Buying Your First Clarinet

Buying your first clarinet can seem intimidating. After all, clarinets all look alike and there are no easy statistical differences to compare, like power, memory, number of keys or other comparators.  The differences are important, however, since a poorly made clarinet can be hard to blow, hard to keep in tune, and hard to play.

Fortunately, the makers of the top professional woodwinds all make excellent entry level clarinets. Purchase a clarinet from any of these brands -- Buffet,Jupiter,LeBlanc,Selmer, or Yamaha -- and you can be sure that you’ll have an instrument that will be easy and fun to play. Most importantly, you’ll have the security of knowing that your teacher will approve.
Tip:  Give us a call at 1-800-472-6274 if you don’t see the instrument recommended by your teacher. We have many models that we don’t show on our website and we guarantee the lowest possible price and fast free shipping on all clarinets.
If a brand new clarinet from one of the professional woodwind makers is out of your price range, we have several other choices. We often have used clarinets on our site, all of which are checked out to play like new.

Also, we have great entry level clarinets from Jean Baptiste, a brand known for quality entry level brass and winds for over 80 years. Jean Baptiste clarinets are made for us in China by makers that we have sought out and worked with over many years of testing and improvement. Every Jean Baptiste instrument is tested and adjusted for tone, comfort, and optimum playability by our staff of brass and woodwind technicians to make sure that your clarinet will provide you with years of playing enjoyment. Generations of teachers have approved.

Clarinet Tone:  Wood vs. Plastic Clarinet Bodies

You may be wondering about the different materials used in clarinets. Almost all quality entry level models today are made of plastic, resin, or hard rubber. This is because the traditional grenadilla wood used in the making of the top professional clarinets has become rare and expensive and because makers have become better at producing plastics with good tonal characteristics. Grenadilla wood clarinets start with the intermediate level instruments, such as the Leblanc L4K, the Yamaha YCL450, and the Jupiter 931S Parisienne. Buffet now offers its top model, the R13 Green Line, in an eco-friendly composite material to produce the finest sound without destroying rare trees.

A clarinet’s tone quality comes both from the instrument and the player.  Getting a good clarinet sound takes practice learning embouchure (positioning of the mouth around the mouthpiece) and breath control. Until the beginner learns these techniques, the purchase of an intermediate or professional clarinet will not make a difference in sound.

Best Beginner Clarinets

Here are three of the most popular beginner clarinets:
Jean Baptiste JBCL66 Student Clarinet Outfit: One of the best values in a student clarinet, the JBCL66 features an ABS molded resin body for a full wood-like tone, drop forged, nickel plated keys and bell ring and double skin Italian pads for durability and perfect coverage of tone holes. This clarinet has one of the best warranties in the business including one year parts and labor and five years on the keys.  Instead of the usual briefcase style case, the Jean Baptiste come is a cool looking backpack.

Selmer Prelude CL711 Student Clarinet Outfit: The Conn-Selmer company has long been known for the finest professional brass and wind instruments. The CL711 is an acclaimed student clarinet made of durable hard rubber with nickel-plated keys designed especially for beginners’ hands.

Yamaha YCL250 Student Clarinet Outfit: The Yamaha YCL250 is a cut above other student clarinet models. Incorporating many of the features that distinguish Yamaha’s professional clarinets, the YCL250 features an ABS resin body with the grain and finish of wood and nickel-silver keys. The synthetic Valentino pads are maintenance free and resistant to moisture. The new design of the barrel and bell give the YCL250 a more professional tone and make it easier for students to hit the right pitches. We can often save you money on a nearly-new YCL250 Clarinet.

Why Buy Your Clarinet from Sam Ash Direct?

Sam Ash Direct is the best place to buy your clarinet.  We have over 87 years of experience with brass and wind instruments and provide you with the guaranteed lowest price and fast free shipping to the lower 48 states. We also have a guaranteed trade in policy that makes it cheaper to buy a clarinet from us than to rent one from other dealers. Trade in your clarinet  within the first year after purchase and we will apply 50% of the original purchase price to the new instrument (which doesn’t have to be a clarinet). Trade in your clarinet within the second year after purchase and we will apply 40% of the original purchase price to the new instrument (which doesn’t have to be a clarinet).*  Another great reason to buy from Sam Ash Direct is our 45/60 day return/price protection policy and 24/7 customer support – we make sure that you’ll be satisfied with your clarinet.

Recommended Accessories for your Clarinet:

  • Music Stand – important for practicing with proper posture and developing proper breath control and tone.
  • Reeds – Clarinet reeds come in different strengths, usually from 1.5 (softest) to 4.5 (hardest). Beginners should buy several 1.5 strength cane reeds to start, as the harder reeds are for experienced players with more developed embouchures.  Reeds break, so you need to start with extras. Fibracell reeds don’t break often, but are not appropriate for beginners.
  • Thum-EEZ – you support your clarinet with your thumb.  Thum-EEZ is a pad that gives you a softer surface and makes it more comfortable, particularly for beginners, to hold the instrument.
  • Cork grease, cases, and cleaning swabs – you need these from the beginning to make it easier to assemble your instrument, store it, and keep it clean. Fortunately, these come with every clarinet we sell.
*Trade-in figures are based on instruments in good condition. Repair charges will be deducted for damaged instruments.


Guide To Buying Your First Clarinet

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