The Complete Guide to Professional Clarinets

All About Professional Clarinets

When Should You Invest in a Professional Clarinet?

Once a clarinet player has fully committed to their instrument, is playing very advanced pieces, and is perhaps even ready to make clarinet playing part of their career, investing in a professional clarinet is in order. Professional clarinets offer high quality materials (granadilla wood versus plastic, better quality metals for the keys) and will help the player achieve their highest playing level and accommodate for the most difficult musical pieces.

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.

The most popular clarinet 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 Professional 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. Professional 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 professional 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 Professional Clarinets Made of?

The wood traditionally used for clarinet construction is grenadilla, also known as African blackwood. Because of the density of grenadilla wood, advanced students and professionals prefer it for the unmistakable warm sound and resonance only a wood clarinet produces. Grenadilla clarinets require proper care if you want to get years of joy and playing out of your instrument.

What Does a Professional 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 Professional Players

If you’re looking for a good professional 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.

Professional Clarinet Accessories

Maintenance is an important part of owning a clarinet – especially one made of granadilla or other wood – 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 Professional 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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