Best Clarinet Set-Up | Under £2,000 | ‘Non-Classical’

7th August 2023

In this blog, with accompanying video, we’re taking a look at potential clarinet set-up options for non-classical players. We’ll be discussing three different clarinets and using Simon Bates combination of mouthpiece, ligature and reed to top it all off. Read on to find out more…

Why ‘Non-Classical’?

We know that many clarinet players aren’t solely focussed on classical playing. There are a huge range of styles the clarinet can play including jazz, show bands, concert bands and contemporary. We wanted to demonstrate how three popular instruments play in these styles and discuss which mouthpiece and reed best compliments them.

The Clarinet Choices

In the video we discussed three Clarinet options; Buffet E13, Yamaha YCL-CX and the Backun Protege Cocobolo model. Each instrument offers a variation on tone and response and are amongst our top-selling models.

Buffet E13: Made in France, the E13 model is very popular for upgrading clarinet players. If you’ve started on a Buffet as a student this will feel very comfortable. It has a nice controlled tone, albeit Simon did find it slightly restrictive when pushed hard in the video. This latest version features white leather pads and a ‘RC’ style flat bell to help with projection.

Yamaha YCL-CXII: Another model that has been around for many decades, this latest version of the CX has some recent upgrades including white leather pads and an extended long E/B lever and modified C#/G# key. Both keywork tweaks have been modified to help all sizes of hands reach and jump between keys . In the test Simon found the Yamaha offered a larger sound with more projection than the E13.

Backun Protege: This is a Cocobolo wood version of the Protege. Not only do the Backun clarinets look different with their choice of wood and bell/barrel shaping, but they also offer quite a unique tonal character. Not necessarily better or worse, but definitely different. The Cocobolo wood generally offers a softer, warmer tone than a traditional Grenadilla wood model. In the video test Simon found the Backun intriguing and commented it had a “really sweet sound”.

The Mouthpiece, Reed & Ligature

To complete this ‘non-classical’ set-up Simon uses a BG B3 clarinet mouthpiece. He actually plays the red version, but don’t worry if that’s a little fruity for your pallette, they also make it in black. The B3 is very flexible and is a great option for playing in all manner of musical styles outside of the classical world.

In terms of reed choices, Simon uses the Vandoren V12 in a strength #2.5 when on this BG mouthpiece as it can accomodate fairly soft reeds. The ligature chosen to compliment this set-up is the BG Tradition in Black.