- 1. Mendini MCT-E Black Ebonite B Flat Clarinet
- 2. Glory Two Barrel B Flat Black Ebonite Clarinet
- 3. Hisonic Signature Series 2610 Orchestra Clarinet
- 4. Jean Paul USA CL-300 Student Clarinet
- 5. Cecilio Mendini MCT-JE2 Black Ebonite Bb Clarinet With 2 Barrels
- 6. Lazarro 150-GR-L-B-Flat Bb Clarinet Green-Silver Keys with Case
- 7. Mendini Purple ABS B Flat Clarinet with 2 Barrels
- 8. Yamaha YCL-255 Standard Bb Clarinet
- 9. Glory Black/Gold Keys Clarinet B Flat with 2 Barrels
- 10. Eastar B Flat Clarinet Black Ebonite Clarinet with Mouthpiece
- Clarinet Selection Tips
- Types of Clarinets
- Top Clarinet Brands
- Average Clarinet Pricing
- How to Care for your Clarinet
- Common Questions
It is virtually impossible to exhaust the list of good clarinets because the industry is made up of a number of different clarinet manufacturers. However, the list below can be used as a guide in selecting the best clarinet for you. It is important for you to have a good understanding of what you can afford and the particular instrument you want. While you may desire to have a top-quality, highly-rated clarinet, it might be outside your budget. This is not a problem because a you will see, there are some good clarinets that can be purchased at affordable prices. Listed below are some of the top clarinets of 2020:
1. Mendini MCT-E Black Ebonite B Flat Clarinet
This clarinet caters to beginners who would like decent sound quality on a small budget. It has a sturdy nickel-plated key system and a durable ABS resin body. It can endure a lot of hammering and it is particularly fit for use in marching bands.
It is lightweight and the adjustable thumb rest amplifies the playability and comfort of the instrument; this makes it easy for beginners and children. A noticeable feature of this instrument is its sleek sky-blue finish; however, it is also available in other colors. It is usually attractive to jazz band members.
It comes with a box of reeds, a mouthpiece with ligature and a cap for putting it away, a cleaning cloth, cork grease and a pair of gloves. It also comes with a stand and a durable case to safeguard your instrument. It also includes a pocket-sized reference book to assist new users in learning instrument assembly, proper finger placement and appropriate care procedures.
• Stunning blue color
• Total starter kit with a durable case and stand
• Affordable cost
• Long-lasting ABS resin construction
• Easy for kids and beginners to play
• For some beginners, sound quality might not be adequate
• It will need to be replaced as skill level improves
• Sound quality could be reduced by the plastic construction
2. Glory Two Barrel B Flat Black Ebonite Clarinet
This clarinet is made from high-quality black ABS/ebonite body with lacquer or long-lasting nickel-plated keys. As suggested by the name, this clarinet is tuned to B flat and produces a remarkable tone. It has an adjustable thumb rest and inline trill keys. The package contains 10 high-quality reeds, a reeds holder, 8 mouthpiece patches pad cushions, a pair of gloves, cork grease, a cleaning cloth and a screwdriver.
• It is a remarkable instrument with a great sound
• It comes in an impressive case
• It looks great and is fun to play
• It is lightweight, sleek and true to color
• There are 10 reeds included in the package
• Assembling this clarinet is not an easy process. Even when greased a lot, there is still a super tight fit that it does not connect perfectly all the time.
• There are cases in which the barrel will not fit perfectly and the mouthpiece goes only halfway.
3. Hisonic Signature Series 2610 Orchestra Clarinet
This appealing instrument has very easy playability and an exceptional tone quality. To begin with, it is quite a promising instrument. It has a clear tone, which makes it suitable for different kinds of performances. It has silver plated keys and comes with pads that are made in the United States.
Made with ebonite, the Hisonic signature clarinet comes with cork grease, clarinet swab and a protective plush-lined carrying case. The plush-lined case safeguards the instrument against deterioration caused by being exposed to extreme temperatures. It also protects the instruments against the rigors of carrying it around.
The clarinet also has a mouthpiece that comes with reed protector. The instrument is used commonly by orchestras, marching bands and jazz bands. It affords the listener and the student player a great music experience.
