Best Beginner Clarinets Review in 2017

As a beginning clarinetist, the market for beginner clarinets can seem intimidating and overwhelming. Deciding whether to spend more money now to get a better clarinet or saving some money and upgrading when the beginner develops more technique is one of the major decisions that needs to be made. For most beginning players, there is going to be a learning curve when learning to care for a clarinet. Usually, this learning curve involves no small amount of damage. For this reason, it makes the most sense to start small and work up when proper technique and maintenance behavior is established.

Value Section

Best Beginner Clarinets

Many experts argue that the best beginner clarinets are made of plastic. The logic behind this statement is that a plastic clarinet will be able to take a beating. While that's true, it's also important to consider the rest of the components. It's not typically the barrel or the body of the clarinet that breaks, it's the keys and small components that break. Since these small parts can be expensive to repair, it's best to find a quality clarinet with durable parts.

Selection

Beginner clarinets aren't typically household names, and you can often get the input of your band or orchestral director to make sure you're making the right choice. However, there are certain brands that are better than others for a beginner, and we've listed the most common brands for you to consider.

Mendini, Jean Paul, Yamaha and Legacy are all fairly well-known names in the clarinet market, but some names are known for the wrong reasons. These clarinets are affordable and with the exception of the Mendini line of clarinets, they are not cheap. If cost if your only factor, then the Mendini line of clarinets will work for you. The next step up in beginning clarinet models will cost two to three times the price of the Mendini. However, if you're serious about learning clarinet, then the price is worthwhile.

Benefits

The nice thing about beginner clarinets is that they aren't too expensive, and they are built to take a bit of a beating. This is crucial for the beginning clarinet player because they will often fail to understand how to properly care for a new instrument. Learning the ropes of maintenance on a student model instrument ensures that you won't lose a great investment if you make some mistakes along the way.

A student clarinet will be constructed in a way to make it possible for a beginner to learn the instrument. They are easier to play, cost less than wooden clarinets and the bore of the instrument is typically larger, which makes it easier to pass air through the instrument. This is important because it takes some embouchure strength and experience to be able to control the airflow on a professional-level clarinet.

Buying Criteria

The best beginner clarinets have a wide bore, are made of plastic or wood and are lightweight. The beginner is often a young child, and a lightweight instrument can make it easier for them to learn to play. If the performer has been playing for two to three years, then it's recommended that the upgrade from a plastic to a wood clarinet is made. Move to a professional level clarinet during the sophomore or junior year of high school if the student is considering playing in college.

While plastic is the most common material, using a type of hard rubber known as Ebonite is a step up and it's preferred amongst professional players. If you can find a clarinet made of Ebonite for a reasonable price, this is an excellent option for a serious beginning clarinet player. Ebonite is unlikely to be affected by humidity and temperature. It is also durable like plastic, which makes it an excellent choice for the beginner who is learning to control their instrument. The keys should be made from nickel or silver to avoid tarnish and degradation.

Care and Use

Beginner clarinets are often easy to care for. You need to get the right cleaning supplies, but many beginner clarinets will come with the supplies you need for little extra cost. You'll need to purchase some cork grease, good quality strength two reeds, a reed holder, silk clarinet swab, and an appropriate brush to clean out the inside of the clarinet. It's important to remove any condensation from the instrument after playing to avoid warping and cracking. While a student clarinet made of plastic won't likely warp or crack, it's good to develop good cleaning habits now.

Once you've bought a clarinet, you'll need to make sure you have a good ligature. Here's a video to get you started on the right path:

Five Best Beginner Clarinets

Mendini

Best Beginner Clarinets

This product is being reviewed because it's a hugely popular instrument with some serious limitations you must realize. In the world of beginner clarinets, there is one name that all school band and orchestra teachers know. Mendini offers a suitable entry-level instrument that plays fairly well in-tune and comes with some valuable tools to help your child get started on their musical journey. The clarinets are machined and tested by technicians to ensure they work properly. However, they are really only suitable for the very young beginner. If you need a cheap instrument to get you started, this is the cheapest clarinet you can buy while still getting something that qualifies as an instrument. If you choose this instrument as a temporary option for the first year, don't choose any color other than black.

