Clarinets can be a great addition to any school band, orchestra, or marching performance! Learning to play the clarinet as a beginner is an exciting journey, and you want to make sure you set yourself up for success with a fine choice. It's one of the most commonly taught and played woodwind instruments out there. Furthermore, it's important that the clarinet you zero in on lasts through a number of performances - so high-quality materials and durable build are no-brainers. There are a couple of members in the clarinet family and in this article, we will try to address all of them! We are starting by putting together a list of the best beginner clarinets in 2021 you can buy right away.
Also, we want to take this moment to explain the two technical reasons for putting together a list of the best beginner clarinets. Firstly, when your kid is starting out in school band, you're unsure how long will the passion last and you want to invest modestly. Secondly, new players have to master the art of 'going over the break' - now this is very hard to achieve on beginner/student clarinets. This is the transition from A to B (we'll explain the clarinet composition later on), about midway up the full range of a clarinet. So, after they've learned the basics, it keeps them limited yet motivated to jump on the next skill step and that's when student clarinets work like a charm! Learning and warming up on a hard instrument, followed by transitioning to a professional one makes them better instrumentalists.
A clarinet is a beautiful woodwind instrument and unlike the flute, the professional clarinets are still, to this date, made out of wood. However, keep in mind that most beginner clarinets are either made up of plastic or another synthetic material.
In this section, we’ve put together a bunch of facts, clarinet anatomy, and all the factors you need to consider before finalizing on a clarinet. Let’s jump in!
Anatomy Of Clarinets
A clarinet is composed of five major parts; mouthpiece, barrel, upper joint, lower joint, and bell. Here’s an overview of what each part does:
The top part with an opening for the air to pass through the instrument.
It connects the mouthpiece and upper joint with one another and helps pass the air to direct sound through the instrument. The material it is made up of and its shape contribute to the quality of sound created through the clarinet.
Upper and Lower Joint
The first main part of a clarinet’s body is the upper joint and it’s combined with the lower joint to make up the body of the clarinet. Both these parts have holes and contain keys to produce various notes. A defining feature of the modern cabinet is a register key that makes it possible to play a twelfth.
This part can come in various lengths, bores, weights, and materials. It’s attached to the lower joint and is the part where sound projects.
Things To Consider When Buying A Beginner Clarinet
It’s easy for parents and new players to get confused when they don’t know what they’re looking for. In the case of clarinets and musical instruments, especially if you’ve never played one before and aren’t even aware of their composition, things can get overwhelming. The factors explained below will keep you from scratching your head and help you identify a good-quality, great-sounding clarinet out of the lot.
Keys and Pads
When buying a clarinet, look for one with silver keys. If you’re buying a clarinet online, make sure to go through a couple of customer reviews to determine if the keys stick or not. The keys sticking may be a sign that your clarinet’s pads are worn out. Also, the keys should cover the clarinet holes completely. So, what you’re looking for is silver keys that don’t stick, with pads that are not worn down.
The joints must come together completely and each should be covered by a thin cork layer. The cork shouldn’t be badly warped or missing. The upper joint contains the keys played by the left hand and the lower joint includes the keys played by the right hand.
The interior chamber of a clarinet should preferably be made from wood and must be clean, dry, and smooth. When playing clarinet, a certain amount of spittle travels from the mouthpiece and goes through the bore. In certain weather conditions, the bore may even crack. So, make sure to get your instrument inspected by a professional once it arrives so you can get it replaced right away if that’s the case. A clarinet with a cracked bore is like a car with shot transmission – we don’t recommend it.
When buying a clarinet, you want your bell part to be in tact and smooth. If there are any cracks on the inside or outside of the bell, you’ll hear a distorted sound – since that’s the last part a sound travels through in the clarinet. At times, in physical shops, the clarinets that are used as samples and played by various people are prone to scratching. They may end up shipping you one of those so make sure to get it all inspected by a professional once you receive the product.
When you’re buying for beginners, we recommend getting a clarinet with a plastic mouthpiece since it’s a pocket-friendly choice. When new players start practicing, they have a tendency to unintentionally bite the mouthpiece. If that’s done a lot, you’ll need to replace the mouthpiece as well as the clarinet reed.
Types Of Clarinets
There are over 10 types of clarinets and within them, you’ll find multiple variations based on the type of bore used and key work! We’re listing the three primary ones below:
This type of clarinet is aimed at advanced players and is played differently than the Bb clarinet. It’s usually played in chamber music and orchestras.
As beginners, this is your relevant clarinet. The Bb clarinet is a soprano clarinet – it has a high pitch and it’s the most common type of clarinet out there.
The harmony clarinets include the bass clarinets and plastic clarinets – while the plastic clarinets are good for beginners, the bass clarinets are much bigger and should only be opted for once the player has basic know-how of the instrument.
Best Clarinet FAQ
Q: How much do beginner clarinets usually cost?
A: The good quality beginner clarinets usually cost anywhere between $400 - $1000. Moreover, the clarinets falling in the $200 - $400 range are somewhat playable too and can be utilized to learn the basics.
Q: Are clarinets easy to learn?
A: The key to learning all musical instruments is that you have to be consistent and you need to have at least a pinch of passion/spark. When you're starting out with an instrument, you'll fail and you'll get frustrated - until you won't. Here's our advice; practice, practice, and practice.
Oh, and the answer to your question is; they're easy to learn if you want to learn them enough.
Q: Are wooden clarinets better than plastic?
A: Definitely! Wooden clarinets produce a richer and deeper sound. Plus, the former ones come with additional perks; adjustable thumb rests, precise tuning, and such. The wooden clarinets are sensitive to temperature and humidity - making them a higher-maintenance choice!
Within the city limits of NOLA, you may find Camilla hammering away on her 88, playing anything from old jazz to modern country music. Camilla's goal is to one day open a piano studio in New Orleans where she can teach the black and whites and other common jazz instruments to enthusiastic students. Ms. Haywood hopes to bring instruments to old and new musicians alike, reviewing pianos, orchestral instruments, and other products that make her tap her fingers to the beats.