Best Beginner Clarinet: How To Choose the Right One

Want to learn how to play the clarinet but not sure where to begin? The first step is purchasing the instrument. But where do you start? This guide will explain the different types of clarinets available and suggest a few of the best beginner clarinets to get you going.

Not looking to spend too much? No problem! This guide compares the best clarinets for the beginner player based on the cheapest to the most expensive beginner models. 

My Recommendations

Cheapest Option

Out of the three cheapest clarinet brand options, I would recommend the Jean Paul USA CL 300. This has a better chance of giving the beginner student a longer-lasting clarinet in terms of quality and accurate intonation.

I also like the fact that the company provides one decent reed for free instead of ten bad-quality reeds. The Jean Paul USA has the needed accessories for every beginner student. Yes, this option is a bit more expensive. Still, suppose you are looking for a cheap clarinet. In that case, it is better to have a clarinet with fewer problems in the future regarding maintenance and broken parts, etc. 

Top Quality Option

beginner clarinet model

Out of the three top-quality beginner clarinet model brands, I would highly recommend looking into any of the Buffet Crampon models. My personal favorite is the Buffet Crampon Prodige. It has a unique design compared to the other beginner clarinet models. The Prodige design is based on professional clarinet models that have proven to be high-quality instruments over the years.

Buffet Crampon is a company that specializes in clarinets. It is known to be one of the best, if not the best, clarinet manufacturing companies in the world. With about a century of experience in clarinet making, I do not think you will regret your decision. 

Decision Making Tips 

There are a few things that one needs to consider before purchasing the clarinet. 

Clarinet Type/ Key

The clarinet is often a black color with a  straight shape. It is often referred to as the liquorice pipe by critics (AKA haters). The clarinet is traditionally a transposing instrument. It does not play in tune with instruments known as “concert instruments.”

Concert instruments refer to instruments like the piano, violin, or guitar. Basically, Suppose you are looking to jam the clarinet with one of your buddies on either of these instruments. In that case, you are going to work a bit harder as you will be playing in a different key.

The three basic clarinet types are the clarinets tuned in E flat, B flat, and the lower clarinet being the bass clarinet. The best clarinet type for beginners would be the B flat (Bb) clarinet, also known as the soprano clarinet. This is the same clarinet that Squidward plays on in the popular kids’ show- SpongeBob SquarePants. 

Clarinet Case

Clarinet Case

When purchasing a clarinet, it is important to purchase a proper hard case clarinet case. Most of the time, the clarinet case comes with the purchase of the actual instrument.

However, make sure that all of the clarinet pieces fit properly in the case and that there are no moving pieces when you carry your instrument. If your clarinet moves in this case, this could cause damage to the clarinet resulting in repair costs. 

Clarinet Cleaning Equipment and Essentials

The clarinet is a woodwind instrument which means that you blow warm air through the instrument to produce a sound. Thus, the clarinet will need to be cleaned after every practice or performance session. It is important to purchase a proper cleaning cloth to clean all of the clarinet parts with a weight attached to it.

Try and avoid the flint rods that look like feather dusters- those are not good. Some beginner clarinet models come with cleaning equipment included in the price but, this is not always the case. 

Cork Grease

Cork grease is an essential piece of equipment that will help you piece the clarinet together during the assembly process of the instrument. Cork grease will always increase the lifespan of the cork on the clarinet. If you do not have cork grease, lip balm will do the trick. Just make sure that it’s not fruity-flavored lip balm unless that’s something you want. 

Clarinet Reeds

Clarinet Reeds

This is the most important part of the clarinet. Without the reed, the clarinet cannot produce a sound. There are various brands and reed strengths that you will need to look into. Please click here for more information on the best clarinet reeds.

Reeds are an occurring expense that you will need to budget for from time to time, depending on the time spent practicing. Luckily, there are some affordable reeds available on the market. 

Clarinet Brands

The best beginner clarinet type would be the Bb soprano clarinet. Just like cars, there are many clarinet brands available on the market. I have chosen six clarinet brands in total that we will have a look into. I have divided the six brands into groups: The Best Clarinet Brands and The Best Cheapest Clarinet Brands.

The Best Clarinet Brands Are As Follows

  • Buffet 
  • Yamaha 
  • Jupiter 

Buffet Crampon

Buffet Crampon is the best clarinet manufacturer and company in the world. The company has produced high-quality clarinets for over a century. If you are looking for the best clarinet, then this is definitely the brand to look into. 