If you are purchasing this clarinet just to see if you like playing or if your child will make it past the first year, it does come with some useful supplies to get you started. You'll get a clarinet stand, which will work with any future clarinet you buy. There is also a practice guide and finger placement guide that can be used to learn to play the clarinet. Additionally, you'll enjoy a good hard case that will fit most similarly-sized clarinets. This is great since if you buy a higher-quality clarinet later, you'll know you have a case. The gloves, cleaning cloth and cork grease are also useful items to have. All of these products purchased separately would likely cost more than the clarinet itself.

Pros

  • Price: Can't get much cheaper and with a good read, you'll get a reasonable sound.
  • Compact: Clarinet stand can be stored inside the bell of the clarinet.
  • Accessories: Comes with a variety of accessories, including a case, mouthpiece, gloves, cleaning cloth, cork grease and reeds.

Cons

  • Durability: This instrument won't last more than a year or two under most conditions.
  • Sound: The quality of sound will not be very good, which may deter a beginner.
  • Quality: Variances in manufacturing. You may need to return it a few times before you get a good one.

Jean Paul

Best Beginner Clarinets

As far as beginner clarinets go, this is one clarinet that you can be proud of owning. It uses an ebonite body, which is a material that is capable of producing a near-professional sound. The keys are made of nickel, which ensures it won't rust and break down and the clarinet looks beautiful. It is an ideal option for the beginning clarinetist, and you will find it to be extremely balanced and well-centered across the range of the instrument. This is a clarinet that projects well and should give you an enjoyable playing experience due in large part to its cylindrical bore.

While this is a good instrument, you'll want to treat it carefully. The metalwork on the instrument has a tendency to bend if you're not careful. For that reason, this may not be the best for a young beginner, but it will still work well for a more responsible older beginner. The instrument gets a good tone and it's easy to play, which is a bonus for the beginning player. This is not a plastic instrument in the sense of the cheap plastic used by beginning players. Ebonite is a great material for a clarinet, and it doesn't have the tendency to warp like the more expensive wood instruments.

Pros

  • Value: Good materials make this instrument a reasonable choice amongst beginner clarinets.
  • Tone: Excellent tone that will fit in well in a beginning or intermediate ensemble.
  • Structure: Uses the Boehm 17-key system, which is a standard all clarinets should aspire to have.

Cons

  • Metalwork: May need regular adjustments if not played carefully.
  • Screws: The clarinet uses all metal screws with no plastic.
  • Tuning: Some of the tunings may be off, which makes this only suitable for a complete beginner.

Legacy

Best Beginner Clarinets

Most beginner clarinets are cheap. While that may sound good for the parent trying to save some money, your child isn't going to have the best musical experience if the instrument doesn't allow them to play. This instrument is nearly an intermediate-quality instrument, which makes it an ideal option for a beginning student. The instrument is made of plastic, but it gets a good sound and a good response. When you consider most clarinets made for beginners use plastic, this isn't a deal-breaker since the instrument does have a responsive tone and robust design,

In terms of quality, this instrument is much better than a lot of more expensive wooden clarinets designed for the beginning to intermediate player. It's durable, and it will provide a consistent tone across the range. Professional reviews from other websites also indicate this clarinet is a solid clarinet that will help you get your money's worth. For the child in elementary school or the first two years of junior high school, this instrument is exceptional. If your child is planning on going on to high school, it's highly recommended to get a better-quality clarinet to compete at a higher level. This instrument is billed as an intermediate clarinet, but it's really only ideal for a beginner.

Pros

  • Design: Attractive design that provides a good tonal response.
  • Durability: Materials won't easy break even if dropped.
  • Accessories: Well-protected case ensures that you have a clarinet that is well-protected on class trips.

Cons

  • Tuning: As with most beginner clarinets, the tuning isn't perfect and some notes won't sound in tune.
  • Materials: The materials are acceptable for a beginner, but the intermediate to advanced player will want something better.
  • Plastic: The material is plastic, but it's still able to produce a rich and full sound.

