What is a clarinet
The clarinet is a musical instrument classified within the woodwind family with metal pistons. Its place in the orchestra is in the group that includes flutes, bassoons and oboes, also woodwind instruments.
It is also considered an air instrument, or aerophone, with a simple reed. The reeds are used in clarinets and saxophones and their vibration produces the sound. The clarinet is capable of producing some of the most varied nuances in the entire woodwind family.
History of the clarinet
There is evidence of ancestors of this instrument in the Middle East, which consisted of a simple scale of seven natural notes. However, the history of the clarinet dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The chalumeau or salmoé, a wind instrument very similar to the clarinet but with a simple scale, was popular in Europe at this time.
Subsequently, a key system was added to the same chalumeau to obtain notes of a higher octave together with a just fifth. This is how the first clarinet was born, a more complete instrument in European music.
Under the guidance of Johann Christoph Denner, the clarinet took on an increasingly larger form, with the inclusion of other keys and the contribution of other luthiers of the time. By the end of the 18th century, Denner’s instrument already had two and a half octaves.
During the same period, Mozart composed his most important work for clarinet. The instrument used by this musical genius had only eight holes and five pistons or keys. And he himself considered the clarinet to be an expression of the human voice.
Evolution of the clarinet
Some historians have found it difficult to determine the ancestors of this instrument. But we believe that in the history of the clarinet it is possible to find two predecessors that are most closely related to it. These are:
- Salmoé: its use dates back to the 17th century, just before the appearance of the modern clarinet. Also known as chalumeau, this instrument was quite basic in its construction and had only one octave of notes with a single reed.
- Arghul: it was a double reed instrument dating back to about three millennia BC. It is still in use today, although it is not very popular.
- Launeddas: this was a somewhat more complex instrument and dates back to just over two millennia BC. It had three tubes and can be classified as woodwind.
Of these instruments, the closest to the current construction of the clarinet is the psalmoé. Regarding its evolution, we can say that it went from having only one octave to having two. The fingering system has changed and two are still used today: the Boehm and the German, both with particularities but equally functional. Keys were also progressively added to make certain notes easier to play, such as C# and F#.
The parts of the clarinet are divided into two large groups containing several sub-parts each:
The body is made entirely of wood and consists of four parts:
- Mouthpiece: this section contains the reed. The air column enters through there, which will later be modified by the reed and the keys.
- Bell: it is the part where the sound comes out after being processed by the reed and the keys.
- Barrel: it is located just after the mouthpiece and allows articulation between the mouthpiece and the upper part of the body, known as the upper tube.
- Top tube: this section is vital because it contains the octave key and is where the left hand is placed to maintain control over the instrument.
- Middle tube: this is the part that contains the rest of the key mechanics and is also where the right hand is supported.
The clarinet and other woodwind instruments have two methods or mechanics that differ from each other. These systems are the French Boehm and the German oehler. However, we will only describe in broad outline the general mechanical parts.
- Reed: one of the most important parts of the clarinet. It is a reed that is used to shape the sound and achieve many of the different nuances or techniques that have been created for this instrument.
- Pistons or keys: these are pushbuttons with plates at the opposite end that cover the holes of the instrument when actuated. Through this action the different notes of a given musical scale are achieved.
- Octave holder: a key located at the bottom of the upper tube. It is the one that allows access to the notes of the scale but one octave higher.
- Thumb rest: a piece of metal used to support the thumb. Its purpose is to provide balance in the grip of the instrument.
Depending on the system, we can find clarinets that have a C# key or modifications in the mechanics to improve the response of this key.
Types of clarinet
Clarinets can be classified according to the mechanical system and according to the tuning.
Depending on the mechanical systems
- Boehm: it is the most used system in Europe and was created by the flutist Theobald Boehm. It has a more open bore and the position of the holes is designed for acoustical advantage and not for the benefit of fingering. The mechanics of the keys facilitate fingering with large, normally open cymbals, as well as with a rectangular embouchure and a stopper for the instrument’s headstock.
- Oehler: this is the system used in Germany. It incorporates a key for C# and a key for B flat. It also has three rings for the lower body system and an F-key that improves the instrument’s resonance and ventilation.