The company has a broad selection of student models that also sway into the more intermediate clarinet models. The following student models are some of the best clarinets that any beginner could hope for:

Buffet Crampon Model E11

Buffet Crampon model E11

Buffet Crampon Model E12 F

Buffet Crampon model E12 F

Buffet Crampon Model Prodige

Buffet Crampon Model Prodige

Buffet model  Pros  Cons 
Buffet Crampon model E11 
  • More of an intermediate model but also great for beginner players 
  • Body made from African blackwood 
  • Warmer sound
  • Better projection than a plastic clarinet 
  • Bladder pads 
  • Uses stainless steel springs 
  • A bit more expensive than a plastic model 
  • Not ideal for a small child who easily breaks things
Buffet Crampon model E12 F 
  • This is more of an intermediate clarinet model for the advanced beginner player. 
  • Made from unstained African blackwood 
  • Produces a beautiful and refined sound 
  • Leather pads 
  • Makes use of blue steel, flat and needle springs for better key action 
  • Comes with a lightweight backpack- perfect for traveling
  • Not ideal for a young child
  • Slightly more expensive in comparison to other beginner clarinet models 
Buffet Crampon model Prodige
  • Body made from high-quality resin 
  • Design is based on a professional clarinet model 
  • Makes use of leather pads 
  • Comes with an ABS or backpack case 
  • Comes with nickel-plated or silver plated keys 
  • Generally, a more advanced plastic clarinet 
  • Most affordable and best quality plastic clarinet of the Buffet brand
  • Slightly more expensive than other plastic clarinet models


Another great and well-known clarinet brand is Yamaha. The company has produced clarinets and other woodwind instruments for close to a century. Over the years, the company has built its name as a reputable brand, making high-quality clarinets and spectacular beginner student models. 

The following clarinet models are some of the best beginner clarinet models that Yamaha has to offer: 

Yamaha YCL-255s Bb

Yamaha YCL-255s Bb 

Yamaha YCL-450 MK III Bb

Yamaha YCL-450 MK III Bb

Yamaha  model  Pros  Cons 
Yamaha YCL-255s Bb
  • Body made from high-quality ABS resin 
  • Good quality sound projection similar to that of a wooden clarinet 
  • Has a matte finish that looks identical to a wooden clarinet 
  • Has an adjustable thumb rest for those with smaller hands
  • Comes with a neck strap ring for beginner players who struggle to hold the instrument 
  • High-quality beginner clarinets are rather pricey
Yamaha YCL-450 MK III Bb 
  • Bell design based on the professional Yamaha V series 
  • Produces beautiful sound- similar to that of a professional model 
  • Beautiful sound production in the lower register 
  • Excellent response, flexibility, and tone focus 
  • Silver-plated nickel keys allow for a warmer tone 
  • Comes with a strap ring- making it easier to hold the instrument
  • Made from Grenadilla wood
  • Slightly more expensive than the YCL 255 model



Jupiter is a well-known company for producing beginner instruments, particularly saxophones. However, the company is also well-known for creating a wide range of other woodwind instruments, such as the clarinet.

The clarinets produced from Jupiter are good quality beginner instruments, as this is Jupiter’s forte (pardon the pun). If you are looking for an affordable yet decent clarinet model, I would highly recommend looking at some of the Jupiter clarinets. 

Some Jupiter clarinet models: 

  • JCL700S 
  • JCL10NA 



This is a brilliant student model made from high-quality ABS resin. The clarinet features a poly-cylindrical bore and has nickel silver bell rings. The beautiful thing about this instrument is it’s comfortable C/ G riser. 

Pros Cons
  • Made from high-quality ABS resin 
  • Comfortable and easy to use keywork
  • Affordable 
  • Silver-plated nickel keys create longevity and beauty
  • Offset trill keys are based on French design- helping to decrease excess moisture accumulation 
  • There are cheaper beginner models available



This is yet another stunning student model perfect for the beginner or advancing clarinet student. The clarinet is made from high-quality ABS resin with a matte finish giving it a wooden look.

This model has a special 577″ bore for optimal sound performance. Just like the JCL700S, the JCL710NA comes with a comfortable C/G riser, and in addition, the JCL710NA also comes with an adjustable thumb rest. 

