The clarinet is part of the woodwind family of musical instruments, and basically consists of a single reed (material that vibrates to produce sound) that is laid within a cylindrical bore. It has come a long way since it was first modified from the French instrument—chalumeau and today there are several different types to choose from. So whether you’re just getting your feet with this instrument or are looking to upgrade, you’re going to need some help with dissecting the lingo and choosing from the many options available. But we’ve done the homework, and present you with what we feel are the 5 best clarinets available with a mix of features and prices.
Our Top Choice
Selmer CL211 Intermediate Bb Clarinet
Conn-Selmer is a premier name in the world of musical instruments, creating a wide range of products for students as well as amateur and professional use.
Crafted of superior quality grenadilla wood. Adjustable thumbrest and silver-plated keys. Weighs just 6lbs. Case for storage included.
Included case may be of a lower quality, but still is highly durable.
Bb Clarinet / Black
12.2 x 5.4 inches/6lbs
Hisonic Signature Bb Orchestra Clarinet
Hisonic founded in 2002 as a California based manufacturer of PA systems, musical instruments, and headphones and now has a footprint in Canada and across the USA.
Made from ebonite and features nickel silver keys. USA made prestini pads. Comes with a swab, grease, mouthpiece with reed protector, and a protective lined case
Ligature that holds the reed may feel a bit cheaply made
Bb Clarinet / Black & silver
13 x 10.1 x 4.6 inches/4lbs
Case, swab, grease
Yamaha YCL450 Clarinet with Silver-Plated Keys
Founded over 130 years ago, the Yamaha Corporation is one of the most prestigious manufacturers and distributors of a wide range of electronics and musical instruments.
Adjustable thumbrest aided by a strap ring. Crafted of class leading grenadilla wood. Designed for intermediate users. Silver-plated keys for premium softer and warmer sound variations.
This is a wonderful clarinet and sounds beautiful, but comes with a basic mouthpiece that may be worth replacing.
Bb Clarinet / Black
14.7 x 10.2 x 5.3 inches/5lbs
Lazarro 150-BK-L B-Flat Bb Clarinet
Lazarro, founded in 2007, is an all American brand of musical instruments that has won the hearts of its customers for several reasons, most notably its high quality and durability.
USA made and can be ordered in a choice of 24 highly appealing color variants. Comes with mouthpiece with reed, cap and ligature, white gloves, reeds holder and clarinet.
Excellent choice for its price, but the cork seal on the two sections may break off after regular use.
Bb Clarinet/24 colors
Ebonite, ABS plastic
14 x 5 x 9 inches/3.8lbs
11 reeds, gloves, case
Mendini Black Ebonite B Flat Clarinet
Cecilio Music, parent company of Mendini, is a prestigious manufacturer of a wide range of instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass, and accessories.
Available in 10 color variants. Black ebonite body and appointed with nickel plated keys. Adjustable thumb rest. Comes with hard shell case and 10 2.5-inch reeds.
This is a great sounding clarinet, but the instructions to put it together may be unclear to some.
Learning to play a music instrument offers several benefits, be it an acoustic electric bass guitar, relieving stress on a drum set, or blowing whimsical notes into a woodwind instrument such as a saxophone or clarinet. In brief, it can refine your time management skills, enhance your perseverance and coordination, and, believe it or not, significantly increase the capacity of your memory. However, before you head out shopping for the best clarinet, it is wise to determine your skill level, so that you can make a practical purchase. Read on to learn the features that are available and some clarinet jargon to find an instrument that won’t disappoint.
You can go all out and buy the best clarinet available, but you probably won’t be able to “WOW” your audience if you have no clue on how to play. Contrarily, you can skimp out and buy a cheap clarinet, but it will most likely not even last until you finish learning the basics. To give you a rough idea on price expectations, a good quality clarinet for beginners will cost you $100 or more, whereas intermediate level instruments may cost between $300 and $400, and professional clarinets can go beyond the $800 price tag.
Wooden clarinets are a little more expensive compared to their plastic counterparts, but are well worth the money if you feel you will be playing your woodwind for many years to come. When considering prices of clarinets, take into account if any accessories are included such as reeds, cases to store the instrument, cleaning swap, and cork grease, because they can quickly add up costs if bought separately.
Clarinets can possess a wide spectrum of features, types, and prices, and the best one for you is one you are comfortable with and one that could perhaps help you sell out concerts.
That said, here are a few factors to consider when you’re on the shopping trail for the best clarinet.
