Wooden Vs. Plastic Clarinet – Which One Is For You?

Not sure if you should buy the wooden or the plastic clarinet for yourself or your child, this guide is exactly what you need to make the right decision.

So, let’s get right into it!

Remember that choosing between the best of the plastic and the wooden clarinets is important because it will be an end to the endless requests for any new reeds, the relentless squeaks, and all other upgrades. So, instead of spending months or years replacing and upgrading these parts, you’d want to make sure that you choose the right clarinet.

Unfortunately, knowing that you need an upgrade is not enough; it is confusing and stressful. And if you are looking for the very best clarinet for your child, then you need to think of what makes up the clarinet and how reliable the parts are.

This guide will look at the two main types of clarinets and what makes them different. But first, an overview of each type of clarinet.

Wooden clarinets

The wooden clarinets are high-quality and advanced clarinets ideal for both students and professional clarinet players across the world. These clarinets are expensive and offer the best value for money, given the excellent sound that comes from these clarinets.

Generally, the wooden clarinets are made of a kind of wood called the African Blackwood or granadilla, which is one of the types of trees protected under the CITES laws. The reason for this is that the wood is quite dark and produces an impressive and rich sound that is better than what you’d get from the plastic clarinets. These wooden clarinets also boast a wide range of benefits like precise tuning and adjustable thumb rests.

Unfortunately, the wooden clarinets need a lot of care and attention because this type of wood is very sensitive to humidity and changes in temperature. These clarinets also require more upkeep than the plastic ones, and you also need to give them a good deal of time for them to sit – that is the breaking-in time. And though you may not like the breaking-in waiting period, this time and the need to oil the bore every few months will ensure that it lasts longer and delivers great sound in the long run.

Generally, the wooden clarinets cost more on the market. They are considered the very best types of clarinets because the use of the granadilla wood results in that unmistakably warm sound and the great resonance that it delivers.

Plastic clarinet

On the other hand, the plastic clarinets are ideal for beginners. These plastic clarinets are quite durable and resilient, and they will withstand bumps, drops, and general wear and tear. Since students tend to be careless with handling their instruments, the plastic clarinets are ideal for them. In general, the plastic clarinets are built just like the wood clarinets, with silver-plated keys and all other keyholes made the same way. The use of plastic might not mean the warmest or the most superior tones like what you hear playing the wooden clarinets, but the sound from the ABS Resin clarinets is good enough for beginners.

The plastic clarinets ensure smooth and consistent uniformity of sound across all the clarinets. They are also lightweight, and these features make them lightweight, comfortable, and perfect for beginners. The clarinets also withstand weather changes with ease.

Now that we have the basics covered, let’s look at the main features that differentiate these types of clarinets.

Comparison Table

Features Wooden Clarinets Plastic clarinets
Durability Very durable Not as durable
Material Grenadilla ABS Resin/ polyresin
Maintenance Oiling Wiping and cleaning
Price Expensive Affordable
Best for Experts and professionals Beginners

Differences between the wooden and the plastic clarinets


The beginner clarinets are durable and lightweight plastic that is easy to play on. Most of the plastic clarinets are made of resin or ABS resin, which results in a very durable and long-lasting clarinet that still delivers great sound.

The plastic used is less sensitive to temperature and humidity changes, meaning that it is the safest option for kids and beginners learning how to play the clarinet. Kids playing outdoors will also survive knocks, bumps, and drops. The use of plastic also creates the best clarinets for bands and orchestras outdoors.

Note that unlike the plastic used in the older days, the new clarinets made of plastic are crafted out of high-quality resin AB, a form of plastic that ensures the best performance of the clarinet, its durability, and overall great sound.

Wooden clarinets are made of grenadilla wood, also called the African Blackwood. And as mentioned above, this type of wood is used for high-quality clarinets that produce superior quality sound. As a result, grenadilla is used in the saxophone, bagpipes, and oboes, among other wooden wind instruments.

Grenadilla wood is used for musical instruments because it is dense, boasts a nice consistency, and it’s also very durable. The sound of the clarinets is great, and its crafting ensures the best sound and high-quality build of the clarinets.

In addition to the grenadilla, the other woods used to make clarinets include the cocobolo and the Honduran Rosewood.

Caring for clarinets

Most of the wooden clarinets on the market are made of grenadilla, which is, unfortunately, extremely sensitive to temperature and humidity. And the only way to enjoy great sound and for the clarinet to last as long as possible would be to give it time to break in and then oil the bore regularly. Doing this will help prevent the wood from cracking because of excessive dryness.

On the other hand, the plastic clarinet doesn’t require any oiling, although you’d want to pass the clarinet swab string through each section of the clarinet to get rid of moisture. You’d have to clean it every day too. You also have to wash the mouthpiece every day using liquid soap and a cold water solution, then run the brush back and forth to prevent residue buildup. And when done, rinse it with cold water.


The wooden clarinets cost more than the plastic clarinets, and the wooden clarinets last longer than the plastic clarinets.

Verdict: Which is better?

Well, generally, you can have a wooden or plastic clarinet, depending on your budget. The plastic clarinets are ideal for beginners and intermediate players, while the wooden clarinets are more suitable for experienced players. So, either could be better, depending on your needs. Your budget matters too, and the wooden clarinets are ideal for experts.


Do the plastic clarinets deliver a good tone?

Yes. They are good enough, and depending on how well you tune the clarinet, it offers a great-quality sound.

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