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So, you’re shopping around for your first clarinet, huh?
What an exciting time!
I remember my first clarinet purchase…
It wasn’t a good one. I had bought a really, really cheap model that didn’t last me more than a few months. And because I had spent such a small amount of money on the clarinet model, I didn’t invest in a quality instrument. That meant that I struggled with producing sound from my instrument, getting a few different parts of my technique down – yeah, it was a wreck.
After I ended up replacing my first model, I invested more into my second clarinet. I bought my first clarinet for $50, so really, it was all on me for having such high hopes for such a cheap instrument.
So, before I went by my second instrument, I made sure to do a lot more research. I wanted to understand what exactly to look for when buying a beginner-level clarinet. Now that I have played the clarinet for close to ten years, I fully understand all of the aspects of the instrument. I know exactly what to look for in a beginner-level clarinet.
And the problem with a lot of other websites that talk about how to buy a beginner-friendly clarinet is they don’t have any experience playing the instrument.
It’s pretty easy to recommend some generic advice to anyone that’s looking around for their first clarinet. But, for you to get good advice that’ll actually make buying a new clarinet easier on you, you need to get advice from somebody that has experience playing the clarinet.
So, that’s why I dedicated myself to making sure that you have all of the advice and insight you need to successfully play the clarinet for the first time. For you to have a successful journey with your clarinet, you need to invest in a beginner-friendly instrument.
That means you aren’t going to find any clarinets here that come with the bells and whistles that are often found in intermediate and professional level instruments.
So, are you ready to get started and actually find a clarinet that is going to make your journey a lot easier? I’m here to help; let’s get started.
Bottom line up front: I would highly recommend the Mendini by Cecilio Black Ebonite B flat clarinet. I think this is the best value for your budget, especially because this clarinet is great for both beginner and intermediate players. There’s not a lot that this clarinet can’t do in that skill range, which is why I think it’s such a great fit!
Should a Beginning Clarinet Player Buy a Student Model?
This is a question that I’m seeing a lot of beginner clarinet players ask. Even the parents of young clarinet players tend to wonder if buying a student model is the best option for their Young musician.
Oftentimes, student clarinet models tend to be a lot cheaper than other models available. So, a lot of parents tend to gravitate towards buying a student clarinet model because it’s so much less expensive. And in some cases, I would absolutely agree that a student model is the best option to go with.
I would recommend a student model to a parent buying a clarinet or a young musician. More often than not, the parent won’t know how long their child plans on playing the clarinet. So, it’s always a safer option financially to save your funding for later on down the road on a more expensive model if you know your child will stick with it.
However, I wouldn’t recommend a student-level model to any parent who is shopping for an instrument upgrade. Suppose you’ve already purchased your student their first clarinet, and you’re looking to upgrade them to a better option. In that case, a student-grade clarinet isn’t going to be a good fit for a more advanced musician.
I honestly think that student-grade clarinets are only great for children that are in elementary school. Suppose you’re shopping around for a middle school grade musician.
In that case, they likely already have some sort of musical experience underneath their belt. And this proven musical experience should display that investing in an intermediate-level instrument is worth the investment.
A lot of student-grade clarinet models are made up of plastic. The plastic models are a lot more durable than the wooden models, meaning they will withstand a lot more abuse than a wooden clarinet would. This is another reason why I think student-level clarinets are great for elementary school children.
But, at the same time, there’s a huge difference in the overall sound quality between a wooden clarinet and a plastic clarinet. Plastic clarinets have a lot harsher sound than a wooden clarinet does.
This means that an intermediate player isn’t going to get the same tonal quality out of a plastic instrument that they’re probably looking for. This could stunt an intermediate player’s growth process and cause them to become frustrated with her instrument.
One transition that will be difficult for an intermediate player to accomplish on a student-level clarinet is playing up to the midway range on the student clarinet. This is often referred to as ‘going over the break.’
Going over the break is a lot easier to accomplish on a wooden clarinet than it is with a student-grade clarinet. If you have a clarinet player who already has experience playing on a student model, they will probably find the governor over the break is a lot easier to accomplish on a wooden clarinet.
So, I would honestly just highly recommend you consider the age of the musician that you’re shopping for in your buying Journey.
