Choosing to pick up a musical instrument is one of the best choices you can make. It doesn’t just open up a whole new avenue of creative expression; it also allows you to enjoy all sorts of new opportunities. No matter what your age is, you’re never too young or too old to make friends while making music. But if you want to enjoy your experience learning music you need to have the right tool. A well-crafted instrument can make beautiful music, but a cheap and poorly built instrument can be difficult to play for even the most experienced professionals. We’re here to help you cut through all of the conflicting information out there and find out just how to choose the perfect clarinet for your needs.

TOP
  • Jean Paul USA CL-300
  • Price: See Here
  • Sounds great
  • Plenty of accessories
  • Quality customer support
BEST VALUE
  • Mendini by Cecilio
  • Price: See Here
  • Great for beginners
  • Available in nine colors
  • Lots of accessories
  • Lazarro 150-BK-L
  • Price: See Here
  • Sounds lovely
  • Great for marching bands
  • Lots of color combinations

If you don’t have any experience with the clarinet or similar instruments it might seem like all clarinets are the same. This is because modern manufacturing techniques have allowed even the cheapest models to become fairly sophisticated in recent decades. Still, you can’t judge a clarinet by its appearance. You need to look at things like the reputation of the company that made it, the materials it’s made of, its dimensions, and more. Only by taking a holistic view can you make useful comparisons and narrow down your options.

In this article, we will look at the five best clarinets on the market right now for learners. We’ve focused on clarinets that are affordable and designed for beginners, but our list also includes clarinets for intermediate and experienced players. As you read on it’s important to remember that there is no one perfect clarinet, you need to look for the clarinet that fits your particular needs. It’s why we wrote a section on how you can figure out your priorities and use them to find the instrument you’re looking for. From the start of your search to getting the most out of your new instrument, we hope that our guide will help you as you embark on an amazing new journey into the world of music.

TOP 5 CLARINETS

JEAN PAUL USA CL-300 STUDENT CLARINET


 FEATURES

 Tuned in the key of Bb.

 Black and silver color scheme.

 Ebonite body.

 Nickel keys.

 Includes a mouthpiece, ligature, cap, carrying case, Rico reeds, gloves, cleaning cloth, and cork grease.

 2-pound instrument weight.

 4-pound shipping weight.

 Made in the USA.

Covered by one-year limited warranty.

 Accident protection plans are available.

CONS

 Subpar mouthpiece. The mouthpiece isn’t terrible, but it isn’t as good as the rest of the instrument. The mouthpiece should be replaced for the best playing experience possible.

 The keys are easy to bend. If you don’t handle this instrument properly, the keys can become bent and broken all too easily. This can be problematic if you are shopping for a clarinet that will be used by a child.

 Looks can be deceiving. The body of this instrument is designed to look like it’s made from wood, but it’s made from plastic in actuality. It feels a little less sturdy in your hands then it looks from a distance, which may bother some.

 Hit or miss accessory quality. It’s clear that most of the accessories bundled with this clarinet were chosen because they were cheap. Don’t expect anything fancy; the gloves seem especially pointless.

PROS

 Lovely sound. The tone that it produces is very attractive and more than good enough for most students.

 Responsive keys. You can start making music with this clarinet with minimal muss or fuss. The keys are reactive and move smoothly.

 Looks great. This is an attractive looking instrument. It looks like it costs much more than its actual price tag.

 Comes with plenty of accessories. By purchasing this package, you can avoid the need to purchase any other accessories. You don’t just get must-haves like a mouthpiece and reeds, you also get helpful add-ons like a carrying case and cleaning cloth. This package will meet all your needs with one affordable purchase.

 Includes spacious and portable case. The case has a handle and loops for a shoulder snap so that it can be carried however you see fit. It also has enough room for all the included accessories and a pouch on the outside for sheet music. Perfect or anyone who plans on carrying their clarinet around.

 Comes with a warranty. When purchased new and registered with Jean Paul USA this clarinet is covered by a one-year limited warranty.

 Extra protection is available for purchase. If you want protection that stretches beyond the basic one-year period you can pay extra to get either the two or three-year accident protection plan. The plans are affordable ways to protect your investment.

 Good customer service. If you have any issues with your clarinet, you can get in touch with people from Jean Paul USA easily. It’s clear that they take customer satisfaction seriously.

Any music student needs to understand that their experience depends on the quality of their instrument. Even the best musicians will have a difficult time coaxing a beautiful sound out of a poorly-built instrument. That’s why it’s worth investing in an instrument like the Jean Paul USA CL-300 Student Clarinet. This clarinet is just about perfect for beginners and intermediate students who want a clarinet they can learn to play on. It’s easy to play, but it’s also affordable enough to fit almost any budget. The only real downside is the construction, which is a bit less sturdy than it could be. This is a minor drawback. It might not be professional-grade, but it will suit the needs of the vast majority of players. When you compare its quality with its pricing, it’s easy to see why we had to choose it for our top option. If you can only look at one clarinet, this is the one to look at.

