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As a beginner clarinetist, or someone new to music, you may not know whether you’re going to be playing the instrument long term.
The only thing you’re sure of right now is that you want to get started.
That being the case, rushing to the store and buying the most expensive clarinet doesn’t make a lot of sense.
What you need is an instrument that’s affordably priced and easy to play.
In this guide, we look at 10 best clarinets for beginners.
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Jupiter JCL-700N Student Clarinet Nickel Plated
The Jupiter JCL-700N student clarinet isn’t necessarily the most affordably priced of the bunch.
And, Jupiter Music may not be the most known brand in the clarinet market.
This model, however, has plenty of great reviews.
This clarinet comes with an ABS resin body, which makes it durable and reliable.
If you don’t think you’ll be able to spend a lot of time looking after your clarinet, which can be sensitive to changes in weather and humidity (and therefore cracking), or if you’re planning to give it to your young one, this might be a good solution.
It also features nickel silver keys, adjustable thumb rest, .583-inch bore, offset trill keys, 65mm barrel, adjustable neck strap and ABS molded case.
The instrument also offers a rich, full tone.
Again, there are many happy customers for the Jupiter Music clarinet, and while it may not be the cheapest, it could be a great solution for the beginner student.
Jean Paul USA CL-300 Student Clarinet
The Jean Paul USA CL-300 student clarinet is an affordably priced, good quality clarinet for those just getting started with the instrument.
The CL-300 is in the key of Bb and it comes with the Boehm 17 key system, an ebonite body, nickel-plated keys, robust contoured carrying case, gloves, one Rico reed 2.5, cleaning cloth and cork grease.
Buyers love that this is a real instrument (not just a toy) and the fact that it’s good quality for the price.
Some have pointed out that the middle register response is a little slow, which could be the case, but we can’t confirm or deny.
The Jean Paul USA clarinet could be a great choice for beginners who don’t require anything fancy.
Mendini By Cecilio MCT-E+SD+PB Black Ebonite B Flat Clarinet With Case, Stand, Pocketbook, Mouthpiece, 10 Reeds And More
It doesn’t get much cheaper than the Mendini by Cecilio MCT-E+SD+PB clarinet – of course, that doesn’t mean it’s the best!
It could be a fun and accessible option for beginners, however, as it comes in a myriad of colors, including – Black, Blue, Green, Purple, Pink, Sky Blue, White and Yellow.
You won’t find that with most clarinets!
This clarinet features a high-grade ebonite ABS body, durable nickel-plated keys, inline trill keys and adjustable thumb rest.
For the price, it’s quite surprising that it also comes with a hard-shell case, mouthpiece, a box of 10 reeds (2.5”), cork grease, cleaning cloth and a pair of gloves.
Positive reviewers liked that it had a low price, great sound and found it suitable for a beginner.
Less optimistic buyers said they had trouble with tuning, the instrument’s cheap quality and the fact that it didn’t last very long.
At this price, we’re not surprised that the Cecilio doesn’t last forever, but for someone just trying to figure out whether they want to play long-term, this can be a good, low-risk option.
Yamaha YCL-255 Standard Bb Clarinet
Yamaha is a reputable instrument brand in general, and they do a good job with clarinets too.
The Yamaha YCL-255 standard Bb clarinet maybe be a beginner to intermediate clarinet (and it is priced as such), but it has been modeled after pro models.
It comes with a 65mm barrel for a focused tone, adjustable thumb rest with strap ring, Yamaha 4C mouthpiece and a case.
Users say this clarinet sounds good, plays well and is in tune.
More critical reviewers say they did not get good customer service.
Unfortunately, we cannot speak to the quality of individual buyers, but we do have reason to believe the Yamaha is a solid choice.
You should note, however, that for a beginner instrument, this one can be a tad pricey.
Eastar ECL-300 B Flat Clarinet Black Ebonite
The Eastar ECL-300 is a beginner to intermediate student clarinet with good tune, steady and pleasant voice and a ABS Bakelite body with nickel-plated keys and ring-wrapped bell mouth.
Featuring a durable and practical design, this clarinet comes with the Boehm 17 key system, cylindrical bore, 62mm and 65mm mouthpiece connector Italian felt double sheep casings bladder pads and memory needle spring made of NAS high-carbon steel.
