenging to play. Confirm that the bore of the clarinet you want to pay for is not cracked.

  • Type of reed

The manufacturers of clarinets use different reeds in their making. If you get a clarinet that comes with a standard reed, you can change this feature and improve the quality of sound it produces. Some of the reeds that clarinets use include Rico and Vandoren.


Choosing a clarinet the first time can be confusing without proper guidance. You can, however, have a better experience if you pay attention to the features we have discussed. A good beginner clarinet should come in a high-quality body, have durable keys, and have a functional mouthpiece. You should also choose one with a smaller bore.


What is the difference between a poly cylindrical bore and a cylindrical bore?

A clarinet with a poly cylindrical bore has excellent intonation but is less flexible. One that features a cylindrical bore can offer great volume and is more flexible.

What kind of a barrel do student clarinets come with?

The barrel often matches the material that the clarinet is made from. If, for instance, you go for a student clarinet made from ebonite, it is likely to have an ebonite barrel.

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.

Leave a Comment