Depending on the pitch
Like other woodwind instruments, the clarinet has a family composed of several registers that emulate the classification of human voices:
Its most commonly used variant is the A and F tuning for classical music compositions. While C and B-flat tunings are widely used for baroque repertoire and modern compositions.
Also known as contralto. It has a tessitura one octave lower than the soprano. It is tuned in E flat and is widely used in marching bands and, of course, for chamber repertoire.
The bass clarinet comes in A, B flat and C tunings.It is the largest and most expensive of all clarinets. Its shape also differs from the soprano and alto clarinets in that it has a mouthpiece with a curved and elongated extension. While in the pavilion part it also has a curvature similar to that of the saxophone.
It is important to note that the bass clarinet is one of the most expensive and has a great importance within the orchestras. Many solo pieces have been composed for it and there is a large number of outstanding clarinetists who are dedicated to this instrument.
These can be classified between the traditional ones and those used in modern music.
- Trills: effect consisting of three sound emissions of the same note but in a fast way. It differs from the triplet in the speed and the written form in which the subdivision of tempos is expressed. Thanks to the key mechanisms, the execution is facilitated. Although the little fingers will always require more dedication in practice because they are the least agile and strong.
- Constant breathing: to perform this effect it is necessary to take a deep breath so that prolonged notes are achieved. Its peculiarity is that in order to go to a new musical note, the continuity of the sound must not be cut and in case of running out of oxygen, an air pocket is created in the mouth. This is accomplished by plugging the opening between the mouth and the respiratory tract with the tongue, so that the air reserve inside the mouth can be used while a new aspiration is performed through the nose.
- Multiphonic productions: consists of playing a high-pitched sound while decrescendoing to other lower notes, in the form of a scale.
- Flutter-tonguing: the way to perform it is by means of a tongue movement as if we were pronouncing the letter “r”.
- Glissandos: try to start on one note and move to another note above or below it in a sweeping fashion. The idea is to quickly drag or play all the intermediate notes of the clarinet until the target note is reached.
- Smorzato: this effect can be confused with a decrescendo because it tries to make a damping or slight decay of the musical notes. It is also used to create a slight passage or transition between two different notes.
- Dental tremolo: beginners often break a few reeds before mastering this sound technique. It consists of placing the teeth very carefully on the tongue to hit it repeatedly. The use of this technique is limited to modern music such as Béla Fleck and Flecktone.
- Echo: this is a technique that is achieved between two clarinets because one must create a forte sound while the other creates a lighter or piano sound.
- Double sound: for this sound both the clarinet and the vocal cords are used. It tries to make a sound with the reed while making another sound with the vocal cords.
- Rollender Ton: consists of tapping or pressing with the tongue so that the sound comes out as intermittent instead of struck.
- Lip vibrato: it is nothing more than vibrating the lips to achieve a characteristic effect that differs from tremolo in the intensity of the vibration. While the tremolo is light, the vibrato is intense and accentuates each movement with the same force.
These instruments are not tuned because they come with a factory preset tuning. This can vary between B flat, A, F, among others. The important thing is that, with the guidance of a professional, you decide which of these is the most functional for you.
However, this does not mean that you should not make certain adjustments to give your clarinet a more accurate A or F tuning. To do this, the barrel of the barrel is adjusted either inward or slightly outward to produce the notes more accurately. To perform this operation you will need to have a chromatic tuner at hand, if it is for wind instruments, the better.
The best clarinet players
By this we mean compositions ranging from the baroque to the romantic period. But it also involves modern musical structures that remain within these musical styles.
- Cristo Barrios: is an excellent Spanish clarinettist who stands out as a concert performer and for winning some of the most important prizes in this musical instrument.
- Martin Fröst: Swedish clarinetist of worldwide renown as conductor and composer. He has made great contributions to contemporary chamber music with important Swedish and Russian conductors.
- Wenzel Fuchs: this Austrian performer has been one of the great reformers of chamber music in Austria and Germany.
- Sharon Kam: is an Israeli clarinetist who has stood out as one of the great interpreters of our time.
- Hyacinthe Klosé: he is known as one of the great reformers of the clarinet. His contribution was not only musical but also in the development and application of the Boehm system.
- Karl Leister: this German clarinetist has contributed as a musician but even more as a teacher. In his career as a teacher, he has trained three generations of chamber clarinettists.