The bundle includes the clarinet, 4C mouthpiece, metal ligature, mouthpiece protective cap, two mouthpieces connector, eight Occlusion rim, two thumb sheaths, clarinet swabs, clarinet stand, two practice Reeds (2.5”), black resin reeds (2.5”), join grease, cloth, white gloves, hard case and 12-month warranty.
Buyers love the build quality and sound of the instrument.
Some buyers seemed to have issues with the clamp for the reed, but we’re not sure how reliable that information is.
The Eastar is great axe for the money.
Aileen Lexington Bb 17 Key Clarinet With Mouthpiece, Hard Case, Cork Grease, Gloves And Other Kit
The Aileen Lexington Bb clarinet is another affordable option suited to beginners.
This clarinet features 17 nickel-plated keys and a Bakelite body with wood grain finish effect.
The package comes with a reed, mouthpiece, premium hard foam-shell case, screwdriver, cleaning cloth with rope, cork grease and a pair of gloves.
Enthusiastic buyers say it is good kit for beginners.
Some things to look out for include the mouthpiece (which can be replaced) and issues in the upper register.
As always, we encourage you to be your own judge in this regard.
Lazarro 150-BK-L B-Flat Clarinet Black, Silver Keys With Case, 11 Reeds, Care Kit And Many Extras
For absolute beginners who aren’t sure whether they’re going to be playing the clarinet long-term, the Lazarro 150-BK-L is an affordable solution that arrives with all the accessories you need.
It’s available in the largest selection of colors of any clarinet on this list – Black, Brown, Dark Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Royal Blue, Sea Blue, White and Yellow with Gold or Silver key combinations.
This package includes the durable Lazarro clarinet, second barrel, mouthpiece with reed, cap and ligature, fabric case, soft cleaning cloth, reeds holder, white gloves, screwdriver and cork grease.
Beginners are mostly enthusiastic about the Lazarro clarinet because of its great sound and esthetics.
Less optimistic reviewers caution us about the build quality of the instrument.
Hisonic Signature Series 2610 Bb Orchestra Clarinet With Case
The Hisonic Signature Series 2610 Bb clarinet comes with made in USA Prestini pads, nickel-silver keys and Ebonite body.
The bundle comes with cork grease, clarinet swab, protective plush lied case, mouthpiece, reed protector and one-year limited warranty.
The Bb tuning makes it perfect for marching bands, orchestras and jazz bands.
Many buyers found the Hisonic to be a great beginner clarinet, but more advanced players didn’t like it.
It should be noted that this is an affordably priced instrument and that being the case you shouldn’t expect it to be of the highest quality.
Overall, we’ve found that it’s relatively trouble-free.
Selmer CL211 Intermediate Bb Clarinet
When a beginner clarinet just isn’t doing the trick, you might consider trying out the Selmer CL211 intermediate clarinet.
Not surprisingly, it’s quite a bit more expensive than the options already noted, but that’s standard for better quality instruments – take note.
This clarinet comes with a small tapered bore, undercut tone holes, silver-plated keys, adjustable thumbrest, Coda Smart Music Studio software, case, Selmer USA mouthpiece and cap and ligature.
The body is made of grenadilla wood.
The Selmer is a highly rated clarinet that’s relatively issue-free.
Yamaha YCL-650U Bb Clarinet
The Yamaha YCL-650U is a professional clarinet, and the price point reflects this.
I thought it would be worth mentioning, however, in case your student clarinetist ends up advancing rapidly and needs a better-quality instrument for their various pursuits.
It costs a little more than the Selmer.
It comes with a grenadilla wood body, silver-plated key work, cylindrical bore design, natural finish, 65mm barrels, Yamaha 4C mouthpiece, case and Yamaha care accessories.
The instrument features an extremely free blowing design, consistent tone and precise intonation.
Most buyers love the sound of this Yamaha clarinet and complaints are few and far between.
What Should I Look For In A Beginner Clarinet?
Still not sure what clarinet to buy?
Not exactly sure what you’re looking at?
Or, do you have additional questions that need answering?
Not to worry.
Although we’ve looked at several products, we have yet to discuss the specific factors that should play a role in your buying decision.
If you haven’t figured this out already, oftentimes, we find that beginner clarinetists benefit from an instrument that’s durable, affordable and easy to play.
But there are always exceptions to the rule, which is why it’s a good idea to look at each of the following criteria.
We’ll be looking at tone and sound quality, playability, durability and cost.
Here’s what you should know about each of these components:
Pleasant Tone/Sound Quality
Tone is often hard to describe and it’s somewhat of a subjective thing because of how people perceive and think about tone.
Words like “cutting”, “warm”, “full”, “rich” and others are all used to describe tone (or timbre) and not everyone agrees on what these words mean.
With that in mind, you don’t need to concern yourself with this right now.
Clarity and projection are likely the most important things when it comes to students and beginners.
By “clarity” I mean there’s some high end/treble to the tone and there’s good note separation too (meaning each note sounds different from the other, as it should).
By “projection” I basically mean volume and how the sound carries.
So far as the tonal characteristics that an intermediate or professional player would concern themselves with, a beginner probably won’t know what to look for, and they don’t need to.
It takes a while to get used to any instrument, and for that matter, how it plays or sounds.
Someone who’s been playing for a while would likely pick up a lot of the finer details in the tone a beginner would be oblivious to.
So, don’t worry too much about tonal qualities except for the ones already mentioned – clarity and projection.
If you’ve been playing for a while, but would still consider yourself a beginner, then perhaps consider a clarinet at the intermediate level (assuming you’ve got the money to spare).
An Instrument That’s Fun & Easy To Play
While we aren’t looking for perfection in this regard – manufacturers must cut some corners to reduce the cost of their products – a beginner is going to have a lot more fun with an instrument that’s fun and easy to play versus one that isn’t.
Keep an eye open for instruments that are highly rated, because these are more likely to come with the right components and features that contribute to playability.
If the instrument isn’t rated highly, there’s probably a good reason for it, whether it’s that it doesn’t keep tune or doesn’t have the best keys.
Time and again, we’ve found that students that have fun with the learning process are those that improve faster and enjoy playing more overall (a good teacher doesn’t hurt either).
If you need to determine whether the clarinet, you’re thinking about buying is the right fit for you, then you can either go to an instrument store to try it out or you can watch online video reviews and demos.
If you already have a teacher lined up, then asking them for their advice would also be a wise move.
After all, if they are a qualified and knowledgeable teacher, they should have years of experience behind them already, and they’ll know what to look for in an instrument.
An Instrument Made Of Sturdy Material
If your clarinet is made of sturdy material, it means it’s less likely to break and won’t require as much care and maintenance.
That can also help you keep costs down.
Clarinets are typically made of plastic or wood.
Plastic clarinets are often thought to be better choices for beginners because they are more durable.
Naturally, wooden clarinets have a better tone and a more professional feel overall, but wood is sensitive to weather and temperature changes.
If you know how to care for your wooden clarinet, you won’t run into any challenges.
Of course, this takes more work, and beginners typically aren’t trained in the proper care and maintenance of their instrument.
So, an argument could certainly be made that plastic instruments are better suited to beginners than wooden instruments.
This doesn’t mean that you must pick a plastic instrument, but it is advisable when you’re just getting started.
A Clarinet That Doesn’t Cost Too Much
Even among the various beginner clarinets available, there can be a bit of a spread in terms of price range.
When it comes to intermediate and advanced instruments introduced towards the end of our list (in case you’re in need of a better-quality instrument), the price can be anywhere from 10 to 20 times the price of starter kit.
These clarinets are obviously nicer than axes that cost less, but we would caution against spending more than you can realistically afford.
Even at the beginner level, there are some great instruments.
We don’t think it makes much sense to go into debt for your instrument, so please spend responsibly.
What Is The Best Clarinet To Buy?
Depending on who you ask, you’re bound to get dozens of different answers.
They will tell you that the best instrument to buy is the one that sounds the best, the one that’s easiest to play, the one that looks the most professional and so on.
But we feel the best clarinet to buy is the one you’re happiest with.
People sometimes end up regretting their purchases, especially if they feel like they didn’t get what they were looking for.
They can comb through reviews and still end up with a product that doesn’t make them feel excited to play.
Although it’s easy to spend too much time researching and end up in analysis paralysis, you can also wind up with a product you aren’t fully satisfied with if you jump too fast into the purchase.