Type of Clarinet –the family of clarinets includes Bb clarinets (most popular), Eb clarinets, and bass instruments
Construction Material –most common clarinet body materials include grenadilla, ebonite, and top-notch rosewood, which is generally seen in more expensive models
Key Plating –three common options are nickel plated, silver plated and Hamilton plated
Bore Types –available in several different styles and sizes, small bore clarinets are ideal for those getting started and students, while larger models are preferred by clarinetists who need to produce big sound, such as in a band
Reed Types –here you will have to consider the strength of the reed and cut, as softer reeds are more suited for beginners and harder ones produce a thicker, fuller sound
Ligatures –this part of the clarinet controls how much the reed vibrates and can consequently prevent wear and tear
Mouthpiece –even though most clarinets come with basic mouthpieces, it is better to switch it for a higher quality one that suits you best
Thumbrest – this provides extra padding and comfort for your right hand and is especially useful for novice players
Accessories –check out the accessories a respective instrument comes with such as set of reeds and a carrying case
Construction and Design
The big question you’re faced with when in the market for a new clarinet is whether you need a wooden or plastic instrument. Plastic can sound a bit cheaper, but even some higher end models are made from resin materials such as ebonite. Further, these models do not crack and are less susceptible to extreme weather conditions, whereas wooden clarinets, such as those crafted with grenadilla, are mostly seen in intermediate and pro models.
Next, you will have to choose between the bore types and sizes, which is the hole that runs from the tip of the mouthpiece the tip of the barrel located at the bottom. A narrow bore that measures roughly 14.5mm will render good intonation and a sweet, centered tone, whereas a wide bore, measuring 15mm, is great for playing vibrato and a softer reed.
Performance and Ease of Use
While each component plays its own vital role producing great sound, the wafer-thin piece of cane, aka the reed, is possibly the most important one. Reeds are available in different strengths ranging from 1 to 5, where 1 is the softest and 5 is the hardest. Choose a harder reed if you desire a thick, heavier, and fuller sound, and a softer reed for a lighter and brighter tone. Furthermore, there are two different types of cuts – regular and French file cuts; the latter typically costs a bit more, but are worth their price.
Just like most musical instruments, you should spend some time cleaning and maintaining your clarinet. Clarinets come apart pretty easily, so start by dismantling it after use and placing the reed in the reed holder and set it to dry. Use a soft, microfiber cloth with key oil or cork grease to wipe of each component gently, yet thoroughly, including the ligature and keywork (usually supplied with the instrument). Lastly, use a small brush to clean the mouthpiece, put all the parts together, and voila—you’re all set for another rocking session.
What is the Best Clarinet?
A clarinet consists of 5 major parts, and although the design of this instrument doesn’t change whether you buy a basic or professional clarinet, it is the quality of these components that could make a world of a difference. But now that you’ve read our clarinet buying guide, you should be well equipped with the information to pick the best one easily from our top 5 suggestions, so without further ado—Let’s get right to them!
Our Top Choice
The Selmer CL211 Intermediate Bb Clarinet is an ideal choice for those just getting their feet wet with this musical instrument or those making their first upgrade. However, if you’re ready to move up a few notches to a professional clarinet, the Selmer 1430LP Bb Bass Clarinet is a great option. Its keys are made from nickel silver, complete with stainless steel springs for top notch performance.
Selmer CL211 Intermediate Bb Clarinet with Adjustable Thumbrest and Silver-plated Keys
Selmer Clarinet CL211
Conn-Selmer is a highly reputed manufacturer and distributer of a plethora of musical instruments for novice and professionals alike. Founded in the 1800’s, Selmer clarinets garnered a surge of appeal rather quickly, and even took home the gold at the World Fair in St Louis. The first successfully molded clarinet, named the Bundy Resonite 1400, was introduced by the company in 1948 and was an instant hit, witnessing 1000 sales, due to its superior quality and affordability.
The Selmer CL211 Intermediate Bb Clarinet is a great choice for novice and intermediate clarinetists, showcasing a medium bore design to help you achieve a lively and focused tone. Measuring 14.3 x 12.2 x 5.4 inches and weighing in at 6lbs, it is crafted of unstained, aged grenadilla wood, complete with an adjustable thumbrest, a hard rubber mouthpiece, undercut holes for a smother output, free Coda Smart Music Studio software, and a case for easy storage. If you’re looking for beautiful, warm yet mature clarinet sound, the Selmer CL2 will not disappoint.
The Hisonic Signature Series 2610 Bb Orchestra Clarinet with Case comes with everything you need to get started with this instrument. It does not however come with a sheet music stand, for which the Hisonic 7125 Ultra-light Aluminum Folding Music Stand is an excellent solution. Crafted of high quality aluminum and weighing just 1.5lbs, this stand can be extended between 28-58 inches.
Hisonic Signature Series 2610 Bb Orchestra Clarinet with Case made from Ebonite with Nickel Silver Keys
Hisonic Clarinet 2610
Established in 2002, Hisonic is the pioneer of the PA system with Bluetooth and wireless microphone capabilities in the USA and today also manufactures a diverse range of products that include musical instruments, headphones, and accessories. Originating in California and shipped from its warehouse in Los Angeles, Hisonic products are welcomed for superior quality of craftsmanship and durability.
