The name ‘clarinet’ is derived from Italian ‘clarinetto’ meaning ‘little trumpet’. The first clarinet was invented by a German named Johann Christoph which was an improved version of another instrument called ‘chalumeau’. With little addition and innovation, the popularity of the instrument spread like fire.
Clarinets have the shape of a flute or a piccolo thus belonging to the woodwinds family but with a bell. So you need to blow air into the instrument through the attached mouthpiece in order to play it. Hence the vibrations come out of the instruments as sounds that determine your efficiency and versatility.
Henceforth, no matter how hard you try, if you don’t own a quality clarinet, those sounds will go to nothing. Nobody will appreciate you for that. So, to help you out, we have put together all the factors and knick-knacks you must attend to before buying the best clarinet for yourself.
Top 10 Clarinets for Beginners
There are many cheap beginner clarinets with essential features and functions in the market but not all of them will fit your needs. So to help you out, we have decided to select and sort out a list of best clarinets for beginners here. Just go on reading until you find the right one for yourself.
Jean-Paul USA CL-300
Starting off the list we have the most notable and trustworthy brand, Jean-Paul USA with its CL-300 student clarinet.
Built with a beautiful hard-wearing ebonite body and nickel-plated keys, this student clarinet is a steal deal for high school band players.
This is way more durable than any other wooden clarinet and even creates a better sound delivery than a plastic one. It features a Boehm 17-key system in B Flat, perfect for learners. But do note, the metal keys sometimes tend to bend easily causing leaks, so try to be more careful while using it. Priced under $200, the instrument provides easy playability and a focused tone.
It comes with a pack of necessary accessories including a cleaning cloth, a pair of gloves, reeds, and cork grease inside a sturdy contoured carrying case with handles on top and sides for more convenience. Moreover, Jean-Paul is widely acclaimed for its great customer service.
Soundwise and price-wise, no one can beat the Jean Paul USA CL-300. It’s ideal for players who are looking for midway between quality and durability under budget.
- This is a standard Bb clarinet with a wide range of music.
- An inexpensive good quality clarinet for adult students.
- Made up of ebonite, it offers more endurance than plastic and requires less care than wood.
- Comes with reeds, cork grease, a pair of gloves, and a cleaning cloth all packed inside a light yet strong carrying case with handles on both sides.
Mendini by Cecilio MCT
If you’re just starting out as a clarinet player but don’t want to spend a whole lot of money on your first clarinet, then you should check out the MCT model from Mendini by Cecilio.
With a high-grade ABS plastic body and the durable nickel-plated keys, the clarinet sports a glossy sky blue finish much attractive to young adults as well as new beginners. This is a Bb clarinet with inline trill keys that has an adjustable thumb rest. The sound is not that great like a Yamaha or a Selmer but it’s decent enough considering the price.
The clarinet comes with a boatload of accessories like cork grease, cleaning cloth, a box of ten reeds, and a pair of gloves stored inside a hard-shell handle-case. Furthermore, a clarinet pocketbook and a foldable stand are also thrown into the mix. Also, you get a year-long warranty against any manufacturing defects.
Don’t expect much longevity from this clarinet if you’re a beginner. Instead, you can gradually invest a little on a better quality clarinet when you have the budget.
- A decent sounding Bb-key cheap clarinet for beginners available in nine different colors.
- Made up of high-grade ABS plastic body and nickel keys, it features an adjustable thumb rest with an attractive glossy sky blue finish.
- Unlike other starter kits, this clarinet comes with a box of 10 reeds, cork grease, a cleaning cloth, a stand, and gloves bundled in a lightweight carrying case with handles.
- Comes with one year’s service warranty on any manufacturer defect.
Yamaha stands among the best and most widely known instrument manufacturers when it comes to using trustworthy quality materials. Their YCL-255 is the most popular among entry-level clarinetists and is the best-selling model.
Modeled after professional-grade Yamaha clarinets, the YCL-255 sports a high-quality ABS resin body and bell with a matte finish that makes it more durable. As a result, it can be played anywhere, anytime.
