The Complete Guide to Intermediate Clarinets

When should you step up to an intermediate clarinet?

Once a clarinet student (no matter their age) has fully committed to their instrument and is performing more advanced pieces in varied musical ensembles, a more advanced clarinet is in order. Step-up models of clarinets offer: a larger and fuller sound, clearer and more pleasant tone, quicker response time, more powerful resonation, and better control. With an intermediate clarinet, there is more hand labor involved in the manufacturing and adjustment, so you’re not just getting added features, you’re getting a better instrument all around.

What Family are Clarinets In?

The clarinet is in the woodwind family of instruments – so called because of the single wooden clarinet reed that vibrates when the player blows on the mouthpiece, which produces the instrument’s sound. The clarinet is a straight, cylindrical tube with an almost cylindrical bore and a flared bell. The clarinet is a transposing instrument, which means the pitch in the notation is different than the concert pitch.

No matter whether you are looking for a student, intermediate, or professional clarinet, the most popular type is the Bb (also called a soprano clarinet). If someone simply says “clarinet,” they are referring to a Bb one.

There are several other types of clarinet on the market, including:

  • A clarinet – probably the most popular after the Bb
  • Bass clarinet
  • Eb clarinet
  • Contrabass clarinet
  • Contra-alto clarinet
  • Alto clarinet

Who Plays the Intermediate Clarinet?

A musician who plays the clarinet can simply be called a clarinet player or a clarinetist. Almost anyone can learn to play the clarinet – kids as young as 7-8 years old can start on the instrument, though young students would almost exclusively play on student clarinets. Intermediate clarinet players who have progressed in their skill on the instrument can play a variety of music genres, including jazz, orchestra, polka, chamber groups, and pep band.

What Does a Clarinet Look Like?

Most intermediate clarinets contain the same five parts: the mouthpiece, the barrel, the upper joint, the lower joint, and the bell. The reed is held over an opening in the mouthpiece with a ligature, and it vibrates when you blow into the small gap between the reed and the mouthpiece.



What are Intermediate Clarinets Made of?

These days, clarinets are usually made of plastic or resin (for student models) or granadilla wood (most intermediate and professional models), which is sometimes mistaken for Ebony. The parts of the clarinet and held together with cork tenons while the keys are generally German Silver (a nickel and brass alloy).

What Does an Intermediate Clarinet Sound Like?

The clarinetist produces sound from the clarinet by blowing into the mouthpiece, which vibrates the reed and the sound is projected through the barrel and out the bell. The clarinet player changes the pitch of notes by using the keys. You could describe the clarinet’s sound as lustrous, brilliant and rich. The A clarinet is softer and less forceful than the Bb clarinet.

Good Clarinet Brands for Intermediate Players

If you’re looking for a good intermediate clarinet, there are many instrument makers that craft high-quality instruments. The best-selling clarinet is made by Buffet Crampon. Yamaha, Selmer Paris, Leblanc and Backun also make high quality clarinets of all levels.

Best Intermediate Clarinets

If you’re looking to purchase an intermediate clarinet, here are three models to get you started on your search:

Buffet Crampon E12 France Intermediate Bb Clarinet – ease of play, reliability, and accurate tuning are the main characteristics of this new Buffet Crampon clarinet

Yamaha YCL-450 Series Intermediate Clarinet YCL-450 – perfect for the advancing student, this Yamaha clarinet incorporates some of the most distinctive qualities of Yamaha’s professional and custom clarinets but at a student-friendly price

Backun Beta Bb Clarinet – this Backun Beta was designed as an intermediate wooden clarinet for those taking the first leap into playing grenadilla

Intermediate Clarinet Accessories

Maintenance is an important part of owning a clarinet and there are many woodwind care & cleaning accessories that will be needed throughout the life of your instrument to keep it responsive and performing at the highest level. Regular use of clarinet swabs, cork grease, wood oil and mouthpiece brushes will keep your investment in top condition.

In addition to these maintenance related items, other common accessories for clarinet players often include items more suited to musical needs, such as different types of clarinet mouthpieces. Lastly, while many instrument cases provide some room for these additional items, cases made exclusively for clarinets can provide ample storage for all the player’s accessories and provide much-needed protection for your instrument.

Most clarinet players also benefit from practicing with metronomes, no matter what your playing level is. And a tuner is a must-have for any musician!

Print Music for Intermediate Clarinet Players

For clarinet players who are ready to invest in a step-up clarinet, it’s also time to start learning some new music to expand your skills. Browse our vast selection of print music, music books & scores to find new pieces for your repertoire.

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