If there in elementary school, I think that it would be a great idea for you to invest in a student model. But, if they happen to be older than that and already have prior musical experience, I think that investing in a wooden clarinet is the best option available.
What to Look for in a Quality Clarinet
Before I begin introducing models that I personally would recommend you invest in, I think that it’s important for you to know what to look for in a quality beginner clarinet.
That way, if you don’t agree with any of the suggestions that I’ve made in this list, you can begin looking around for your first beginner clarinet by yourself. This is a super important to be aware of, especially if you don’t have any prior musical experience or have never bought an instrument before.
First, I think that it’s really important for you to consider the materials of the body of the clarinet that you’re shopping around for. As I talked about with student models, I would highly recommend that you only choose a clarinet made of plastic for a small child. But, if you have an early teen, I think that it’s a good idea to invest in a wooden clarinet.
The type of materials that are used in the creation of a clarinet provides certain musical qualities that make a world of difference while a piece is being played. Certain types of woods are commonly used in the construction of a clarinet, such as African Blackwood. There’s a lot of science explaining why different types of would provide different qualities for an instrument.
Also, you may find some beginner-level clarinets with an ABS body. If a clarinet has an ABS body, it’s a mixture of resins and polymers. It’s a super durable material and won’t take a lot of fall damage. A lot of clarinets that come with an ABS body are painted black because it makes the bodies have the appearance of a wooden body. ABS models are a lot easier to play with than plastic models, so this is another option that I would recommend to a beginner.
Next, it’s also really important for you to consider the materials that are used on the keys found on your clarinet. The majority of clarinets will either have nickel or silver plating. However, there maybe is some random clarinets that come with Hamilton plating, but this isn’t as commonly found.
A lot of clarinets use nickel plating on the keys because it’s incredibly durable. Nickel plating is also great because it doesn’t tarnish as quickly as silver does, so it’ll keep your clarinet looking nicer for a longer period of time.
That doesn’t mean silver plating is bad. Silver does offer different nickel plating qualities that have their own unique strengths. Plus, it’s a lot shinier than silver, which is another reason I recommend getting a clarinet with nickel plating over silver plating.
You can find nickel plating on both professional and beginner-level clarinets. Silver plating tends to be a lot heavier than nickel plating is, which is why you won’t really find it on any intermediate or beginner-level clarinets. And thanks to the heavier weight of the silver plating, there’s an actual sound difference that can be heard when comparing a silver-plated clarinet to a nickel-plated clarinet. A silver-plated clarinet tends to have a darker tone than a nickel-plated clarinet does.
Also, silver tends to tarnish a lot faster than nickel plating does. So, clarinets that have silver plating need a lot more care paid to them compared to a nickel-plated clarinet. And so, a lot of professional-grade clarinets tend to come with silver plating.
Design of the Bore
While a lot of beginners don’t know this, the design of the bore is actually a very important part of the clarinet. Typically, you only want to use a smaller size bore on beginner models. This is because of the larger bore is a lot more tricky to play than a smaller size bore.
I wouldn’t recommend that you go with the smallest size bore that you can find. However, a lot of clarinets tend to come with medium-sized boars oh, so I would recommend going with this over a larger bore.
Typically, a medium-sized boar provides more flexibility and balance than a larger size bore. Investing in a clarinet that comes with a larger size or allows you to focus more on the pitch, is something that professionals are more concerned about than beginner clarinet players.
Also, the shaping of the bore is another important factor to consider. I would only recommend a beginner clarinet player purchase a bore that’s in the shape of a cylinder. A cylindrical-shaped boar can provide a larger amount of sound than a polycentric old bore.
Consider the Company You’re Buying From
Another important factor that you should consider when buying your first clarinet is the company you were buying from. I would not recommend that you purchase a cheaply-made instrument from a brand that nobody has heard of. Take some time to look around at reviews on lines to make sure there are other people out there that I purchased from the brand.
Find that there are a lot of positive reviews about a company. Even if you haven’t ever heard of it, you could take a risk and buy the beginner-level instrument.
However, I personally would only buy from brands that I have heard of before. There are many people who start off with a poorly made instrument that doesn’t have a lot of functionality because it comes from a friend who doesn’t know anything about manufacturing instruments.
No Sticky Keys
This is a little bit harder to tell if You’re going to buy an instrument that has sticky keys, which is why I would always recommend that you take a trip to your local music store before you commit to purchasing an instrument.
