Whether it is your first time or not, finding the right clarinet is important. It should match your age and skill level, or even your budget. Clarinets vary widely, so it pays to know the basics before buying. Clarinets are categorised into three levels, namely student, intermediate and professional. Knowing which category you are in will narrow down your choices. If you are just starting, it is recommended to use a student clarinet first. Here is the most important information you need.
Know the clarinet category
Beginners usually go for student clarinets first. Students who plan to finish an entire season of a marching band will find this type of clarinet durable. This type of clarinet is typically made of ABS resin. If you want something more advanced than a beginner model, then you can choose an intermediate level clarinet. If you decide to commit to playing the instrument professionally, then a professional model is a wise investment.
Choose the material
Clarinets can be made of wood or plastic. Student and intermediate level clarinets are usually made of plastic or rubber composite material that is designed to have the qualities of wood. They are strong enough to withstand the demands of a marching band. Professional clarinets are mostly made of wood. They sound better but they tend to cost more. You can buy plastic clarinets for practice and wood for main performances.
Choose the key materials
The keys of the clarinet can be silver or nickel-plated, or sometimes Hamilton plated. Nickel plate is more commonly used. It is strong and does not easily tarnish. Silver is heavier so the tone is a bit darker. However, it needs extra care because it tarnishes easily. Hamilton is a combination of silver and gold and produces a more liquid sound.
Decide on the bore size
The right bore size is important for the ease of playing the instrument. Beginner and intermediate level users should opt for smaller bores because these are easier to use and stay in tune. The medium size is also common for its focus and flexibility. Large bores offer flexibility, large sound and volume. There are polycylindrical bores that are excellent for intonation and ring but are less flexible.
Rent or Buy?
You have the option to rent a clarinet or buy a used or brand new one. Renting is best if you are still unsure if you are going to play it for long. When buying second-hand, make sure it still plays well or you will just double the cost with repairs. Your best bet is purchasing a new clarinet. If you have budget constraints, consider a rent to own scheme.
A clarinet is an expensive purchase, so do a bit of research to make the best choice. The brands Yamaha and Buffet are market leaders, though there are less expensive brands that are also reliable. Clarinets also differ in size and type, so decide whether it is worth considering bass clarinets, Bb clarinets or others. When buying online, you can find good deals, but make sure to buy from reputable stores.