Why is my clarinet squeaking?

When your clarinet squeaks, it means that the air is not moving properly through the instrument. This can be due to an improper playing technique or a fault in one of the parts of the clarinet.

A clarinet can be one of the best instruments to play thanks to its beautiful tones and not to mention how portable it is. I remember when I got my first clarinet, the first squeak almost made me panic since I thought that my brand new clarinet was already broken. Luckily I figured out what the problem was, including other reasons why it might squeak, and how to prevent these nasty squeaks in the future.

But before we get to it, let’s go over some of the essential parts of the clarinet in case you’re a beginner, just to make sure you fully comprehend the terms used in the rest of the post.

Part Function
Mouthpiece It is the part of the clarinet through which the player blows air into the clarinet. It can be made from wood, rubber, ivory, metal, plastic, or glass.
Reed It is made from a bamboo cane and it vibrates when blown to create the sound that comes out of the clarinet.
Ligature It secures the reed to the mouthpiece of the clarinet. It also creates a free space for the reed to vibrate as freely as possible.
Keys These are the silver rings that we press into the holes in a clarinet to change the pitch of the sound produced by blowing through the reed.
Key Pads They ensure the key properly seals the tone-hole.

Why is your clarinet squeaking?

Tension in the embouchure

While playing musical instruments, the embouchure is simply the way the player’s mouth is applied to the mouthpiece of the instrument. Too much tension on the embouchure such as biting the mouthpiece or reed, tonguing too hard, or playing with too much pressure can cause the clarinet to squeak.

An imbalanced reed

A clarinet with an imbalanced reed, which means that one side of the cane is too far to one side than the other, will likely produce a squeaking sound. The reed should be centered in the middle of the mouthpiece. On the same note, reeds that are too hard or too soft can cause the clarinet to squeak. If you are not sure how strong the reed should be, you can consult your private teacher or band director.

Putting too much of the mouthpiece in your mouth

While playing, you should be putting approximately ¼ of the mouthpiece in your mouth. Putting much more than ¼ makes the reed hard to control making the clarinet squeak very easily.

Too much air at once

Despite the clarinet needing a lot of air to play, too much air can do more harm than good. Maintain a fast and steady motion of air to prevent squeaking.

Mixed signals

While playing wind instruments such as the clarinet, mixed signals are when air and the player’s fingers do not correspond on the same note. For example, if you’re using the airstream for altissimo note but fingering a low E, the clarinet might squeak. However, sometimes players intentionally use mixed signals to produce some cool sounds and techniques. So if you’re interested and want to try something a little different, have fun with it!

The instrument might not be in good working condition

If you suspect that it could be the clarinet that has a problem, or once you try everything but the squeaking persists, you could take the clarinet to a repair technician. Some cases that could be detected are pads that don’t completely cover the tone holes or leaks.

Old or defective mouthpiece

Old, broken, or defective mouthpieces are a common cause of squeaking clarinets. It is necessary to find a mouthpiece that works with your lips, teeth, and mouth since they change over time. Having one that suits your oral cavity will ensure that your clarinet produces the best sound possible.

Poor articulation

Articulation fundamentals are one of the first things that an aspiring clarinet player needs to learn. Too much pressure or improper tonguing placement affects the airflow and this causes the clarinet to squeak. Just revisit the articulation fundamentals to check what you could be doing wrong.

Finger squeak

This can happen when the player’s fingers hit another key. A finger squeak can also happen when the player fails to cover the holes fully. This mostly happens when playing faster passages.

How to stop squeaking on your clarinet?

From the above pointers, one can probably figure out some of the remedies for a squeaking clarinet. Let’s expound on them while giving some more tips.

  • Ensure that your clarinet is put together correctly. This is one of the most obvious ways to prevent a squeaking clarinet. Making sure that the parts of the clarinet are secured properly prevents a vast number of problems while playing.
  • Evaluate your form. This is simply making sure that you are not applying too much pressure on the mouthpiece or reed, for example by biting them.
  • Avoid putting too little or too much of your mouth on the mouthpiece. Like we said earlier, you should put approximately ¼ of the mouthpiece in your mouth. While playing, also ensure that your mouth forms an airtight pouch around the mouthpiece.
  • Ensure your reed is centered on the mouthpiece. As you assemble your clarinet, put the tip of the reed a bit lower than the mouthpiece and make sure it is centered on the mouthpiece.
  • Cover the tone holes of the clarinet completely. Covering the appropriate tone holes completely while playing ensures that air does not leak out therefore there won’t be squeaks.
  • Check that you have a good reed. Make sure that your reed is not cracked, chipped, or broken. Also, your reed should be a bit moist since a dry reed could be the cause of a squeaking sound. If your reed is new, it may need to soak for a longer period to absorb the proper amount of moisture.


Don’t be alarmed if your clarinet squeaks since this is quite common. Just ensure you look out for some of these causes. In case you’ve tried everything, take it to a repair technician to check it out for you.


Should my clarinet reed be dry?

No, your reed should be a bit moist to prevent a squeaky sound when playing.

Why does my clarinet squeak when I blow?

A squeaking clarinet is caused by improper movement of air through the instrument.

How do I tell if my reed is imbalanced?

If your reed is not centered in the middle of the mouthpiece, it is imbalanced.

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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