If you do have a model that you’re interested in, I would take a trip up to my local music store And play around with the instrument for a little bit.
It’s really important that you get comfortable with the keys, as this can really make a break Your instrument. The first thing that I would recommend you do is take a look at the keys.
As you’re looking over the keys, see it to make sure the keys completely cover the holes on the clarinet. After you’ve ensured that the keys completely cover the holes, I would recommend you play around with the keys, as best as you can.
Just press down on the keys and see if they’re sticking. If they are sticking, I would recommend you look at a different model. Sticky keys can really impact the functionality of your clarinet. You always want to avoid an instrument that has sticky keys.
Check the Joints
While you’re in-store testing out your instrument, I would also highly recommend you check out the joints. When you put your clarinet together for the first time, make sure that the joints go together smoothly and completely connect. If this is something that you’re having a hard time with, I would recommend that you consider a different model.
My Top Beginner Clarinet Picks
Now it’s time for me to recommend my all-time favorite beginner-level clarinets. I’ve chosen these clarinets based on my personal experience with the clarinet end the models on this list. I personally have played all of the models that I’m recommending on this list.
In addition, I made sure that all of the beginner-level clarinet models came from well-known manufacturers, so there aren’t any sketchy brands on this list.
Lastly, I made sure that all of the clarinets I’ve listed here are appropriate for a beginner. In terms of both pricing end, there aren’t a lot of extra bells and whistles that are only needed on a professional-grade clarinet.
Jean-Paul CL-300 Clarinet
The Jean-Paul CL-300 clarinet is a great clarinet for anyone who’s looking to play the clarinet in a school band. As I discussed earlier, you’ll see that this clear comes with nickel-plated keys, which help to support a clear end lighter tone.
In addition, I like this clarinet for beginners because it also comes with a cylindrical bore, which helps to support a strong response and a smooth tone. Also, the shape of the boar helps to support a wider variety of notes, which is great for both beginner and intermediate players.
But, that’s not the only reason why I think this instrument is a great option for someone who is a beginner-level clarinet player. I also think this is a great clarinet because of the case that comes with it. It’s a tough carrying case that will also withstand the wear and tear that a lot of small children will put on an instrument.
So, the clarinet will stay safe and protected even if they drop it a couple of feet, let it tumble down some stairs, or sit on it.
That’s not all that comes with this clarinet, either. Some maintenance additions come with it, like cork grease, a cleaning cloth, and a read to help you get started. But, I would recommend that you buy your own at name-brand reads and not just stick with the one that came with this clear not. It’ll make a world of difference. You’ll believe me when you try it out for yourself.
Lastly, there’s also a neck strap and a ring for the strap that comes with this clarinet. I also think these are great additions for any small child looking to learn how to play the clarinet. Sometimes, depending on your child’s size, The clarinet can be a little too heavy for them to support by themselves.
So, the next wrap ring and the next wrap help to take the weight of the clarinet off of their thumb. This will make it easier for your child to focus on learning how to control the airflow coming out of the instrument instead of just struggling to hold the clarinet.
- Durable body and keys
- Comes with all of the accessories you need to begin playing
- I think this is a great option for young students because of everything that is clear enough has to offer
- A lot more affordable than other options, especially because it comes with all of the accessories
- I don’t feel like the overall tone of this clarinet is the best on the list, but it’s still pretty good when the price is considered
Mendini by Cecilio Black Ebonite B Flat Clarinet
Next, we had the Mendini by Cecilio Black Ebonite B-flat clarinet. Honestly, this is the clarinet that I would recommend the most out of all of the options on this list. And the reason that is is that there’s so much that this clarinet can do.
Not only is it a great option for anyone on a budget because of all of the accessories that it comes with, but this clarinet is friendly towards both beginner and intermediate players. Plus, the price of this clarinet is so affordable that it’s almost shocking.
Plus, I think another cool part about this clarinet is all the different colors that it comes in. Suppose you’re shopping around for an elementary school student who wants to have a clarinet that’s in a fun color.
In that case, you can choose between the different options of that Mendini by Cecilio offers. They offer clarinets in yellow, pink, sky blue, black, white, green, purple, and blue. Plus, the body is in plastic.
