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You are here: Home > Clarinets > Clarinet Buying Guide & Tips

What you need to know before buying a clarinet:

  • Plastic or wood; Student clarinets are made out of a plastic/rubber composite material (ABS resin) that is formulated to offer similar qualities to a wood clarinet while being more durable. This is the biggest advantage of a plastic clarinet over wood. Students and intermediate players will want plastic clarinets, especially if they are involved in a marching band. Wood clarinets cost more, are more fragile, and can be damaged by the weather. However, the sound of a wood clarinet is better. Most professional clarinets are made from Grenadilla wood, but all are made of wood; and all aspiring students will eventually switch to a wood clarinet.
  • Case; All clarinets come with a case included as a protection for the instrument.
  • Reeds; One reed will come with a new clarinet, usually a 2 ½ size. The clarinet player will need more reeds within a few days. A reed can last up to a month (regularly played) if taken care of. The best way to extend the life of your reeds is to use several at one time and rotate among all of them. Don’t use one until it is dead, and then move to the next one. The most common size to start with is 2 ½. This number refers to the hardness of the reed with higher numbers being the firmest. As a player advances, harder reeds are used.
  • Colored clarinets; Colored clarinets are usually for beginning clarinetists. They are plastic composite instruments with the color mixed into the material of the body. The color will not affect the sound of the clarinet or its playability, and it will be very similar to other student level plastic clarinets.
Level Models of Clarinet

All the types of clarinets we've tackled on here come in varying level models. These levels are Student, Intermediate, and Professional. It is important to know what these levels are in order for you to buy a type of clarinet that accommodates your level as a player. Let's discuss each level and what makes them different from each other.

The Student Clarinet 

• Student clarinets are made for those whose commitment to the instrument is uncertain or for those who are just beginning in clarinet-playing 
• Made of ABS Resin (a plastic-like material) which is very durable against the weather and can withstand marching season well 
• Nickel-plated keys (very durable) 

Recommendations for Student Clarinets: 


The Intermediate Clarinet  

• Made for those who want something a little more advanced than a student model or for those who have been playing the clarinet for a few years 
• Also made of ABS Resin but also available in Grenadilla wood (which is more expensive) 
• Silver-plated keys (gives better response and more accurate key action) 
• Key springs are of a higher quality than a student model 

Recommendations for Intermediate Clarinets: 


The Professional Clarinet  

• Made for those who are fully committed to playing the clarinet (or for those who have been playing the clarinet for many years) as it is an investment 
• Made of wood (Grenadilla wood usually) which helps provide in better sound 
• More fragile and is thus not recommended for students or marching band players 
• Pure silver keys 
• It has the best craftsmanship in all its parts 

Recommendations for Professional Clarinets: