Learning a new instrument is a wonderful experience. However, buying your first clarinet can often be a daunting process. This post offers information on what to look out for when buying your first clarinet.
When people think of 'the Clarinet' they usually mean a Bb 'Soprano' Clarinet and this is advised as the best starting place for beginners.
The first question is whether to get a Plastic clarinet or a Wooden one? A plastic clarinet is usually recommended for a beginner as they are easy to maintain and is by far the cheaper of the two. Wooden clarinets are usually left until a player is more committed due to the need to look after the wood more carefully. That said, the Buffet E11 and Yamaha YCL450 are still essentially student designs and offer a richer tone and much more room to grow for someone looking for maximum value from their first instrument.
A quick round up of our most popular plastic models would include:
Sakussu is our very own brand of beginner clarinets designed for an easy and lightweight option for those who wish to learn. The Sakussu is made of ABS Resin making it much easier to blow than those made of wood. The clarinet comes with a basic case, mouthpiece and cleaning cloth and combined with its low price makes it the perfect instrument for the beginner on a budget. Click here to find out more
The Buffet Prodige is a favourite of teachers and pupils alike. Combining innovative features such as a textured inner bell and an E13 inspired bore, the Prodige offers unparalleled tone quality and projection in a package suitable for students. Also included is a very smart backpack case and a nice Urban Play mouthpiece making this a very attractive package indeed. Click here to find out more.
The Sakkusu and Buffet models are also available to hire. If you are a UK resident this may be a good option if you aren't fully committed to the clarinet or unable to pay for the instrument all at once. You will find the details under the Rentals tab at the top of the page.
The Yamaha 255S combines the well known build quality of Yamaha with a new student instrument. Yamaha are world renowned for their consistancy and reliability making them another favourite of teachers. No one wants to spend their time working around the problems with the instruments but rather playing music! Another big plus to the Yamaha package is the Yamaha 4C mouthpiece that the instrument comes with. Having a good reliable mouthpiece is just as important as a good working clarinet and creates a better platform for you to begin learning. Click here to find out more.
The Uebel Etude is possibly the lesser known of the offerings from the bigger brands but is by no means a bad instrument. This clarinet also has an ABS body but with the added feature of a wooden barrel, allowing for a much more rounded and well developed sound. To sweeten the deal Uebel also include a very smart case and a Rovner ligature into the package. These instruments are widely known for their warm resonant sound and would benefit the advancing beginner or keen hobbyist looking for a clarinet with more depth of sound. Click here to find out more.
If you were interested in a Wooden Clarinet as a beginner then I would look at one of the following:
The Buffet E11 is another favourite of teachers and pupils alike. The bore design allows for a similar ease of playability to the Prodige whilst giving more fullness and control to the sound. Made of the same high quality Grenadilla as some of the French made models, this clarinet has more of that classic 'Bloom' to the sound that is characteristic of good clarinet tone. Made in Buffet's German factories, the E11 comes in at a much more modest price than it's Parisian cousins and is packaged up in the same fantastic case and accesories as the Prodige. Click here for more information.
The Yamaha 450 has long been a popular starter wooden clarinet as Yamahas lofty quality standards mean that you don't get any of the inconsistencies that can occur with wooden instruments. As with the YCL255S, the 450 is a nice free blowing instrument with a lovely focussed sound but this time married with the warmth of wood. A Yamaha 4C mouthpiece is included with this instrument as well meaning you are fully set up for years of learning with this package. The Yamaha YCL450 is easily the most expensive instrument on this page but it isn't hard to see where the money goes. The fantastic finishing and treating of the body and keywork is easy to see and the resulting reliability make this a go-to instrument. Click here for more information.
As we have established, all of the above clarinets will come with a case, mouthpiece and ligature but it may also be worth getting a few extra accessories to help get you on track:
- A Pull-through - This is used to clean out the instrument of any excess moisture after playing to keep it nice and clean and to stop it from harbouring any unwanted bacteria. If you have decided to buy a wooden clarinet then this is a MUST.
- Some Reeds - You may get a basic reed with the instrument but you will have a better time playing some better produced reeds from Rico or Vandoren. Getting a few 1.5s will set you on your way and last you a good few weeks at least, provided you don't snap or chew them up!
- Tuition Book - Having bought your clarinet we bet you will be eager to get going! Get yourself one of our tuition books and you can give it a go as soon as you get home. We recommend Clarinet Basics and Abracadabra Clarinet, as both are easy to understand and widely used by teachers. If you have a teacher all lined up it may be worth checking with them if they use a particular book as part of their teaching method. If this is something we do not stock we can usually get it in for you without too much notice.
Points to Remember
- Buy a Bb clarinet.
- Plastic instruments are easier to maintain and more affordable.
- Wood sounds good but requires more care and maintenance.
- All of the instruments listed are suitable for absolute beginners and there is no wrong choice.
- If possible, it may be worth popping in to our store to try these instruments out, you would be surprised how much of a difference a complete novice can see between the models.
- If you have any more questions regarding the models listed above please feel free to contact us at email@example.com
Buying Cheap/Second-hand Instruments
We understand that buying a new instrument can be a large expense for some people and as such looking for cheaper alternatives can be an attractive proposition. Unfortunately it is a situation that we see time and time again where customers have bought extremely cheap instruments elsewhere but brought them in to us to be serviced due to their poor build quality. The cost of repairing said instruments can often be more than the original sale price and as such these cheaper alternatives should be approached with caution. The sound and playability will always come second to affordability with these clarinets and will often be hard to play and put people off learning.
Well what about buying a nicer instrument second-hand? This is a much better idea but has it's own pitfalls. First and foremost there is next to no quality guarantee on an instrument bought second-hand and as a beginner it can be hard to tell what state the instrument is in and whether you are really getting a good deal. If you have made a second-hand purchase then we highly recommend bringing it in to our in house technician who can give it a quick check over and tell you if any work needs doing to it. Whilst it may seem like another cost, it would be highly advisable to get the work done as whilst you are learning you need as much help as possible and don't want to be fighting against an instrument that needs a few tweaks.
All of the above clarinets are available at Clarinet and Flute London. Alongside your instrument we offer a free set up by a technician before you purchase it, a one year guarantee and a one year health check to keep your instrument in working order all included in the original price (excludes repairs necessary due to damage by misuse or accident).