It has silver-nickel plated B flat keys with a 65mm barrel for a focused, warmer and consistent tone. There is an adjustable thumb rest present with a strap ring for comfortable playing. The Valentino keypads prevent the air leakage providing a tight seal. These are easy to repair and less sensitive to any temperature change.
Costlier than other beginner clarinets, this Yamaha model comes with no such accessories except for a semi-hard protective case.
Both YCL-250 and 255 bear the professional sound quality in a beginner level clarinet.
- Professional features in a student clarinet, the expertise of Yamaha.
- Built with state-of-the-art plastic along with a matte finish, it can produce high-quality warm tones just like a wooden clarinet.
- Features silver-nickel keys and robust Valentino pads for ease of maintenance.
- A little more expensive than other beginner-level clarinets.
Mendini by Cecilio MCT-30
Another Mendini product on the list of best beginner-friendly clarinets is the MCT-30 which is meant for new as well as intermediate learners.
The clarinet boasts a gorgeously crafted premium solid rosewood body with heavy-duty silver-plated keys of Bb (B Flat) beside an adjustable thumb rest and inline trill keys. Due to the quality pads used on it and also the wooden construction, the clarinet helps to deliver a captivating sound.
Priced around $250, the clarinet comes packed in a hard casing for extra protection but without any accessories. Hence the great sound quality within a wooden body pays off for the price invested. But, you must take proper care and maintenance of it for more durability.
With one year’s warranty against manufacturer’s defects like any other Mendini instrument, the MCT-30 clarinet calls for special attention when it comes to buying a high-quality entry-level to intermediate-level clarinet.
- A solid rosewood B Flat clarinet with silver keys.
- The inline trill keys along with an adjustable thumb-rest allow for comfortable and convenient usage.
- Comes with a box of 10 reeds, a pair of gloves, cork grease, and a cleaning cloth inside a hard-shell case.
- Suitable for beginners and intermediate players alike.
Selmer is a USA based company known for great quality designed clarinets for beginners as well as professionals. Their CL211 is no different in design and quality.
Featuring a grenadilla wood body with silver-plated keys designed after the Boehm key system, the clarinet bears a smaller bore, undercut tone holes, and blue steel springs with an adjustable thumb-rest. The sound produced is smoother and more consistent than many others because of the tapers and straightened sections curved on the instrument.
The clarinet comes with no starter kit but the price paid is worth its sound quality. Do note, it requires proper care if you want to use it for a long time.
Though it’s an intermediate level clarinet, it can be useful for many serious beginners out there.
- Boasts a grenadilla wood body with silver keys placed according to the Boehm key system.
- Comes with undercut tone holes, a smaller bore, and a thumb-rest that’s adjustable.
- The expensive price paid is lucrative for the quality sound produced.
- Designed after professional handmade clarinets, it’s highly suitable for beginners.
Another entry-level student clarinet from Yamaha on the list is the YCL-650. This is also suitable for intermediate players.
Featuring a grenadilla wood body with silver keys, the clarinet delivers a precise and focused tone. The cylindrical bore design makes it free-blowing and allows for easy tuning. Moreover, the natural finish on the body makes it alluring to look at and pleasing to hear as well.
This Yamaha clarinet comes with all Yamaha care accessories in a hard carrying case. But priced under $2000, it’s a no match for other beginners to intermediate level clarinets in the market.
From serious advanced players to eager learners, the YCL-650 can be a great choice for higher investment.
- Boasts a grenadilla wood body with silver-plated key-work that allows for a warmer sound.
- The cylindrical bore design makes it easier to tune.
- Needs proper care and attention to increase longevity.
- A suitable choice for serious players.
The Jupiter JCL700N can be used both by a marching band student and a young learner who is more prone to drop it heedlessly.