Nicole

Editor, Musical Instruments Expert

MENDINI BY CECILIO B FLAT CLARINET

 FEATURES

 Tuned in the key of Bb.

 Comes in nine colors.

 ABS plastic body.

 Nickel keys.

 60mm bore neck.

 Adjustable thumb rest.

 Includes mouthpiece, ligature, cap, a case, two barrels, ten reeds, cork grease, cleaning cloth, clarinet stand, pocketbook, and gloves.

 3.6-pound shipping weight.

 Covered by one-year limited warranty.

 Accident protection plans are available.

CONS

 Made for absolute beginners. This instrument is not designed or constructed to satisfy experienced learners or professionals. If you already have experience playing the clarinet, then you might want to look elsewhere.

 Made with cheap materials. The price tag might seem too good to be true at first glance, but when you handle the instrument, you will understand it. The materials aren’t bad; they’re simply a far cry from heavy-duty.

 Can be difficult to maintain. It isn’t always easy to disassemble and reassemble this instrument, which makes cleaning and maintaining it a bit of a chore. Given the materials used to make this instrument, it can feel like it will break if you handle it too roughly.

 Cheap accessories. Everything comes with a cost, including bargains. The accessories included in this package will get the job done, but they are definitely on the cheap side. This package will help you avoid upfront costs, but you might be looking to upgrade your accessories relatively soon after purchasing this clarinet.

 Colorful models sound different. You wouldn’t think that the color of an instrument would impact its sound, but this is the case with this clarinet. The basic, ebonite black clarinet sounds a little more rich and traditional than the other models.

PROS

 Available in plenty of colors. You can choose between nine colors, black ebonite, blue, green, purple, red, pink, sky blue, white, and yellow. If you want an instrument that will help you stand out, then this is a wise investment.

 Available in plenty of colors. You can choose between nine colors, black ebonite, blue, green, purple, red, pink, sky blue, white, and yellow. If you want an instrument that will help you stand out, then this is a wise investment.

 Tons of accessories. It’s hard to find a package that includes more accessories than this one. In addition to basics like a mouthpiece and ligature, you get eight different bonus add-ons.

 Includes a nice case. The included case is hard-shell and built with both handles and shoulder strap hooks. It measures  4.15 inches wide, by 15.6 inches long, and 8.1 inches long. It’s compact enough to be highly portable while still offering more than enough storage space.

 Quality assurance is performed in the United States. While the instrument itself is made overseas, Cecilio does have inspectors looking at the finished product when it arrives in America. This provides an extra level of quality protection that some other companies don’t offer.

 Comes with a warranty. If you purchase this clarinet new, you get a one-year limited warranty from Cecilio.

 Extra protection is available for purchase. For protection beyond the standard one-year warranty, you can pay extra for accident protection. Two and three-year plans are available at low prices.

If you’re shopping for a child, it’s hard to find a better instrument than the MCT-JE2 from Mendini by Cecilio. This isn’t to say that it isn’t fit for adults, beginners of all ages will enjoy learning with this instrument. Still, the MCT-JE2 offers something unique for younger learners, a wide array of color choices. Standard clarinets might seem stuffy and boring to some children, but this clarinet comes in a veritable rainbow of colors. If color isn’t your thing, you can still get the MCT-JE2 in a basic ebonite black. This package is a must-see for bargain hunters. It isn’t just priced to move; it also comes bundled with more accessories than just about any other instrument. For a lovely sound at a beautiful price Mendini by Cecilio. For this reason, the MCT-JE2 earned our best buy option.

Nicole

Editor, Musical Instruments Expert

LAZARRO 150-BK-L B-FLAT 


FEATURES

 Tuned in the key of Bb.

 Comes in twelve colors.

 Hard resin body for the ebonite model, ABS plastic for all other colors.

 Nickel-plated keys, available in silver and gold.

 Adjustable thumb rest.

 Includes mouthpiece, ligature, cap, case, cleaning cloth, backup barrel, reed holder, gloves, screwdriver, and cork grease.

 4.2-pound instrument weight.

 Covered by three-month limited warranty.

 Accident protection plans are available.

CONS

 Comes with a very short warranty. While other instruments come with a one-year warranty, this clarinet comes with a three-month warranty.

 Questionable keys. The keys look nice, but they upon close inspection it’s obvious that they aren’t made with the best materials. If dropped or used too roughly the keys can bend and break.