• It lasts a long time and provides amazing value
• Ease of playing is provided by the comfortable feel of the keys
• Produces a bright tone that is remarkable for learning
• It is expensive
• The reeds are not made from quality materials
4. Jean Paul USA CL-300 Student Clarinet
This clarinet is among the highest-rated brands currently available. More specifically, it is ranked among the best brands of student clarinets when price and sound are compared. While maybe not as durable or its sound not as high in quality as other brands, this instrument is grouped among the top-ranked middle-ground clarinets. With its high-quality features, reasonable price and durable construction, it is a remarkable choice for beginner and intermediate players.
• Durable: It is made from ebonite, which is less durable and the sound is superior to plastic, while not being as fragile. It also requires less care than wood
• Inexpensive: This bargain instrument is designed for a well-rounded clarinet student.
• Tones: Produces a wide range of tones and a strong projection
• Standard: This is a standard Bb clarinet and it has the broadest range of available music and it can be played in just about any school band.
• Distortion Possible Over Time: While considerably less expensive than some of the other available brands, the Jean Paul is disadvantaged because its keys are prone to bending or bending or breaking over time.
• Not for Younger Players: On its own, this is not necessarily a con; however, given the likelihood of the keys bending or breaking or other damage potential, the instrument is better for older students.
5. Cecilio Mendini MCT-JE2 Black Ebonite Bb Clarinet With 2 Barrels
These instruments are ideal for the novice student musicians. Each clarinet is tested at the overseas factory of Cecilio and again tested in their Southern California warehouse. It comes with the total package for students to start learning. The package includes the clarinet, 10 reeds, 4C mouthpiece with ligature, cap, a case, 2 barrels, a pair of gloves, cleaning cloth, cork grease, pocketbook and a foldable stand, which is stored conveniently inside the bell of the instrument. The instruments come with a 1-year warranty to safeguard against defects from the manufacturer and are locally serviced.
• Looks great and has solid keys
• Incredible sounds
• The material is lightweight and keeping air pressure is easy, without having to sacrifice any sound
• Securing the ligature is difficult and slips out from time to time
• Requires much greasing after you receive it
6. Lazarro 150-GR-L-B-Flat Bb Clarinet Green-Silver Keys with Case
This green Bb clarinet from Lazarro is made out of strong high-grade ABS plastic with Bell Ring and Silver Nickel Keys and it resembles a wooden clarinet. In addition, it has high-quality pads that produce a rich sound and its thumb rest is adjustable. It also has two barrels that helps with the quality of the tone.
It is very durable and stylish and has such advanced features like a second barrel, mouthpiece with 11 reeds, reeds holder, fabric case, ligature, screw driver, soft cleaning cloth, cork grease and CSP.
• It is affordable
• Solid construction
• Good tone
• Keys are not easily bent and they operate smoothly
• Flimsy thumb rest
• Buzzing sound when playing low C
7. Mendini Purple ABS B Flat Clarinet with 2 Barrels
These are ideal clarinets for beginners and student musicians. The color is spectacular and the fit is perfect. The cork grease and reeds come standard with the purchase of this instrument and this made the assembling process quite easy. This company is definitely one that should be considered by first time players. Seasoned players who are looking for a colorful instrument could also benefit from this instrument.
• Stunning design
• Very attractive sound
• Highly graded
• ABS resin
• The mouthpiece is subpar. While it is not terrible; however, it is inferior to the rest of the construction.
8. Yamaha YCL-255 Standard Bb Clarinet
Yamaha is merited with being among the most renowned and reliable instrument manufacturers. The brand has some of the most remarkable clarinets for every skill level and is typically among the best brands. These clarinets are based upon professional models, while they are tailored towards beginners.
Instead of a grenadilla or ebonite construction, the clarinet has an ABS resin body. However, it produces an authentic sound typical of wooden clarinets. Additionally, the plastic is hard-wearing and provides higher resistance to moisture, damage from abrasion and fluctuations in temperature, while its matte finish gives off the same visual fascination as wood.
