Selecting a Clarinet - dummies

By David Etheridge

Part of Clarinet For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When you’re ready to purchase a clarinet, you have a lot to think about and many choices. You have to think about what materials you prefer, whether to buy new versus new, and much more. So when shopping for a clarinet, take the following factors into consideration:

  • Type of clarinet: Clarinets don’t all sound alike. You can find them in A, B-flat (most common), C, E-flat, and other keys.

  • Quality: When shopping for a quality instrument, the choice usually falls into one of the following three ranges: starter upper (for beginners), step up (for intermediate players), and “money is no object” (for professionals).

  • Material: A major factor to consider is the material out of which the clarinet is made. The choices boil down to three: plastic, wood, or greenline (resin). All three are good choices, depending on where you’re playing, how gentle you are in handling the instrument, and the sound you’re looking for.

  • Buying versus renting: The question of buying or renting a clarinet involves several factors, including budget, the likelihood that the person who’s going to be playing it will stick with it, and the actual condition of the instrument.

  • New versus used: A new clarinet is like a new car — as soon as you drive it off the lot, it loses some value — so you can often find good used clarinets at affordable prices.

  • Accessories: You can purchase custom parts for your clarinet separately to improve its sound and how well it responds.