 Cork comes off with use. If you play this clarinet regularly eventually, the cork will start to come off. It takes a while, but it can be an annoying problem once it begins to occur.

 Cork comes ungreased. You will have to apply the included cork grease as soon as possible because it comes un-greased.

 Comes with poor-quality reeds. If you use the reeds that come packaged with the clarinet, you won’t enjoy its best sound. The reeds are unfortunately cheap and negatively impact the instrument’s sound.

PROS

 Sounds nice. It sounds just like a clarinet should. Its smooth sound is more than enough for the vast majority of music students.

 Easy to assemble. The clarinet comes in pieces, but it can be put together quickly and easily.

 Easy to assemble. The clarinet comes in pieces, but it can be put together quickly and easily.

 Designed for outdoor use. This clarinet can handle the sun, rain, and cold like a champ. This makes the instrument great for marching band members.

 Includes necessary accessories. With the accessories included in this package, you have what you need to play this clarinet, carry it, and maintain it. No need to pay for additional items up front in order to use your new instrument.

 Extra protection is available for purchase. If you want to protect your purchase, you can pay extra for a two or three-year protection plan.

 Comes well-packaged. The instrument itself comes packed inside of its case, protected by plenty of padding. You can order with confidence knowing your product is likely to arrive safely.

When purchasing an instrument, you should think about where you’re going to play it. For example, if you’re going to perform in a marching band, then an instrument like the 150-BK-L B-Flat Bb Clarinet from Lazarro is a wise choice. It’s a well-built instrument that is designed to stand up to weather in ways that other instruments aren’t. It’s also very visually appealing, and highly customizable. You can mix and match using twelve body colors and two key colors, which adds up to 24 unique styles. If you want an instrument that fits your unique look perfectly then, the 150-BK-L is a good pick. There’s plenty to like about this instrument, but there are also drawbacks. The biggest issue is the very limited warranty. While one-year of coverage comes with most instruments, Lazarro only offers three months of protection. Add in quality concerns and buying this clarinet without adding in an accident protection plan can be a bit risky. Still, this package is very affordable, and the incredible variety of color combinations will attract plenty of musicians.

Nicole

Editor, Musical Instruments Expert

LJ HUTCHEN BB CLARINET

FEATURES

 >Tuned in the key of Bb.

 Black and silver color scheme.

 Ebonite body.

 Nickel-plated brass keys.

 Boehm fingering.

 62mm barrel length.

 Includes case, cleaning swab, Rico reed, and cork grease.

 5-pound shipping weight.

 Covered by two-year limited warranty.

 Accident protection plans are available.

CONS

 Questionable quality control. The manufacturer says they carefully examine all the instruments they ship, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. While most of their clarinets arrive in great shape, there are too many reports of faulty instruments to ignore.

 Requires liberal use of cork grease. To get the action and sound you want from this instrument you need to know how to apply cork grease, and you need to apply it often. Otherwise, the cork fittings are a little on the tight side and can cause issues.

 Not for professionals. It’s a step up from clarinets for absolute beginners, but it still isn’t professional-grade.

 Nickel plating can be flaky. If you play this clarinet regularly enough, you might experience the nickel plating around the air holes flaking off.

PROS

 Comes with a great warranty. While the standard warranty lasts for just one year LJ Hutchen covers this clarinet for two years! They will replace the instrument if an issue appears within 30 days of delivery, while they will repair it if something happens after that point.  

 Looks lovely. This instrument is made with quality materials and construction techniques. The matte finishing looks great and gives it a more traditional look.

 Looks lovely. This instrument is made with quality materials and construction techniques. The matte finishing looks great and gives it a more traditional look.

 Well-built. This clarinet has a solid feel. Everything is put together nicely, and the parts are made from quality materials. Doesn’t feel like a budget-instrument in your hands, even if you’re used to top-of-the-line instruments.

 Easy to handle. This is an instrument that even absolute beginners can handle. It is simple to take apart, clean, put together, tune, and play.

 Includes a fantastic case. The case is a cut above others you’ll find included with clarinets. It’s a hard case that has compartments designed to safely hold the parts of the clarinet in place during travel. The case is also lined with plush, for an extra layer of protection.

 Extra protection is available for purchase. In addition to the impressive warranty, the accident protection plans also offer more coverage than average. There are three and four-year plans you can choose from to get protection beyond the two-year limited warranty.

 Good customer service. If you have an issue with your instrument or if you need a replacement part it’s a breeze to get in touch with LJ Hutchen. While other companies take their customers for granted, LJ Hutchen seems to go out of their way to make sure people who buy from them are satisfied.