The performance of YCL is comparable to professional models when it comes to sound quality, playability and projection. In addition, its nickel-plated key system is easy to maintain and makes smooth action possible. Its bell has a lightweight and contemporary design that integrates a resonance chamber to heighten the intonation of the clarinet.
• Its durable ABS resin construction is designed to endure the more vigorous use that comes with student play.
• Matte finish for enhanced visual appeal
• The clarinet simulates the sound of a wooden instrument
• Adjustable thumb rest enables comfortable playing
• A redesigned bell for improved pitch
• It maintains a great sound while remaining easy for student use, this instrument is modeled after professional clarinets made by the brand.
• It is expensive and the cost makes it inaccessible for some players.
9. Glory Black/Gold Keys Clarinet B Flat with 2 Barrels
Made in the United States, this is a standard clarinet that is designed for students who are beginning their journey in mastering the instrument. Music teachers often recommend them to their learners. The instrument has a flawless finish, awesome sound and it is easy for students to play.
It has an attractive appearance that includes durable lacquer or nickel plated keys and a high-quality black ABS/ebonite body. This clarinet is also made to be played in B Flat and it has inline trill keys and its thumb rest in adjustable.
The clarinet package includes a second barrel, a hard shell case, reeds, cap and a mouthpiece. The care kit contains a pair of gloves, cleaning cloth, reeds holder, cork grease and a screwdriver. As a bonus, there are 10 pieces of high-quality reeds for more practice. There are also 8 pieces of black mouthpiece patches pads cushions.
• Remarkable fit of all keys, pads and other parts
• Notes sound whole and solid
• Great for a beginner and adequate for a semi-pro
• Plays a bit flat
10. Eastar B Flat Clarinet Black Ebonite Clarinet with Mouthpiece
This instrument has a combination of nickel-plated keys and elegant ABS Bakelite body. The Eastar boasts a stunning design and high-quality sound while maintaining its affordability. This places it among the best option for students who are learning to play the clarinet.
Students will discover that the Eastar is an easy-to-play and reliable instrument that has remarkable facilities and is quite durable. With it Boehm 17 key system, this clarinet delivers smooth playability and good response for band students.
• Beginner friendly
• Bright, warm sound
• Durable keys
• Mouthpiece is average
Clarinet Selection Tips
‘Clarinet’ describes a family of instrument types, and when you are looking to purchase one yourself, either as a step-up instrument, or your first, the following selection tips will help get you started. The clarinet is made up of five main parts from top to bottom: the mouthpiece, barrel, upper joint, lower joint, and the bell.
Clarinet Material: Plastic vs. Wood
One of the biggest selection choices will be what type of material you prefer your instrument to be made of: plastic or wood.
When it comes to plastic, we’re not talking the cheap kind. The plastic used for clarinets is engineered specifically for that use. It is extremely durable and possesses additional qualities that lend itself well to making music.
Most often, plastic clarinets are the choice of people who are first exploring the instrument or for younger musicians.
The wood most commonly used in clarinet construction is known as ‘African Blackwood’, also known as ‘Grenadilla’ or ‘Mpingo Wood’. Clarinets made from Grenadilla are usually the choice of advanced players and professionals as it is preferred for its sound quality and resonance.
While wood clarinets offer superior sound, the downside is in maintenance. In order to maximize the instrument’s longevity, it needs to be cared for properly, including providing it with sufficient humidity. If a Grenadilla clarinet is exposed to extremes in moisture and temperature, cracks can appear in the body, and once that happens, the instrument will be ruined. The care demanded by Grenadilla clarinets is why they are a better choice for mature or serious players.
There is, however, a solution for those that want the sound quality of a wooden clarinet, without the demanding care. A category of clarinets called ‘Greenline’ is manufactured by Buffet Crampon, and their clarinets are 95-percent Grenadilla wood fibre and 5-percent carbon fibre mixed with epoxy resin. While their manufacturing process is the same as with Grenadillas, they are better suited to withstand humidity and temperature changes and don’t crack. Their low maintenance and sound quality make this a popular choice.