Pros Cons
  • Offset trill keys are based on French design, helping to decrease excess moisture accumulation 
  • Made from high-quality ABS resin 
  • Has an adjustable thumb rest 
  • 577″ bore allows for more control and projection
  • Slightly more expensive than the previous model 

Cheaper Clarinet Brands

The best cheapest clarinet brands are as follows:

  • Mendini by Cecilio 
  • Hisonic 
  • Jean Paul USA

Mendini by Cecilio

Mendini by Cecilio

Mendini by Cecilio is a well-known brand for producing affordable beginner instruments. The company has a broad range of marching band and band instruments.

The clarinet model is particularly amazing as the company offers a complete starter kit for the beginner player. There is no need to worry about shopping around for the added extras when you can purchase everything needed in one place for an affordable price. 

Pros Cons
  • Includes: instrument case, mouthpiece, a box of 10 reeds (size 2.5), cork grease, cleaning cloth, gloves, pocketbook, and an instrument stand 
  • Lightweight design and easy to transport 
  • Made from good quality plastic
  • Has nickel-plated keys 
  • Affordable! 
  • Comes in a variety of colors 
  • The clarinet is not very durable, and intonation will fade soon 
  • Reeds are not good quality 
  • Gloves are an unnecessary accessory 
  • A weak clarinet stand may cause damage to the clarinet. 



The Hisonic Signature Series 2610 Bb clarinet is another amazing choice if you are looking for a super affordable clarinet. This is also “Amazon’s Choice,” making it a popular buy for many musicians worldwide.

Like the Mendini by Cecilio, the Hisonic comes with a few added extras included in the price. This starter kit makes life for the beginner player so much easier. 

Pros Cons
  • Body made from ebonite 
  • Prestini pads made in the USA 
  • Nickel-silver keys give the clarinet a beautiful look and bright tone 
  • Comes with a clarinet swab and cork grease 
  • Comes with a mouthpiece, mouthpiece protector, reed protector, and a protective lined clarinet case 
  • Lightweight instrument perfect for travel and the beginner student 
  • The clarinet is not very durable, and intonation will fade soon 
  • Does not come with reeds as part of the starter pack

Jean Paul USA CL 300

Jean Paul USA CL 300

Jean Paul is a popular American instrument company known for producing beautiful marching band and band instruments. The CL 300 is a fine piece of equipment, perfect for the beginner student looking for an affordable clarinet.

However, this model is a bit more expensive than the two previous clarinet brands. This is because this clarinet has a few extra features compared to the two other cheaper clarinet models.

Pros Cons
  • Boehm 17 key system 
  • Made from a beautiful ebonite material 
  • Nickel-plated for a clear and even tone 
  • Includes accessories such as clarinet case, one 2.5 Rico reed, cork grease, and a cleaning swab 
  • Clarinet case is perfect for traveling around.
  • The clarinet is not very durable, and intonation will fade soon 
  • The clarinet model is a bit more expensive than the other clarinet models

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is the Clarinet Easy to Play?

Answer: The clarinet is as easy and as difficult to play as any other orchestral instrument. This really depends on the player, as the amount of time and effort put into practice will determine the instrument’s difficulty. 

Question: Are Plastic Clarinets Any Good?

Answer: Plastic clarinets are the best for beginner players. They are affordable and easy for beginners to produce a sound. However, as you advance in your clarinet playing, it would be best to upgrade to a wooden clarinet for better projection, tone quality, and overall ease of playing.

Question: Is Clarinet Easier than Saxaphone?

Answer: No. The saxophone is significantly more straightforward to play than the clarinet. The reason being that the saxophone has keys instead of holes to cover. It is also easier to produce a sound on the saxophone than on the clarinet. The key fingering on the saxophone is much simpler than on the clarinet. 


There are many clarinet models available on the market. I always encourage my students and their parents to look for instruments that will perform well with limited to no problems. It is best to purchase a reliable clarinet, even if it means that you may need to dig deeper in your pocket. Do not allow yourself to be tricked by a salesperson, and always do your research before purchasing.Conclusion

If it is possible, try the instrument out before you make your purchase. Alternatively, seek advice from a musician or a clarinet specialist. However, I guarantee that you will not go wrong with purchasing either a Yamaha or Buffet crampon clarinet model. 

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