- Paul Meyer: is one of France’s great conductors and clarinetists.
- Sabine Meyer: is one of Germany’s greatest clarinettists and is noted for having interpreted as well as adapted numerous compositions across the entire chamber repertoire.
- Richard Stoltzman: his greatest contribution to the instrument is its dissemination, having played with more than one hundred orchestras around the world. In addition, he has lectured extensively throughout most of the world.
- Sidney Bechet: was an important clarinet player who contributed like no other to the development and dissemination of this instrument among jazz orchestras.
- Eddie Daniels: is a multi-instrumentalist best known as one of the great jazz clarinetists of all time.
- Buddy DeFranco: is considered one of the great jazz clarinetists. Of Italian origin, he contributed to its development and dissemination in the United States.
- Johnny Dodds: his contribution to the instrument was both in technical development. and in the dissemination of the same among small bands in the United States.
- Artie Shaw: one of the greats among the greats for his contribution in the direction of jazz bands and the creation of numerous film soundtracks.
The best clarinet brands
- Yamaha: it would be strange if Yamaha is not considered one of the great clarinet brands. Yamaha clarinets are of a very high standard and are used by many important musicians worldwide.
- Thomann: this German brand is known for the creation of instruments for beginners.
- Startone: this is a company from Denmark that has been recognized with several awards thanks to the high quality of its instruments.
- Buffet Crampon: one of the great brands in French clarinet manufacturing. Their proposals are excellent and worth every euro invested.
- F.A. Uebel: the brand created by the luthier Friedrich Arthur Uebel, is one of the most reliable for its impressive quality.
- Oscar Adler & Co: this German company is a leader in the design and manufacture of clarinet-shaped dreams. Their instruments are considered top of the line and therefore expensive.
- Selmer: there are many reasons to consider Selmer one of the best clarinet manufacturers in the world. Its proposals for professionals are almost exclusive because they involve exceptional design aspects and materials.
- Vito: this is a brand belonging to the Leblanc company, itself a subsidiary of the Selmer company. Vito is synonymous with products for students but with better quality and prices than the competition.
- Armstrong: this is another brand absorbed by Selmer and its instruments belong to the medium or semi-professional range. Their proposals are wonderful for intermediate level players who want a mid-range instrument but with high-end qualities.
- Thomann GCL-422 MKII Bb
- Yamaha YCL-457II-20
- Startone SCL- 65 Bb-
- Yamaha YCL-255 S
- Buffet Crampon Prodige Bb-Clarinet 18/5
The best clarinets for beginners
Generally, student clarinets are characterized by being made of low quality materials. However, this is not entirely true of the proposals we have selected. Each of these models has not only everything the beginner requires for learning, but they have also been manufactured with high quality materials.
Thomann GCL-422 MKII Bb Clarinet
The sound is somewhere between classic and modern, making it versatile to a great extent. Very good ergonomics.
The sound lacks reverb. It has been reported that the key system is slightly out of adjustment.
- Materials: granadillo(Dalbergia melanoxylon).
- Tuning: Bb.
- Sound: 7/10.
- Weight: 750 gr.
This Thomann proposal represents an improved version of previous models with a more dynamic system. In addition, it has a sound that is quite agile and versatile, so it is interesting to analyze its characteristics.
This Thomann clarinet has a body made entirely of grenadilla wood (Dalbergia melanoxylon). As far as is known, it is one of the densest, heaviest and hardest woods in the world, supporting 1300 kg/m3. Consequently, it follows that it is inelastic. And indeed, it has an elasticity of 16,000 N/mm2.
On the other hand, the company emphasizes the fact that the drying process has been natural. This adds great value because, by not passing through kilns, this wood will have a more natural sound quality. The same applies to the wood grain, which will be observed more naturally at the time of selection.
Regarding the mechanics, it is made of nickel silver, one of the most durable materials for the manufacture of woodwind and brass instruments. Although we don’t know what type of alpaca it is, some users claim that it tarnishes a bit and has rough parts, so it is possible that it is alpaca 50-30-11 or type two. It has an average durability of ten years if rigorously cared for.
This is a soprano clarinet, tuned to work in B flat and with a total length of 63 cm. It also has two barrels of 5.8 cm and 6 cm so that you can have a greater versatility in the sound. It also has 22 keys for notes, six different rings and four keys to perform the trill.
