Find the Right Beginner Clarinet
Choosing a beginner clarinet can be a minefield.
There are so many choices of the instrument out there. Where should you begin?
There are a number of good beginner’s clarinets out there – the Buffet B-12, Vito 74XX, Yamaha 34, are the most popular and are reliable entry instruments. I have heard nothing good about most Chinese imports. I would stay away from them for now, though the quality improving on some brands and they recommended in the near future. Buying or renting is a personal decision. One of the above clarinets bought for around £350 ($450) from any major mail-order company.
Buying a used clarinet is also an option.
However, here you have to be very careful that the clarinet is in good working order. Many times the clarinet is not in playing shape or is “barely” playable. They’re nothing like a badly adjusted or leaking clarinet to dampen a beginner’s enthusiasm for the instrument since all problems will be blamed on the player rather than the instrument.
Your best bet when buying a used clarinet is to buy from a reputable shop that has its own repair shop. Then you can be sure that the instrument will have been set up and tested before you purchase and of course, if you have any problems you can bring it right back again. Prices for a well used clarinet start at £200 ($300).
Most beginner clarinets are made of plastic. This makes the sound a little thin but it does mean that the clarinet can stand up to a fair amount of misuse! A plastic clarinet kept in reasonable shape, and provided with a good mouthpiece, can provide many years of fun. When/if the times come to upgrade to a wooden professional instrument, the plastic clarinet can be kept as a spare or “marching band” instrument. Here is the talented Julian Bliss playing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. Something aspires to. Clarinet.
Reeds are the bane of every clarinetist (an oboist and bassoonist!). The problem is that you have a piece of cane that used to be growing in the sun-drenched waters of France being asked to work a very hostile environment (your MOUTH!) and to behave the same way every time you get the instrument out of the case. Now because a piece of cane is just like a very thin piece of wood it changes whenever the temperature or the humidity changes or when it becomes just too waterlogged to work anymore. So what can you do? Not much really. Depending on how much you play and what kind of playing you do, the reed could last a few days or a few weeks.
You will have to resign yourself to the fact that you will be buying boxes of reeds from now until eternity. However, making sure your reed does not have last night’s dinner or the latest shade of pink lipstick does help the reed last a little bit longer…
Recommend the Brand Beginners Rico-Poor quality but inexpensive,
only appropriate for beginners. Intermediate Mitchell Lurie or Rico Royal Mitchell Lurie reeds are lighter and easier to use. They are slightly softer than a Rico Royal of the same number is. Advanced players Vend Oren V-12, Olivier, others these are generally the reeds used by professionals.
They are of premium quality and longer-lasting. However, they require an extensive break-in procedure, and most pros adjust them using a reed knife and other reed-working equipment. Reed Strength Reed strength indicates by a number (or designation) printed directly on the reed.
Typical strengths are 3 or 3-1/2 (or a designation such as medium or medium-hard). The strength needed depends on the individual player and the player’s mouthpiece. A reed should provide resistance in order to achieve control and a good tone. However, a reed which is too strong will not respond adequately and may be breathy sounding or too hard to blow.
A good private teacher can help you decide which reed strength is best for you. Reed Rotation Use a reed holder which can hold four reeds. Number the slots of the holder. Each time you rehearse or practice, use the next reed in the holder. For lessons, auditions, or performances, use your best reed.
Replace one reed at a time in your rotation rather than all of them at once. A reed should be replaced if: * the tip is chipped or split * it sounds bad or is hard to play several rotations in a row * it is more than three months old Always keep new, extra reeds in a safe place. The time to buy more reeds is when the supply of extras runs low.