If you’ve got some experience with the clarinet or with musical instruments in general than a horn like the Bb Clarinet from LJ Hutchen is a great investment. The horn is also a smart-buy for absolute beginners, but the full potential of this instrument will be fully appreciated by intermediate students. It should be noted that there are credible reports of quality control issues. This is the reason we had to dock this clarinet and place it below some other instruments. Thankfully LJ Hutchen offers a great warranty, and their customer service is very responsive. If any issue arises with your clarinet, they will do what they can to help. As a company, they trulyseem to care about their customers. That alone is a good reason to invest in this horn, it’s clearly made by musicians, for musicians.

Nicole

Editor, Musical Instruments Expert

YAMAHA YCL-255 STANDARD


FEATURES

 Tuned in the key of Bb.

 Black and silver color scheme.

 ABS resin body.

 Nickel silver keys.

 Boehm fingering.

 65mm barrel length.

 Adjustable thumb-rest.

 Valentino pads.

 Includes mouthpiece, case, cleaning swab, manual, and cork grease.

 5.5-pound shipping weight.

 Covered by five-year limited warranty.

 Accident protection plans are available. 

CONS

 The warranty can be complicated. It’s always important to read the fine print, but this is even truer when buying an instrument from Yamaha. They offer a five-year warranty, but to enjoy its full benefits you need to buy the instrument from an authorized retailer and use it within a specific geographic area. If you travel too far with your instrument or use it incorrectly the warranty can be voided. Make sure you read the warranty on Yamaha’s webpage to understand what it entails.

 Not made of wood. This trumpet is designed to look like it’s made from wood but it’s made from ABS plastic resin. It’s some of the best plastic on the market, but it’s still a step below the kind of wood that is traditionally used to make clarinets. It doesn’t impact the sound too much, but it might be disappointing for some.

 Keys make a slight clicking sound. This noise is hard to notice, but it may annoy some people who are used to playing professional-quality clarinets.

 Not quite professional-grade. This clarinet comes the closest to the standards demanded by professional musicians, but it’s still not quite there. The sound is lovely, but it falls just a bit short of the highest standards.

 Not a bargain clarinet. The price is affordable when compared to Yamaha’s other clarinets, but this instrument is still more expensive than the bargain clarinets on the market. This is an instrument that is made for intermediate to expert players.

PROS

 Made with quality materials. Yamaha uses some of the best materials available to make their instruments, and the YCL-255 is no exception. It’s made with ABS Resin, nickel silver, and stainless steel. This is an instrument that is built to last.

 Looks beautiful. This instrument might not be made with wood, but it looks like a traditional wood instrument, even up close. The ABS resin is covered with a nice matte finish that goes a long ways towards replicating the look of wood.

 Produces a lovely sound. This horn’s sound comes very close to producing the kind of sound that usually only comes from traditional and pricey wooden clarinets. The sound is warm, rich, and easy to produce. This makes this instrument perfect for learners, from beginners to experts.

 Durable. The quality of the materials combined with the level of craftsmanship used to design and assemble this instrument makes for a highly durable instrument.

 Includes quality accessories. This clarinet doesn’t just come with a decent number of accessories, the accessories included in the package or all quality products. Other packages or filled out with cheap add-ons but the accessories chosen by Yamaha really add lots of value.

 Comes with a warranty. Yamaha has a one-year warranty plan for instruments purchased new from dealers that they have authorized. Their

 Extra protection is available for purchase. Three and four-year accident protection plans are available for purchase. They aren’t cheap, but they are proportional with this instrument’s price tag. They are also a good investment when you consider the cost of replacing the instrument in case of an accident that isn’t covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

For our last clarinet, we’re going to look at something a little different. So far we’ve focused on clarinets that are bargain models, aimed squarely at beginners. The YCL-255 Standard Bb Clarinet from Yamaha is something different, a higher grade of clarinet that is made for musicians who are serious about the clarinet. This clarinet comes from Yamaha, one of the top names in the music instrument business for over a hundred years. This clarinet is a modified version of their professional clarinets, scaled down slightly for students. It’s not quite a professional-grade instrument in the traditional sense, but this clarinet is more than enough for the over 95% of clarinet performers. If you’re willing to pay for the best clarinet you can learn on, this is the clarinet that you should seriously consider. Just remember, if you choose this clarinet you should buy it new from an authorized Yamaha dealer. That way you can ensure that you will be eligible for Yamaha’s warranty program, which will help to protect your investment.

Nicole

Editor, Musical Instruments Expert

HOW TO DISTINGUISH A QUALITY QUALITY CLARINET FROM A CHEAP ONE


 New or Used

Most shoppers instinctively look for the lowest prices they can find. That’s completely understandable, but when it comes to buying a musical instrument, it can be a risky move. Often the cheapest instruments are actually used, and purchasing any used product is a risk. You don’t know how the last owner treated their clarinet, and if something goes wrong with it, you probably won’t be able to get help from the manufacturer. Most manufacturer warranties only cover the original owner; they rarely carry over. When buying used you might get a well-kept instrument, or you might get one that’s rusted out and falling apart, you won’t know until it arrives at your door.

