Best Clarinets 2018

If you are a clarinet player, you might already know that there are many brands and types of clarinets available for beginning students, intermediate players, and even professionals. However, if you are just starting out, or even if you have been playing for a while, these choices may seem pretty difficult. There is a wide range of clarinets that people of different levels use for everyday playing. This article outlines a few things to look for, and then discusses our evaluation of the best clarinets for beginner and intermediate students.

Best Beginner Clarinet

Buffet makes high-quality clarinets that are both functional and sound great; perfect for students.

Features:
• High-quality
• Reasonable price
• ABS resin body

Best Intermediate Clarinet

The closest clarinet on this list to a professional clarinet, the Leblanc Bliss is a quality wooden clarinet for the serious player.

Features:
• Wooden (grenadilla)
• Made in the US

What to Think about When Buying a Clarinet

Price

If you’re just starting to play, you have a few options. First, you could buy a very cheap instrument (under $100 or $200) to try out the clarinet, see if you want to continue. You can always buy a better instrument later on if you decide you need something more advanced. If you’re fairly certain you or your student will be playing for a few years, it is probably worth it to spend a little more money ($500-700) to get an instrument that is well-made and will last a long time. These also will tend to be more well-known brands, which have a few advantages. Getting something from a brand that makes good clarinets means you know what you’ll be getting and that it is high quality. Secondly, many teachers and repair technicians will be more familiar with these types of clarinet than one that they have never seen or heard of. This way, if something goes wrong, repairing the instrument will be simpler and probably less expensive.

 

Key/Kind of clarinet

Professionals often will play multiple clarinets, including a B-flat clarinet, A clarinet, E-flat clarinet, and bass clarinet. These are all regularly used in the orchestral repertoire, but a beginner clarinet student does not have much use for more than a standard B-flat clarinet. The B-flat is used for most band repertoire and jazz, as well as a lot of beginner orchestral music. No matter what your goals are as a clarinetist, buying a B-flat clarinet is the place to start.

 

Materials

Professional clarinets are traditionally made of wood – almost exclusively a dark, hard, wood called grenadilla. Student and intermediate clarinets often are made of other, less expensive materials. These range from different kinds of plastics to rubber.

ABS resin

Some of the clarinets in this list are made of a polymer called ABS resin. This is a lightweight type of plastic that is durable and great for student clarinets.

Ebonite

Ebonite is a type of very hard rubber, created to be a substitute for ebony. This also works pretty well as a material for the body of a clarinet.

 

The materials of the keys on clarinets also vary – many are nickel or nickel-plated. This has much less effect on the sound or overall quality of the instrument; the only consideration relevant to this article is durability – whether or not the keys will bend or break.

 

Reeds and Mouthpieces:

One important thing to consider when buying a clarinet is that the instrument itself is not the only factor you should consider when evaluating the sound that the instrument produces.

Most importantly, you need a reed that is the correct hardness for you to play. Beginner clarinets will often come with some reeds that should be appropriate for a beginner, but in the event that it does not, make sure that the reeds you buy are acceptable for the level of the student. Reeds also only last for a short time, and you will have to make sure to get the correct type when they need to be replaced. Some plastic reeds are now available, which last longer and can also be used by beginners with these clarinets.

 

In addition to the reed, the mouthpiece – the top piece of the clarinet that the reed rests on – is also very important to the sound of the instrument. Though professional and more experienced players will be more specific about what they need in a mouthpiece, it is important to know that it is a factor in the overall sound and functionality of any instrument.

When buying an entry-level clarinet, all of these pieces should work well together to give you an instrument that is easy to play and produces a great sound.

All Clarinets

1. Buffet B12 Student Clarinet

Buffet is a clarinet company that knows how to make a great clarinet. We trust their student models to be fully functional and sound great for student models which is why we consider them the best clarinet brand for beginners. While Buffet clarinets are not the cheapest option for student clarinets, they do provide a lot of value for the price. The Buffet B12 is made out of ABS resin, so it is very durable. Buffet also has a few intermediate model clarinets that could be worth checking out if you are interested in upgrading from a student model, or want something closer to a professional model.

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2. Yamaha YCL-255 Bb Clarinet

Yamaha is another brand that makes many well-known professional clarinets. The Yamaha YCL255 is modeled after Yamaha’s professional clarinets, and has a good tone even though it is made of ABS, which makes it lightweight and durable. This model has an adjustable thumb rest, which makes it easier for players with small hands to play comfortably.

