How to Find the Best Bass Clarinet

Do you love the lower register of the clarinet? Consider learning how to find the best bass clarinet so that you can learn a new instrument that has an even lower sound.

Then, you can explore the low notes without limiting yourself to an octave. And you may be able to play the bass clarinet in a band or orchestra.

How to Find the Best Bass Clarinet

Whether you want to specialize in it or simply add to your clarinet playing, you a lot goes into figuring out how to find the best bass clarinet for you. Like other clarinets, you need to consider various factors.

And while getting recommendations is nice, what works for one player may not work for you. That’s why you should go through a few steps to help select an instrument you will love.

Here are some of my top tips to help you shop for your ideal bass clarinet.

Know Your Level

First, you need to think about your level of clarinet playing and your future goals. Ideally, you would start playing the Bb clarinet first since it’s smaller and easier for beginners.

However, once you can play that, you can add or switch to the bass clarinet relatively easily. Since there are many bass clarinet models, you should think about how seriously you want to play the instrument.

If you want to become a professional clarinetist or study music in college, it can help to get an advanced model. On the other hand, you don’t need that if you want to play for fun every once in a while.

Check Your Clarinet

Bass Clarinet

The next thing you can do is check your current Bb clarinet and bass clarinet if you already own one. As you look at it and play it, think about what you do like or dislike about the instrument.

Now, it can be hard to compare clarinets of different sizes. But if you really love the brand or really don’t love it, that information will help you narrow your search.

You can also take this time to send your instrument to a repair technician for maintenance. Sometimes, you may think you need a new bass clarinet, but all you really need is a tune-up on your current model.

Research Brand and Models

Once you’re ready to start playing the bass clarinet, it’s research time. While there aren’t as many brands of clarinets as other instruments, there are some.

To help you select the best model for you, take time to research what’s out there. Consider the materials, price, and other factors of the models you find, and write that info down to use later.

Then, you can make a list of the bass clarinets that you can afford and that may be the best fit for your needs. And you can make sure a brand has a good reputation before you spend your money on it.

Compare Materials

Most bass clarinets have a metal neck and bell, making it so that the instrument isn’t too long. But the body can either be wood or plastic.

Plastic models are great for students because they’re usually pretty affordable and durable. However, it may be hard to get a super-rich, warm sound when playing a plastic bass clarinet.

Grenadilla wood models are more expensive and require more care, but they can offer a fantastic sound. They’re a better option for professionals and serious amateurs.

Determine Your Budget

As you do your research on bass clarinets, you may start to notice a trend in pricing. For example, a student-modeled plastic instrument will cost much less than a wood pro model.

You can use that information from your search to develop a realistic budget. Some retailers will let you finance an instrument, and I’ve done that when I didn’t want to pay in full upfront.

But you should still have the money on hand or at least know that you will earn that money over time. That way, you won’t default on your financing and have to give the instrument back or use money for other bills to cover it.

Practice Your Clarinet

In preparation for trying and buying a bass clarinet, you should practice what you currently have. Even if you just have access to a Bb clarinet, you can practice the fingerings and music theory since those are the same for all clarinets.

If you have a bass clarinet, you can practice it to get a feel for how the instrument is supposed to work. And you’ll be able to give yourself a baseline to compare all of the models you want to try.

You don’t need to practice your clarinet for multiple hours a day. But you should have enough time to play it and figure out what works and what doesn’t to make testing other models easier.

Choose Some Music

When practicing your clarinet, look for some good exercises, pieces, or parts of pieces. You can use music for Bb clarinet or bass clarinet, but it should cover a good range of the instrument.

Make sure to choose music that is soft as well as some louder passages. And include some more technical sections as well as something more lyrical.

That way, you can get an idea of how almost any piece you’d ever play would sound on the bass clarinet. If you encounter something you don’t like during a trial, you’ll know to eliminate that model. You also won’t have to risk finding something wrong after buying the bass.

Schedule A Trial

Now it’s finally time to take your music and put some bass clarinets to the test. You can schedule a trial in a few ways, the easiest of which is to visit a music store.

I did this once, and they ordered an instrument for me to try. All I had to do was go to the store and test it out during the store’s hours. While they only found one for me, they could have found more.