 Brand name

To understand an instrument you need to know something about the people that made it. Quality instruments tend to come from reputable companies with long records of good work. Not just anyone can produce a quality clarinet. Maybe you’ll get lucky when purchasing a generic clarinet, but if you don’t know the people who made it, then you’re taking a risk. If quality is your concern, you should try and purchase a clarinet made by a reputable and experienced instrument manufacturer. The most common clarinet is the Bb clarinet, named so because it is tuned in B-flat. All of the clarinets on our list are in this tuning because most people want this sound so they can play in the average band or orchestra. However, it’s worth noting that there are also A clarinets, C clarinets, D clarinets Eb clarinets, alto clarinets, contrabass clarinets, contra-alto clarinets, and even more. Each clarinet looks different and produces a different sound. The bass clarinet is hooked at each end and looks a little like a cross between a clarinet and a saxophone. These different varieties might look like they only vary cosmetically, but their sounds are also different. Make sure you buy the instrument that produces the sound you are after.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING A CLARINET


 Clarinet Type

The absolute first thing you need to decide when shopping for a clarinet is the type of clarinet you’re looking to purchase. If you’re just learning about the instrument, then you might think there is only one type of clarinet. In reality, there is a wide variety. The different designs vary in their appearance, proportions, and most importantly the sound that they produce.

 Material

Be sure to look at what the instrument is made out of. Traditionally clarinets have been made with wood but producing a quality wooden instrument is tricky business. These days most clarinets are actually made with plastic, to save money and help make maintenance easier. The instruments on our list are all made out of plastic because we wanted to focus on affordable instruments that will meet the needs of the greatest group of people. If you want a professional-grade sound that perfectly matches the classical clarinet sound, then it might be worth it to pay the extra money to get a wooden clarinet. But if you’re a student who is looking to buy your first clarinet you’ll probably find that a quality plastic instrument is good enough for your purposes.

 Fingering

One subtly way that clarinets vary is their fingering style. This mainly refers to the way the keys are positioned on the body of the instrument, but these different styles can also impact the proportions of the instrument itself. There are two main fingering arrangements, the Boehm style, and the Öhler style. The instruments on our list have Boehm fingering arrangements because it is the most popular arrangement. If you’ve picked up a clarinet before chances are that it was built to Boehm specifications. In the beginning, the Boehm style was dominant in France while the Öhler configuration was most popular in Germany. Over time both design approaches have spread across the world, but the Öhler style is still most popular in Germany. This is partly because the Öhler style is more complicated and produces a more melancholy sound. While the Öhler style has its proponents, the average musician prefers the Boehm style’s ease of use and more upbeat sound.

 Barrel length

While barrel length varies widely when you compare the different types of clarinets, there are also subtle variations within the different models of Bb clarinets. The size differences aren’t so different that they might radically change the sound, but this difference still helps shape the sound each clarinet makes. The standard Bb clarinet barrel length is around 66mm, so if you want to get a clarinet that fits the typical sound, you’d expect you should get one that’s around this length. Shorter barrels tend to produce lower pitches while longer barrels tend to produce lower pitches, but length isn’t the only thing that matters. Every aspect of design works together to make the final design. Still, if you want to get a clarinet with a unique pitch, you should look for one that has a shorter or longer than average barrel length.

 Style

The first thing you need to be concerned with when shopping for a clarinet is how it will sound. However, you shouldn’t take this to mean that you can’t consider the way an instrument looks when deciding whether or not you’ll purchase it. To begin with, the look of your instrument can impact the performance opportunities you get. If you want to play in a more conservative setting, such as in an orchestra, you will want a more conservative instrument. The standard black body and silver keys combination will serve you well in most situations. With that said, if you feel like you want a more colorful instrument you should seriously consider getting one. If you like the way your instrument looks, you’ll be more likely to practice with it, and the more practice hours you put in, the better you’ll be in the end.

 Warranty

If you’re going to invest in an instrument, you want to make sure that the instrument will last. Unfortunately, even if you get a well-reviewed instrument from a trusted company, you might still end up dealing with a fault that’s the result of a chance accident. In that case, you had better hope that your instrument is protected by a quality warranty. The two things you need to look at are the length of the warranty and the details on the warranty. Of course, in general, it’s better to get a longer warranty. But every warranty has restrictions and limitations. Usually, you need to buy an instrument new from an authorized retailer to receive coverage from the instrument’s manufacturer. Some companies have very forgiving warranty while others are very strict, try and find out as much as you can about an instrument’s warranty before you purchase it.