These keys follow the German system consisting of a key for C#, a key for B flat and an F key. In addition, the manufacturer claims that this is an improved version, as the mechanics have been adjusted to offer better ergonomics and features an adjustable thumb rest and a ring for the strap.
Another important feature is that the company includes an excellent ESM mouthpiece, with a Rovner clamp and a BG series thumb rubber. It also comes with a cleaning kit that includes deluxe products and a Thomann case.
Thanks to Thomann’s improved design, this clarinet offers a much more ergonomic configuration in terms of keys. Also, the mechanics have a smooth action that allows fast passages to be executed with relative ease.
Likewise, we love the four trill keys that will allow you to perform this complex technique more comfortably. While the weight of the instrument is something that does not imply a significant change because it is almost the standard among wooden clarinets, with 750 grams approximately.
All of the above aspects work together to achieve the versatile sound that this instrument has. With them we mean a powerful sound, with more presence of high frequencies since it is a soprano. However, some depth is lacking.
On the other hand, the sustain is balanced, while the reverb is barely perceptible and this may be considered by some musicians as a deficiency. However, this will depend on taste, and the majority opinion among users is that its sound is very good.
Contributing to the versatility are the barrels. The 5.8 cm is more appropriate for chamber music sounds. While the 6 cm barrel is more suitable for jazz, blues and some modern genres that demand more agile, brighter sound columns and volume.
The Thomann GCL-422 MKII Bb is a great proposition for students. That is why we recommend it as a starter instrument that has a solid construction and an optimal key system. At the same time, it features excellent ergonomics and good sound quality. If you want to buy a clarinet for beginners, this is one of the best options. Find the best Thomann price on this link.
Yamaha YCL-457II-20 Clarinet
It has an impressive finish and the sound is phenomenal.
- Materials: granadillo wood and alpaca type 1.
- Tuning: B flat.
- Sound: 10/10.
- Weight: 1.2 kg.
As you would expect, the Yamaha company is always true to its quality in construction, aesthetics, sound and designs. This is evident with the Yamaha YCL-457II clarinet because it has some impressive details that are worth describing.
This Yamaha clarinet is made of black grenadine wood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) . The qualities of this botanical are ideal for woodwind instruments because it offers durability by being almost impenetrable by moths. In addition, its low elasticity makes it possible to obtain more natural shades.
The key system is also excellent and its finishes allow us to determine that it has been manufactured in type 1 nickel silver. This alloy has 52% copper, 26% zinc and 22% nickel to obtain the best possible performance. The different parts of wind instruments are usually joined together using cork (Quercus suber) joints. But this time the company opted for synthetic cork, which offers better performance in terms of durability and acoustic capacity.
This is a Yamaha soprano clarinet tuned to B flat, making it ideal for use in symphony orchestras. Its key system follows the German Oehler style with 20 keys and six rings, as well as a standard barrel. It also has a raised and flat spatula for better control of the thumb hole.
Likewise, this system has an F elevator located on the left, as well as a key for the notes of B flat and B with metal foot rest. It has a key for the notes of the combined with a key for the note of G#. Another welcome detail is that the thumb rest is adjustable and has a ring for attaching the hanging lanyard.
The Yamaha YCL-457II-20 is offered in pack form. It includes a lightweight case with straps for use as a backpack, a BG textile clamp and an M3D mouthpiece that has excellent performance.
Yamaha has created the ideal conditions for this instrument to have everything to facilitate technical performance. In it we can find four trills that are very useful for the C-B, B-A and B-flat-B trills, which are some of the most used in the most important compositions.
As far as key sensitivity is concerned, it is also very good. Their action is delicate, smooth and the finish ensures that they do not clog at any time. Quick phrases are easy to achieve and sixes will not be a problem. With the addition of the keys for F, B flat and G#, the interpretation is dynamic and allows complex passages to be played with relative comfort.
What we love most about this instrument is the great sound it has, because it has a clarity like few others in this range. The sustain is audible and enveloping, while the reverb has a great projection that can afford blues compositions with a richness of premium sound. The action of the keys produces almost imperceptible transitions between each musical note.
Likewise, the sound response to the different frequencies is marvelous because the treble, highs and mids are perceived with intensity. This is beneficial for aspiring solo players, as it brings a variety and stability like few clarinets in this range will.