So, watching video demos and reviews can be helpful, and likewise going to the instrument store and trying out various clarinets can help you get a better sense of which one is right for you.
What Is The Best Clarinet Brand?
We’ve introduced a couple of lesser known brands in this guide, and we don’t believe them to be bad (their products are highly rated), but these are the main brands that have endured and remain trusted by many buyers:
- Jean Paul USA.
These are generally good places to look for your new clarinet.
Is It Worth Putting Money Into A More Expensive Clarinet?
When it comes to instruments, the adage “you get what you pay for” usually holds true.
You can reach a point of diminishing returns where the cost of the instrument doesn’t necessarily justify the increasingly smaller upgrades you get from paying extra.
But it’s fair to say you always get a better instrument if you’re willing to spend more.
Now, whether it’s the right move for you to purchase a more expensive instrument is going to be highly individual.
If you’re just giving the clarinet a try and you’re not sure whether you or your young one is going to be playing for a long time to come, perhaps it would be better to spend a little less, so you haven’t lost much.
Meanwhile, a player that’s quickly advancing is likely putting in their time on their instrument, and before long will require a better-quality clarinet to play on (they could end up breaking their instrument too, because of long hours of practice).
Likewise, depending on the settings in which you’re playing, you may need a better instrument sooner rather than later.
You may not need a fancy instrument for practicing at home or for school band.
But as you get involved in orchestras or maybe even jazz, pop and rock bands, you’ll begin to reach for better quality clarinets.
Likewise, if you’re going to be recording, you should have the best quality instrument at the ready (even if you end up renting it).
Studio engineers are usually looking to capture the best sound possible, so using high quality gear is just par for the course.
Also, what instrument you buy depends on how comfortable you are with a wooden instrument versus a plastic instrument.
If you spend more, you’ll usually get a wooden clarinet by default.
This is because intermediate and advanced instruments are made of better-quality materials.
You can Google and learn about the proper care and maintenance of the instrument, but of course, you’ll also need to commit yourself to the routine.
This usually isn’t that big of a deal, but it is something you’ll want to learn more about.
Finally, as noted earlier, we don’t recommend going overbudget to buy a clarinet you can’t afford, even if you can get a better instrument for more money.
The quality of instrument you buy will come down to your commitment level.
If you’re just giving things a whirl, it might be better to buy a cheaper clarinet.
That way, you aren’t stuck with an expensive instrument you’ll end up selling for half the price you bought it for (I’m exaggerating a bit – you might be able to sell it for more, but you’re probably not going to recoup your costs).
If you’re committed to learning the instrument, it might be better to invest in a more expensive clarinet.
Eventually, you’re going to arrive at a level where you can appreciate the finer details of an instrument.
If you already have a solid instrument at that point, you won’t have to rush out and buy a new one.
Ultimately, only you can decide.
Read this guide in full for additional tips.
Is It Worth Looking At Other Soprano Clarinets – A, C, G, Eb Or D Clarinets?
In most cases, no.
These clarinets are sometimes called upon, but in orchestral settings, it’s rare.
Composers mostly write for Bb and A clarinets, and very rarely Eb instruments.
Know it or not, the singular term “clarinet” refers to a Bb clarinet specifically.
It isn’t just the easiest instrument for a beginner or student to get started on – it’s also the most utilized in most musical situations a clarinetist finds themselves in.
As an intermediate or advanced clarinetist, you may consider adding to your collection of instruments, especially if you’re playing a variety of gigs – orchestral, jazz, pop and so on.
Otherwise, the cost tends to add up rapidly and you must also be able to switch things up on the fly, because the position of the notes also changes.
As you can imagine, this requires practice to master.
For now, we recommend getting a Bb clarinet.
Best Clarinets For Beginners Reviewed, Final Thoughts
Learning an instrument (or leaning a new instrument) can be a magical experience.
You may not know anything about music, and as you begin to pull the veil back on the mystery, it can quickly turn into a fun and exciting journey.
Part of making that a successful journey is choosing the right instrument.
We’ve done our best to feature quality instruments in this guide, from top to bottom.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, you’re more than welcome to continue your search.
Regardless of what you choose, we wish you all the best on your musical journey and hope your shopping experience is a joyful one.