Key and Plating Material Choice
Another choice to make involves the key and plating type. The key work is either plated with silver or nickel, unless it’s a super high-end instrument plated with gold, but that’s rare and very costly. Nickel plating is more durable and doesn’t tarnish as much or as quickly as silver does. Silver is a more popular choice appearance-wise, and players enjoy the feel of it under their fingers. Someone favoring durability would opt for nickel, while someone who prefers the look and feel of silver would opt for that.
Most clarinet players find that simply changing out the reed type can have a major impact on the quality of your sound. Popular reed brands include Rico and Vandoren; these brands are recommended for those learning to play. Additional brands that suit a variety of playing levels include Rigotto, Legere, and Selmer.
Additionally, reeds come in two different cuts: regular or French-file. Advanced players will appreciate the French-file’s more sensitive and quicker response, but for beginners, this variance is not worthy of the price difference.
For experienced players, the French-file is most often the choice due to its sensitivity and response time. That sensitivity comes at a higher price point, and for beginners, this is not really worthy of the cost difference, so regular cut will suffice.
Types of Clarinets
Just as in any instrument family, there are different types and styles to choose from. In the clarinet family, different types are characterized by their tunings, sizes, and body styles. Certain clarinet styles are better suited for particular experience levels and musical styles.
People are most familiar with the image of soprano clarinets. They feature the classic long thin body. Soprano clarinets refer to a sub-category of various clarinet types that differ in how they are tuned and the sound they produce.
Bb clarinets are the most popular type of clarinet as it is a versatile instrument that is well suited to a variety of musical styles from classical to jazz and most styles in between. As music is often written with the Bb clarinet in mind, it is a common choice for beginners.
While the Bb clarinets are a more all-around popular choice, A clarinets are popular amongst specific classical players. For those wanting to play strictly classical music, an A clarinet is the ideal type as its sound quality and the ease of playing classical pieces produces the crispest and clearest sound, ideal to classical compositions.
Bass clarinets have a large musical following, and they are well suited for playing jazz, pop, and classical. The bass clarinet is much larger than other clarinet types and is most often positioned on the floor from a peg at the instrument’s base.
Unlike other clarinet types, the bell faces upwards, resembling a saxophone. There are two common variations of bass clarinets: ones with a range to low Eb and others with a range to low C. Bass clarinets are known for the deep and sweet tones they produce and are well suited to playing solo or with others.
Eb clarinets, also known as ‘sopranino’ instruments, is a type of clarinet that is most popular for use by concert bands or orchestras. It’s well suited for higher melodies that a Bb or an A clarinet would be ill suited for.
Due to the high notes the Eb is known for, it’s not recommended for beginners. The Eb requires some fancy fingerings that are developed over time and experience. Ebs are recommended for advanced players or those wanting to expand their skills.
Harmony clarinets describe a number of clarinet models that have different tunings than those mentioned above. These instruments are most commonly selected for producing harmonies. These types of clarinets are less common and are most often available through a special order placed by a music store.
Shopping for any musical instrument is a big commitment. It has to suit your ability, size, budget and playing style. From the aforementioned different clarinet types, you can decide which style suits your playing experience and the type of music you want to play.
Top Clarinet Brands
There are, of course, numerous brands to choose from, but not all are created equal. Doing a little research beforehand to know which brand best suits the player is a good place to start.
Nuvo is a well-respected brand in the music industry, and they specialize in clarinets for younger players aged 4 to 12.
In terms of price and sound, Jean Paul clarinets are ranked among the best. They might not be as durable as some other brands, but their price and sound make them ideal for students or beginner-to-intermediate players.
The Buffet name is best known for its B12 model, which is regarded as one of the best student clarinets around. Known for its durability, sound, and easy playability, this is another trusted brand with a reliable reputation.
Yamaha is one of the best known and most trusted instrument-company names. They produce clarinets known to be well suited for every experience level and is regarded as one of the all-time best clarinet brands worthy of investing in.
Average Clarinet Pricing
When it comes to average clarinet pricing, obvious factors that come into play are brand, material, and level of instrument you are looking for. Most student clarinets would range from $90 to $200. An average intermediate clarinet will cost around $300. For an advanced and high-end instrument from a trusted brand such as Yamaha, you can start around $600 and go all the way up to $2,500. A high-end Buffet clarinet can range in price from $2,900 to $4,000.