We love this Yamaha clarinet because it has all the important features that are valued in an instrument as personal as this one. Its construction is exceptional, as are the aesthetic finishes and the quality of the mechanics. What’s more, its sound is excellent within this price range and can hardly be beaten by the competition. Find the best price from sales giant Thomann by following this link.
Startone SCL- 65 Bb- Clarinet
Good value for money.
Some models have shown details in the finish.
- Materials: ABS plastic, synthetic cork and nickel silver.
- Tuning: soprano in B flat.
- Sound: 6/10 .
- Weight: 476 gr.
Startone has been a benchmark in the manufacture of very inexpensive instruments for beginners and this is a clear example of that. Its features are basic both in design and materials, but the sound is not bad for a student to get started without much investment. Let’s get to know this proposal, which is undoubtedly one of the best when the budget is not our main ally.
Unlike the clarinets described above, which are made of granadillo wood, this Startone proposal has a body completely made of high-density ABS. In general, ABS is used for cheap instruments, although this does not imply that they are unusable or that it is not worth buying an instrument made of this material. In fact, ABS is more resistant to shocks and is more elastic than wood.
As for the mechanics, it is made of high-gloss, type 2 silver-plated nickel silver, the same quality of nickel silver used in the Thomann GCL-422 MKII Bb. To close the body joints, the company opted for synthetic cork, just like the Yamaha YCL-457II-20 clarinet. In other words, the only cost reduction is in the ABS of the body. Everything else is used in more expensive proposals.
Again we have a soprano clarinet tuned to B flat but with a significant difference in the key system. It follows the Boehm system, which happens to be the most widely used in orchestras in Europe because it is more in keeping with the chamber tradition and not because it is better or worse than the German system.
It consists of 17 keys and 5 rings with two types of barrels of 5.8 cm and 6 cm. This means greater sonic versatility and a dynamic response that conforms to the standards of certain musical styles.
Comes in a pack that includes a mouthpiece with silver metal clamp, cleaner, key grease and a case with straps so you can carry it like a backpack. In addition, Thomann specialists adjust all instruments before they are shipped. This way you can have a fully functional instrument as soon as you take it out of the packaging.
The key action is suitable for students and this has been expressed by several users who find the keystrokes pleasant. However, for fast passages it is important to perform preventive maintenance and to grease the system well before use.
Its seventeen keys and two lamps are of very good quality and can facilitate the grouping to some extent. However, there are several things you will not find, such as the trill, B flat, E flat and F keys. This can be a problem for beginners but it is also a benefit because it will require more dedication.
This aspect of the instrument is not rated very highly and can be considered a drawback. Sustain is not what an intermediate musician is looking for, just like reverb. But if you find a high quality tuning and with dedication you can solve the deficiencies in the sonorous nuances.
Otherwise, the notes are bright and with great volume, as well as the transition between passages is gentle. The simplicity of the key system does not represent a problem to execute techniques such as the trill because you only have to practice to achieve it.
This is one of the best options for those who aspire to start in the world of music as students of the clarinet. The construction is solid and the material is quite resistant. The Boehm system will allow you to develop your skills with the compositions common to most orchestras in Europe.
The only downside is the lack of sonic nuances, but sometimes we can’t be so lazy as to expect the instrument to do most of the work. If you want to buy a decent clarinet for a really low price, the Startone SCL- 65 Bb will not disappoint you. Interested? Check it out at the best price at Thomann.
Yamaha YCL-255 S Clarinet
It has a good sound.
Almost all of their materials are cheap and do not justify the price.
Materials: ABS plastic, nickel silver and synthetic cork.
- Tuning: B flat.
- Sound: 7/10 .
- Weight: approximately 800 gr
This proposal from Yamaha is what we consider an example instrument for us to know that not always a great brand offers equally excellent products. This clarinet is made of materials that could well make it very cheap, but it is more expensive than those of the competition, although it is true that in terms of sound it stands out more than these.
It is quite common to find clarinets on the market with the body made of ABS resin. This helps to reduce production costs and thus offers cheaper instruments. However, that is not entirely true in this case because Startone’s proposed SCL- 65S series in B-flat is much cheaper and is similar in almost every way.
