Clarinet Buying Guide


Clarinets at BMC

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Glossary of Terms


First Clarinets

Quality construction, utilizing cost-effective plastic or resin bodies, will stand up to the rigors of student use in both concert and marching situations while providing a responsive, rich tone. Student model clarinets with undercut tone holes deliver improved intonation. Beginner clarinets with polished bores provide evenness of tone color throughout the instrument. Plastic clarinets are easy to care for and inexpensive. Resin clarinets or wood clarinets cost a little more, but are more durable and produce a better tone.

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Step-Up Clarinets

Step-up clarinets feature a resin or wood body, barrel, and bell. Intonation in intermediate clarinets is improved by undercut tone holes with silver-plated keys. Grenadilla wood is often the preferred material for upper-level clarinets since it offers the warm, focused sound that is sought by the advanced player.

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Professional Clarinets

A professional clarinet is an investment in your sound quality and tone production. Nearly all upper-level clarinets feature a body, barrel, and bell made of Grenadilla wood, with silver plated nickel-silver keys. When purchasing an advanced clarinet, look for an even response throughout the range of the instrument, as well as a clear, warm resonance. Pro clarinets come in several different bore sizes, please call so our experts can determine which one is right for you.

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Maintenance and care are the most important factors in maintaining the playability and longevity of your instrument. Moisture is one of the main factors in clarinet failure. It causes deterioration of the pads as well as providing the perfect environment for germs and bacteria to flourish. Swabbing and the use of pad savers is the best preventative medicine for this condition. The care of wood instruments requires special consideration in regards to humidity and temperature. To prevent the wood from drying out, keep the humidity at a constant level by using an in-case humidifier. If the instrument is cold (such as from being outdoors) it must be warmed properly before playing to keep the bore from cracking. If this is not done, warm air blown into the instrument will cause the bore to expand while the outside does not. This can damage the bore. It is not recommended to use a wood clarinet for marching band.

Mouthpieces – Clarinet Reeds

Clarinet mouthpieces vary in width of tip opening, bore size, baffle (floor thickness), and material. All combine to vary the amount of air and control required loudness, and tone color. Mouthpieces for first clarinets are designed for ease of playing and control for the student. Upper level mouthpieces are tailored to the needs and skills of the more advanced player. Call or email one of our experts to find the right one for you!


The design, style, and material of the ligature (which holds the reed on the mouthpiece) will affect the responsiveness and tonal characteristics of the instrument. A basic metal ligature is recommended for a first clarinet, while more advanced students’ experiment with ligature and mouthpiece combinations to find their preferred sound. Speak to an expert for a recommendation!