Another option is to order one bass clarinet at a time and send it to your home. Then, you can test the instrument in your normal environment, and you can return it for a refund if you don’t love it.

Take Your Time

Once you test one or more models, take your time with each. Use the music you selected earlier and figure out how the clarinet sounds and feels.

Try not to let the brand influence your opinion, especially if it’s a brand like Buffet Crampon. It’s okay not to love the best clarinet brand out there.

If you want to be objective, you could have a friend hand you the clarinets while you wear a blindfold. Then, the only information you’ll have to make your choice is the sound and feel.

Ask Another Player

Bass Clarinets

Speaking of bringing a friend, find a clarinet teacher or another player who can help with your trial. As I said, they can hand you clarinets to do a blind test.

However, you can know which clarinet is which and not tell them. Then, you can ask for their opinion on the instrument, and you can get good feedback.

Sometimes, it can be easy to get caught up in your own head about what sounds the best. And you may not hear everything as a player, so a friend who can listen may tell you a lot about the instruments you test out.

Broaden Your Search

Find more to test out if you don’t like the first model or set of models you try. One way to do this is to look at used bass clarinets for sale in your area.

Buying a used instrument can help you save money but still get a good quality model. Just make sure the owner has taken good care of the clarinet so that you won’t need to spend thousands on repairs to make the instrument playable.

Another great option is to try a different individual instrument of the same model. Especially at the pro level, one Buffet Crampon Tosca clarinet may be slightly different from another.

Swap Out Mouthpieces and Reeds

You should also consider testing a few different mouthpieces and reeds, even with the same bass clarinet body. If you find a model that you like but not entirely, set it aside.

Get a reed from a different brand or of a different strength and see if it suits you better. You can also try different mouthpieces, but that can get expensive, especially if the store makes you buy the mouthpiece before using it.

However, reeds aren’t too expensive, so bring a variety to your trial. Then, you can figure out if changing out the reed is all it takes to make a good clarinet the perfect one for you.

Best Bass Clarinets

As you go through the research step of how to find the best bass clarinet, you should find as many models as you can. But you might not know where to look or which instruments are worth your time.

I looked for some of the best bass clarinets available at different prices and from different brands. Also, in my search, I considered the materials and other factors to help you choose the clarinet for you.

Here are some bass clarinets you should test out for all playing levels.

Jupiter JBC1000NC

Jupiter JBC1000NC

One of the best bass clarinets to start with is the Jupiter JBC1000NC. It’s an intermediate model with a two-piece plastic resin body, and it can work for new bass clarinet players.

The model can play down to low Eb, so you can use it for most bass clarinet parts. Meanwhile, the adjustable floor peg and adjustable thumb rest make it comfortable for most people.

This bass clarinet comes with a mouthpiece, and everything fits into a durable case for storage and transportation. While it’s not cheap, it’s not nearly as expensive as some bass clarinets.


  • Easy to play
  • Great sound
  • Durable
  • Good materials
  • Suitable for students


  • Not for professionals

Buffet Crampon Prestige

Buffet Crampon Prestige

The Buffet Crampon Prestige Bass Clarinet is an excellent choice for serious musicians. You can get a warm sound with plenty of richness, and there’s an excellent center to the sound.

That dark sound comes from the wood, and you can play it in various settings. It also has special levers, resonance keys, and speaker keys to make playing easier and more comfortable.

You also get an adjustable floor peg to put the bass clarinet at the perfect height. But you should prepare to save up because this model costs quite a lot.


  • Good sound
  • Easy to play
  • Great for professionals
  • Nice design
  • Comfortable


  • Expensive

Buffet Crampon Tosca

Buffet Crampon Tosca

The Buffet Crampon Tosca Bass Clarinet is similar to the Tosca line for other clarinets. It’s perfect for professional players who need one of the best models out there.

Buffet Crampon designed this model for use in a symphony orchestra, so you can project over other musicians. But you can also play it in other settings, so this can be your primary horn.

You’ll get a focused sound on this instrument, so it’s a nice way to improve your playing. However, its price can be a huge turnoff for many musicians.