The key mechanism is made of type two alpaca metal, the same material used in the Startone proposal. The surface of the body is covered with a material that is imitation wood. This means nothing because it is only imitation and not real wood, so it still does not justify the price difference. However, this Yamaha clarinet weighs more than twice as much as the competition.
It is a B flat soprano clarinet and follows the mechanics of the Boehm system. The bell is thinner than on other clarinets in the same range and this tends to produce more vibrant sounds. Moreover, it does not have a ring but is a single piece of ABS.
The Boehm system consists of 17 keys and 6 rings, which is sufficient for the academic student. However, if you want more mechanical performance, you should look for the German system. Another curious detail is that it has a sliding thumb rest with a larger surface area and a lanyard ring.
Finally, this proposal includes a Yamaha patented 4C series clarinet mouthpiece, as well as a lightweight case and maintenance accessories.
For a Yamaha clarinet, and even though it is a student series, we expected more when we saw the price difference. Instead, we have an instrument with a pleasant and dynamic action but without being surprising. In addition, the Boehm system demands a great technical mastery from the performers. You will not find keys that make it easy to play trills, sharps or flats that are easy to achieve with German mechanics.
This is perhaps the biggest difference of all with respect to the competition because the sound quality is remarkable. The notes have a clarity like few other instruments for beginners. The sustain and reverb are noticeable but not overpowering. Likewise, the transition between fast passages is very good and the notes are perceived as dynamic, agile and you can execute sixths that will be audible if you take care of your breathing technique.
What most distinguishes this clarinet from the competition is the ability to over-pitched notes. Yes they are different and it has excellent power. That is why, for us, the best thing about this instrument is the sound. This must be a consequence of the manufacturer’s experience and the thickness of the body, which gives it more stability.
Yes, we have an instrument that presents itself with a good sound but it’s no big deal either. For us, it leaves much to be desired that it only uses cheap materials and is almost twice the price of the competition. Unfortunately, for this reason, it does not convince us, since its quality-price ratio is not the best. Interested? Check it out at the best price at Thomann.
Buffet Crampon Prodige Bb-Clarinet 18/5
The sound is excellent. The fingering is very comfortable and smooth.
Its main materials are inexpensive. It is a bit heavy for a beginner.
- Materials: ABS resin plastic, class A nickel silver, stainless steel, buffalo hide.
- Tuning: B flat
- Sound: 10/10 within this range.
- Weight: 1.3 kg.
From this point on, experience becomes decisive because Buffet Crampon sets the pace and takes the lead with a different clarinet. This instrument teaches us that it is not all about expensive materials and luxurious details because for the student what counts most is the quality of the mechanics and the sound.
This Buffet clarinet has an ABS body. In this case the weight is noticeable with respect to its closest competition, the Yamaha Startone SCL- 65S series. This difference gives it greater resistance to shocks, as well as better sound quality.
The springs have been manufactured from blue steel, a high quality industrial metal used in automotive production. This guarantees durability like no other among competitive clarinets. On the other hand, the key system is made of class A nickel silver. Another interesting detail is that the shoes are made of buffalo hide, which does not make them more durable but does contribute to better acoustic properties.
Once again we find a soprano clarinet in B flat. I’m sure you’re wondering why we chose only clarinets of this type for the student level. The answer is that these are the most commonly used in chamber orchestras, as well as in jazz and blues orchestras. It is the most versatile of all and therefore the most desired.
Buffet’s designers incorporated the Boehm system, this time with 18 keys and 5 rings. In addition, it has an Urban Play nozzle that offers an excellent distribution of the air column. It also has a polycylindrical drill equivalent to the E13 series of the same company and a 65 mm barrel.
Another welcome detail is the adjustable thumb rest, as well as a semi-rigid case and accessories for cleaning.
The fingering of this instrument is remarkable for several factors, the first of which is that the key action is smooth. This convenience makes fast notes quite easy to achieve, as well as the execution of trills without the need for additional keys.
The seisillos will not be a problem because the movement of the notes is dynamic. While the 65 mm barrel offers a powerful and full air column for greater utilization of the Boehm key system. The only drawback is the weight, which can be a bit uncomfortable at first, but the student will get used to it easily.