 Manufacturer

A clarinet’s quality and its warranty are both linked to its manufacturer. The company that makes an instrument is usually the one that has repair or replace it if something goes wrong. Of course, some companies don’t take any responsibility for the products they make. These companies usually don’t have a recognizable brand and sell their products at rock-bottom prices. If you buy a generic instrument, you’re taking a risk.

 Accessories

The final thing you should consider is what sort of accessories are included with the clarinet you’re looking at. Of course, you should make sure the base instrument is the type you’re looking for, but a clarinet needs certain accessories. Without reeds, you can’t make music, and things like cork grease and a case are essential for protecting your investment. The more accessories are included in your initial purchase, the less you’ll have to pay in the near future. That is, unless the accessories are low quality. In that case, you might need to spend money replacing those accessories sooner than you’d like to. Finding the right package for your needs is a balancing act, you might want as many accessories as you can get but a few good accessories are better than a lot of cheap accessories.

BEST CLARINET BRANDS


 Jean Paul USA

The goal laid out by Jean Paul USA is simple, they want to produce quality instruments for an affordable price. If you go to the website you can see their lofty goal for yourself, they say themselves that their instruments are “built to perform, and last a lifetime.” This Florida based business isn’t a large company, but it make up for its small size with its focus. They don’t produce a huge range of products, they have concentrated their efforts on building and selling wind instruments. In addition to their clarinet, they also sell saxophones, flutes, trumpets, and trombones. One thing that’s important to know about Jean Paul USA is that they require products to be registered with them in order to receive full warranty coverage. This means that people who buy their products and don’t act on this information fast enough may not be able to get their clarinet repaired or replaced if something goes wrong. This is another reminder of why it’s so important to read the details of any warranty agreement. If you do register your product, you’re going to get good service and coverage, which makes it worth the effort. In the end, they are a company that is defined by their focus on producing affordable wind instruments for students.

 Cecilio

If you shop for just about any instrument online chances are that you are going to end up looking at an instrument made by Cecilio. They are a company that has taken advantage of the internet to reach a global market that far outstrips the size of their operation. The official story of the company is that it was created after one of the founders saw a family struggling to find a violin for their daughter that they could actually afford. This lead them to create instruments that are both reliable and affordable, to help ensure that everyone has a chance to make music. The name of the company comes from Saint Cecilia, the Catholic Saint known as a patron of music and the people that make it. Founded in 2004, this company out of Rancho Cucamonga, California produces an incredibly wide variety of instruments and accessories. They produce string, woodwind, and brass instruments, along with matching accessories.

 Lazarro

In 2007 the Lazarro musical instrument company was founded in New York. Their goal is to make instruments that are approved by music teachers so that they can help equip music students in classrooms across the globe. This isn’t to say that their products are simply for students, their instruments are designed to be fit for musicians of all skill levels. Their instruments are produced in factories outside of the country, but they advertise that all of their instruments are inspected in their American facilities before they are shipped out.

 LJ Hutchen

The LJ Hutchen Corporation came out of decades of experience teaching music and selling musical instruments. The company was founded by Paul Effman, a musician, teacher, and instrument repair technician. He made his first mark on the music world by starting a music program at St. Hyacinth School in New York back in 1971. He would later see an opening in the instrument market and start LJ Hutchen Instruments to fill this void. The company is still based out of New York, the same state where Mr. Effman started his first music program. Most companies that make musical instruments advertise how they offer instruments “made for musicians, by musicians.” Often this feels like a hollow slogan, but with LJ Hutchen you get a sense that it’s the truth. One of their biggest selling points is their customer support. They make it incredibly easy to get in touch with a representative who can address your issues.

 Yamaha

The name Yamaha is known worldwide for their incredibly large range of products. Some of their most well-known products today are their vehicles, but the company started out manufacturing pianos. The company was founded back in 1887 and has survived while most of their competitors have faded into the pages of music history. Their ability to adapt and persevere has made Yamaha is one of the biggest and most established names in musical instrument manufacturing. They produce models that are suited for professionals and learners alike. The student model we looked at earlier is actually a pared down version of their professional clarinet, built along professional standards but designed to be affordable and approachable enough for students. If you’re willing to pay extra to get an instrument that will last then you should look into buying a Yamaha clarinet.

CHOOSING THE BEST CLARINET FOR YOUR NEEDS


 Goals

The first thing you should do as you shop for your new clarinet is think about how you want to use it. Where do you see your musical career going? If you just want to practice for fun in your own home, then you can but just about any instrument and get some benefits from it. But if you have higher aspirations you need to find an instrument that lives up to your dreams. One thing to consider is whether you’ll be playing in a marching band or not. Marching bands are unique because the musicians that play in them have to perform out in the elements. Wooden clarinets should always be protected from the cold, the heat, and the rain, but in a marching band, you’ll probably have to deal with all of these. Here’s where a plastic instrument might be superior to a wooden one. Quality plastic instruments are better equipped to handle weather changes than their wooden counterparts. This is just one example of how thinking about your goals can help you decide on the type of clarinet you should invest in.