How to Care for your Clarinet
As mentioned earlier, the care of a wood clarinet greatly outweighs that of plastic as it has to be protected from changes in temperature and humidity. If that is not done, the instrument will be ruined due to cracks that form.
When it comes to regular care and maintenance, cleaning is the most important. This involves regularly taking your clarinet apart and cleaning each component with a little water, oil and swabs. Doing this is simple and inexpensive, and it will ensure your clarinet will maintain its appearance, last as long as possible, and maintain its sound quality.
When it comes to assembling and disassembling your clarinet for transport or cleaning, make sure you do your homework and know the order of taking the components apart. Greasing the tenon corks and regularly cleaning the mouthpiece are also important to maintain the instrument and preserve its sound quality.
When it comes to selecting a clarinet type and style, the most important factors are your experience level, the type of music you are interested in playing, and what kind of maintenance you want to put into it. If you are a beginner or are looking for a low-maintenance instrument, plastic is a better choice than wood. If you are more concerned with the richness and thickness of sound, wood is a better option.
Which clarinet brand is best?
If you are thinking of buying a clarinet for practice, then you might as well get one from the best brands. Cheap generic ones may be easy to acquire but their sound leaves much to be desired. They may also fall apart rather easily. One of the most recognized clarinet brands is Yamaha, the Japanese company that also makes a wide variety of other musical instruments. Buffet Crampon is perhaps the gold standard when it comes to clarinets. Other notable names include Paris-based Selmer and Taiwan-based Jupiter Band Instruments. As for USA-based brands, there’s Jean Paul, Herche, and Kaizer.
What’s the most expensive clarinet?
Professional musicians demand the finest instruments. At their level, every detail will not escape their notice. Of course, superior craftsmanship and materials come at a cost. Buffet Crampon from France is known to create the most exquisite clarinets. These are also the most expensive with each piece costing thousands of dollars. For example, the Buffet Crampon Tradition Professional Bb Clarinet goes for just under $3,000. The cream of the crop is the Buffet Crampon Tosca Bass Clarinet which retails for $14,500. In comparison, the most expensive Yamaha is the YCL-622II which can be acquired for $8,982.
Is a wood or plastic clarinet better?
Both of these materials have their pros and cons. Plastic is lighter, cheaper, and easier to use when manufacturing products. Most beginner clarinets will be made of plastic since the emphasis is on accessibility. Note that there are many types of plastics and they each have their own unique characteristics. Hard rubber is generally better than resin. Wood is often preferred over plastic as it provides a warmer and richer sound. It also makes the instrument less slippery and nicer to hold. Buyers should try wood and plastic clarinets for first-hand experience.
What type of clarinet is best for beginners?
It is important to note that not all beginners are the same. Some are very young novices while others have experience with other wind instruments. Some have a limited budget while others have plenty of cash to spare. There are those who don’t care about the brand and others that are adamant about certain models. For little children, plastic clarinets like the Nuvo Clarineo C will be perfect. These are small, light, colorful, and simple to use. For budget-conscious individuals including students, something like the Sonata Clarinet might be ideal. Those who like something more premium can get the Buffet Prodige or the Yamaha YCL-255S.
Do clarinets wear out?
Clarinets usually provide a long service life across the board. For example, student clarinets should be able to last for a decade despite constant use. Intermediate models can approach double this period, while professional models can last for generations. It would all depend on the care, or lack thereof, of the owner. One of the biggest worries is blowing out over time. The bore or barrel can change dimensions and vital parts can be worn out, thus changing the sound produced by the instrument.
Do clarinets need servicing?
Since parts can gradually wear out, owners may need to have their clarinets repaired or maintained by professionals. This will cost some money but it would still be much cheaper than replacing the unit outright, especially if yours cost thousands of dollars. It is best to ask the manufacturer for recommended service centers. Plenty of options may also be found online.
George A. Smith received a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Berkeley. George has been teaching music professionally for the past 8 years. George regularly contributes content to several music websites including LoadRecords.com.