This is the best of the Buffet Crampon Prodige Bb-Clarinet 18/5. It has a high quality, long lasting sustain with a good presence and an enveloping reverb. The high notes have a balanced volume that highlights the cadences and crescendos. Also the power of the volume and the barrel opening benefits the interpretation of triplets and trills.
Perhaps the only drawback is that the sound is as classic as possible and this reduces its versatility. However, a good clarinettist will know how to overcome this with a refined technique.
This soprano clarinet is what it promises, what its buyers claim and what is expected from the Buffet Crampon brand. It has a solid construction and details in materials that benefit the final result when they work together. Its sound is excellent and we recommend it for all learning levels. Interested? Check it out at the best price at Thomann.
There are five proposals in our top for students and each of them shows us a particular facet of this level and the brand they represent. For us the best of all is the Buffet Crampon Prodige Bb 18/5. All their characteristics demonstrate that the best are not always the materials considered first class, but the experience to combine them and achieve an excellent sound quality.
If budget is not your best ally, then the Thomann GCL-422 MKII Bb and the Startone SCL-65 Bb are a good choice for students who are just starting out in the world of clarinet.
Best clarinets for intermediate and advanced players
These two clarinets we have selected have the features necessary for an intermediate player: superior materials and custom parts that contribute to a great result. Let’s see what these two proposals have to offer.
F.A. Uebel 621 Bb-Clarinet
The sound is exceptional. It has great ergonomics.
a bit expensive.
- Materials: granadillo wood (Dalbergia melanoxilon), alpaca, silver, cork.
- Tuning: B flat.
- Sound: 10/10.
- Weight: approximately 1 kg.
The luthier F.A. Uebel’s brand has created clarinets of great quality and this model is an excellent example of that. Its characteristics reflect the experience and care that every company should take with its instruments.
The first thing that stands out is its black grenadilla wood body (Dalbergia melanoxylon), considered the ideal wood for the manufacture of clarinets. This is due to both its hardness and elasticity that not only allow the characteristic sound of the clarinet, but also the durability that a woodwind instrument needs.
The manufacturer emphasizes the fact that the wood has ten years or more of drying. This is important because ten-year-old naturally seasoned woods are reserved for a brand’s best instruments. For example, guitar maker Alhambra uses ten-year-old woods for its premium guitars. However, F.A. Uebel uses it in his instruments for intermediates.
On the other hand, the key mechanism is made of silver-plated type A nickel silver. This feature offers great resistance properties, but also adds smoothness to the key action and contributes to a better sound.
It is a clarinet of soprano tessitura and in B flat tuning. It uses the German key system with 21 keys, six rings and two barrels. In addition, it has four trills and two lamps that add agility to the movements. It includes an ESM nozzle created and patented by Ernst Schreiber. It is made of high resistance materials and has a system that improves the air column to achieve a greater sound response.
It is also equipped with a Rovner ligature that provides a better hold and improves the instrument’s response to different sound frequencies. Finally, the company includes a semi-rigid case so you can keep your investment safe.
This is an instrument with a great response in the action of the German mechanism. The agility in the fast movements is really important, but also the response to the flourishes is friendly for the interpreter to achieve the most relevant ornaments.
The trill keys have a high level of response and facilitate the performance of these valuable arrangements in chamber music and jazz. Likewise, the silver finish of the keys is what makes the action dynamic, responsive to movements and facilitates the movements of solo pieces for both jazz and chamber compositions.
All of the above is what makes this mid-range instrument sound so impressive. Because it is not at all common to find a clarinet in this price range that has a sound quality of this level.
ABS with this density offers a powerful tone that maintains stable sound frequencies. This is complemented by the RCR.3 mouthpiece which contributes to the production of strong, dark tones that have great volume and depth ideal for chamber music. It only remains to recommend the use of reeds that have good hardness, as this mouthpiece is strong and will require resistance.
The MK II clamp from Rovner belongs to the premium range, as it offers significant volume. In addition, its tonal response is consistent and with a good balance between light and dark sounds. Likewise, the sonic response is deep and full-bodied to deliver impressive sustain. The reverb is also excellent and all users appreciate this balanced response.
This proposal from the F.A Eubel brand is a great instrument in which all its parts come together to achieve a sound of a level comparable to the high ranges. Although the price of the clarinet is somewhat high, we believe that its characteristics justify it.