Appearance

Most people think that the clarinet is a bit of a stuffy instrument, only available in drab colors. It is true that most clarinets come in the classic black and silver, but there are plenty of colorful clarinets out there. Brands like Lazarro and Cecilio produce a Technicolor range of clarinets. If you are shopping for a child and looking for a way to make sure they enjoy their new instrument, then you should definitely consider getting them a clarinet in that’s their favorite color. With Lazarro clarinets you can even choose the color of the body and the keys of the instrument, for dozens of color combinations. Anyone who has ever idolized a musician knows that playing music isn’t just about the way you sound, it’s also about the way you look. Choose a clarinet that looks as good to you as it sounds.  

The total package

You can buy a clarinet that comes with nothing besides the instrument itself and maybe a mouthpiece and reed. However, if you’re shopping online, you’ll find that most clarinets come packaged with a variety of accessories. These accessories can really make a difference in the total amount of cash you need to spend. If you buy everything separately, it will usually cost more than a package deal. However, when everything is packaged together, you don’t get to pick and choose which items you get. Often companies toss in the cheapest add-ons they can find to make their deal look more impressive. Accessories can sweeten the deal, but in the end, the most important thing to find is a solid clarinet. Once you find that the accessories should be considered the cherry on top of the deal.

Purchase protection

When you purchase a product, you’re making the deal. You’re giving up your hard-earned money in return for certain things that you are promised by the retailer. The problem with online shopping is that some sellers have realized that they can get away with being less than honest. This is why purchase protection is important. Look for things like warranties, money-back guarantees, and accident protection plans. These ensure that you get what you are promised, and they tell you how the seller or manufacturer will reimburse you if something goes wrong. If you purchase a clarinet without this sort of protection, you might be able to save some money, but you’ll also be taking a big gamble. Don’t buy without purchase protection unless you’re willing to buy an entirely new clarinet if something goes wrong with the first.

CLARINET ACCESSORIES AND PARTS

 Rico by D’Addario Bb Clarinet Reeds

The reed may be one of the most underrated parts of a musical instrument. The reed may look small and unimportant, but it is the vibration of the reed that determines the quality of the sound that comes out of the clarinet. That’s why it’s worth investing in quality reeds, and treating them properly. It’s also important to know when it’s time to replace your reed. You should never be afraid to move on after a reed has been used up. Buying a ten pack ensures that you’ll be able to rotate through reeds regularly for a while before you need to buy more.

 Hodge Silk Clarinet Swab – Black

Keeping the inside of your clarinet clean and dry is one of the most important things you can do to keep your instrument in good condition. If you don’t touch the interior of your clarinet or clean it with just any cloth, you’re basically asking for mold and rust. Investing in a quality clarinet swab and using it every time you play your instrument will help extend its lifespan and keep it in top-condition at all times.

 Vandoren CG100B Clarinet Cork Grease

You should always keep your cork properly greased. This will ensure that you have the easiest time possible playing your instrument. Quality cork grease should be easy to apply, keep your cork smooth and airtight, and it should also smell nice. You have to be intimate with your instrument as you play it, you don’t want it to smell foul because you chose a cheap and unpleasant brand of cork grease.

 Handle with care

Guitar Amplifiers might look sturdy but that doesn’t mean that you can simply toss them around. Dropping an amp from a height of just a few feet can lead to permanent damage. Don’t keep it anywhere that it might fall off of easily. You should also consider putting some padding between your amp and any other amps or heavy pieces of luggage when loading your amp into a truck or van for storage.

 

TIPS, TRICKS AND ADVICE

 Read the manual

The best way to make sure that you’re handling your instrument properly is by reading the manual and following the instructions it contains. In this guide, we’ll be giving you general advice that should apply to every clarinet, but you will also need information tailored to the specific model of clarinet you end up choosing.

 Ease in your new instrument

You shouldn’t overplay your new clarinet when you first get it. During the first two weeks with your new clarinet, you should try and play it for between twenty and thirty minutes a day. Playing it any more than that can lead to lasting distortions.

 Clean your clarinet regularly

You should use a cleaning swab to get rid of potentially damaging water, and dust particles before and after you play your instrument. Remember that as you play the clarinet, you are constantly blowing spit, food particles, and even pieces of dead skin into your instrument. These foreign particles shouldn’t be left in your clarinet for extended periods of time. They will cause rusting and other forms of damage.