Instead, you’ll actually find an ebony ABS body on this B flat clarinet. To match the durability of the ABS body, you’ll find the adjustable thumb rest, the trill keys, and the rest of the keys are all plated in nickel.
But that’s not all that you can get with this clarinet. You’ll also find that your purchase comes with a hardshell case. In addition, you’ll receive a pair of gloves, a cleaning cloth, ten reeds that are size two and a half, a mouthpiece, and a cork.
Again, I would highly recommend that you go out and buy your own box of name-brand reads. There aren’t too many off-brand companies that can make a quality read, and the quality of your redo can really make a huge difference in a clarinet’s overall playability.
- Super affordable
- A lot of fun colors to choose from, which is great for a student who’s interested in playing a plastic clarinet
- I think the sound that comes out of this clarinet is really good, especially considering the price
- I found most of it turning on this clear that is super inconsistent
Hisonic Signature Series 2610 Bflat Clarinet
I think this is another really great clarinet for a beginner because it’s got a lot of potential to it. Depending on the musician’s technique, this clarinet translates well for beginners and intermediate musicians.
My favorite part about this clarinet is the sound it produces, and that’s why it made it on this list. I loved playing the clarinet while I was in jazz band, but I also spent a little bit of time playing it in the marching band.
In terms of the build of this clarinet, it’s made from Ebonite. Ebonite is a type of hard rubber that’s super durable and won’t chip in the same way that wood or plastic will. In terms of the keys, all of the keys are nickel-plated and really help to create a professional look for the instrument.
Plus, this clarinet comes with a lot of accessories that are needed to start off your musical journey. This includes a plush line case, cork grease, a cleaning swab, a mouthpiece, and a reed protector.
One of my favorite parts about this clarinet is that it comes with a one-year warranty. So, if you run into any problems or difficulties with the instrument, you could always reach out to the company and it will be covered by the one-year warranty provided.
- Comes with a one year warranty
- Outstanding sound quality
- Nickel-plated keys
- Looks very professional, in my opinion
- Comes with everything you need to get started
- A bit pricey
- Doesn’t come with wood, so there’s a definite difference in sound quality compared to a wooden clarinet
Aileen Lexington B flat Clarinet
This is a super-budget buy, but that doesn’t mean it’s been cheaply made! The body of this clarinet is made with Bakelite, but it looks like wood. It comes with a wood grain finish, which makes the body of a clarinet look like wood. Plus, all of the keys are nickel-plated, so it definitely looks like an expensive instrument.
With your purchase of this clarinet, you’ll also get cork grease, a cleaning cloth, a screwdriver, a mouthpiece, a reed, and gloves. You’ll want to wear gloves while you’re cleaning your clarinet to keep the oils from your fingers from punishing your instrument. Also, the clarinet comes with a shoulder strap, so it’s a lot easier for someone with a smaller body to carry.
My biggest complaint with this clarinet is the mouthpiece. I don’t know what happened, but the mouthpiece on this clarinet is absolute garbage.
After I invested in a different mouthpiece to pair with this clarinet, I found the instrument played a lot better and sounded a lot better. This clarinet also comes with a hard foam shell case, which is pretty durable. I wouldn’t say that this is the most durable case out there, but it’s honestly better than nothing.
I ended up testing out this instrument again in store and if there were a few concerns that I had. I noticed that some of the keys didn’t have pads that were precisely lined up. This is really important to be aware of, as pads that aren’t properly aligned drastically impact the sound end playability of the instrument.
If you do buy this clarinet and this is something that you end up discovering, you can always take it to your local music store to get adjusted.
- Very affordable
- It comes with everything you need, which is always a plug
- I liked how this clarinet wasn’t super heavy
- The pads aren’t always aligned on this clarinet, so be careful
- I would highly recommend you buy a different mouthpiece than what this clarinet comes with
- The body isn’t wood, so there’s a definite sound quality difference
Answer: No, the clarinet isn’t hard to play! It isn’t any more difficult than any other type of woodwind. There are unique challenges that come with playing the clarinet (for example, a sore lip), but that doesn’t mean that it’s hard to play!
Overall, I would highly recommend the Mendini by Cecilio Black Ebonite B Flat clarinet. There’s so much that this clarinet has to offer to a beginner! Plus, it’s an instrument that can grow with any new musician, which is why I think it’s so fabulous.
What clarinet would you recommend?
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