Along with a well-built ABS resin body and a smooth matte finish with nickel-plated keys, the clarinet can be used under any outdoor conditions making it impervious to cracking. It gives out richer, fuller tones than most other plastic clarinets with the help of a 65mm longer barrel. With some advanced features like robust construction and French-style off-set trill keys, it provides extra protection from dampness and mishandling. The nickel-silver bell ring makes it more good-looking.
For maximum comfort, the instrument comes with a C/G key riser, undercut holes, and an adjustable thumb-rest and neck-strap. To top it all, it comes in a molded case for extra protection.
Priced under $800, each and every customer who has bought this is fully satisfied with the product. So you can also buy it without any worry.
This is perfectly suitable for a child or adult player who is just starting out and will surely mishandle the instrument without knowing. Extreme robustness and durability of the JCL700N is a plus-point in itself.
- Built with high-quality ABS resin body, the JCL700N is an extremely durable clarinet.
- With an even matte finish, the instrument features nickel-plated keys and an adjustable thumb-rest.
- The sturdiness of the instrument and the included adjustable neck strap makes it ideal for a beginner or a young learner.
- Comes in a molded case.
The Gemeinhardt 2CN1 is a lesser-known student clarinet with some quality features. We have included it on the list only because of the reputation the brand has gained over the years in flutes and piccolo productions.
Designed by the professionals for students and learners, the Gemeinhardt entry-level Bb clarinet sports a high-quality ABS resin body with a wood-like finish and forged nickel-plated keys that offer high durability and prevents any air leakage from causing distortions. It also features undercut tone holes and blue steel springs on a comfortable key work.
Made in America, the clarinet offers sweet melodious tones and convenient usage because of the signature bore design with inset and the holes. It also comes with a cap that protects the reeds. So you can always improve your playability by changing these reeds.
Since 1924, Gemeinhardt has been producing great quality instruments and receiving high acclaim in America being a German-based company. The 2CN1 clarinet speaks for that reliability.
- Comprises a high-quality ABS resin body with a wooden finish for greater durability.
- Bore with inset and undercut holes offer a sweet sound.
- Features forged nickel keys for an airtight seal, cap to protect the reeds, besides comfortable key-work with steel rings and a thumb-rest.
- Designed by professional clarinetists for beginners.
Buffet Crampon E11
The Buffet is one such brand that receives high acclamations from its customers for producing some of the best quality learner clarinets. The Buffet Crampon E11 Bb wood clarinet is held high in esteem.
Highly well-built by the Dalbergia Melanoxylon with stained African blackwood, actually a grenadilla wood body, the clarinet has a silver-plated keywork finish. Due to these, it’s extremely free blowing and produces melodious and focused sound. Thus, it’s a wood clarinet at the cost of a plastic one.
The attached stainless steel key-springs help to achieve precise key movements, whereas the fixed thumb-rest provides extra comfort with easy playability. Moreover, the clarinet is also available in an easy carrying backpack hard case with sample reeds, and a silver-plated cap.
Though it’s meant for students all over Europe, it is treated as an intermediate level clarinet in the U.S.A. Hence you can rest assured of the quality of this Buffet clarinet.
- It’s a Bb clarinet constructed by traditional methods combining experience and new-age technology for modern-day students.
- Boasts a Dalbergia Melanoxylon body with a stained African blackwood finish.
- The stainless steel springs and silver-plated keywork offers consistent and warm sound.
- A Germany-based product including high-quality features.
Widely known as ‘Clarineos’, the Nuvo clarinets are the bestest buddy of any beginner clarinet player or a student who has just started out learning clarinets.
These amazing range of N100CL clarinets from Nuvo are built with fully washable ABS plastic, mainly for rough treatment. This is not a traditional Bb key clarinet but a C-key, hence it makes it somewhat confusing to produce that warm, rich sound of a standard student clarinet. But the tone of these clarinets is quite smooth and sophisticated.
It is extremely lightweight and available in four different varieties of colors. Also, it comes with general music programs in Elementary schools for the taste of young beginners. It comes in a beginner’s kit with a cleaning cloth, spare reeds, O-ring grease, and a fingering chart.
