Clarinet Buying Guide

Due to their affordability, portability and wide range of applications clarinet is one of the most popular woodwind instruments on the market today. Here are some things to consider when purchasing a new clarinet. 

Body Materials

Clarinet bodies can be constructed from a variety of materials including wood, plastic, hard rubber, metal, resin, and ivory. Generally speaking though, most beginner and intermediate level instruments are constructed of either ABS plastic or wood. 

ABS Plastic

ABS plastic is the most popular and affordable material used in the construction of clarinets. Although they may not have the warm tones and response of wood they are often more durable and also cope well with changes in temperature/humidity. This makes them an excellent choice for young beginners

Grenadilla Wood

Grenadilla wood is an African hardwood with exceptional tonal properties. Favored by intermediate and advanced students wooden clarinets require proper care to ensure a long life.



While every part of the clarinet contributes to its overall sound, some say the most important factor is the reed. The reed is a s two-and-a-half inch long, paper-thin piece of cane which together with the mouthpiece cause the air in the instrument vibrate when you blow into it.

Choosing a Reed

The most important factor in selecting a reed is the reed thickness which is graded using a scale from 1-5. Beginners almost always start with a size 1.5 reed. As the student advances they will move on to thicker reeds which are able to produce a better tone but are harder to play.


Reeds are very delicate and require careful maintenance to ensure they are playing well. 

A properly treated and maintained reed will play for approximately 20 hours and peak tonally between 10 and 15 hours.

It is important to have a few reeds on rotation as each reed should be fully dried over the course of a couple of days in a good quality reed case before reusing.


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