 Play your clarinet at room temperature

If you must leave your temperature in the heat or cold for a period of time, or do so accidentally, you should allow it to return to room temperature before you play it. This is one reason you should arrive at performance venues ahead of time, so the clarinet can acclimate before you play it. If you try and play it while it is cold or hot, you can damage the horn and cause yourself discomfort.

 Be aware of your surroundings when playing

Even the sturdiest clarinets can be damaged if they are accidentally swung into a person or solid object. If you like to move around when you’re playing you should always consider your surroundings so you don’t accidentally smack your instrument into something that may dent or bend it.

 Lay your clarinet down where it won’t be damaged

Don’t just drop your clarinet anywhere; you should place it in a location where it won’t get nudged, stepped on, or knocked onto the floor. It’s all too easy to forget where you put your instrument and step on it, and strangers will be even less cautious with your instrument. Don’t place it on the floor, in a seat, or near the edge of a raised surface.

 Remove the reed when you’re finished playing

When you’re done performing or practicing you need to remove the mouthpiece so you can remove the reed. The reed needs to be allowed to dry, and it can’t properly dry when inside the clarinet. Also, a wet reed can spread germs to the interior of the instrument itself.

 Re-install the mouthpiece before storing the clarinet

The mouthpiece needs to be removed so you can remove the reed and clean inside the clarinet after playing. Still, you don’t need to store the mouthpiece and the body of the clarinet separately. Once the clarinet has been cleaned and dried the mouthpiece should be put back in place before it’s stored in the case.

 Store your instrument in its case when you aren’t using it

When you are done performing and cleaning your instrument, you should quickly put it in its case. This will ensure that it is protected, and it will also make it a less attractive target for opportunistic thieves. It’s also worth storing your case somewhere safe; your clarinet can still get damaged if your case is dropped or stepped on.

 Keep the interior of the case dry

You should always be sure to keep your instrument separate from any liquids that might lead to rust and other forms of damage. Something as simple as a damp cloth tossed into your case can lead to permanent damage. Also, if you need to store cork grease or any other viscous material in your case you should keep it in a plastic bag and away from the horn itself.

 Use appropriate cleaning materials

If you want your clarinet to look its best and last as long as possible, you should use non-abrasive cleaning materials. If you wash the instrument with liquids that contain benzene, thinner, or other abrasive materials they can eat away at the finish and eventually damage the body of the clarinet itself.

 

 Keep out of extreme temperatures

Whenever possible your clarinet should be kept at a nice, even, room temperature. Both the heat and the cold can damage it. Extreme temperatures, extended exposure to those temperatures, and quick temperature swings can all cause serious damage. Store your clarinet carefully and think about where it will be ahead of time so you can keep it out of harm’s way. A little forethought can seriously extend the life of your instrument.

 

 Choose your storage location carefully

You shouldn’t leave your clarinet just anywhere. The storage room you choose should maintain a moderate temperature at all times, neither too hot nor too cold. It should also have a controlled humidity level; you don’t want your instrument to dry out or get wet. It’s also worth keeping your instrument out of the sun, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can damage or discolor your instrument.

 

 Don’t be afraid to call the professionals

All instruments benefit from regular, professional maintenance. You should take your instrument to a professional once a year if you want to keep it in top condition. It’s also worth getting help at the first sign of potential damage; even small issues can grow into big problems if they are left un-addressed.

 

If you have read all the way through this guide, you now have all the information you need to make a well-informed purchase. Still, don’t feel bad if you skipped over some information or if you simply feel a bit overwhelmed. All of the five instruments we looked at have their strengths, but if you can only look at two, then we have some recommendations. If you want a well-rounded instrument that offers your best shot at satisfaction, then you should look at the CL-300 Student Clarinet from Jean Paul USA. If you’re a bargain hunter who wants to get a quality guitar without paying any more than necessary, then the  MCT-JE2 B Flat Clarinet from Mendini by Cecilio has everything you need in one big package.

Ultimately, if you want to get your best shot at satisfaction, you need to know what it is you need. That’s why we included the section titled, “Choosing the Best Clarinet for Your Needs.” Our recommendation might speed up the process, but only you understand your own unique needs. Once you figure out what they are you can really speed up the shopping process by holding firm to the standards you set and eliminating any option that doesn’t have what you need.

We hope you found this guide to be useful. We worked hard to gather together the most useful and accurate data because you deserve nothing less. You work hard to earn your money; you shouldn’t have to work hard to find quality products to spend your money on. If this guide helped you in any way, then we would suggest you check out one of our many other guides. We’ve created a large catalog of guides for a wide range of products. If you don’t see what you’re looking, for now, you should check back later; we’re always adding more guides to serve you better. Thank you, and happy shopping.

Nicole