Mainly targeted at younger players of 5 to 12 years of age, the Nuvo 100CL clarinet deserves a sweet spot on the chart.
- With a fully plastic body, these are designed for rough handling by the young beginners.
- Available in four different color choices – pink, green, blue, and black.
- Very much cost-effective, lightweight, and fully washable plastic clarinet.
- Not a standard Bb clarinet, but a non-traditional C key.
Last but not least we have another Buffet clarinet for students, the high-end B12 entry-level model.
Made from high-quality ABS brushed resin, this lightweight Bb clarinet is very easy to play and tune as well. It sounds much similar to a genuine grenadilla wood clarinet providing even more durability. With blue needle springs and staggered trill keys, it can deliver great sound quality.
It’s very easy to clean and designed specially to handle rough usage by younger players. The only downside of the instrument is its price. Being a little more expensive than other student clarinets, it might not be your first choice as a beginner or a parent who is looking for the first-ever clarinet for his/her child.
Similar to other Buffet clarinets, this one, too, provides great durability with quality sound and easy-to-use features.
- Made up of a lightweight easy-to-clean plastic body.
- This Bb clarinet is easy to tune and use.
- More durable than many ebonites or wooden, entry-level clarinets.
- Not so reasonable like other beginner-friendly models.
What are the Different Types of Clarinets?
Mostly, five broad types of clarinets are available in the market – the Bb, A, and Eb belonging to the soprano class, and the Contra-Bass and Contra-Altro in the bass category. All of them don’t suit a beginner though. The Bb and the Bass clarinets are typically used by the beginners.
For students who are just starting out, we recommend buying only clarinets with the Bb key. They are the easiest and quickest to learn and can be worked upon without any complication. So if you’re going to learn the instrument or simply participate in a marching band in your school, go for a Bb clarinet.
What to Look for in the Best Clarinet For Beginners?
Selecting the clarinet that best suits your needs depends on various factors. So, before purchasing a random one, have a look at the following points to consider what traits you need to seek in your first-ever clarinet.
First, you need to determine your own level of experience as a clarinet player. Clarinets that are meant for professionals will definitely not suit a student or a beginner-level player. Similarly, an intermediate or a learning player will not find any benefit from entry-level clarinets. So, if you’re a beginner, go for a good quality entry-level clarinet.
Secondly, if you think you can hold on to a cheap, inexpensive clarinet for a long time even if you plan on pursuing a career as a clarinetist, then your assumption is wrong. A cheap entry-level clarinet may be perfect if you’re just starting out but with your growth as a clarinetist, you should also grow your budget for a good quality clarinet matching your level of experience.
Next comes the quality of the building materials. Beginner-level clarinets are generally made of plastic and hard rubber that can resist your immature handling. So if you see a clarinet that’s a bit heavy and uncomfortable to carry, drop the idea of buying it.
Best beginner clarinets use cheap yet sturdy long-lasting materials for greater endurance. Beginners find it difficult to care and maintain wood clarinets, so never jump for one if you don’t know the rules. A cheap plastic clarinet is okay for a kid but it’s not ideal for a young adult. Clarinets made up of ABS resin or hard rubber are best suited to them. If you live in harsh temperate regions it might be preferable for you or else go for plastic ones.
Finally, you should look for one that requires minimum tuning before practicing. Amateurs don’t really know the complications of tuning or how to handle the clarinet as such. For that reason, entry-level clarinets come with little to no tuning requirements allowing them to play it as easily as possible. Also, take care while assembling the clarinet.
Considering the type of music to be played by a particular player, the building materials of the instrument, the package in which it ships, the cost it takes to purchase and the value it offers for the price paid – all of these matters when buying a perfect clarinet.
Here we have tried to look into each and every point when curating the list. We hope the read was useful in deciding which clarinet to pick for yourself. Now, the only thing that matters is your hard work for that glorious feat.