LJ Hutchen

Best Beginner Clarinets

This instrument borders on intermediate. Many inexperienced players may mistake the ebonite material for an inferior plastic instrument, but ebonite is actually a very good material for a clarinet. Some professionals will use ebonite clarinets because they provide a consistent tone and are less susceptible to changes in weather and environment. This instrument uses heavy-duty, nickel-plated keys that are also tarnish resistant. This instrument is a bit more costly, but if you want your child to enjoy their hours of practice, it's a very good investment. The pads are also given a special treatment that ensures the reliability and durability of the instrument.

As with many beginner clarinets, this one comes with all of the accessories you would want in a beginner instrument. You'll get a plush-lined case, a strength two reed that is perfect for beginners and cork grease. You'll also get a cleaning swab to help keep moisture out of the instrument. This instrument is perfect if you want your child to actually enjoy their playing experience. When you consider the long-term cost of renting an instrument for the first year can run $360 or more, this instrument offers an exceptional value and you won't need to worry about footing the bill to replace a lost or stolen rental.

Pros

  • Bb Tuned: All beginning clarinets should be tuned in Bb, and this one is well-tuned to Bb.
  • Material: Ebonite material with a satin finish produces a durable instrument with a smooth and satisfying tone.
  • Bore: Open bore gives less resistance so the beginner can produce a sound more readily.

Cons

  • Material: This instrument is not wood, but you do not want a wooden clarinet for a beginning instrument. The student must learn proper care first.
  • Pitch: The pitch is going to be slightly off, but this is to be expected of a starter instrument.
  • Level: This is only suitable for a beginning in middle school or junior high school. Do not get this for an intermediate player at the high school level or higher.

Yamaha

Best Beginner Clarinets

In a perfect world, the best teachers would only teach beginners and beginners would only play the best beginner clarinets. Yamaha is a brand you can trust across the spectrum for virtually all musical instruments. This clarinet is no exception, and it is an ideal option for an older student who can take care of their belongings. If the child is younger than 14, this instrument will likely get damaged due to inexperience with caring for an instrument. However, this clarinet produces a focused tone, the bore is still large enough to make it easy for a beginner and the instrument is modeled after the more professional models.

The instrument is not made from wood, so you won't have to worry too much about the durability of its structure. The keys are top-notch, and that is an essential component of any clarinet. You'll also get an instrument that is capable of playing in tune. If your child has aspirations to perform through high school and even college, this instrument will more than pay for itself. It's less than the cost of renting for two years, and you will get an instrument that you can enjoy and treasure for a long time. It comes with all of the accessories, but the instrument comes in a soft box. If you have a cheaper clarinet hard case lying around, you can usually adjust the case to make it suitable for this clarinet or pull the lining out of an old case and fit the soft case inside to save some money.

Pros

  • Quality: Exceptional quality for a beginner clarinet that will also work well for an intermediate player.
  • Sound: Good response throughout the instrument, and it plays well in tune.
  • Structure: Not a wood instrument, which means it's still going to be more reliable and less resistant to breakage.

Cons

  • Cost: More expensive option for a beginning student, but you also get what you pay for.
  • Case: The case that it comes with is a soft case, which won't protect the instrument well during school trips.
  • Quality: The high-quality makes this clarinet only suitable for an older beginning student.

Conclusion

While the Yamaha clarinet is clearly the best instrument in our line-up, it's not necessarily the best idea to spend that much money on a clarinet that may be abused by an inexperienced player. If the player is older than 14 years of age, then consider getting the Yamaha instrument. Otherwise, go for the LJ Hutchen student clarinet.

A beginner's clarinet shouldn't be a top-of-the-line instrument, but that doesn't mean you should settle for a poor-quality instrument. The LJ Hutchen student clarinet offers plenty of features to allow the beginner to excel without breaking the budget. It's more expensive than some of the other options, but you'll get an instrument that breaks down less, costs less in repairs and is more durable. Cheaper clarinets end up costing more money in the long run as the keys begin to break and pads need to be replaced prematurely.

The body is made from Ebonite, which means it will stand up well to the rigors of everyday performance and travel. It comes with a full complement of accessories. This makes it possible to get started playing right away, and you'll be able to order replacement accessories easily by keeping track of the materials that came with the original case. The case is well-designed, and it makes it easier for the beginner to transport their clarinet virtually anywhere.

Stephanie Su