Though this is more expensive than some others, it is more likely to last a while and students are less likely to outgrow this instrument quickly – a middle or high schooler could easily sound pretty good on this instrument.

yamaha clarinet

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3. Nuvo N100CLBK Clarinet

The Nuvo Clarineo is a little different than the rest of the recommendations on this list. The Clarineo is a clarinet designed for VERY young players – specifically those who are too small to play a normal B-flat instrument. For a student like that, this instrument could be a good starting point – it is relatively inexpensive, and it comes with reeds and other accessories needed to start playing the clarinet. It is made of durable ABS plastic, and the entire instrument is washable.

One big difference between the other student model clarinets and the Clarineo is that while most clarinets are in the key of B-flat, this instrument is in C. In some teaching settings, this could be useful, but if a student is expecting to play in a school band, the different key may create some confusion. In many situations, starting to play on a Clarineo is an unnecessary step towards playing an instrument, and the student could just start on a beginner or intermediate model. That said, very young students find this product fits their needs very well.

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4. Jean Paul CL-300 Student Clarinet

The Jean Paul CL-300 is somewhat indisputably one of the top student model clarinets for a low price. The instrument is made of ebonite, which sounds better than some other plastics, but is not as hard to care for as a wooden instrument. The only widespread criticism about this instrument is that the nickel-plated keys can be bent if the instrument is dropped or mishandled. If the student can be careful with the instrument, this problem can be avoided, but it might not be the best model for very young students. The Jean Paul comes with a case and accessories helpful for getting started with playing. Jean Paul also makes a CL-400 model that is categorized as intermediate/advanced and has a few different features, for a slightly higher price.

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5. Mendini by Cecilio B Flat Clarinet

The Mendini clarinet is one of the least expensive clarinets you will be able to find, at $90 – which will get you the clarinet, case, instrument stand, reeds, and various other useful accessories. While that is a great deal for a new player, this is not the most high-quality instrument. If you want something that will last, you might want to consider something that costs more. However, for a new player who may or may not stick with playing, it could be a good start. I would also suggest going with the traditional black clarinet, because they are more likely to be made out of slightly better kinds of plastic.

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6. Lazarro 150-BK-L B-Flat Clarinet

Similar to the Mendini, the Lazarro 150 is a low-priced beginner clarinet. It comes with a similar list of accessories like reeds, mouthpiece cap, case, and cleaning cloth. Again, it is likely you will have more success with a traditional black model, though this instrument comes in many colors.

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7. Legacy CL750 Intermediate Clarinet

This Legacy clarinet is marketed as an intermediate model, but is probably better for a beginner. If cared for correctly, this instrument could last a few years, and has a slightly better sound than one of the cheaper kinds. It has sterling silver plated keys. Some adjustments may be necessary because sometimes the corks on this instrument make it difficult to put together when it is new – this can sometimes be fixed by sanding down the corks. One problem people sometimes encounter with this clarinet is that woodwind repair technicians won’t always work on instruments that they don’t know much about – so non-name brand instruments can be hard to keep working well if you need anything to be fixed.

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8. Hisonic Signature Series 2610 Bb Clarinet

The Hisonic 2610 is on par with the Legacy CL750, in price and quality. This clarinet is made of ebonite, with nickel silver keys. It comes with cork grease and a cleaning swab, but not as many of the other things you need to play the clarinet (like reeds and a stand). The case that comes with this clarinet is not very good quality, and often breaks, but replacement cases are easy to find and any clarinet case should fit this instrument.

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9. Jupiter JCL-700N Student Clarinet

The Jupiter JCL-700N is a reliable student model clarinet – though this one would last much longer than the less expensive ones. Jupiter is a well-known instrument maker that sells many types of band instruments. THis instrument is made of ABS resin, so it won’t crack or change based on weather. It has nickel silver keys, and has an adjustable thumb rest – good for young students, as well as students who want to be able to adjust their instrument as they grow. This is a very good option for beginners who plan on having their instrument for a while, or intermediate students in middle or high school.

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10. Leblanc Bliss L210N Clarinet

The Leblanc Bliss L210N is the closest to a professional clarinet on this list. It is made out of grenadilla wood, is made in the US, and is a professional style clarinet. This might not be the best clarinet for a young beginning student, but it is definitely worth considering for an intermediate or advanced student. This could work well for a very long time, if you know how to care for a wooden instrument. This clarinet will have a better sound than plastic clarinets, and is made for people who are more serious about continuing to play. Given the quality of this instrument, it is sold for a very good price.

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Conclusion

Choosing the right clarinet is crucial to making sure that you enjoy playing. While most of the clarinets above come with everything you need to get started, some of the packages only come with the clarinet and case. Make sure that you get the other basic accessories.

Now that you’ve bought the best clarinet, make sure that you get the best clarinet mouthpiece and best clarinet reeds.