Clarinet Buying Guide 

​With so many Clarinets for sale it can be daunting selecting the best one.  Of course, the 'best clarinet' really depends on what you need it for. Listed below are BIG's top rated clarinets and tips to help you select the clarinet that is best for you!

LJ Hutchen Mark II

Best Student Clarinet 

LJ Hutchen Clarinet

LJ Hutchen Clarinet

Price: $

  • ​Beginning Student
  • Great for Marching
  • ​Weather Resistant
  • Built Tough
  • Good Value

Yamaha YCL-450

Best Intermediate Clarinet

Yamaha YCL450 clarinet

Yamaha YCL-450 Clarinet

Price: $$$

  • ​Advancing Student
  • ​Concert Band
  • ​Best Used Indoors
  • Pro-level Quality
  • Best Value

Buffet R13

Best Professional Clarinet

Buffet Crampon R13

Buffet Crampon R13

Price: $$$$

  • ​Dedicated Player
  • ​Symphonic Band
  • ​Indoor Use Only
  • Finest Craftmanship
  • Lasting Value

Which Clarinet Is Best for You?

The first question most people ask when they start shopping for a clarinet is which clarinet is the best? And of course, that really depends on what you need a clarinet for! Are you a student and in a marching band where the clarinet will be used outdoors? Or maybe you are an advanced student that needs an intermediate level clarinet for orchestra or concert band. Or maybe you are an amateur or professional that needs a pro level clarinet. We'll discuss each of these below along with recommendations for specific clarinets you might consider.

When you take up the <a title="clarinet wiki" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarinet" target="_blank">clarinet</a>, it’s only natural to decide at some point that you’d really like to own an instrument of your own. However, deciding that it’s time you had a clarinet of your very own and actually choosing the right option for you are two different animals altogether. As is the case with all musical instruments, you need to fully understand all of your options before you invest. The key to making a purchase that you’re sure to enjoy for many years to come lies in understanding how to decide which type of clarinet is really right for your unique set of needs. It’s important to understand how to assess the total value of a given instrument as well. Let’s take a closer look at how you can be sure to make a wise purchasing decision once you’re ready to start the shopping process.

Deciding Where to Shop

These days, would-be clarinet aficionados have more options at their disposal than the local music store or second hand musical instrument shop. You can also buy your clarinet online. Shopping for and buying your clarinet online comes with the added benefit of an almost limitless selection to choose from. However, shopping at a traditional brick and mortar shop will allow you to actually hold an instrument in your hands and even play it before deciding to put your money down. Some people choose to do their browsing at a brick and mortar store to see how different clarinets perform in person. Then they finalize their purchase online in order to take advantage of potential savings or additional options. Regardless of where you decide to purchase your clarinet, make sure that you take the time to consider options in your price range carefully before deciding.

Deciding What You Want in a Clarinet

​Ultimately, choosing the best clarinet for you is all about determining what features will give you the most bang for your buck. Let’s take a closer look at some the most important factors to take into consideration.

Construction Material

​The great majority of the clarinets out there on the market today are going to be made of either wood or plastic. Which of these two options would be best depends entirely on what you need the instrument to be able to do, what tone you’re looking to achieve, and what you’re hoping to be able to do throughout your growth process as a musician.

Plastic can have a fair to decent sound if you choose a good quality instrument from a solid brand name. It’s less likely to crack than a wooden clarinet would be and it requires less maintenance overall. Plastic clarinets are popular choices for people in marching bands or groups that play outdoors because of their resiliency against weather changes and the elements.

Wooden clarinets are naturally going to be more expensive. However, they also tend to produce a richer, better rounded sound than a plastic clarinet will. Wood clarinets also have a longer life in general. They’re more easily damaged by exposure to the elements though, so they’re recommended more for indoor use.

Key Plating

The type of plating on your future clarinet’s keys is also an important factor to consider. Key plating affects not only the appearance of the instrument, but also the durability of that appearance. However, key plating doesn’t affect the sound of the instrument at all. It is purely an aesthetic concern.

The least expensive type of key plating is going to be nickel plating. While nickel is actually more durable and lower maintenance than silver, it does tend to be more slippery to the touch. Some people also have nickel allergies that need to be considered.

Silver plating is the next tier up in regards to key plating, but it needs to be polished often to prevent a tarnished look. Gold plated keys are also available for those that want better quality without the hassle of frequent polishing that silver can bring.

Best Clarinet Brands

As is the case with any other important purchase, the brand name you decide to trust will make a huge difference in the overall quality of your clarinet. If you’ve already owned a clarinet in the past and had an excellent experience with a particular brand, you may want to go ahead and buy another instrument from that same manufacturer. Otherwise, it’s hard to go wrong with a brand name that has a great track record for producing high quality, affordable instruments. Yamaha, Buffet, and Selmer are just a few excellent examples. You might try asking your music instructor or fellow musicians for their personal recommendations as well.

How Much Are You Willing to Spend?

​Naturally, one of the biggest concerns you’re going to have when shopping for a musical instrument is price. While price tags can be related to a lot of different factors, they’re a relatively good way to determine how good the quality of a particular clarinet is. More expensive clarinets are also more likely to last a long time, as well as sound better.

  • Between $300-400: You can buy an inexpensive plastic clarinet for this price. You may also be able to get a good price on a better quality used plastic clarinet.
  • Between $400-600: Will buy you a good quality plastic clarinet or a bargain wooden clarinet.
  • Between $700-800: Will get you a top quality plastic clarinet or a decent quality wooden clarinet.
  • Between $1000-2000: By the time you’re looking at clarinets in this price range, you’re also looking at really good quality intermediate instruments that will play significantly better than those in lower price ranges.

​At the end of the day, choosing an excellent clarinet that represents a great value isn’t rocket science. However, it does take a decent understanding of the market, as well as what you should expect to get for your money.