  • Works well in orchestras
  • Projects easily
  • Good design
  • Great for professionals
  • Full tone


  • Very expensive

Yamaha YCL-221

Yamaha YCL-221

If you’re looking for your first bass clarinet, you may want to try the Yamaha YCL-221. This model is perfect for students and anyone who doesn’t want to deal with a wood bass clarinet.

You get a low Eb, so you can play many bass clarinet parts on this instrument. The body comes in two pieces, so you need to be careful when assembling it.

But the thumb rest and floor peg are adjustable to help you get the most comfortable playing position. And you can get a lot of use out of this model.


  • Easy to play
  • Great for students
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Not too expensive


  • Not on Amazon
  • Not for professionals

Yamaha YCL-621

Yamaha YCL-621

The Yamaha YCL-621 is a fantastic upgrade if you like the YCL-221. This professional model features a grenadilla wood body, while the keys, neck, and bell are silver-plated.

It can play down to a low Eb, perfect for most bass clarinet music. And you can use this model for a long time as long as you take good care of it.

Yamaha even offers a five-year warranty in case something does go wrong. But it’s quite a bit more expensive than the other Yamaha model.


  • Great for advanced players
  • Easy to play
  • Comfortable
  • It comes with a warranty
  • Sounds good


  • Somewhat expensive
  • Not on Amazon

Selmer 1430LP

Selmer 1430LP

Another student bass clarinet to test out is the Selmer 1430LP. This model has what Selmer calls a resonite body, so it’s not wood, but it’s not the same as plastic. I can’t tell exactly what it is.

You can play down to low Eb on this model, and you can get a great sound while you’re at it. Plus, you’ll get a mouthpiece and a case to store your new instrument.

This one is a more affordable option, so it’s great for beginners. Band directors and clarinet choir conductors can invest in this one for their ensemble members to use.


  • Good sound
  • Durable
  • Easy to play
  • Affordable
  • Great for beginners


  • Not on Amazon
  • A bit limiting for advanced players

FAQs About How to Find the Best Bass Clarinet

Question: When Should You Start to Learn the Bass Clarinet?

Answer: You should learn the bass clarinet whenever the instrument starts to interest you. Ideally, you would have played the Bb clarinet for at least a year or two ahead of time.
But as long as you can get a good sound on the lower clarinet, you can play it. Then, you can learn new parts that you wouldn’t learn if you only played the Bb clarinet.

Question: Why Do You Need a Good Bass Clarinet?

Answer: You need a good bass clarinet because it can make a huge difference in your sound. If your bass clarinet is the right fit for you, you won’t need to struggle to produce a sound that you like.
Good bass clarinets are also easier to tune and keep in tune. All of that can make playing the instrument more enjoyable, encouraging you to keep playing and getting better.

Question: Who Should Buy a Bass Clarinet?

Answer: Anyone who wants to play the bass clarinet can buy one. But you may only need to buy one if you want to become a professional musician or if you don’t have access to a school-owned model.
I’d suggest doing so for at least a few months if you can borrow one. Then, you’ll be able to figure out if you want to continue with the instrument and if it’s worth buying your own.

Question: What’s the Difference Between the Bass Clarinet and Other Clarinets?

Answer: The bass clarinet is bigger than the Eb, Bb, A, and alto clarinets, but it’s smaller than the contrabass clarinet. It plays in the key of Bb, so it sounds like a Bb clarinet but an octave lower.
However, you don’t need to learn a new set of fingerings or to read music in a different clef. Composers and publishers will print bass clarinet parts in the right key based on the pitches they want.

Question: Can You Teach Yourself the Bass Clarinet?

Answer: If you started on the Bb clarinet and have played it for a while, you can most likely teach yourself how to play the bass clarinet. As I mentioned, a lot of the techniques are the same.
But there are some differences, such as your embouchure and the spacing between your fingers. So make sure you have plenty of time to practice and get used to those changes.

Final Note on How to Find the Best Bass Clarinet

If you know how to find the best bass clarinet, you can keep from wasting money on an instrument that you’ll hate. Then, you can spend more of your time and money on the perfect model.

I’d recommend giving the Jupiter JBC1000NC bass clarinet a try to start your search. But don’t be afraid to test others because you may prefer something different.

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