The Hisonic Signature Series 2610 Bb Orchestra Clarinet is crafted from ebonite rubber, and is appointed with nickel silver keys and prestini pads. It comes with a clarinet swab, cork grease, mouthpiece with reed protection, and even a protective case to store the instrument when not in use. Measuring 13 x 10.1 x 4.6 inches and weighing in at a modest 4lbs, the Hisonic 2610 Bb Orchestra Clarinet is an ideal choice for orchestras, marching bands, and jazz bands, and is backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty.
The Yamaha YCL450 Clarinet with Silver-plated Keys is made from high quality wood and fitted with silver-plated keys for that soft, warm sound, making it a worthwhile professional level instrument. However, if you’re just getting started with the clarinet, the Yamaha YCL-255 Standard Bb Clarinet is a great one to begin with. With an ABS resin body with a matte finish, it features a 65mm barrel and nickel plated keys for a focused tone.
Yamaha YCL450 Clarinet with Silver-Plated Keys and Adjustable Thumbrest
Yamaha Clarinet YCL-450
The Yamaha Corporation truly needs no introduction, as they have been creating innovative electronics and music products for the past 130 years. Regarded as the world’s largest piano manufacturing company, Yamaha sets the gold standard in several other areas including synthesizers, samplers, and power sports equipment.
The Yamaha YCL450 Clarinet is a winning combination of a 65mm barrel, silver-plated keys for a soft, warm sound, and an adjustable thumb rest, all wrapped nicely within a grenadilla body. It measures 14.7 x 10.2 x 5.3 inches, weighs just 5lbs, and comes with a sturdy yet plush carrying case for easy storage and transportation. If you’re looking to be the next Artie Shaw, with a little practice, of course, the Yamaha YCL450 Clarinet should help you get there!
The Lazarro 150-BK-L B-Flat Bb Clarinet is built to last, possibly for a very long time, and although the package does come with 11 reeds, you will need more at some point. Lazarro clarinet reeds are available in several different strengths staring from 1.5 i up to 4, and in packs of 90 each. These reeds are made from high quality bamboo, and are designed to produce rich professional sound.
Lazarro 150-BK-L B-Flat Bb Clarinet with Mouthpiece, Reed, Carrying Case and available in 24 Finishes
Lazarro Clarinet 150-BK-L
Conceived in 2007, Lazarro is an American manufacturer of musical instruments whose mission has been to provide affordable and high quality professional instruments and accessories. The company’s product portfolio includes a massive lineup of musical instruments including saxophones, clarinets, trumpets, flutes, piccolos, and violins, each handcrafted and teacher approved.
The Lazarro 150-BK-L B-Flat Bb is a beginner to intermediate level clarinet that can be ordered in a choice of 24 different color finishes. They aren’t just stylish, but offer top notch durability, and come with a wide range of accessories including soft cleaning cloth, fabric case, mouthpiece, 11 reeds, care kit, silver keys, white gloves, reeds holder, screwdriver, cork grease, and ligature. It is crafted from hard resin ebonite, and rings in with nickel silver keys, high quality pads, and an extra barrel and adjustable thumb rest.
Weighing in at 3.8lbs and measuring 14 x 5 x 9 inches, the clarinet comes neatly packaged, and provides fantastic value for its price tag.
The Mendini MCT-E+SD+PB Black Ebonite B Flat Clarinet is appointed with high quality nickel plated keys and an exterior made from ebonite. However, if you’d like a Bb clarinet that is made from superior quality rosewood and is fitted with silver-plated keys, the Mendini MCT-30 Intermediate Solid Rosewood B Flat Clarinet is worth a look.
Mendini Black Ebonite B Flat Clarinet with Ebonite Body and available in 10 Colors
Mendini Clarinet MCT-E+SD+PB
Mendini by Cecilio is an esteemed designer and manufacturer of a vast portfolio of music instruments including brass, strings, woodwinds, and accessories. The company’s products are welcomed by both novice and seasoned instrument players, owing to their sheer quality, performance, and top-notch durability that will have you playing for years to come, albeit with the right maintenance.
The Mendini MCT clarinet is engineered for novice and intermediate users, and can be ordered in a choice of 10 exciting color finishes including blue, green, purple, sky blue, and pink. It is crafted with superior grade ebonite, and embedded with long lasting nickel-plated keys. Further, the Bb MCT clarinet by Mendini is appointed with an adjustable thumbrest to enhance comfort, and comes with everything you need to get started, including a mouthpiece, cork grease, 10 2.5 inch reeds, cleaning cloth, cork grease, a pair of gloves, plush hard shell case with backpack straps, foldable stand, and a pocketbook. Each clarinet leaving the Mendini stable is quality checked by leading technicians right in the USA, and backed by an impressive one-year warranty against manufacturer defects, so you can purchase with the confidence knowing it is built to last!