We therefore recommend it for intermediate level musicians as well as experts or professionals who want an affordable instrument that they can take anywhere without fear of breaking their five thousand euro professional clarinet. Interested? Find the best price at Thomann.
Oscar Adler & Co. 322 Bb-Clarinet
The sound is a total blast. Excellent ergonomics.
It is expensive.
- Materials: granadillo wood, silver, nylon and high quality synthetic derivatives.
- Tuning: B flat.
- Sound: Exceptional, 10/10.
- Weight: approximately 1.3 kg.
As if that were not enough, we have a proposal from the company Oscar Adler & Co. that is a blast in every sense of the word. Every part on this clarinet is a luxury and the end result is what we call a professional level instrument, but with an intermediate price. Let’s get to know it and delight ourselves with all it has to offer.
Like all great clarinets, the body of this proposal is made of black grenadilla. Its properties are impressive, especially because it is a AAA type wood. This is because it is extracted from the bark of the tree and has been dried for more than ten years.
Thanks to its natural finish, you can see the weave of the wood and there are no nodules or cracks that impair the sound. On the other hand, it has a straight constitution and no details that allow us to conclude that it is a premium wood.
The key system is made of Class A nickel silver with silver plating for improved sound performance, action and durability. Another excellent material is found in the Zinner brand mouthpiece. It is made of nylon reinforced with ABS and high quality polymers that give it exceptional elasticity.
Like all the clarinets chosen in our top, this one has a soprano tessitura and is tuned for B flat. This means that it meets all the requirements of orchestras in Europe. In addition, the key mechanism is German Oehler which presents certain patented features to facilitate some slightly difficult notes.
The mechanics consists of 22 keys with six rings, as well as the E flat and F keys. It also has an adjustable thumb rest that allows you to adjust a hanging strap which is very useful. In addition to this, it includes a Zinner mouthpiece and an excellent quality hard case.
This is one of the highest quality elements of the Oscar Adler clarinet, because the response of the keys is excellent. It seems that everything is possible and the limitations are only part of the interpreter’s technical level.
The sensitivity of this system allows you to play with sonic nuances that are exploited thanks to the clarity of the notes. You can also do legato very easily because the key action is fast and you can create intermediate movements with each key.
The trill keys are excellent and you can make almost any trill you can imagine. Likewise, the keys for E flat and F are the icing on the cake of this incredible instrument.
It is by far the best sound you will find in this price range. Thanks to the action of the keys you can create a sustain of different levels, either enveloping, slow or fast. The nuances highlight the well-balanced reverb of this clarinet. We also found the quality of the trills to be excellent and with a stable volume.
The response to different frequencies and the transitions between low, mid and high notes is balanced. Also, the versatility of this clarinet is total and you can use it for chamber music as well as for more explosive and modern styles. It is by far the best sounding of our top.
The Oscar Adler & Co. clarinet is by far the best instrument for conservatory musicians who want the best combination of construction, design and sound quality. We recommend it for clarinetists who wish to be soloists or top of the clarinet line. This instrument is, without a doubt, what every intermediate musician should aspire to have. Find the best price at Thomann.
In this comparison we have presented two excellent clarinets for intermediate level. One of them, the F.A. Uebel 621, is not afraid to flirt with the advanced level. On the other hand, the Oscar Adler & Co. 322 stands up to professional clarinets without fear of beating it on its own turf. Both are wonderful proposals that deserve a special place in our collection of musical instruments.
Technical characteristics Clarinets
|Thomann GCL-422 MKII Bb||750 gr.||Granadillo||B flat||7/10|
|Yamaha YCL-457II-20||1.2 kg||Granadillo and alpaca||B flat||10/10|
|Startone SCL- 65 Bb-||476 gr||ABS, synthetic cork and alpaca||soprano in B flat||6/10|
|Yamaha YCL-255 S||800 gr||ABS, nickel silver and synthetic cork||B flat||7/10|
|Buffet Crampon Prodige Bb-||1,3 kg||ABS, Class A nickel silver, stainless steel, leather||B flat||10/10|
|F.A. Uebel 621 Bb-||1 kg||Grenadillo, alpaca, silver, cork||B flat||10/10|
|Oscar Adler & Co. 322 Bb-||1,3 kg||Grenadillo, silver, nylon||B flat||10/10|